t r u t h o u t | 12.17
Wednesday 17 December 2008
by: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Mumbai's terrorist outrage of November 26 has found a response truly matching it in madness. A call for a nuclear war - and nothing less - has come as the culmination of warped and warlike reactions to the traumatizing tragedy, which has claimed a toll of 200 lives.
The demented call, which still cannot, unfortunately, be dismissed as inconsequential, is not only a regional war of the said, scary description. It is also one for a global conflict of the kind.
Fittingly, the call has emanated from the real fuehrer of
The RSS holds a commanding position in the parivar, as its patriarch and ideological fountainhead. It has a hold over the political front of the "family," the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well. Party leaders - even of such notoriety as Narendra Modi, who gloried in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, and of such national-level ambitions as Lal Krishna Advani, styled as the "shadow prime minister" - have always had to proclaim loyalty of the RSS from time to time.
The RSS, as every political reporter in
That was his only attempt at sounding reasonable. Asked if such a war would not escalate into a nuclear conflict, he was disarmingly candid, "Yes, I know it will not stop there. It will be nuclear war and a large number of people will perish."
The vision of the apocalypse was not restricted to the region. "In fact, not me alone but many people around the world have expressed their apprehension that this terrorism may ultimately result in a Third World War. And this will be a nuclear war in which many of us are going to be finished. But according to me, as of now, it is very necessary to defeat the demons and there is no other way."
Then came the coup de grace: "And let me say with confidence that after this destruction, a new world will emerge, which will be very good, free from evil and terrorism."
He had hinted at his horrific vision earlier too. In January 2002, when
In May 2005, in another media interview, he said that Pakistan-controlled
It took a Mumbai, however, for Sudarshan to come out with his blood-curdling call with barely a reservation or qualification.
As Sudarshan acknowledged, he knew what a nuclear war meant - for the region and the world. Every reasonably educated person should know as well, after so many expert studies on the subject.
According to one of the studies, for example, if five cities each of India and Pakistan are hit in a nuclear war, about 1.7 million people will be killed in India and about 1.2 million in Pakistan, or a total of about three million in the region. If 15 cities of the two countries (eight in
Earlier studies have suggested that such a conflict would throw five million tonnes of black soot into the atmosphere, causing a reduction of 1.25 degrees Celsius in the average temperature at the earth's surface for several years. Consequently, the annual growing season in the world's most important grain-producing areas would shrink by between 10 and 20 days. According to Helfand, the world was ill prepared to cope with such a disaster. "Global grain stocks stand at 49 days, lower than at any point in the past five decades. These stocks would not provide any significant reserve in the event of a sharp decline in production. We would see hoarding on a global scale." All this was said quite sometime before the eruption of the latest food crisis.
Yet another study estimates the smoke unleashed by 100 small 15-kiloton nuclear warheads could destroy 30 percent to 40 percent of the world's ozone layer. This is expected to kill off some food crops.
A Third World War with origins in this region may lead to the emergence of a "terror-free" world of Sudarshan's special sense, but it will be a significantly truncated world indeed, to go by all available evidence. Nuclear militarism had always occupied a prominent place on the ultra-nationalist agenda of the RSS and the parivar. The BJP's parent body, the Jan Sangh, had demanded an Indian bomb, even in 1951, a full 13 years before
During the Kargil conflict between
Panchjanya added, "Arise, Atal Bihari! Who knows if fate has destined you to be the author of the final chapter of this long story. For what have we manufactured bombs? For what have exercised the nuclear option?"
What makes Sudarshan's call scarier is the not so indirect support he is receiving from supposedly apolitical "security" experts. Says one of them, Marroof Raza, "The suggestion of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee that
This sounds like a repetition of the RSS chief's rhetoric: "How long can we keep quiet all the time because of the scare of nuclear weapons?"
Satish Chandra, a former Indian ambassador to
Meanwhile, the post-Mumbai war of words between
A semblance of normalcy has now been restored with Mukherjee denying the call and Zardari officially accepting the denial. The incident, however, has shown how well-founded are the apprehensions of an accidental nuclear war in the region, voiced by the peace movements in both the countries
Surprisingly, no political party in
Particularly eloquent, of course, is the silence with which the BJP has greeted the beating of the nuclear war drum. The BJP has always found it impolitic to implement the parivar's agenda fully while in power, which it has so far had to share with allies.
This, however, may precisely be the compulsion behind Sudarshan's call. His interview, which the RSS has taken care to authenticate officially, would appear designed to put pressure on the BJP against deviating from the path of the parivar if it returns to power in five months.
There may, thus, be a method in this nuclear madness.
A freelance journalist and a peace activist in
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