Nuclear debate

Print edition : June 06, 1998

The Pokhran tests have created a frightening situation. Possessing a few nuclear weapons is not a deterrent because Pakistan too will have a stockpile of nuclear weapons. The concept of nuclear deterrence is a myth created by the nuclear lobby to fool the gullible.

The Pokhran tests achieved very little at a heavy cost. Instead of attending to issues that need immediate attention, the BJP-led Government is indulging in nuclear sabre-rattling. We have lost the goodwill of the international community by one wrong action. Economic sanctions may not mean much but the loss of India's image as a peace-loving nation is a much more serious issue.

D.B.N. Murthy Bangalore * * *

The BJP has exercised the nuclear option undoubtedly for domestic political reasons rather than for geopolitical reasons. However, the BJP's attempt to claim full credit for India's nuclear capability is like the runner who ran the last lap in a relay race claiming the prize for himself. What the nation has technically or militarily achieved is the result of its scientists' efforts over many decades and the expenditure of billions of rupees.

It is true that the party had the courage to test nuclear weapons. But it was a political necessity for the party and its government, which were troubled by quarrelsome coalition partners.

Leaders of the BJP went a step further and spoke belligerently, creating a war-like situation. These developments have strengthened the apprehension that the BJP-led Government may even go in for a war with Pakistan.

Bichu Muttathara Pune * * *

Immediately after the nuclear tests, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani started talking about the changed geostrategic situation; he almost declared war on Pakistan. It shows the level of maturity the former BJP president has. No one on earth will threaten another saying that "I am going to drop a nuke on you." The BJP does not even have a simple majority in Parliament. As of now, it lacks the moral authority to take such a decision, let alone threaten others with nuclear weapons.

The same leader wants the presidential form of government for India. Can you imagine what will happen to our own people?

What is clear is that the Prime Minister does not have any control over his Cabinet colleagues. Foreign policy has been reduced to a level where even M. Venkaiah Naidu propounds foreign policy. Pramod Mahajan, Political Adviser to the Prime Minister, speaks about China as if he were talking with schoolmates about a movie.

Let me inform you that here in the United States, the BJP leaders have no standing. They are thought of as immature, third-rate satraps. We do object to our Ministers making fools of themselves.

Parthiban Krishnaswamy Minnesota, U.S. * * *

Your Cover Story with its predictable anti-BJP overtones linked it up with criticism of the Hindutva forces. If nationalism when it becomes jingoistic is bad, the same holds good for the Marxist variety in China and the Islamic variety in Pakistan.

The nuclear tests have exposed both our belligerent neighbours in their true colours as well as China's close military cooperation with Pakistan in a bid to contain India. It is China that sees India as its rival. It is an unexpected compliment to the BJP-led Government that unsure of its allies, it could achieve nuclear weaponisation in less than two months of its coming to power - something that its predecessors could not do in 50 years. China has shown no restraint at all. At least India did not make any wild charges and claims when China conducted its 45 nuclear tests. Did they not alter the power status of China?

Indo-U.S. relations have thus far been symbolised by the relationship between the mute and the deaf. India was dumb about airing its views publicly. It was dumb and blind when its interests were affected by Chinese actions. The U.S. was deaf and insensitive to India's genuine security interests and believed that India could be pushed around. The recent change in being vocal and demanding a national debate on India's security and national interests has indeed brought about good sensitive reactions from the U.S. Congress, which has voted down the transfer of missile technology to China. This has also obliged Clinton to tone down his sanctions rhetoric against India.

D. Anjaneyulu Shanti Pandit Chennai Targeting M.F. Husain

It is shocking that M.F.Husain has been targeted for a painting he did 20 years ago ("Assault on art", May 22). The attack is yet another attempt to communalise Indian society.

It is true that caution has to be exercised while representing religious figures in creative writing and works of art but the vandalism indulged in by the Hindutva forces is a grim indication of the shape of things to come.

Major Balbir Singh Bhasin Patna * * *

I do not understand the logic behind the enthusiastic and unqualified defence extended by Frontline to M.F. Husain.

R. Natarajan Natham, Tamil Nadu Aryans and Harappans

This is with reference to "The Indus and the Sarasvati" (May 8) by R.S. Sharma and the letter on the article by Pramod Kumar (June 5). It is a well-established historical fact that the Harappan civilisation was distinct from, and far older than, the Aryan civilisation in India. However, the theory that the Aryans were the destroyers of the Harappan culture, language and writing is not backed by any historical evidence. The destruction and abandonment of various Harappan towns and cities were not because of any armed attack by the Aryans but because of several other factors such as environmental changes and the drying up and changing of the course of various rivers, including the Sarasvati.

