Letter to New York Times (May 14 1998) by South Asians Protesting the Indian Nuclear Tests


Dear Editor,

The recent nuclear tests conducted by India under the BJP minority
government is intended to send a jingoistic message to China, Pakistan and
to the entire world.

Hours after the triple explosion, Pakistan's foreign minister Gohar Ayub
Khan noted that the blasts have "sucked Pakistan into an arms race." India
and Pakistan already lead the world in the import of conventional arms
(mainly produced in Europe and the USA). With an intensification of this
new nuclear race, the budgets of these two neighbours will be heavily
burdened by what is euphemistically called "defense." The pressing needs
of the masses will once again be squandered as merchants of death barter
basic needs for immense profit. The carefully developed relationships
between the neighbours have now collapsed. India has long condemned the
special status of declared nuclear power--those that seem to be currently
critiquing India with the greatest force--and it is now itself planning to
be a part of that inherently unjust, arrogant and imperial cabal. And
regional denuclearization, barely on the map as it is, now seems to have
been effectively killed off by the BJP.

We strongly condemn the explosion of these devices and the BJP's policy of
nuclear hawkishness. There is enough indication that the BJP has resorted
to this to whip up ultranationalist sentiments within the country; we are
opposed to this cheap way to generate support, one that is at the expense
of peace and social justice. There is nothing "swadeshi" about this kind of
heinousness.

India must renounce the nuclear option to restart a moral campaign to
denuclearize the world. This is the only sane solution, but one not viable
if the BJP remains in power.

Yours etc.

Vijay Prashad, Trinity College
Biju Matthew, Rider College
M. V. Ramana
Sayan Bhattacharya
Sangeeta Kamat
Lisa Armstrong
Amitava Kumar, University of Florida
Aniruddha Das, Rockefeller University & SAMAR collective
Gautam Premnath, Brown University
Maneesha Lal, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Karamat Ali, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research
Atul Sood, University of Ottawa
Shalini Nataraj
S. Shankar, Rutgers University
Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group, London, UK
Jayanta K. Dey
Sandhya Shukla, University of California, San Diego
Sanjay Asthana, University of Minnesota
Mahua Sarkar
Indira P Ravindran
Rashmi Varma
Subir Sinha
Chandak Sengoopta
Reva Joshee, University of Washington
Arjendu K. Pattanayak, University of Toronto
Vivek Bald
Sharmila Chakravarty
Rahul De'
Bikku Kuruvila, Cornell University