Nuclear mess

Print edition : June 20, 1998

Your thought-provoking Cover Story ("The South Asian nuclear mess", June 19) brought out the jingoistic designs of the BJP-led Government. The nuclear tests carried out by Pakistan have nullified our own tests; they have not vindicated our stand as claimed by the Prime Minister.

With these tests, the situation in the subcontinent is back to square one. The nuclear tests, conducted with the aim of getting a place in the nuclear club, were yet another aberration perpetrated by the BJP-led Government.

By whipping up war hysteria it has gone against our cherished ideals such as non-violence and Panch Sheel and undermined our campaign for diarmament. The land of the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and Mahavir has become the land of warmongers.

Robin Rajen Kannur, Kerala The explosions and after

Dr. R. Chidambaram and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam are both reported to have said that "India must become strong". The Prime Minister talks of 'shakti'. As long as people die of starvation as they do in Bundelkand and Kalahandi, as long as significant sections of the population have no access to clean drinking water or even basic health care, as long as rural infant mortality remains close to 150 per 1,000 live births, as long as 80 per cent of pregnant women from poor rural households are clinically anaemic and there is 40 per cent overt malnutrition among rural children under the age of five, and as long as our communities are divided and fight one another in the name of caste, language, religion and ethnicity, we will remain an underdeveloped nation devoid of any real power, nuclear weapons notwithstanding.

A part of me wants me to walk tall, glorying in the achievement of our scientists, but ground realities force me to condemn the blasts as a criminal act against the poor of my country.

Prem Chandran John Chennai * * *

The BJP Government's decision to conduct nuclear tests, though unexpected, has succeeded in creating a national euphoria. At this point, some of us who may be in a minority have a few nagging questions.

Did the BJP Government, which was 50 days old when the tests were conducted, feel that India's security was being threatened so much that there was no other option except the nuclear option - especially when it had not raised the nuclear issue when it was in the Opposition and had promised to initiate a debate on the issue if it was given a chance to form a government at the Centre? Were 50 days sufficient to study the security concerns and decide on the virtual reversal of the long-standing policy stance of the country?

If India does not intend to use nuclear weapons first, what was the need to test them? It would have been better if problems such as poverty and education had been given priority. How does the Government propose to reform the social sector if it squanders the country's meagre resources on defence although there is no grave threat to our security? Finally, how does the BJP Government's decision to go nuclear help in furthering the cause of disarmament and the country's commitment to creating a nuclear weapons-free world?

M. Aravind Hyderabad * * *

Your editorial was a great disappointment. You should have taken a hint from the interview with Dr. Raja Ramanna, telecast on Doordarshan II on May 27. He said: "This is no mean achievement and we can boast of a gene pool which can sustain the scientific progress of India for another century. At the time of Independence, India had to import pencils and nails. Haven't we come a long way? India could get the necessary data from the five tests which reflect the precision and finesse of our scientists in contrast to the hundreds of tests conducted by the other so-called nuclear powers." That should be the sentiment of every Indian.

Geetha Vishwanath Bangalore * * *

India's decision to go nuclear has raised fundamental questions regarding its timing and necessity. The timing of the tests cannot be faulted because any further delay would have been too late. By 1999, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would have come into force, and the treaty, signed by a vast majority of nations, would have virtually become international law.

India is not ready to hear sermons on peace, stability and demilitarisation, least of all from countries such as the United States, which is one of the largest supplier of arms in the world and which was "responsible" enough to be the only country to have used an atomic bomb against another country (Japan, in 1942.) The U.S. refuses to apply sanctions against China simply because it would hurt the U.S.' own economic and strategic interests.

The country's security interests are primary. Political parties should therefore desist from making political capital out of these tests.

The sanctions will help the country to find alternative resources for development. India has plenty of resources. What is needed political will to mobilise them.

Aditya Hyderabad * * *

Look who is the pious preacher admonishing from its moral pulpit a recalcitrant India for having carried out nuclear tests. The United States of America, no less.

Let us look into its credentials. For all the noise it makes to coerce India into signing the CTBT unconditionally, the U.S. has still not ratified the CTBT.

The U.S. wants to have two classes, the nuclear weapon haves and the havenots; it is significant that the current permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are all nuclear weapon states. It was the U.S. which developed and dropped the first two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - well-populated cities, not military garrisons - killing over 150,000 people instantaneously. The schedule for dropping the second bomb was advanced by two days as the U.S., knowing that Japan would surrender after the first bomb, did not want to be robbed of the pleasure of raining down a second dose of death. It raced against time and dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki within four days of the first bombing.

The U.S. Government did not pay any heed to the plea made by 70 eminent scientists long before the actual bombing. They had suggested a purely technical demonstration to impress on Japan the awesome power of the latest weapon to make it surrender.

