Hiroshima Day (6 August) this year provided a good occasion for all democratic and progressive forces from all over the country to voice their opposition to the BJPs moves to accelerate the nuclear race in the region. Though the voices of protest encompassed a wide spectrum of opinions related to the bomb, condemnation of Pokhran II was a common point of protest. From school children to workers, from left parties to NGOs, all and sundry came out all across India to condemn the blasts. Remembering the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all the protest demonstrations resolved not to repeat the tragedy.
CPI(ML) and its mass organisations participated in many joint programmes all over the country. At many places it also undertook some independent programmes.
In Vijaywada seven ML parties including our Party, organised a rally and burnt the effigy of Bill Clinton and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.The protesters were forced into a minor clash with the police. Scientists, doctors and prominent citizens of Chennai launched a signature campaign against nuclear race in the region and submitted the signatures to the governor of Tamil Nadu in a procession. A mass meeting and a colourful procession was jointly oganised by CPI (ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI and AGP and their mass organisations in Guwahati.
A colourful citizens march was organised in Delhi. The march attracted citizens from diverse fields including prominent personalities. Various mass organisations, democratic groups, human rights groups etc. participated in the march. A contingent comprising of members of AISA, AIPWA and AICCTU also joined the march. An appeal signed by the participating organisations and prominent individuals was also distributed during the march. Similar citizens marches were taken out in other cities all over India. AISA and RYA units in UP and Bihar staged demonstrations in various cities and burnt the effigy of Bill Clinton, Vajpayee and Advani. CPI (ML) units also observed Hiroshima Day by organising different forms of protest demonstrations at Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada, Allahabad, Benaras, Patna and various other cities.
In Siliguri, as part of the West Bengal State conference, the Party organised a seminar to observe Hiroshima Day. The speakers in the seminar were Prof. Asrukumar Sikdar, an eminent figure in the North Bengal literary circle, Prof.B.P.Mishra and Vinod Mishra (see box).
educate people on the
politics behind the bomb "
(Excerpts from the speech delivered by Vinod Mishra at the Siliguri conference.)
The Pokhran blast has provided the necessary impetus to a new phase of anti-nuke movement and enhanced the observance of Hiroshima day. It has also provided a new fillip to all struggles aimed at total destruction of all nuclear arsenals on this planet. In the realm of anti-nuke movement we encounter a pacifist variety that opposes all atom bombs and all kinds of war. We do sincerely share their struggle. But we also need to understand the politics behind the bomb.
The blast in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 was not so much for forcing Japan to surrender as it was for declaring the violent arrival of US in world politics, particularly in Asia. This cruel experiment with Hiroshima was designed for realising this sinister US-ploy. And today we know what that has meant for us. So it is as important, if not more, to understand the politics behind bombs as the destructive potential of the bomb.
Today there is a lot of hype about the scientific expertise and technological finesse behind the production of the bomb. But the inventor of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, rated his achievement as moderate at best. He along with many other scientists raised voices against nuclear stockpiling and Einstein too had time and again expressed his agony. Einstein proposed a global kind of government, a supra-judicial body to somehow combat the nuclear threat.
In the history of development of arms, discovery of a strike weapon has always been closely followed by discovery of a befitting defence mechanism. What is special about nuclear weapons is that here the question of defence or deterrence does not arise. The only deterrence to an atom bomb is another atom bomb. That is why Hiroshima had sparked off a chain reaction with more and more countries taking the nuclear path.
The US today has a stock of seven lakh bombs and spends every year 35 billion dollars (or 96 million dollars a day) in maintaining the nuclear establishment there. The total amount spent by US in its nuclear programme in the last half century is around 5.5 trillion dollars. It is not easy to get a clear idea from this astronomical figure even in imagination. If you convert this amount into one-dollar notes and go on sticking them in series, it will produce a chain extending upto the moon and back!
