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HVK Archives: We should have on overt N-weapons programme

We should have on overt N-weapons programme - The Times of India

Dinesh Kumar ()
January 19, 1998

Title: We should have on overt N-weapons programme
Author: Dinesh Kumar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 19, 1998

As chief of staff, of Eastern Command in 1971, Lt Gen J R F Jacob
was among the architects of India's victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak
war which led, to the creation of Bangladesh. His account of the
war as published in his book Surrender at Dhaka: Birth of a
Nation last year came as an eye opener and exploded several myths
about how India won the war After the war, he raised the largest
corps of the Indian army, the 16 Corps at Nagrota, for the then
newly created Northern Command.

Later as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern
Command he worked for peace with the Naga rebels. This led to
the signing of the Shillong Accord resulting in peace for about
10 years. He retired in 1978. Around seven years ago, he became
the first prominent member of India's minuscule Jewish community
to join the BJP in which he plays an important advisory role on
defence matters but otherwise prefers to maintain a low profile.
He spoke to Dinesh Kumar on how defence continues to be a
neglected subject in the country. Excerpts:

Q: Why did you join the BJP?

A: The BJP is a pragmatic and disciplined party which wants to
see a strong India. It also has great leaders like Atal Behari
Vajpayee, LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Kushabhao Thakre.

Do you think the BJP will take care of minority concerns?

The BJP is a secular party. Minorities are an integral part of
our party and there is no cause whatsoever for any apprehension.

How do you explain so many ex-servicemen joining the BJP now?

Ex-servicemen have great regard for the BJP because they feel
this party stands for a strong India and has always upheld
India's national security and integrity as paramount. The BJP has
always been sympathetic towards ex-servicemen.

You mean to say this can't be said of other political parties? I
am sure that other political parties are also concerned about
national security and ex-servicemen, but not to the same degree
as the BJP

What will be the priorities of the BJP if it comes to power?

A defence modernisation programme which would include priority
for missile systems and development of nuclear warheads in order
to create a viable deterrence. We would pay more attention to
defence research and development and the indigenisation
programme.

Do you feel that India should have an overt nuclear weaponisation
programme?

We should have an overt nuclear weaponisation programme keeping
in view the volatile geo-military environment in our region.

What about the possible repercussions from the international
community?

Our national security considerations outweigh these concerns.

Do you think the United Front government and the last Congress
government failed to satisfactorily address the problems of the
armed forces?

A viable defence force can only be sustained by a sound economy.
The economy in the last decade has not expanded to the extent
required, As such allocations for defence have formed a very
small percentage of the GDP as compared to Pakistan and China
whose percent-agewise allocations of the GDP is much more.

Modernisation of the armed forces has been neglected for the last
decade. Except the Sukhoi-30 fighters, there have been no major
induction of modern equipment and weapon systems with the result
that the Armed Forces today are manpower heavy. There is a dire
need for force multipliers. Defence research and development has
not been given enough priority

We have the talent. Dr Abdul Kalam, an outstanding. scientist,
should be given . the necessary resources to develop systems such
as the Agni.

Pakistan has reportedly developed the Ghauri intermediate range
ballistic missile which is said to be able to reach any part of
India, This is the serious threat to our national security as we
don't have a viable deterrent.

The topmost priority must be given to make Agni-I operational.
Work. should also be undertaken to develop Agni-II. Prithvi is
not a deterrent weapon.

Also, the armed forces didn't have a level playing field in the
Fifth Pay Commission. Ibis has caused serious disparities.

Do you think the BJP can resolve these issues?

If the BJP comes to power, it will attempt to redress these
deficiencies but it will have to be done in a phased manner over
a period of time. But we would be inheriting a situation that
now obtains due to inadequate attention to defence and national
security.


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