Nuclear Power in India
Deterrence is possible only when one has the capability of offensive—euphemized as defense preparedness. As a man, being panicked by militants backed by their political friends, has to manage his safety so has a nation that faces hostile countries around it and an equally hostile world lobby. A nation has not only to be strong. It becomes imperative for her that it must seem to be strong. The nation must exhibit its pride not only in its achievements in the past but in its performances in the present too. That is what happened in India after a very long time. Coming out of the long periods of suppression and submission before different inimical forces attacking the country for centuries together and the presence of an unconcerned—rather unfriendly brazen and impudent group of elites inside the country the government of India took a long leap to show the potentialities that the nation now possesses.
Pokhran Nuclear bomb test
May 11,1998 was a red letter day in the history of India after decades of political indecisions and sagging image of the rulers. The Pokhran 1998 test was as strong a bombshell for the Nuclear stales as the happenings that started in Meerut in 1857 initiating the first war of independence was for the British regime instilling confidence among the people in the country that they can answer a foreign power in the same coins used by them for suppression or their hegemonistic attitude.
The decision to induct Nuclear weapons was stated in the BJP manifesto of 1996 and 1998 and was in the National Agenda for governance that the party put together with the allies. It was only a question of timing as to when actually to test the bombs and induct them into country's arsenal. There was no question of dithering. Still two events in Pakistan served as catalysts. The first was test firing of the North Korean cloned intermediate range ballistic missile Ghauri by Pakistan on April 6,1998. The second was a veiled threat of bringing more formidable foreign forces to attack India. The April 17 visit of Pakistani Minister for Information Mushahid Hussain to the Muridke camp of Markaz Dawawal Irshad, the parent organization of the Lashkar-e-Taliba one of the most active terrorist groups)'fighting in Jammu and Kashmir was not just a coincidence, it was rather a part of the chain of anti Indian activities that were going on in the neighboring country for a long time. The massacre on the same night /at Prankot—Machal Gala in Udhampur district too was not a coincidence bit was a part of the nefarious activities of the ISI. The language used by the Pakistani Information Minister was repulsive provocative—rather the language of hate towards India. "The continuing Sino-Pak nexus for significant transfers of restricted technologies and the belligerence with which Islamabad greeted the new government in Delhi were the final determinants." "We finally decided enough is enough. Try as we might, but the world still does not care. So we decided to do what was in our national security interests, since there was little we were achieving by being timid" said a key member of the Government. The timidness had been continuing since the first Pokhran test in 1974.
Nuclear Power as a Military utility
The actual preparations had started on March 29 when Dr. Raja Ramanna, the architect of the/ May, 1974 test was inducted into the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. A military observer had then hinted that "It was clearly a case of bestowing a certain status on one of the Key figures of 1974, and it sent a message across the board." R. Chidambaram, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Scientific Advisor of the Defense Minister and the Chief of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) had already started/preparations. The Nuclear scientists worked at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) while the DRDO worked at the Defense Laboratory, Jodhpur—preparing the test site. It was on May 9 that the Defense Minister and the three service chiefs were called in to the Prime Minister's Office and briefed about the impending test. The President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces arrived from foreign tour on May 10 and the D-Day was/fixed for May 11, 1998. A group of selected politicians and government officials were waiting at 7, Race Course Road when the telephone rang just/after 3.44 p.m. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was on the line at the Alpha Range who said in an excited voice "Shakti is successful" — 'Shakti' being the code word for the three simultaneous Nuclear tests carried out on May 11.
