Source: The Asian Age 27 May 1998

[Indian] Scientists to rally against Pokhran

By Jaideep V.G.

Bangalore: Members of the scientific community have

broken their fortnight-long silence and spoken

against the nuclear tests. Headed by Prof. D.P.

Sengupta of the Indian Institute of Science,

scientists are planning to set up forums involving

students and professionals to speak against the

tests.

"The initial euphoria has begun to fade away and

the full import of the blasts are hitting us now,"

said Prof. Sengupta. "Even scientists who were

celebrating the blasts have started fearing the

repercussions," he told The Asian Age.

Prof. Sengupta attributed the initial silence to

confusion. "There was no clear voice of dissent

because we refused to see the true consequence of

the blasts. We thought we scored one over America

by not submitting to its demands and felt we have

given America the right answer," he said.

Prof. Sengupta felt the Indian public had not had

cause for celebration for quite some time. "There

has not been any good news for us to celebrate. And

the blasts seemed like a tremendous achievement,"

he added. Scientists in India always knew the

country had the nuclear option and when the tests

were finally carried out, it seemed like the onus

had shifted and "it was all over at last." However,

Prof. Sengupta said: "A cold war or arms race is

the last thing this subcontinent needs. Moreover,

there is a tendency among the ultra-right wing

faction in India to take advantage of the blasts.

This is totally untenable."On the fallout of

economic sanctions, he said the governmentís

assurance that sanctions will not affect

developmental programmes is not true. "Sanctions

have already affected certain departments at IISc

and I can only see it increasing. Some projects

which are being funded by the Centre have been

scrapped as they were indirectly funded by the

USA," he said. Prof. Sengupta said incidents like

these could prepare grounds for dissent among

scientists.

Though the number of scientists speaking against

the tests is small, Prof. Sengupta was confident it

would become substantial in the coming weeks. "We

will hold forums where people from various

disciplines will speak their minds about the

tests," he said. The first of these forums is to be

held on May 30 near the Reserve Bank of India on

Nrupatunga Road in the city.