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Indian Express and The Hindu
Pilot feat for Diana's cause
NAGPUR, December 25: Colin Bodill, once pilot of Princess
Diana,arrived here on Monday evening in a microlight aircraft on his
record flight from London to Sydney.
This flight is also a fund-raising effort for the Princess
of WalesMemorial Fund and the unique feat is likely to collect half a
million dollars at the end of Captain Bodill's tour. Captain Bodill
began his flight from London on November 30 and has so far covered more
than 14,000 kms. In his 23-days journey, Bodill has covered France,
Italy, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Pakistan.
Bodill arrived at the Sonegaon airport here after a
five-hour flight from Ahmedabad to proceed to Calcutta. From Calcutta,
he would leave for Chittagong in Bangladesh and from there to Burma,
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and finally to Sydney in Australia.
Bodill hoped that his journey from Nagpur to Sydney would
take another three weeks.
A veteran commercial pilot who runs an aviation academy in
England, Captain Bodill said that he preferred microlight aircraft to a
bigger one, for this effort, as flying a microlight for such a long
distance was a unique feat and attracted public attention. ``This would
not have happened if I would have flown a bigger aircraft,'' Bodill told
The Indian Express.
The job is not easy. While flying his microlight aircraft in
all weather conditions, Bodill has also to maintain the time limit to
make the record flight. ``Anyway, I'll have to complete the flight in
time to raise funds'', he said. Captain Bodill is flying his own
microlight, while the fuel has been sponsored by oil multinational,
Shell. Bodill said he had received warm response from people at every
place he visited. Meanwhile, Bodill had to pay five dollars as landing
charges to the airport authority in the city. Bodill said officials at
other airports never charged him looking at the charity drive he had
``This is the first time I am paying landing charges'', he
A letter of confirmity carried by the Captain also requests
waiving off of the charges, if possible. What made the difference in
this city was that no responsible officer was present at the city
airport, when Bodill landed. The Aerodrome Officer is on leave, so also
his deputy. The present officers dared not waive off the meagre landing
charges, for want of authority.
12/25/97 Pg: 12 :: Col: c
By C. Raja Mohan
Energy and diplomacy
As India becomes one of the world's largest consumers of
energy and much of it is imported, the mandarins of the South Block will
have to devote significant attention to securing the country's energy
FROM global warming to power plays in the Persian Gulf,
nuclear non-proliferation to sub-regional cooperation in South Asia and
from the politics of pipelines in inner Asia to defending sea- lanes in
the Indian Ocean, energy diplomacy is emerging as a major foreign policy
challenge to New Delhi. As India becomes one of the world's largest
consumers of energy and much of it is imported, the mandarins of the
South Block will have to devote significant attention to securing the
country's energy future.
If there is one economic sector today that can help India
draw on massive foreign direct investment, allow its large market to
come into play in generating a new role for the country in the Eurasian
balance of power, facilitate the building of strategic partnerships with
the big powers, promote significant technology transfers to the country
and help transform the relations in the subcontinent into a cooperative
mode, it is the energy sector. Some would argue that the global market
place will take care of India's energy needs. While they acknowledge
that energy will be the critical requirement in the plans for rapid
growth and that India's import dependence will remain large, they attach
little geopolitical significance to these facts. They believe that the
supply of oil is plentiful and given the recession in the electric power
industry in the advanced countries, suppliers will come in droves to
India. All that New Delhi needs to do is to put in a viable domestic
framework to promote foreign direct investment in the energy sector and
the country's needs will be easily met.
But reliance on market forces alone to ensure energy
security will not be prudent. Historically, non-market forces have had a
great role in shaping the global energy scenario. These include the
internal political change in the major oil producing nations, the
conflict within and among them and the traditional role of great powers
in protecting their sources of energy, providing security to the regimes
that own them and defending the supply routes to transport energy to the
The concentration of the world oil reserves in a few
politically volatile areas such as the Persian Gulf has highlighted the
importance of power politics in shaping the global energy markets.
Equally significant has been the concentration of critical technologies
- such as nuclear power generation - in the hands of a few advanced
countries. The same will be true of a range of new technologies that can
have a greater bearing on the generation and use of energy.
Environmental concerns like global warming have had a
major impact on considerations such as the choice of energy technology
and balancing the needs of the advanced world and those of the large
emerging consumers including China and India. The tensions and conflicts
were fully visible at the recent international conference on global
warming at Kyoto, Japan. That the market forces have not eliminated
statecraft and diplomacy in global energy politics is evident from many
other recent international developments.
