Perspective | Oped


A Tribune Special
The Indian nuclear doctrine
Good in theory, but not credible in practice, says Brijesh D. Jayal

EVEN as the celebrations at our joining the ‘nuclear club’ start to ebb, contrary information from across the Atlantic is getting shriller. The Minstry of External Affairs now accepts that there are differing perceptions on the 123 Agreement between India and the US.


How to tackle mob crimes
Certainty of punishment holds the key
by Arun Bothra

Raj Thackeray has proved it yet again. The mob is beyond the law in the country. One with a crowd can get away  with anything. People often complain that in India laws are different for the rich and the poor.


Slowdown in prices
November 15, 2008
BJP’s doublespeak
November 14, 2008
Naval feat
November 13, 2008
Maternal instinct
November 12, 2008
PM’s assurance
November 11, 2008
Bloody murders
November 10, 2008
Misplaced centre of power
November 9, 2008
Tainted officer
November 8, 2008
Get tough with rapists
November 7, 2008
Ban ki-Moon in Nepal
November 6, 2008
Cops who kill
November 5, 2008

Alva may be down, but not out
by Harihar Swarup
ARGARET ALVA, the blue-eyed girl of Congress President Sonia Gandhi till the other day, has been stripped of all the important party positions she held. She was removed as the AICC general secretary and dropped from the party’s central election committee.

On Record
Come down heavily on terror: Karat
by Faraz Ahmad
RAKASH KARAT, the CPM General Secretary, has been in the party for 38 years. While studying at Madras Christian College, he evinced interest in Marxian thought. However, it came to fruition at the University of Edinburgh where he was rusticated, along with 40 others, for a protest against apartheid in South Africa.



A Tribune Special
The Indian nuclear doctrine
Good in theory, but not credible in practice, says Brijesh D. Jayal

EVEN as the celebrations at our joining the ‘nuclear club’ start to ebb, contrary information from across the Atlantic is getting shriller. The Minstry of External Affairs now accepts that there are differing perceptions on the 123 Agreement between India and the US. When such issues become bones of contention, there is no prize for guessing who will be at the receiving end. Clearly Tarapur has not taught us any lessons.

Throughout this debate, there has at least been unanimity on the need for India to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. In spite of this, one is disappointed that the subject of testing has been treated in such a cavalier fashion.

There has also been deafening silence, from the one community that, at the end of the day, is responsible to the executive to ensure that, should the moment of reckoning ever come, our nuclear weapon systems will deliver on what our nuclear doctrine professes, namely “to credibly deter and should this fail then punitively retaliate”.

The reasons are not far to seek. The armed forces have been left out of the nuclear policymaking, Research and Development and testing loops altogether for reasons best known to successive governments! Not surprisingly, the retired uniformed fraternity has nothing to say, thus depriving the debate of a vital techno-operational viewpoint.

To achieve successful weaponisation quite apart from demonstrating the technology itself, the nuclear devices need to be miniaturised, designs need to be ruggedised, mechanical and electronic arming and safing systems need to be installed to prevent unauthorised or accidental detonations and all these need to be tested for high reliability individually and system wise, both under static and dynamic conditions.

After integration to delivery platforms, the entire weapon system needs to be thoroughly tested through development, field and user trials (except for actual warheads which need their own individual testing) to shake out design/ engineering bugs.

It is important to highlight that institutionalised procedures regarding weapon standards, quality, testing and certification exist and must not be given the go by, just because we are dealing with a nuclear weapon system. Unfortunately, this is precisely what has happened.

For reasons of security and different specialisations needed, the process of nuclear weaponisation was divided between the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and other laboratories. The military as users were kept out.

In his book, Weapons of Peace, Raj Chengappa relates how a confidential review by former Union Minister of State for Defence Arun Singh on instructions of Prime Minister V.P. Singh found the poor coordination between agencies disconcerting and called it an unacceptable situation.

With such a shaky foundation, sound testing with user participation should have assumed even greater criticality. Dr P.K. Iyengar, a former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, who played a key role in Pokhran I, recently told a national daily that nuclear tests are an absolute necessity to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent and such tests are a method by which the requirements of the users, namely the armed forces, are met.