Nor is it correct to state that the Aryans were illiterate or culturally inferior to the Harappans. It just so happened that both these cultures came into contact with each other and amalgamated into a pan-Indian culture, which too did not remain stagnant. It underwent further changes, with the advent of the Sakas, the Kushans, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Mongols, the Turks, the Iranians, the English, the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese and so on, and is still undergoing changes. In fact the very resilience of our culture and its continuous existence throughout recorded history are because of the fact that we have been able to assimilate and learn from all who came to this land.

It smacks of sheer and unadulterated chauvinism when anyone claims that one culture was, or is, superior to another. There never was and never can be any such thing as 'a superior culture'. Those who talk of such things as superior cultures or races are only encouraging another form of racism and cultural fascism.

Every culture or civilisation has its ups and downs, its good features and not-so-good features. No culture or language or civilisation can die or be put to an end by any other culture, language or civilisation until and unless it has on its own reached its nadir owing to inherent weaknesses. No land could be a better example of this than India, where despite innumerable attacks, advent of so many cultures and people we still maintain our separate identity as a nation.It is but a brave man, indeed, as someone has rightly suggested, who can claim that he is a pure Dravidian or a pure Aryan. It is high time this type of racial, linguistic and cultural chauvinism was put to an end, especially by the so-called educated, literate and cultured citizens of our country.

Aditya Hyderabad Centre and Kerala

"An economic assault" (May 22) gave a clear picture about the problems an average Keralite is facing.

The stepmotherly attitude of the Centre towards Kerala is not a recent story. Except the governments led by Morarji Desai and V.P. Singh, all Central Governments followed the same policy with regard to Kerala. Kerala is the land of spices and commercial crops and the export of these contributed in a big way to the national exchequer. But now the prices of rubber, cardamom, copra and even cashewnut are falling and the price of rice, the staple food of Keralites, is rising. Rice comes to Kerala from other States because the farmers of Kerala gave more importance to commercial crops. The new policy of the Central Government will only make things worse for the people of Kerala.

P. Sreedharan Kannur Narasimham Committee

This has reference to "Radical prescriptions" (May 22). The second report of the Narasimham Committee is highly objectionable; it is part of a grand design to destroy public sector ownership of banks, replace social banking with profit-oriented banking and create insecurity among bank employees.

By recommending reduction of government equity in nationalised banks to 33 per cent, what the Committee actually says is that the nationalisation of banks was a wrong step.

The Narasimham Committee objects to industry-level wage settlement in banks. Wage settlement cannot be linked to the health of a bank, for its health depends on its top executives and not on its employees. Executives can make or mar an institution.

The Committee finds fault with behest lending. Members of Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies are representatives of the people and they have a right to recommend loans from banks owned by the Government.

At present there are about Rs. 45,000 crores of non-productive assets. The Committee has not suggested any measure to recover this huge amount.

The Committee has recommended increasing capital adequacy to 10 per cent. If the banks are wholly owned by the Government, there is no need for any capital adequacy.

The Narasimham Committee's report will be welcomed only by the banks' top executives, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation and not by well-informed and responsible citizens.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha The price of courage

"The price of courage" (May 8) calls for a thorough surgery of contemporary Indian political thinking.

The removal of the security cover, which was primarily responsible for the death of Harbhajan Singh, is a grim reminder of the fact that for apparently no reason the powers that be can do irreparable damage to the social and national fabric. The people of India, though most of them are illiterate, will never forgive anyone or any organisation if it works against their harmonious existence.

Whatever his political and ideological leanings, if a person fights against terrorism, he must be provided with adequate security.

Sheojee Singh Patna Jaffna

I read with concern the article on the situation in Jaffna ("A mixed picture", May 8). The writer seems to have ignored or was not allowed to witness some important aspects of life in Jaffna today. According to him, only 65,000 people have returned to the town. It is not known when the rest, numbering several lakhs, will return. Adequate medicines are not provided in hospitals in Vanni district. Even in the General Hospital in Jaffna essential drugs are not available. Food is denied to people in Vanni for the simple reason that they escaped from the "occupied territory". People living in the Vanni jungles are dying of malaria, which has forced a few of them to return to Jaffna.

S.P. Krishnan Trichy, Tamil Nadu E.M.S

The background and the circumstances leading to the arbitrary dismissal of the E.M.S. Namboodiripad Government in Kerala in 1957 are hard to forget. In his tribute to the late Marxist leader, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer rightly highlighted the grotesque steps that were secretly worked out by the Congress Party to dismiss the Kerala Government (April 24).

S. Bhattacharya Pune

Correction: A.K. Kundra is Development Commissioner, NEPZ, in the rank of Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and not Joint Secretary as mentioned in the feature on Export Promotion Industrial Parks in the issue of June 5.

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