Should India go nuclear?: by Flt Lt L. Hanner, Indian Airforce
Should India go nuclear?: by Flt Lt L. Hanner

This question has been asked by millions in all walks of life for the past decade or so. It forced the topic of conversation among the common men, the subject of discussion among students of different categories and was debated a number of times in the parliament. Articles on this subject appeared, in our dailies and magazines time and again. The very fact that it has been discussed, studied and debated on at all levels of our national life is an indication that the subject has worried us and disturbed our minds as it directly concerns our national security.

To go nuclear or not, the choice is not entirely ours. Apart from our internal condiderations, there are external factors thrust upon us, on the basis of which our decisions are to be made. For example, we have been championing the cause of non-violence and peaceful co-existence among nations of the world for the past twenty five years. We tried to solve our disputes and differences with our neighbours in a peaceful manner. Were we always allowed to have our way? No, we were attacked three times and our national sovereignty was challenged on three occassions. We were compelled to fight to defend ourselves and who can say it will not happen again. We should be well prepared to defend ourselves from any kind of attack, including nuclear attack, by arming ourselves with nuclear weapons.

Politics and diplomacy are highly complicated affairs and they always have their own limitations. It is not possible to forecast with reliable accuracy which nations will be future allies or future enemies. The world events of the past were glaring examples, in which old enemies have become friends and old friends part. New nations have been created and certain nations were being reduced to rubbles by other nations. The friendship among nations will last as long as their own national interest is served by the bond of friendship. So we do not know with certainity who are going to be our friends. Therefore we should reassess the world situation in the light of the latest events and accordingly re-adjust the requirements of our national interest and policy.

Can we rely on the nuclear cover by our ally?. This will be unreliable. Suppose China attacks us with nuclear power, will the Russians retaliate on our behalf with nuclear power, thereby risking her national safety?. Not likely. A strong protest will be made in the the UNO whereas damage was already done to us. We should remember that our national interest and security are the highest priority in the life of any nation and no nation will voluntarily risk her own safety for the sake of other nations.

What powers are going to come up in future?. Will the present progress of the nations in various fields of development remain in peace as it is now?. Not likely. Different nations see things differently. Some give top priority on defence and others do not. Every nation is secretive about her own progress specially in the field of defence oriented scientific development, research and know-how, and our information about their progress in these fields may not be always correct. Suppose Pakistan can produce nuclear fusion even of only 20 kilotons scale and suppose we do not have one. No other nation can assure us peace from the possible nuclear attack by Pakistan, who had suffered humiliation, although of her own doings, at our hands on more than one occasion. Beside Pakistan, there are other potential dangers. Having a nuclear bomb is a protection by itself as it serves as a deterrent.

Can we afford it? This appears to be the main snag to many. Once we have aquired the technical know-how, there is no question of we cannot afford it. It is essential for our own protection and survival. Suppose a border skirmish leads to war and the enemy, knowing fully well that we cannot hit back hard enough, starts raining bombs. Whatever we have achieved and built up will be erased to ground. We will be put back many years behind as it is happening right now in North Vietnam. We should not be only strong but also can be dangerous enough to back up our national interest and policy morally, politically and by the use of force if need be.

Lastly, the nuclear monster can be made use of to do our bidding. It can be useful in our search for minerals underground, it can be useful for creation of dams and tunnels(we can construct big lakes in Rajasthan sector with the help of underground nuclear explosion and turn that desert into the land of greens) and there will be many other fields where we can utilise the nuclear monster to give us prosperity. Only the master will be able to control this monster and we should be this master today, now.