According to the website of the Federation of American Scientists, of the five nuclear weapon states, the US has conducted 1054 nuclear tests, the erstwhile USSR 715, France 210, the UK 45 and China 45. It has also been reported elsewhere that of the tests conducted by the US, around 130 low yield tests were related purely to safety aspects of operationalising nuclear weapons and their designs.

Since these are nations that have developed, tested and operationally deployed nuclear weapons over decades, clearly there is a message in these statistics. Pakistan is not being mentioned because their warheads are proven Chinese designs and their need to test arises not out of design, development and operational compulsions, but purely out of posturing.

S. Ramgotham, in his article “The case for nuclear testing” in Rediff.com says: “But even with all that data from a thousand nuclear tests, American scientists are still unsure about the effects of aging and deterioration on the nuclear parts or the nuclear-explosive package of their warheads. Despite over 50 years of manufacturing and deploying nuclear weapons, despite years of experience and expertise conducting sub-critical tests and computer simulations, American scientists are still unsure about the reliability of their nuclear weapons.

“Indeed, some time ago, weapons experts discovered a design flaw in the W-76 warhead, which the Trident’s D-5 missiles carry, which meant that it perhaps would not have exploded when launched”, he says.

Specifically on the safety aspects, it needs to be emphasised that there is a big gap between testing any weapon, nuclear or otherwise, in laboratory conditions and doing so as an operational tool to be handled in field conditions by the military. The number of safety tests conducted by the US is itself a pointer to the essentiality of testing, preceding operationalising nuclear weapons into military service and keeping them safe and credible for effective operations.

Having recognised the importance of comprehensive testing as a pre-requisite to successful operationalising of nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Weapon States have been keen to bind potential nuclear weapon states into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In this context it, is worth recalling what our External Affairs Minister said in the UN General Assembly in 1995: “We are glad that negotiations are in progress, but we also note that nuclear weapon states have agreed to a CTBT only after acquiring the know-how to develop and refine their arsenals without the need for tests… Developing new warheads or refining existing ones after a CTBT is in place, using innovative technologies, would be as contrary to the spirit of the CTBT as the NPT is to the spirit of non-proliferation.”

This statement implicitly recognises that testing is an integral step towards new weapon development or refining existing ones and that sub-critical capability needs knowhow generated by actual test data. It is no coincidence that the Hyde Act 2006, which authorises the Indo-US deal, also forbids the so-called ‘sub critical’ tests, which do not generate sustained nuclear chain reactions.

Since tests involve the entire development cycle of technology demonstration, proof of design concept, integration to delivery platforms, development and user acceptance tests, clearly the 1998 tests should have been the beginning of this entire testing and operationalising process and not the culmination.

Had we been serious about our long-term strategic objectives, we would have continued with further tests towards achieving the ultimate objective of arriving at a weapon system that had the stamp of the user as an operationally usable, safe and reliable system. Only then would the world have considered our nuclear weapons capability as credible enough to deter.

Earlier, in an article, Dr A. Gopalakrishnan, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, made the point “that the assertion by some senior scientists in 1998 that the country had successfully conducted one thermonuclear weapon test, and therefore need not test again, was strongly repudiated at that time by both national and international nuclear weapon experts”.

Nevertheless, so carried away were our scientists with Pokhran II that painstaking and rational analysis of test results, that is the very object for testing, were short-circuited and they reached the conclusion that further tests were not needed.

Clearly, our strategic nuclear programme was now being driven not by cold technical and operational logic, but hollow posturing. This nuclear and military amateurishness has by no means gone unnoticed within the confines of the elite nuclear club of five and the larger brotherhood of the NSG.

Whatever spin we may want to put on this after the NSG waiver, the bottom line is this. If we test, the waiver is off. So if knowing this we are happy to celebrate the waiver, it only suggests that we do not consider further development tests towards operationalising our nuclear arsenal necessary, a euphoric conclusion that was reached hastily and controversially soon after the 1998 tests and which still remains our nuclear mantra. Our nuclear deterrent will thus remain under- developed, unreliable and unsafe.