Last week, the United States and Turkey formalised in
Washington a ``strategic energy alliance'' focussed on ``increasing
global energy diversity and security, fostering regional cooperation and
transporting oil and gas through Turkey to international markets''.
Translated, this means the U.S. prefers routes through Turkey to those
going via Iran or Russia in shipping the new Central Asian oil to
The announcement of the U.S.-Turkish ``strategic energy
alliance'' comes at a time when West Europe has slammed the door to the
European Union on Ankara and the Turkish President had to leave the
Islamic summit in Teheran in the wake of widespread criticism of its
military ties with Israel. Shunned by the Europeans and distrusted by
the fellow Islamic nations, Turkey has found the U.S. strategic embrace
The Clinton administration has used the energy sector to
renew the strategic partnership with Turkey that lies at the fault line
between Europe and Asia as well as Islam and Christendom. Turkey is now
the lynchpin of the American strategy in the energy-rich but politically
unstable West Asia, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.
At a broader level, energy politics has re-emerged at the
front and centre of the U.S. foreign policy. Despite its declining
dependence on oil imports from the Gulf, the U.S. remains the
underwriter of the security order in the region and retains a
significant leverage against the major energy consumers in East Asia and
The relaxed international oil market notwithstanding, the
U.S. has taken the lead in developing new resources in Central Asia. Its
objectives are manifold: to generate flexibility in the international
market and reduce the impact of supply disruptions from any one source.
Energy politics has become the key vehicle for promoting the American
strategic objectives in Central Asia - strengthening the autonomy of the
Central Asian Republics from Russia and preventing their dependence on
the more convenient outlets for their oil and natural gas through Iran.
Influencing the direction of energy flows from Central Asia is at the
heart of the U.S. strategy for the Eurasian region.
India must move resolutely to concentrate on energy
issues in its diplomacy. This would involve a major shift in the mindset
of the foreign policy decision-makers - from the pursuit of preconceived
ideological positions to a relentless pursuit of the national interest.
A few key areas stand out for a renewed thrust of diplomacy centred on
energy security. The Persian Gulf will be the principal source of
imported energy for us. Till now, India's approach to the region has
largely been cast in rhetorical terms emphasising the non-intervention
of external powers and the need for nonaligned solidarity. And its
day-to-day concerns have been limited to protecting the interests of its
large community of expatriate workers in the Gulf.
As India's import dependence on the Gulf increases in
quantitative terms, New Delhi's concerns should increasingly take on a
strategic character. It will have to pay greater attention to the
sources of conflict and rivalries in the Gulf. The focus must be on
stability and the likely role it could play in a more effective balance
of power in the region. The religious orientation of the regimes in the
Gulf in the past had a decisive impact on India's approach. But now New
Delhi must give primacy to energy partnerships that will transcend the
formal religion- induced rhetoric. Attention to Gulf security will also
bring into focus India's likely contribution to the defence of the
sea-lanes in the Indian Ocean, whose density has steadily increased as
the East Asian dependence on the Gulf has deepened. Naval cooperation
with the key maritime powers in the region is another option that
Within the subcontinent, promoting regional economic
integration through energy cooperation has emerged as a major
opportunity. Proposals for interconnecting the electricity grids, export
of electric power, energy exchanges within sub-regions and natural gas
pipelines cutting across territorial boundaries have gathered a new
momentum. Plans to bring natural gas from Central Asia and the Persian
Gulf to India via Pakistan and linking India to the natural gas
resources in Bangladesh and Myanmar through pipelines have attracted the
interest of international capitals. But there are many political hurdles
to implement these ideas and diplomacy will play a crucial role.
American oil companies have always played a major role in
international politics. But now the oil majors have been transformed
into energy companies with great ability to influence decision-making in
the U.S. and other countries. New Delhi must devise a strategy to engage
them to attract large amounts of foreign capital to facilitate both the
economic integration of the subcontinent and strengthening of the Indian
lobby in Washington. Energy diplomacy might also provide the opportunity
to end the long-standing Indian confrontation with the global nuclear
With the saturation of the nuclear power markets in the
advanced world, global nuclear reactor vendors are looking for ways to
enter the large Indian nuclear market valued at around $50 billions.
This might open the door to political accommodation between India and
the global non-proliferation regime in which New Delhi's core nuclear
security interests will be protected while at the same time facilitating
civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the advanced world.
India must also prepare itself to bargain effectively
with the U.S. to implement the outcome of the Kyoto conference. As
Washington seeks to wrest concessions from India and China on future
carbon emissions, New Delhi needs to have an integrated diplomacy that
will allow it to extract the emerging energy technologies from the U.S.
on the best possible terms.
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