The U.S. Government was not content with a demonstration but was eager to see the effect of the bomb on human populations. It also felt that saving the lives of a handful of American soldiers by achieving a quicker surrender of the Japanese by dropping the bomb was worthwhile.

Men standing up were reduced to tinder, birds were ignited in mid-air, and skin hung from people like kimonos. This was in addition to lingering death for tens of thousands from radioactive poisoning, thermal burns and shock.

It was the U.S. which dropped napalm bombs on civilians in Vietnam, turning humans into live torches.

During the Cold War, the U.S. considered the acquisition of nuclear arms and missiles a deterrent against aggression by the USSR. The U.S. now considers this logic perverse when applied by other countries. If the U.S. really means business, it should practise what it preaches.

R. Rajaraman Chennai * * *

Thus far I have looked on your periodical as a periodical propagating leftist ideology but when I read your article on the BJP's bomb I felt ashamed of myself for being born in this country which gave birth to people like you, for whom their so-called secular image is more important than the national interest. Really, this nation is extremely unfortunate whose own sons are her enemies.

Mr. Editor, do not forget that this is the HINDU country and it will remain a HINDU country in future also, whether you like it or not. You may enjoy BJP-bashing but the 21st century belongs to the BJP only. The 20th century has seen the disastrous effects of the Gandhian and Nehruvian model of secularism which resulted in the Partition of this great country. History and coming generations will never forgive these pseudo-secularists. And Mr. Editor, please change your name from N. RAM to N. RAHIM. Will you dare to reply?

Mrs. Vedavati R. Jogi c/o vrjogi@hotmail.com

Editor's Note: We have no problem in publishing this letter, which reveals a particular mindset.

A disputed legacy

With reference to the article "A disputed legacy" (May 22), I wish to clarify the following points.

As per the will of M.G. Ramachandran, M. Rajendran is to be executor only after N.C. Raghavachari and not "in the eventuality of inability" of Raghavachari to discharge his duties.

It is mentioned nowhere in the will that a major portion of the property is left to a school. The school for the speech and hearing impaired was started and Latha Rajendran put in charge of it before the will was probated. At that time she did not have special training in taking care of such children.

Raghavachari's observation that the demarcation of the property is the only issue is not correct. M.G. Ramachandran did not draw the map; it was Raghavachari who drafted the will and was responsible for preparing the map. His statement in this regard is misleading.

Raghavachari's contention that Latha Rajendran's non-inclusion as a beneficiary was a mere slip while drafting the will deserves no comment since he only drafted the will for M.G. Ramachandran, who had great confidence in him. Besides, Janaki Ramachandran died on May 19, 1996 and not in July 1996.

It is not correct to say that there is only one entrance to the property; there is another gateway in the northern portion. In spite of this, the executor has not provided a separate main entrance for the school.

In the MMDA (Madras Metropolitan Development Authority)-sanctioned plan, the executor has shown our main entrance as the main entrance to the school. Even in the patta obtained by him the main entrance falls within our area. Still he claims that this entrance is meant for the school too.

On January 26, 1998, a function was conducted in the school. A book on MGR was released on the occasion. The book contained bad remarks about MGR. Hence we objected to the use of our main entrance for the function. Children were brought from the school and made to stand in front of the entrance. Photographs of this were taken to make it look as though we denied entry to the children.

It is not correct to say that I have filed suits. It is only the beneficiaries who have approached the courts for two interim injunctions.

Running a college in the name of MGR in order to earn enough income to run the school does not go well with the reality. The executor of the will has failed to derive income from the vast properties in the past 10 years. It only supports the allegation that the starting of the college and the appointment of his wife at its helm were meant to establish his family's authority over MGR's properties by using the name of the educational institutions.

We wish to clarify that we are not against running a school for speech and hearing impaired children, but are of the view that with the vast properties bequeathed to such children a free home for them should be established, of which the school can be an integral part.

Raghavachari cannot broker a compromise since he is one-sided. His comment is misleading and would give the impression that the dispute is related only to Ramavaram Gardens. He is silent about the commissions and omissions of Rajendran, which has resulted in the failure to fulfil the wishes of the testator in toto.

We wish to affirm that we have no complaints about the standard of the school and the education provided. However, we have always pointed out the following drawbacks:

Till date only one building has been constructed for the school. Adequate hostel facilities have not been provided. Free uniforms, transport, and potable water are not provided to the children. Security arrangements have not been made; the free food provided is not satisfactory. Hearing aids are not given free to outgoing students.

It is far from the truth to say that the will wants the executor to establish a school. Nowhere has MGR mentioned a school or children; his wish was to establish a free home for poor, speech and hearing impaired people.

Our contention is that by using the name of the educational institution, Latha Rajendran and her children are trying to get a hold on MGR's properties although she is not a beneficiary in the will.

Incidentally, the photograph of the school published with the article was described as MGR's residence.

K. Vijaya Kumar Chennai

A letter from the Editor


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Editor, Frontline

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