None of these knee-jerk reactions befit a nation embarked on safeguarding its national security in the international nuclear environment. A nation that through 60 years has zealously nurtured and guarded its military nuclear potential, through thick and thin. Now that we have convinced ourselves that we have a good deal, we must also accept the inevitable consequence.

That our nuclear doctrine is good in theory, but not credible in practice. Those who know better are quite happy to let us bask in our self-created glory without in any way being deterred. As long as we get drawn into the folds of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, however indirectly, they are quite happy to massage our nuclear-power ego.

While the nuclear powers can thus rest on their laurels for having furthered their non-proliferation agenda, the danger to us is from within. The nation sincerely believes that we have the ability to deliver on our nuclear doctrine. Correspondingly, its strategic foreign policy and security postures will be moulded on this false premise. Should the time ever come to put this capability to test, our nuclear emperor will be found to have no clothes!

The writer is a retired Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force



How to tackle mob crimes
Certainty of punishment holds the key
by Arun Bothra

Raj Thackeray has proved it yet again. The mob is beyond the law in the country. One with a crowd can get away with anything.

People often complain that in India laws are different for the rich and the poor. The media rightly keeps crying foul on numerous incidents of rich people getting away with wrong deeds.

In theory, of course, all are equal before the law. In practice, however, money can create a lot of inequality. It can influence the victim, the witnesses, the police, the advocates, the public prosecutors and at times the courts as well. And in the chain of the criminal justice system, if any one of these links is weakened, it is sure to result in the miscarriage of justice.

However, the law enforcement agencies are more scared of the mobs. A moneyed man can get away only when some public servant betrays the system. With intervention of the bigwigs and a little hue and cry by the media, even the high and mighty offenders can be brought to the knees. With an overzealous media, the likes of Salman Khan, Manu Sharma and Sanjeev Nanda are really scared of getting on the wrong side of the law. But to deal with an irate crowd is a different ball game.

Even the most efficient and honest officers invariably fail to punish a crowd. Some fail to rein in it at streets during the frenzy. Most fail to bring it to book after the crime. And almost all fail in getting it punished in the court of law. A crowd can get away with murders, rapes, arson et al. It can butcher thousands of people in Delhi and Ahmedabad in the name of religion, stop industry in Singur, destroy railway property in Bihar or chase and strip naked a helpless girl in Guwahati. It can even step on the toes of the otherwise high and mighty segments of our society like the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the press or the legislature. Lynching of a District Magistrate in Gopalganj, attacks on the office of a leading newspaper in Chennai or storming of courts in Ghaziabad or the Orissa State Assembly in Bhubaneswar are a few examples.

In case of mob crimes, democracy has overtaken the rule of law. Arguably, democracy and rule of law have been the legacies of the British. Both look complimentary to each other. But for managers of law and order, democracy takes precedence over the rule of law. When confronted with crowd crimes, the Goddess of Justice also sees from within the mythical veil and favourably considers the will of the mob. Democracy is, after all, by the people, for the people!

The mob has been the biggest criminal in our country since Independence. One estimate puts the toll during Partition riots at one million. But no one tells us who killed them and how many of them were booked. The carnage has continued in numerous riots from remote parts of Bihar to our national capital. However, from Kanpur to Kandhamal and Meerut to Mumbai, no mob has been sufficiently punished till date.

Anonymity is a big motivation for mobs to commit crimes with impunity. Some NGO, human rights group or political party will jump in to prove that the crowd was innocent. When it comes to mob crime, there is no sense of guilt or shame. Their democratic values probably call for a blind support to mobs, even to the blind ones.

The state’s response also depends on the crowd size. If it is big, we have so many committees to waste time and ensure that no one is punished. The possibility of punishment is inversely proportionate to the crowd size. The bigger the crowd involved in a crime, the less is the possibility of punishment.

There are provisions in the Indian Penal Code by which a crime committed by a member of an unlawful assembly is sufficient to punish all of them. But practically for all the crimes committed by a crowd, not even a few are punished.

