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Have a nuclear bomb to end conflict - The Times of India

L.K. Sharma ()
June 7, 1998

Title: 'Have a nuclear bomb to end conflict'
Author: L.K. Sharma
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 7, 1998

It is a sheer coincidence that those spitting fire against
India's nuclear tests are the ones who never took notice of the
long-running bomb programme of Pakistan, the open literature on
which weighs several kilotons.

Expert articles on Pakistan's bomb have appeared over the years,
not in Pravada but in the sacred journals cherished by opinion-
formers in India as Daily Diet.

The domestic critics of the nuclear tests also overlook the fact
that India did not usher in the nuclear age. It did not drop the
first bomb. India arrived on the scene when the nuclear genie was
already out of the bottle and the conventional wisdom was that if
you wish to avoid loss of human life and end a conflict, have a
nuclear bomb.

India did not extend covert or overt support to Pakistan for its
nuclear programme. Those implicated in Pakistan's venture are
America, Canada, Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, China and
North Korea.

All that India did was not to leave aside the then prime area of
scientific exploration for awe of superior powers. India'
thinking was based on a world community of equals, It also
cherished the hope for long that while the world will benefit
>from power generated by atoms, their destructive force will never
be tested again. And yet, if one were to swallow some of the
critical articles in the Indian media, it would appear it was
India that started it all. One wonders what they would have said
if Pakistan had tested its bombs a few weeks earlier than it did.

Who preceded whom in demonstrating capability is hardly relevant
when now it can be told that both the countries had travelled
quite far down the nuclear road. The race had been on for some
years and just because the two countries did not confirm it with
big bangs does not mean that the sub-continent was floating on a
sea of security and calm and was now suddenly struck by a

If the critics of India's action had put in the same vehement
effort to ensure a credible progress towards universal nuclear
disarmament, they would not have had to paint the scenarios which
they are doing today to frighten India to pull back from danger.
The danger is real but then that is the world of today.

The logic of worldly existence would require a country to take
note of this danger and try to counter it in the only way that
has been demonstrated to have been working. The commentators who
want India to give up the nuclear option are not unworldly
visionaries. They belong very much to this world and cannot wait
to see India galloping towards a protestant rate of growth.
Their sage injunctions for nuclear Brahmacharya are not based on
faith in the eternal India which neither water can drench nor
fire can scorch. The contradiction becomes obvious when they
swear by western model of economic development but propound an
idealistic non-western model of strategic thinking. They surely
are aware of the momentum of technology development.

Ironically, these commentators condemn nuclear activism which
they ignorantly believe is derived from Hinduism just because the
BJP happened to use this faith label for its political purposes.
Coming from the secular side of the divide, as they do, their
understanding of Hindu ethos is as shallow as that of the BJP
demagogues. The "Hindu bomb" label may soon be acceptable to
pseudo thinkers trained in the civilisational conflict mode of
reasoning. Indian intellectuals who have a better understanding
of christianity never talk of a "Christian bomb".

Some scholars may say the BJP government behaved in an "un-
Hindu" fashion in deciding to rum a de jure situation in a de
facto one, as far as the Indo-Pakistan relations are concerned.
It comes to us easy to keep pushing under the carpet the daily
newspaper clippings on nuclear and missile developments in

Nirad C. Chaudhuri, a scholar of Hinduism, often points out that
"we generally avoid looking a problem in the eye or prepare to
face it. We hate unpleasant decisions and try to skirt a problem.
We have a penchant for analysis that is paralysing. This cultural
inheritance is common. Some outside observers have blamed this
ethos in which Hindus just stood still and allowed things to
happen or take their own course.

To V. S. Naipaul, the quintessential outsider, the cause for
lament was just this ambivalence over the centuries. To recall
this here is not to question the wisdom of this ambivalent
society but merely to locate the indigenous anti-nuke critics in
the "Hindu camp" of the least resistance, as opposed to the
western temper which seeks to shape its own destiny, alive to the
smallest provocation or danger.

The critics of the BJP's government's decision are being more
Hindu. They are perhaps prepared with a contingency plan of
spiritual bombing by India in the event of a crisis. They seem to
believe in "Eternal India".

"If only there were a realm that could be immune to nuclear
blackmail or military punishment by a superpower or a
conventional attack by a neighbour! We would have been happy to
overlook Pakistan's nuclear programme. We could do that only by
pinning faith on miracles. Armed thus, India could have protected
itself against a nuclear Pakistan, a nuclear China, not to
mention a threat-to-be.

The "essential" India did withstand onslaughts in the past
centuries and did survive. that, however, was not the nation
state. What was then at stake was "the idea of India". Ideal
India could be the reasonable plank for the critics of India's
nuclear programme, but then they would have to change their terms
of discourse. The critics riding the western bandwagon can hardly
spell satyagrah. And even for their common cause with the west,
they dare. not invoke the spirit of satyagrah because it comes as
a package, in khadi and handmade paper. Such a radical
alternative model of thinking is beyond the present critics who
have generally little knowledge of Indian tradition or thought.
That is why they are taken in by terms such as "Hindu
fundamentalism" even if only to condemn the BJP which hardly
understands the fundamentals of Hinduism, let alone be guided by

Thus, unless the "Hinduistic" influence of the critics of India's
nuclear programme spreads to the establishment, the lesson of the
last few weeks is simple. One should not overlook the dynamics of
technology and the demands of realpolitic, till a saint arises in
the east and transforms this present world into a utopia. Having
travelled thus far on the nuclear road, there is no, turning back
for India, except to have the very worst of the two worlds.

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