The US is an imperialist country and draws a huge surplus through colonial and neo-colonial exploitation from all over the world and hence can bear this amount without many problems. But in the case of USSR (till 1989) which did not enjoy any such advantage, it was becoming gradually impossible to afford such a huge expenditure. And what we have seen is that the huge nuclear stock that they piled up to safeguard socialism from imperialist attacks, ultimately proved to be counterproductive and did play a crucial role in dismantling the socialist system itself. It became impossible for a socialist state in the long run to satisfy the voracious need of the nuclear establishment. And in their attempt to do this, they perilously neglected the priority sectors of industry leading to a total distortion of the economy and ultimately to a defeat of socialism.
Back home, the nuclear tests were the first major step taken by the BJP government after it assumed office. It had certain motives and compulsions behind the decision.
So far as the immediate motives of the BJP are concerned, they have utterly failed to capitalise on this. They wanted to create nationalist frenzy inside the country, they wanted to threaten Pakistan and thus establish Indias supremacy over South Asia. Mao once called the atom bomb a paper tiger. I dont know about the other bombs but in the case of Indias atom bomb his prophecy has indeed come true. They failed to rake up national chauvinism this time. On the contrary, they have faced waves of protest against this. So far, the term national chauvinism was found in the lexicon of the communists alone, more particularly in the lexicon of the CPI (ML). Even other left parties stopped using this language for some time now. They used to join the bourgeois chorus on Kashmir against Pakistan. This is for the first time that large sections of the intelligentsia have written in newspapers against Advanis provocative anti-Pak statements. There have been protests even in the parliament against the governments chauvinism. Vajpayee too was found to be defensive in the parliament on such occasions. All these show that they failed to create a consensus which they had expected to do. The VHP also had to beat a retreat from their programmes like construction of Shaktipath etc. And after Pakistan blasted its bombs (one more than India did), cold water was poured on BJPs total gameplan. BJP calculatively cultivated an anti-China sentiment in the pre- and post-blast period in order to draw support from the US. But to its dismay, China and US issued a joint statement against the Indian blasts and India has been badly cornered in international politics. A few days back I saw the German foreign ministers caustic remark about India and Pakistan that these two countries which cant supply food and drinking water to their own people and move from door to door with a begging bowl, are producing atom bombs. They thought that bombs would enhance their image but the contrary has happened. They are being mocked at everywhere.
The BJP has a good influence over the middle class people. But while campaigning against bombs we have noticed a change. People themselves are now raising some pertinent issues, like, how can we survive with a continuous belligerence towards our neighbours. They are holding the blasts responsible for unprecedented price rise, and the popularity curve of the BJP is declining fast. In this sense I said that the BJPs immediate aims have not been realised and they are on the defensive.
But nuclear tests have a long-term aim and implication, which we must understand in its proper context. Their long-term aim is militarisation of the Indian economy. Now the chairperson of the atomic energy commission, R.Chidambaram says that India has to build up a military-industrial complex. Once it is built up it will be the new strategy for not only defence but for economic development too. They have already started taking steps in this direction. This is the path treaded by America and Israel; this has to be Indias path too! When Indian industry is mired in recession the industrialists want to make their way to the defence industry and thus enhance industrial growth! This is the saddest part of the whole scheme. This means that a huge chunk of the budget will be drained for militarisation, links between private capital and defence will grow closer and as a by-product civil life will be the worst hit. Betterment of civil society will no longer be the priority of the state; priority will be shifted to the industrial-military complex: industry for the army, industry for arms. This nexus among military bureaucrats, scientific bureaucrats and private capital a new class nexus will strive to give Indian industry and economy a totally new direction.
The responsibility of the leftists is to expose this class reality besides opposing the blasts. They must unite with all and sundry in opposing the bomb, but the responsibility of educating people about this politics, this long-term aim of the BJP government, rests with the leftist forces alone. They must work hard to unite the anti-nuke movement on this basis.
(Translated from Bengali by Anindya Sen)