Let Us Keep It That Way
The BJP, which might just make the government in Delhi in May, has stated explicitly in its election manifesto, that it would go for nuclear power status. Other parties, however, have decided to be vague on the matter. Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Secretary Salman Haidar, stated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that India “does not believe that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is essential for national security, and we have followed a conscious decision on this regard”. According to The Times of India, this statement was greeted with dismay by “defence analysts”, one of whom stated that the remark “removes any ambiguity about India´s defence capability by revealing that it has none.” The pundit said that Indian cities were practically defenseless against Chinese land- and submarine-based nuclear missiles, and that Pakistan was achieving nuclear weapons capability with Chinese help and U.S. acquiescence. One “top scientist” suggested to the TOI that Indian nuclear policy was being dictated by “certain bureaucrats who have close links to western agencies.” There we go again.
In its 22 April issue on “The World´s Most Dangerous Border”, Newsweek dealt with the Indo-Pak military rivalry in the conventional and nuclear arena. It repeats the CIA warning that the India-Pakistan border is the most probable site for a future nuclear war, and points out that “none of the mechanisms that helped the United States and the Soviet Union to control the Cold War—summit meetings, nuclear hot lines, arms-control treaties-exist in South Asia.” Newsweek even drew an opinion from the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen John Shalikashvili, who said: “It is very worrisome, particularly with the capabilities they both possess.” Said another senior American official, referring to the fact that missile flying-time between India and Pakistan is too short, “At least we and the Soviets had half an hour´s warning time. On the Subcontinent, you´d have none.” Meanwhile, Pakistan´s “scientist-smugglers” working through phony research institutes and dummy corporations, had by 1987 collected enough information and parts required to assemble a bomb, says the magazine. Opposition to nuclear armaments in India is confined to a few tiny and powerless civilian lobbies, while “the political parties range from pro-nuclear to rabidly pronuclear.” A study by Rand Corporation, the conservative group, estimated that a nuclear conflict in South Asia would deliver a death toll of about 100 million. The article concludes, “The brutal truth is that since India and Pakistan have only enough firepower to destroy South Asia, the rest of the world is paying little attention.”
The Non-Flag Carriers
Among the small-time players that have taken to the skies in response to the opening up of the Indian airways, it is conceded that the airline ModiLuft would get a significant edge over the others if it could bring Lufthansa as an equity partner. ModiLuft did get started with the German airlines´ support in training and equipment backup, and it uses Lufthansa colour schemes and comparable logo and writing. The Indian airline has been desperate for Lufthansa to take up to a 25-percent stake in its operations, but the Germans seem uninterested. ModiLuft´s Chairman blamed it on the uncertainty related to the Indian general elections, but one Lufthansa source told an Indian paper that the carrier was “not bothered about the Indian elections. It is just not interested in the ModiLuft option at present”. Thus, the only big airline that has shown interest in the Indian skies is Singapore Airlines, whose tie-up with the Tatas to operate a large airline in India is expected to take off if the Congress comes back to power in New Delhi, and to stall yet again if the BJP makes it.
A Tale of Two Four Wheel Drives
The brief item in Himal—which highlighted the incongruous situation in which the chief of a tiny Nepali irrigation project drove around in an air-conditioned Land Cruiser while his Indian counterpart and head of the Kosi Project just across the border in Bihar drove a vintage Willys Jeep—might or might not have something to do with it. But Schedule 3, para 3 (b) of a draft loan agreement between Nepal´s Department of Agriculture and the Asian Development Bank, contains the following note: The “service vehicles” to be provided under the project, as used in this paragraph and elsewhere in the Loan Agreement, shall be limited to 4-wheel-drive pickups, It shall not include luxury vehicles or sporty 4-wheel-drive vehicles such as Pajeros and Land Cruisers.