The response of the law enforcement agencies towards mob crimes has been more in fire-fighting mode. Whereas a lot of endeavour is made to prevent and control the riots, not much attention is paid to post-riot efforts. After each round of the fire-fighting is over, both people and police tend or pretend to forget bitter memories of riots. But this convenient forgetting and forgiving ensures fresh and bigger trouble next time. The security agencies may not draw lessons but trouble mongers learn for sure that they can go scot-free under the cover of anonymity.

The use of force even against wild crowds is becoming more and more risky. Police officers on the spot know that non-use of force may or may not invite trouble but with use of force they are doomed for certain. With human right groups breathing down their neck, they find allowing the mob its way is a safer proposition for them.

What is the way out then? In an era of over-vigilant media and human rights groups, it may be difficult to use force to stop a berserk crowd at once. However, the use of non-lethal weapons, which incapacitate many but do not kill any, need to be increased. Unfortunately, even now in most areas of the country policemen carry .303 rifles or SLRs on law and order duties. One bullet of these weapons can kill more than one, at times, that too, at a long distance.

The use of force has obvious limitations. More important is to take away the advantage of anonymity. The use of videography has been found to be very helpful in such a scenario. But more vital is to make painstaking efforts after the riots in identifying culprits and bring them to book. This may be difficult but not an impossible task as it is made out to be in many cases. A little more effort after the occurrence can ensure that the same people would not dare to repeat the adventure.

Rioters would desist only if we are able to make riot a costly affair for them. At present the state loses life and property but rioters lose nothing. There is no need to shoot or hang rioters. The only thing necessary is that each time and each one of them must be punished. It is not the severity but certainty of punishment that deters crime. This is truer in case of mob crimes.

The writer, an IPS officer, is the Superintendent of Police (Operations), Bhubaneswar, Orissa



Alva may be down, but not out
by Harihar Swarup

MARGARET ALVA, the blue-eyed girl of Congress President Sonia Gandhi till the other day, has been stripped of all the important party positions she held. She was removed as the AICC general secretary and dropped from the party’s central election committee.

Her fault: she publicly demanded some kind of family entitlement in elections, implying that sons, daughters, son-in-laws and close relatives of senior leaders should be given preference while finalising the list of electoral candidates. Alva lobbied hard for a nomination for her son, Nivedith, in the Karnatala elections six months back but failed. She has been upset since then.

When she saw the kith and kin of senior leaders getting tickets in the elections to six states, she could not contain her anger and lamented that tickets were sold in the Karnataka elections. The dig was, apparently, against AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh and MOS in PMO, Prithviraj Chauhan, who along with others, were overseeing elections in Alva’s home state and responsible for denial of ticket to Nivedith.

She appears to be suggesting that if the Congress leadership can be reserved on the basis of membership of one family, second-rung leaders, too, are similarly entitled to ensure politically lucrative careers for their sons and daughters. This is for the first time that a senior Congress leader has suggested some kind of a public entitlement and the Congress leadership has to move decisively against the claim of family privileges.

Luck smiled on 66-year-old Alva most of the time in her 36-year-long political career. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha when she was 32 in 1972 and remained there till 1998. He faced the Lok Sabha election for the first time in 1998 and won, beginning her fifth term in Parliament. As an MP, she spearheaded four major legislative amendments passed by Parliament — on women’s rights, marriage laws, equal remuneration and reservation of quotas for women in local bodies. She was made MOS in the HRD ministry in the Rajiv Gandhi government.

Her first setback came in the 2004 general elections. But then, even in defeat, she was lucky. She was appointed Adviser to the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training, a body set up to improve the standards of legislative function in Parliament and state assemblies. Sonia Gandhi also appointed her as an AICC general secretary and given charge of key states like Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana.

She was encouraged to join politics by her fathering-in-law Joachim Alva and mother-in-law Violet Alva, Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. It was in 1952 that Violet was elected to the Rajya Sabha and Jochim to the Lok Sabha, both from the then Bombay state, making them the first couple to be elected to Parliament. In recognition of their services to Indian polity, their portrait was unveiled in Parliament. Margaret married Alva’s son, Niranjan in May 1964.