"There was jubilation that we had demonstrated not just the spine to tell the world, but the technological statement that went with it", said an official. The jubilation was share4 by the whole nation when it was on the air in the afternoon. The Prime Minister himself revealed the news in a hurriedly convened press conference. The tests have proved that "India has a proven capability for a weaponised Nuclear programme." The triple tests were a simple fission device, a low yield device and a thermo-Nuclear device. The simple fission device is a low yield thermo-Nuclear device of 0.2 KT. It is similar to its 1974 predecessor. It will/be the basis for free-fall aircraft delivered Nuclear bombs. These are easily assembled as they are quite unsophisticated and are 'akin to the first-generation devices using the fission route to a Nuclear reaction.' The second one the 15 KT fission device has a much wider military utility. It is a boosted fission device with! which the country can make Nuclear weapons in a wide spectrum like artillery shells, specialized demolition devices for military engineers and submarine guided munitions for use in combat aircraft. Unlike the first device it is based on a higher level of warhead design capability. The third is the 45 KT thermo Nuclear devices that are based on a fusion Nuclear chain. To be precise it is hydrogen bomb. It is with this that India too has mastered the Nuclear weapons technology for it is the route that a country has to take tot deliver intermediate range or inter-continental ballistic missiles. The two tests on 13th May were the Low-yield devices of 0,5 KT and 0.3 KT.
The government asserted that there was a national consensus on the Nuclear option. "We have exercised that option." President Narayanan said, "India has always stood and worked for a peaceful world without Nuclear weapons and this achievement will enable us to make a more effective contribution to the objective of complete and comprehensive disarmament and a non discriminatory and more equal wdrld order." The opposition parties too welcomed the Nuclear tests with the reservation that they applauded the scientists without mentioning the achievement and the courage of the government. L.K. Advani, in a later statement on July 2 said that 'the government by these tests has demonstrated its political will'. Just keeping the options of signing CTBT does not help. Those options have to be exercised, he said. A leading national daily wrote in its editorial "India which traditionally has accommodated a global vision alongside its national interests, has a responsibility in reshaping the new world order" and "persuade the weapons powers and the non-weapons powers about ways and means of delegitimising weapons of mass destruction and eliminating them. India must seize the high moral ground again." In a front page editorial on the 12th the editor wrote. 'This momentous step has been taken by leaders who have always believed in unabashed and unambiguous Nuclearisation. What is more reassuring, even for those who may have been arguing for restraint and ambiguity, is the fact that these leaders also enjoy an impeccable reputation in terms of personal integrity and national commitment." It was a bold departure from the past. "The scientific wherewithal had been there for several years now. The only thing that lacked was the trigger device of political will and the kind of supreme conviction that enables leaders to move away from the familiar, well trodden path. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narsingh Rao couldn't use the option." "The difference now is that India seeks to play that game as a Nuclear weapons power. This is the end of ambiguity and hypocrisy." The paper highlighted the point of secrecy that was maintained when the editor wrote, "It is also a cause of reassurance that even in these cynical times when we tend to believe so easily that any fellow-Indian's loyalties are purchasable for a few dollars, a scholarship or a green card, the establishment (both scientific and political) hawnanaged to keep such a major move a secret despite the snooping that extends from the Capital's garrulous cocktail circuit to outer space." He further wrote "Pokharan—II is like a jump—start to India's dormant, frozen spirit."
Agni and Prithvi as Nuclear war head carriers
It was not simply a question of secrecy maintained but of maneuvering too. "Despite a $ 27 billion budget and a galaxy of sky satellites, U.S. intelligence agencies failed to detect India's preparation for the Nuclear blasts." They did it in 1995. According to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger the United States still had no confirmation of the test nearly 12 hours after the blast occurred. Indian scientists observed the orbits of sky satellites and then moved equipment at times when their calculations told there was nothing overhead. India is capable of determining what satellites are in which orbit. Thus the American satellites were in our blind spot. Because of India's own satellite-imaging capability which gives it an understanding of what can and can't be seen from space. The USA knows more about the North Korean program than the Indian program, Mr. Berger conceded. According to Robert Windrem, author of Critical Mass on the Nuclear tensions in the sub-continent said. "Much US intelligence on other nations' Nuclear programs is derived from electronic evesdropping on sales of. Equipment related to weapons development. India has prevented Western intelligence from recruiting spies in India by an aggressive program of counter intelligence that includes surveillance and even attempted recruitment of diplomats and suspected agents. They don't need a lot of outside help." According to Manvendra Singh Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has a great interest in Astrology. He noticed that "With the planetary configuration on May 11 exactly as it was on May 18,1974 when I India tested its first atomic device, it was the national penchant for studying the skies that finally proved to be the nemeses for the prying satellites." India's expertise in remote sensing technology through its IRS series satellites also helped it in preparing the testing site in the Alpha Range near Pokhran. India kept track of the two US sky satellites KH-11 and Lacrosse. Moreover these was a strategic deception too as the 37th test of Trishul surface-to-air missile was being simultaneously conducted thousands of miles away at Chandipur in Orissa. The Chinese surveillance facility at Coco Islands was activated about Agni launch and the US satellites focused cameras at Chandipur rather than at Pokhran. Thus when one of the satellites did make a pass over India Washington was asleep. The images were of no use to the experts there. There was much furore in the USA on their failure.
