Saturday, July 23, 2005

Nuclear Orthodoxy of Other Kind

The fact that USA Media is slamming President Bush for letting India circumvent NPT (NYT Editorial – Green Signal to Bomb Makers) and Indian Media is criticizing Prime Minister Singh for giving too much (MJ Akabar’s article in Asian Age); it starts generating a suspicion in my mind that may be the leaders have indeed struck something useful. Usually, leadership is all about pulling people in a direction which is unknown or where people are reluctant to go. If leadership is all about getting cheers and claps by playing to the gallery; then hardly anything would have been achieved. Remember many in Old Guard of Congress party criticized Nehru for wasting money on Steel Plants which MJ Akabar so affectionately recalls as Temples of Modern India - the line by which Nehru made efforts to sell those investments to Indian public then. Same for IITs. You do not get technologist and managers in one generation to make TCS, Infosys, Ranbaxy and so on. You got to have made that start earlier. Ditto in that case also - Nehru was criticized for wasting money on IITs.

So we need to be patient here. Dr. Singh has attempted to get a great deal for India. What is wrong with the inspection by IAEA on Civilian Nuclear Projects? For many of these plants, new safty measures will reduce accident risks. In fact India should go one step ahead unilaterally and pledge that it is content with the present number of atomic bombs. 40 bombs or 200 bombs, they are same. Beyond some basic number, more bombs do not buy any new deterrence; but rather the risk of loosing nuclear material, accidents and more oversight. My apologies to talk like this, but you will need 5 for Pakistan, 10 to 15 for China. So 20 is an adequate number. Let us double that so that we have fallbacks if some fail. There is no point for India to carry more than 40 odd bombs. Remember India is not a signatory to NPT, so if needed under an extraordinary situation India can in future break the pledge to make more. But if India reiterates such a pledge now; it will create that much confidence. In fact, as the proposed Bush – Singh accord winds it’s way through Congress; it is very likely that India may need to make such a pledge; Congress may not pass otherwise. We will see how it progresses. I am sure Indian Media will again criticize that as a sell out.

MJ Akabar’s article starts with reciting Gandhi’s name. But when I think about it; I realize how shameless we all are. That great leader made the case for a viable, secure and peaceful India on the basis of Non-violence. And here we are complaining that we may not be able to make more bombs when in the first place we started to make these bombs without listening to anyone. May be at least it is in our hand how far we want to digress from this path of Mahtma Gandhi. Early we put a leash on that, it is better.


Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA
July 23, 2005.

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