AN APPEAL FROM SCIENTIFIC WORKERS' FORUM, WEST BENGAL ON RECENT TEST EXPLOSIONS OF NUCLEAR BOMB BY THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
This is to express our dismay, shock and anguish at the recent Nuclear bomb tests by the Government of India. The use of N-bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a shame for humanity. But the run for aquiring such weapons of mass destruction is still on. Present day nuclear weapons are much more destructive in nature in terms of its both short and long term effects. It is distressing that India has become a party to trigger arms race involving such weapons in this part of the continent.
There are a million issues which need urgent attention and yet our Government is diverting the country's efforts and scarce resources to a non-issue. Although it is well accepted a fact in knowledgable circle today that nuclear weapons are not at all effective as deterrant.
Before being happy about the achievements of our nuclear tests we should pause to think about our limited achievements in several domestic matters of grave importance. We continue to be in the list of one of the least developed countries. We have one of the lowest per capita incomes. Half of our population is illiterate. Our education system is in a complete mess. There doesn't exist such a thing as health care. Even hospitals in urban areas lack basic facilities and in rural areas they are abominable. Millions are forced to live in slums in subhuman conditions. We are a country where child labour and female infanticide still continue to exist and over 1.5 million children die annually due to diarrhoea. The list is unending.
We believe that there are better ways of building the county's defence. The best way would be to develop better relations with our neighbours. We should not start with the assumption that peace with our neighbours is impossible. We believe that this act of our Government will add to the tension already prevailing in this region and will give rise to a nuclear and conventional arms race. The latter will only benefit the arms selling countries. The best defence of any country is freedom from hunger, disease, illiteracy and harmony with its neighbours.
The Government has adopted the same cynical language as the nuclear weapon powers by claiming that these tests will contribute to disarmament. While making it clear that we had the relevant technological capability, India had nevertheless not taken the step towards weaponisation in order not to initiate a nuclear arms race in the sub-continent. At the same time, we had taken a firm stand against signing both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) because they contained discriminatory clauses. Strangely enough it is now argued by sections in the Government as well as the media, that we should accept and sign the CTBT!!
We should gaurd against being swayed by chauvinistic feelings. Unbridled chauvinism has led to catastrophies in the past. We urge all people believing in peace and true progress to take stand against such act of our Government.*
*The text is prepared in tune with the declaration signed by the scientists of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai and some other Institutes of our country.
Scientific Workers' Forum, West Bengal
Address for communication in this regard:
LD/5 Kusthia Housing Estate, Calcutta 700 039, India
Tel. 343 8374
E-mail: sm1 @ cucc. ernet. in
swfwb @ hotmail.com