The shatterer of worlds


India's bomb tests are morally shameful and politically foolish. Any act which legitimises or promotes the production or deployment of these evil weapons of mass destruction whether by the US, China, India or any other country deserves to be criticised at least on moral grounds even if the overall judgement is that such considerations must be subordinated to 'national security concerns'.Indeed, historically India had always cited the moral factor as a major reason why it would not behave like nuclear elites elsewhere. That nobody amongst the new army of applauders has even bothered to point to the moral dilemma intrinsic to this act reveals most strikingly the general mood of the Indian elite and strategic community. But since nobody, barring opponents, are bothered by this, let us go to the political dimension.

Amongst the numerous reasons why this act is so foolhardy, there is space here only to highlight one – it unleashes a political dynamic which is outside India's control and whose ultimate end cannot yet be forecast. More precisely, there will now be tremendous domestic pressure on Pakistan to carry out its own test in retaliation. If this happens, which is more than likely, the pressure on India to go a step further and openly deploy nuclear weapons will become intense. As it is, there is a powerful lobby both inside the BJP and government as well as outside it which is pushing for India to do this. And, of course, once this happens, Pakistan will follow suit and the regional nuclear arms race will begin.

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Himal Southasian