<b>XII LOK SABHA DEBATES, <i> Session II, (Budget) </i> </b>
XII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II, (Budget) Wednesday,May 27, 1998 / Jyaistha 6, 1920 (Saka)

Title: Raised a discussion on the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House on 27.5.98 on the recent nuclear tests in Pokhran. (Not Concluded) TEXT : 14.39 hrs

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, the discussion on the statement made by the hon. Minister under Rule 193 has been admitted in the names of Shrimati Geeta Mukherjee and Shri V.V. Raghavan. They have now requested me to allow Shri Indrajit Gupta to raise the discussion on their behalf. I have allowed Shri Indrajit Gupta to raise the discussion.

SHRI INDRAJIT GUPTA (MIDNAPORE): Mr. Speaker, Sir, I listened very attentively to the statement made. ... (Interruptions)

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MR. SPEAKER: Please cooperate. I have just called Shri Indrajit Gupta.

SHRI INDRAJIT GUPTA : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have listened very attentively to the statement made by the hon. Prime Minister this morning, for which I think the whole country was waiting. I think there is a practically unanimous feeling in the country that the major share or credit for the scientific achievement which has been recorded must go to our scientists and our engineers and cannot go to any political party. It cannot go to the ruling party which may like to take credit in order to extract some political mileage out of it.

These scientists and engineers actually demonstrated their capability in the nuclear field 24 years ago, not today. These things do not happen overnight. These require long periods of preparation, research and so on. Twenty-four years ago when the first blast took place in Pokhran they had already demonstrated their capability and of course they have been up-dating their technology and now they have demonstrated in 1998 that they are capable of making an independent contribution which is of the highest importance.

Incidentally, I would like to at this stage congratulate Dr. Abdul Kalam for getting the Bharat Ratna which he richly deserves.

As far far as the sovereign right of a country is concerned, an independent sovereign country has got the right. Nobody can question our right to go ahead with this type of testing if we want to do so. It is for us to explain why we are doing it, for what purpose we are doing it and so on. But if some countries, somewhere here and there talk in a way, as if they are questioning our right, they have no business to do that because every country, especially an independent sovereign country certainly has got its own right.

The question that I would like to raise is why this testing has been done now at this stage. In his letter to President Clinton which I think was not meant to be publicised, but it was leaked to the Press, or the Press got hold of it somehow, the Prime Minister has attributed this sudden testing to what he calls the deteriorating security environment of India. And he makes it quite clear that he is referring to a threat from China and this appears to be in tune with the anti-Chinese fulminations of the Defence Minister made a few days earlier.

In fact, the Defence Minister's rather aggressive remarks, I think were meant obviously to prepare the ground for official explanation which has now been made available in the Prime Minister's letter to the U.S. President.

I am not raising the question, at the moment, whether this type of letter should be considered as somewhat unusual or not. I do not know whether this kind of a letter, dealing with such a subject, addressed to the President of another country is proper or not in the field of international relations. Anyway, the letter has gone.

Sir, the question I am asking to which I would like to have a reply is this. What was the sudden provocation, if any, at this stage? If it was from China's side, we would like to know what that provocation was. We have had our disputes with China for a long time and most of those disputes, perhaps, are not resolved yet. We all remember what happened in 1962. We remember that large tracts of Indian territory are in the possession of China and that the questions relating to the border have also not been resolved, but this is nothing new. This has been going on for so many years. I find that there is a statement which is connected with Starred Question number 20 to be answered today, the 27th of May in the Lok Sabha. This is a statement regarding neighbouring countries. After all, this is an official statement. May I just read it? It says :

"In recent years, India-China relations have developed steadily. The momentum of high level dialogue has been maintained and there is a growing functional cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields. The two countries have agreed to work towards a constructive and cooperative relationship oriented towards the 21st century. The bilateral trade reached US dollars 1.8 billion in 1997.

Various issues of mutual interest, including the boundary question, are being discussed in the framework of the India-China Joint Working Group and India-China Expert Group."

Now, does this statement which has been submitted to the House on behalf of the Government give an impression that suddenly today there is a deterioration in India-China relations or the bilateral mechanism which has been set up, the cooperation which is taking place, and the constructive dialogue which is taking place as mentioned here has suddenly been interrupted or sabotaged by China? I do not find it here in this statement.

Also, Sir, in this statement which was made by the hon. Prime Minister, there is a paragraph number thirteen. I do not want to read it because it will take too much time. It says that our policy towards our neighbours and other countries also have not changed. This is here. This is what was read out :

"India remains fully committed to the promotion of peace with stability, and resolution of all outstanding issues through bilateral dialogue and negotiations. .....

.... The Government will continue to remain engaged in substantive dialogue with our neighbours to improve relations and to expand the scope of our interactions in a mutually advantageous manner."

I do not know whether all these statements are meant to indicate that China alone is an exception to this line and attitude that we, officially, here have said that we are taking and we want to continue to take. Nowhere it is mentioned that the exception of all this is China and China has suddenly started behaving in some different way which has created a provocation at this moment which has suddenly led us to take this decision of testing of nuclear weapons.

Therefore, I have this question to ask and I would like some clarification. In fact, I think, the Prime Minister should have - even before the testing, perhaps, maybe they did not want to do that - taken at least the major political parties into confidence. They could have taken their own allies into confidence. But anyway, that was not done. Now, when we are debating this matter in the House, certainly we have every right to ask this question as to what was the sudden provocation which had led to this testing.