Media had the opinion that it was just a coincidence that the May 18, 1974 test and the one on May 11,1998 fell on Buddha Purnima. But a national daily wrote in its editorial 'Buddha Smiles again'. It is actually not a coincidence but the will of the Almighty; and it was rather proper to have the tests on this auspicious day as Lord Buddha believed in waging a war for a righteous cause as a last resort. When an Army General approached Tathagat (Lord Buddha) and asked him "Does Tathagat think that even a war for righteous causes is to be condemned". Lord Buddha replied "Yes Tathagat is of the strict view that a war in which a brother kills his brother human being is deplorable. But Tathagat fully supports a war for a righteous cause as a last resort."
According to C. Uday Bhaskar, deputy director''Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis New Delhi. "The very existence of a Nuclear weapon shrinks the sovereignty of contiguous (adjoining) states. While the world has lived with this reality since Hiroshima in 1945, the first Chinese test of 1964 resulted in a direct shrinking of Indian sovereignty. With each Technological perch that the Chinese arsenal reached, India's discomfiture increased." He is of the view, and rightly too that after May 11,1998 India's WMD (Weapons of mass destruction) security is no longer as dependent on the intentions of our principal interlocutors. All the Nuclear states have assured their security in the same way. While we gained it and are satisfied with only five tests USA proved its superiority by having 1,032 tests and having 35,000 Nuclear weapons in its sack to assure its security. It is ready to keep only 3500 by the year 2003. Russia conducted 715 tests and has agreed to reduce the warheads to only 3000. France needed 210 tests to prove its security while China with 45 tests might be having 500 weapons. It may not be very convincing that Germany, Japan and Canada have ensured their WMD security under the US Nuclear umbrella when even Israel is considered a Nuclear-capable state in a secretive manner. A few other smaller states may be following the lead spuriously given by Israel.
The media—both English and language papers—appreciated the spirit of Vajpayee Government who 'consigned the Nehruvian High Strategy doctrine to the archives.' "This is the boldest policy shift ever made by a conservative establishment whose hallmark so far had been consensus and continuity," writes Shekhar Gupta. The government was expected to distance itself from the thinking of the Nehruvian era 'when diplomacy was still seen to be the game for the idealistic and the innocent' because of which we lost half of Kashmir to Pakistan and a long long stretch of land to China. The post Bangladesh ego of Indira Gandhi based on emotional and sentimental grounds could not take the advantage of 1971 war in which the losses were ours and gains were Mujib's' Bangladesh. The Scientific and security establishments have proved their sincerity and achievement. Now it is the turn of the people of the country and the leadership to reflect the mind of a mature self assured and powerful nation and not the reactions of a shaky and defensive establishment otherwise, as Shekhar says, "Only a self pitying, inferiority complexed Indian mind steeped in Nehruvian hypocrisy would a Third World bomb sound like a sexy new idea." Instead of being sidelined as a Nuclear rogue our efforts should be to see that "India is embraced back on the world's centre-stage as a strong power."
Krishna Basu thanks for this article and it is really worth reading. Agni and Prithvi can further be developed to reach more distance so that India can strike the enemies with more ease.