Nuclear Disarmament: An Indian View

16 Mar, 1998    ·   71

Maj. Gen. Dipankar Banerjee (Retd.) reports on a briefing by Jaswant Singh on his party's perception of security matters

The Oxford Research Group seminar on Global Security and Nuclear Disarmament held its wrap up session at the USI auditorium on 6 March '98. In addition to a presentation of the Workshop findings, there were a few keynote speeches. The more important one was by Shri Jaswant Singh, a senior Party member of the BJP who was for a brief period the Finance Minister of India in June 1996. He is widely expected to be a senior minister again. His remarks are briefly summarised in this report and may provide an idea of the thinking of the BJP leadership on security matters.



Shri Jaswant Singh said that India had fought 37 conflicts since independence and had to always remain alert against external intervention. Even today it faced many threats and had to remain vigilant. The nuclear debate in India in the past had been more moralistic than realistic. In the rest of the world it had moved from realistic, i.e. questions of national security and deterrence to moralistic, where it was being contended that weapons of mass destruction were bad, especially for those who do not have them. The reality is military power is the currency of power in today’s world and nuclear weapons are the most important element of that power.



India had exercised great restraint in its nuclear weapon policy in the past. It had considered that to be in its best national interest. But, today India is discriminated against. Good relation between nations is based on good fences and good defensive capabilities. Western countries have followed an evangelical approach on nuclear weapons. It was bad and therefore, it preached that others must not have them. But, this did not apply to themselves. Even though Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) cannot be used, must not be used, they must still posses them. Only India cannot have them. To prevent a chain reaction of nuclear proliferation it is necessary first for the P5 to abolish nuclear weapons.



Shri Raja Ramanna, a former Minister of State for Defence, said that the embargo imposed by the nuclear states after 1974 had affected our nuclear power generation, but these difficulties were now almost overcome.