Monday, April 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Keep nuclear options open

I have read with interest Wg Cdr Gurmail Singh’s letter, “Flawed nuclear doctrine” and Dalip Singh Ghuman’s “N-policy: no-first-use clause is OK”. The doctrine of “no first use” adopted by the Indian administration may earn the accolades of the world community but this policy would definitely defeat the very purpose which the nuclear weapons have been raised for. I don’t think there is any use of retaining the nuclear arsenals if they cannot provide us minimum deterrence and security cover.

The “no-first-use” clause reduces to half the deterrence value of nuclear weapons. It is now clear that we are not going to “first” use the WMDs under any circumstances. The nuclear weapons will be retained only for the purpose of retaliation and used when the adversary has already hit the target on Indian soil. It is not important what you decide for yourself and how you intend to live with your nuclear weapons. What is more important is to force your enemy behave as a responsible nation.

Only a few months ago, the military ruler admitted at a press conference that he had conveyed to the Indian administration through all the major leaders of the world that India should not expect a traditional war with Pakistan. If not traditional, then what kind of war? Certainly, a nuclear war, he hinted at. We cannot afford to be casual and emotional on this issue. Pakistan imposed on us Kargil and a year-long stand at the same time forced the Indian forces to stay away from moving even an inch ahead into its territory through the diplomacy of nuclear blackmail. And despite the military might and nuclear weapons, India had to be on the defensive. Certainly a sorry state of affairs!



Self-moratorium is, no doubt, good, but it does not guarantee us a similar doctrine by Pakistan. Days after India and Pakistan had gone nuclear, we proposed to have a “no first use” pact with Pakistan, but it turned down the proposal straightway. Having seen Kargil and a year-long stand-off, an average Indian is now convinced that our decision to go nuclear has not brought us any good. On the other hand, Pakistan, with all the options open with it, has till now derived maximum advantage from its unwritten doctrine of “first use” against India. It was really shameful and unfortunate when the world leaders visiting India and Pakistan during the stand-off advised us to exercise restraint as Pakistan was bent upon using the nuclear arsenals.

Be it a military or civilian regime, Pakistan would never have any kind of agreement with India on this issue. And self-moratorium on our part regarding “no first use is meaningless as long as Pakistan continues with its first-use doctrine against us. keeping in mind the security concern, the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) had also urged the government to review this policy of “no first use”. It is in the interest of the nation that we also keep all options open.

Prof AJAY KAHOL, Dhaliara

Protecting the environment

A clean environment is the order of the day. Events like earth summits and the observance of an international environment day affirm genuine global concern in this direction.

During pre-partition days, pollution was far too less. Those days, as kids, we used to watch water carriers (“mashiqees”) sprinkling water, twice a day, through narrow bazaars and lanes in our towns, particularly during summer. They carried water in leather containers tied to their hips. The practice was established and religiously pursued, a legacy of the British. Water carriers used to be either the paid employees or were compensated in some other ways by municipal committees in each town.

Population, pollution and traffic density have since multiplied many times. Dust-laden trees within municipal limits add to the shabbiness of the environment. The concept of “mashiqee” be revived. Replace the olden ways of sprinkling water with new mechanical means like water sprinklers etc. Periodic washing of roads and dust-laden trees be also done. Besides, technology for artificial rain can be developed.

Sufficient funds and resources under environmental projects are made available at each level. Don’t let those old-time practices dry up. The old days had better ways of making our environment healthy and happy. Shall we hope to see a beginning this summer?

Lt Col Bachitter Singh (retd), Mohali


The flame of forest

The late Dr M.S. Randhawa (ICS), an authority on landscaping and floriculture, in one of his books on flowering trees has depicted a beautiful photograph of the “flame of the forest” (that is dhak, not gulmohar) tree at the flowering stage on its cover. He had also described the tree in detail. The book is published by the ICAR. A description of both trees i.e gulmohar (poinciana - regia) and dhak (butea-monosperma) is given in the book. I request Mr Noatay to go through this book before writing on the subject.

I again disagree with Mr Noatay that “gul” stands for “gulab” — the rose flower. “Gul” is a Persian word adopted by Urdu which means flower, and not the roset flower. Any Urdu/Persian scholar can verify it.

S. P. S. DOSANJH, Ludhiana

Organ trading

Amritsar’s loss has turned out to be Lahore’s gain. With the opening of the lid of the Amritsar kidney scam, the focus of transplant tourism has shifted to Lahore as is evident from by the following story: A London property developer has become the first person in Britain to admit publicly to being a “transplant tourist”. Thor Audersen (33) travelled from London to Lahore in February to buy a kidney from a 22-year-old Pakistani woman. Andersen, who was unable to find a suitable donor in Britain, paid £ 25,000 in travel and medical expenses, of which £ 3,000 went to the donor, a young woman named Sumaira from a village outside Lahore. The sale of the kidney had been arranged by her parents, who used the money to pay off their debt and buy a piece of land.

“You can look at it as exploitation,” said Andersen from his house in Mayfair “but donors who may be starving can survive for a long time on the money and the patients get their lives back. It works both ways”. By the way, Sumaira will die if her remaining kidney fails.

K. J. S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

War effect: insecurity

After Iraq, who will be the next victim of American hegemony? Is it Libya, North Korea, Pakistan or Kashmir? Only Mr Bush can answer this question. By waging an uncalled-for war against Iraq, the US has paved the way for Muslim polarisation, the consequential effects of which are too early to predict.

After Blix had declared that Iraq was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction, most of the countries opposed the very idea of war both in and outside the UN, but their lackadaisical ground support for world peace, failed to stop an obstinate Bush from giving an illegimate punishment to Iraq. In what way is this US action different from terrorism?

Countries wishing to oppose the US cannot do so for fear of inviting the wrath of Mr Bush, who has turned out to be a venom spitter. War might end sooner than later, but one thing is certain that the Bush and Blair victory over Iraq has also bought in insecurity for their citizens in most countries of the world, especially the Muslim dominated ones.

Col KULDIP SINGH GREWAL (retd), Patiala


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