Even though Margaret was encouraged by her father-in-law to join politics, it was the then Karnataka Chief Minister Devaraj Urs who was Margaret’s  real mentor in politics. He was a close aide of Indira Gandhi when she was out of power. Margaret hails from a middle-class family of Mangalore. Her parents — P.A. Nazareth and Elizabeth — died when she was barely 16. Her brothers and sister provided her education till matriculation. After that, she was on her own. She was a meticulous and talented student, having done BA, BL. She choose to joint the legal profession but fate willed otherwise.

Margaret, at the moment, is down but not out. Though divested of posts, she continues to be in the Congress. As her career graph shows, she may stage a come back before long. She still enjoys Sonia Gandhi’s confidence.



On Record
Come down heavily on terror: Karat
by Faraz Ahmad

Prakash Karat
Prakash Karat

PRAKASH KARAT, the CPM General Secretary, has been in the party for 38 years. While studying at Madras Christian College, he evinced interest in Marxian thought. However, it came to fruition at the University of Edinburgh where he was rusticated, along with 40 others, for a protest against apartheid in South Africa.

For quite some time, he assisted A.K. Gopalan, then the CPM leader in the Lok Sabha. He was writing his speeches and doing his secretarial work in New Delhi while simultaneously building up the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union. He went underground during the Emergency (1975-77).

He was elected to the CPM central committee in 1985 and then to the Politbureau in 1992. In the past two years, he led a fiery attack against the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Reacting to the criticism by CPM Politbureau member Brinda Karat of the government over the October 30 Assam blasts, the Congress raised the bogey of the CPM and the BJP discreetly moving closer. Now that the Left has withdrawn support to the Congress-led UPA government, it is perhaps natural for the Congress to apprehend some tacit understanding between the CPM and the BJP.

Two days after the Assam blasts, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmad alleged some collusion between the CPM and the BJP and even charged the former of seeking to revive POTA along with the latter. The Sunday Tribune decided to confront Prakash Karat with the allegations and to see whether he and the CPM have really gone soft on the BJP and its saffron brothers.


Q: After the Assam blasts, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmad had alleged that keeping in mind future political options, you have grown soft towards the BJP and started seeking revival of POTA.

A: Our stand on POTA is well known. We are not for such draconian laws. I don’t know what the Congress spokesman has referred to. But there is nothing like that.

We have been asserting repeatedly that terrorism cannot be ascribed to any one community. The recent expose has amply demonstrated that terrorist elements can come from either the Hindu community or the Muslim community. The ULFA has been known to plant bombs. So the question is to come down firmly against such networks and groups, irrespective of their community affiliations.

Q: What do you say of the Sangh Parivar’s involvement in recent terrorist activities?

A: The recent investigations into the Malegaon blasts have shown that some extremist Hindutva forces are indulging in terrorist activities. In fact, if the 2006 Nanded blasts had been properly investigated and pursued, this network which has developed so big would have been curbed.

Q: How far back do you think it goes?

A: Even in the Nanded blasts, the same players were involved. You must have noticed that the name of Bhosala Military School came up before the latest Malegaon blasts. The Maharashtra government and the Army are now saying that none apart Lieutenant-Colonel Srikant Purohit from the armed forces can be suspected of any involvement in any terrorist activity. But B. S. Moonje had been running his military school for decades, long before you and I were born.

Q: Don’t you think the armed forces and security and intelligence agencies need to do at least some internal reappraisal in the light of these revelations?

A: Definitely. The government and the Army authorities must seriously look into this aspect. After Independence, anybody with even Communist family connections was barred from the services and, if they were found, they were immediately removed. But for people belonging to the RSS, there has been no such bar. 
As far as the Bhosala Military School is concerned, how is it that the government is allowing private educational institutions connected to the RSS to run such military schools? After all, it was RSS leader Moonje who founded the school. This school cannot be treated like Sainik Schools. The school has to be asked to close down its military programme immediately.

Q: Many facts about these activities of these groups were known since the Nanded, Parbhani and Jalna blasts. Why did they fail to act then?

A: The investigations into the 2006 blasts in Nanded which killed two Bajrang Dal activitists showed that the same group was responsible for Jalna and Parbhani incidents too. But after the ATS inquiry, the case was handed over to the CBI which diluted the charges. The CBI has to answer for this. It emanates from the stereotypes that terrorism is only indulged in by one community.



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