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HVK Archives: Nehru & the Bomb (a letter)

Nehru & the Bomb (a letter) - The Times of India

A.P. Saxena, New Delhi ()
July 10, 1998

Title: Nehru & the Bomb (a letter)
Author: A.P. Saxena, New Delhi
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 10, 1998

Apropos K. Subrahmanyam's illuminating piece, "Hedging against
Hegemony: Gandhi's Logic in the Nuclear Age" (June 16), it is
interesting to recall Jawaharlal Nehru's first reactions to the
bomb. Soon after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Nehru too, like Gandhi, anticipated the emergence of new "first
rate powers", especially America, which desired to impose its
will along with "various controls".

In his first public reaction on August 25/26,1945, Nehru noted
that two atom bombs have destroyed five lakhs of people,
"compelling Nippon to surrender", and also predicted, "the atomic
bomb is a great brute force and other countries will find out
soon about what it is."

A fortnight later, when asked at a press conference how the
menace of the atom bomb can be checked, Nehru replied, ......
the question is really one of trying to remove the causes of
inequality and friction. At present there is imperialist control
of various countries. There is financial imperialism as well as
racial inequality. All these must go." By end December 1945,
Nehru was more specific. "Recent developments would seem to
indicate that America is underwriting the Empire (British)...
which is fraught with gravest consequences... a continuing revolt
of millions which even the atom bomb will not suppress."

Further, ..... the success in the last war has made some
nations feel that they face no obstacles to do what they choose
with the rest of the world... they are under a delusion... even
this mighty source of power is not going to enable the countries
who possess it to impose their will on countries..."

Nehru gave a comprehensive elucidation of his views at a Delhi
press conference (August 25), a fortnight after the blasts. To a
specific question, "Would the future government of India have
atom bombs in its armoury?" Nehru answered, "So long as the world
is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and
use the latest scientific methods for its protection. I have no
doubt India will develop its scientific researches and I hope
Indian scientists will use the atomic force for constructive
purposes. But if India is threatened, it will inevitably try to
defend itself by all means at its disposal. I hope, India in
common with other countries will prevent it being used."

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