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Re: nuclear India

[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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Indranil DasGupta wrote:

> > Given the subsequent events in the Balkans, the decision to go nuclear
> stands utterly and completely justified. I am especially amused by
sermons > given to India by citizens in countries such as Brazil, Japan,
Australia, > etc. all of whom enjoy the protection of Uncle Sam's nuclear
umbrella. I > wonder how many of them will stay on their moralistic high
horse once that > umbrella is closed. Guess what ?  It's still raining. 

You are absolutely right about that! 

Here is a well balanced editorial from the Hindustan Times of May 12, 1999
which will be read with interest: 

Nuclear challenges

THE VAJPAYEE government's "Resurgent India Day" celebrations may have been
motivated by partisan considerations, but the significance of its nuclear
tests a year ago transcends narrow political and electoral calculations. 

In one stroke, India broke free from its self-imposed chains and arrived
as a nuclear-weapons state with sophisticated fission and fusion
capabilities.  The tests also challenged the nuclear non-proliferation
regime and showed the impracticability of indefinitely maintaining a
hierarchy of power based on open discrimination. Operation Shakti helped
shatter the delusion that the exclusive, monopolistic right of the
Permanent Five (P-5) members of the UN Security Council to wield nuclear
weapons had been fully safeguarded by the 1995 permanent extension of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At a time when the nuclear hegemony was
striking deeper roots, India sprang its surprise and upset the P-5
calculations through a daring act of defiance.  Had the present government
not seized on the country's closing opportunity to go overtly nuclear,
India would have remained a nuclear-threshold state, bearing the burden of
an open option while not reaping its benefits. The events since the Shakti
tests have clearly disproved the prophets of doom who had been warning
that an overtly nuclear India would get so isolated and squeezed
internationally that its economy would collapse and it would turn into a
virtual pariah state. What had happened is the opposite: India got away
with just a slap on the wrist, with most of the post-Shakti sanctions
having already been eased and its economy looking up. India has improved
its international standing, even if only marginally.

Despite the gains, however, there is little evidence of a resurgent
India.The country still presents itself internationally as a soft state
susceptible to outside pressure. The months-long delay in flight-testing
the Agni 2 was proof of that. Instead of determinedly pushing ahead with
follow-up steps in the shortest period of time, India feels compelled to
balance its defiance with conformist behaviour. It has gone out of the way
to assure the great powers it poses no threat to the non-proliferation
regime, even though it can never be recognised as a nuclear-weapons state
under the present system. The leverage gained from the tests has been
dissipated through a series of unilateral concessions in the pious hope
that such gestures will placate international opinion. A resurgent nation
would have known that international relations are centred not on goodwill
but on power and leverage. Nor has India consolidated its gains on the
ground. A year after the tests the military has still not been given an
operational role in nuclear deterrence despite official claims that India
can terminate any threat. The anniversary celebrations cannot conceal the
important challenges India faces in building a credible minimal deterrent.
Unlike Pakistan which is able to quickly match any Indian advance with
continuing Chinese assistance, India has to meet those challenges on its
own. It can draw satisfaction, however, that NATO's brutal, hi-tech war on
Yugoslavia vindicates the path it chose last May. 

Ram Narayanan

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