Friday, Aug 08, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
Speaking at a panel discussion on "India's Dangerous Tryst with Nuclear Weapons'' at the release of a book, "Prisoners of the Nuclear Dream'', here on Wednesday, R. Rajaraman, who has been writing extensively on nuclear weapons-related issues, said that with two hostile neighbours India and Pakistan becoming nuclear powers, South Asia was being referred to as "the most dangerous place on the earth''.
Mr. Rajaraman said that both countries were busy consolidating their nuclear arsenals and it was high time this dangerous venture was capped. "On numerous occasions, we have seen India and Pakistan threatening each other to use nuclear weapons. This is a very dangerous situation which could spell doom for the region.''
Highlighting the role of the "Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace'' (CNDP), Satyajit Rath of the Jawaharlal Nehru University said that it was not really a protest movement but a campaign to gather people globally in support of nuclear disarmament. "We need to establish a sense of solidarity among fellow activists and to speak to uncommitted people so that they can also join the movement,'' he said.
Speaking on the economic aspects of the nuclear programme, C. Rammanohar Reddy, Deputy Editor, The Hindu, said that in the 1960s and 1970s there used to be a debate in the country about the "affordability'' of nuclear weapons. "But amazingly now nobody discusses this, neither the media nor the people.''
Stating that by a conservative estimate the cost of India's nuclear programme over the last decade would be around Rs.80,000 crores, Mr. Reddy said that in the last half-a- decade India's defence expenditure in real terms had gone up by 60 per cent. "To carry forward our nuclear programme, we have certainly ignored our other priorities, both social and economic, due to lack of resources.''
According to Jean Dreze, who has been lobbying hard for the cause of nuclear disarmament, the other dangerous aspect of nuclear weapons is that now it is being used for political purposes. "Leaders are now using it to fulfil their geo-political objectives and the most dangerous example of it was the Cuban missile crisis. It is wrong to say that these weapons are being developed for self-defence, but to exert power of intimidation.''
The book, edited by M.V. Ramana and C. Rammanohar Reddy and published by Orient Longman, contains articles which try to address the political, scientific, strategic, economic and environmental aspects of India's decision to proceed with its nuclear weapons programme.
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