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Cui Bono?

When an eminent scientist like Mr. K Santhanam advocates the need to conduct further thermonuclear tests to reinforce our nuclear deterrent, I feel deeply dismayed.

Sometime back I read a sci-fi novel “The Canticle of Leibowitz” by Walter Miller which imaginatively explored the conditions of life after a nuclear aftermath. In the stark, treeless landscape scorched under an unrelenting sun, man’s folly repeatedly plays out under the watchful eyes of Abbey of Leibowitz, the custodians of books. Anyone who has read or watched documentaries on the nuclear holocaust cannot fail to appreciate the horrors and utter devastation a nuclear war can wreck. Despite it, prominent, intelligent people nonchalantly advocate nuclear weapons. Politicians manipulate us, exploiting our insecurity and gullibility. President George Bush managed to whip up sentiments of national security after 9/11 to secure a second term in office.

In India, BJP, the self anointed guardians of Indian spiritual identity and national security have recently begun xenophobic clamour against unsubstantiated Chinese incursion across our borders. Soon after, Mr. Santhanam, a retired DRDO scientist and a participant in the 1998 Pokhran – II nuclear tests claimed that the test did not achieve the forecasted yield. He exhorted the government to lift the voluntary ban and mobilize further nuclear tests in view of the burgeoning nuclear arsenal of China.

In my opinion, the world cannot afford another war at this juncture when we are beset with many problems requiring extensive co-operation among nations. Any nation deciding to wage war stands to loose credibility. As far as China is concerned, it does not make economic sense either. India has a large trade deficit with China and it would be extremely rash of them to jeopardize the trade relationship. China has enough problems of its own to indulge in a war that would drain its resources and exacerbate the unrest at home while simultaneously losing international support.

Therefore, in a moderately rational world, hostilities amounting to war, as far as I can see, are not imminent. It would take extreme provocation before even Pakistan would risk a full fledged war with India. Besides, a nuclear war is a negative sum game, a Pyrrhic victory; it would mean death and destruction for both parties involved.

Now, all the above mentioned reasons are immediately apparent to someone of Mr. Santhanam’s stature. He would also be well acquainted with the consequences of a nuclear war. Then what is the motivation to promote nuclear armament. What is the hidden agenda? Who benefits from this whipping up of mass hysteria? Cui bono? Can anyone answer?

Categories: Musings
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