We all agree that there must be absolutely no relaxation of defence preparedness. There should be no relaxation of security measures, especially in our country where we have got a very troublesome environment along the borders of our country. But what I am asking is this. Is it essential for our security that we should go in for production and deployment of nuclear weapons? Many countries, of course, as we know, have manufactured and stockpiled nuclear weapons in the name of security. But these are such weapons that they cannot be used. America which has the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons was not able to use them against a poor and backward country like Vietnam. It fought Vietnam for 12 years in order to crush the liberation movement of the Vietnamese people. But it could not and dare not, in the face of the conscience of the world, use those weapons.

SHRI ABDUL GHAFOOR (GOPALGANJ): Does it mean that we have to wait for 100 years?

SHRI INDRAJIT GUPTA : You can talk after you become the owner of those weapons. You are not the owner of those weapons.

So, what is more essential for our security in the long run is this. Firstly, what has been stated here in the Prime Minister's statement which I have already read out is "building of good relations with our neighbouring countries and the creation of bilateral and regional mechanisms for that purpose". These are weapons of mass destruction. He had quoted in the morning - approvingly, I suppose - from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had said on the 2nd April, 1954 in this House that "nuclear, chemical and biological energy and power should not be used to forge weapons of mass destruction".

We are now saying that we have now become a weaponised State, a nuclear weaponised State. So, I would like to know whether the weapons which we are engaged in researching and trying to manufacture can be used as weapons of mass destruction or not. Are they weapons of mass destruction or not? Of course, the Government must declare and has declared - I am glad to see - that we have no aggressive intentions towards anybody. These weapons will never be used for aggressive purposes and so on. But intrinsically, are they weapons of mass destruction or not? If they are, why are we giving up the line that we have pursued consistently for so many years and go in for this? Of course, some provocation may have been there, I do not know, from the side of Pakistan, because they suddenly developed this Ghauri missile and said that it has a long range of so many thousands of kilometres. This Ghauri missile may be interpreted as a threat to us.

So, if the Pakistan Government chooses to go in also for development of nuclear weapons what would happen? The Prime Minister of Pakistan has reported to have said that the Indian experiments of underground testing are considered by Pakistan to be a threat to them and therefore, he has said that, within a few days, they would also test their own nuclear weapons.

This means that a sort of competition and a race in nuclear arms is being triggered off and the history has shown that this is a very risky thing and is a very reckless thing. Even with the best of intensions one cannot say where a mishap may occur.

Sir, I think that it is not enough for the Prime Minister to have told President Clinton - I do not know whether the idea was to please the American rulers - that we consider the main threat to be from China. The Defence Minister, of course, is one of the outstanding champions of what is known as the Socialist International based in Amsterdam. He is one of the top leaders of that Socialist International which has always been a China baiter. It is nothing new. But I do not expect the policy of the Amsterdam International to be taken over as the official policy of the Government of India. It cannot be done.

Now, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the conscience of the world has renounced the use of nuclear weapons as weapons of mass destruction which cannot serve a military purpose. For example, the United Kingdom is one of the nuclear powers. But everybody knows that it has become a second class power. In the world, it is considered to be a second class power though it holds nuclear weapons. The mighty USSR got itself bankrupted by trying to chase nuclear parity with the United States and NATO. In that mad race for parity in nuclear arms, the first biggest historic casualty has been the USSR. On the other hand, Japan and Germany are considered to be the powerful States. But they do not have nuclear weapons. They do not have nuclear weapons but they are not certainly weak countries. So, let us think about these things.

As I said, if Pakistan chooses to go in for what you may call a sort of tit-for-tat policy then there is a grave risk of nuclear arms race being triggered of in this part of the continent.

The Prime Minister has said nothing about the economic cost of producing nuclear weapons. He has not specifically said anything about the impact of sanctions or the threat of sanctions. But I think our country, our Government, along with development of nuclear testing should give a clear-cut commitment that we are not going to go in for the first use or the first strike of such weapons. We should say that the first strike will never be by India and invite all other countries to join in this commitment and ask them to respond to it and if they do not respond, they will automatically be exposed.

Sir, the United States sanctions may not cause irrecoverable damage to our economy because they are supposed to be coming mainly from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and so on. In fact, I find that there is perhaps a very farsighted calculation even by our Government behind all this that these sanctions if they come - I think they have already been started operatingwill push forward the economic liberalisation policy which we have been following since 1991. If the multinational corporations are assiduously wooed, then the private capital can replace the aid from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. It may even increase.

15.00 hrs.

I find, Sir, that a well-informed paper like The Economist of London has pointed out that "soon after the nuclear blasting, the Government of India has awarded 18 oil exploration contracts -- 11 of them to American companies, whose projects had been in limbo for two years. It has cleared 34 exploration licences for onshore minerals in four States. Three foreign investments in power projects, which had been languishing for want of a Government guarantee, were suddenly approved and, according to newspaper reports, the Government is to allow foreign investors to own 100 per cent of the equity of housing companies against 40 per cent earlier and to raise hard currency loans for the first time."

So, these American companies who are very conscious of the huge market which exists here in India, even if the official agencies impose sanctions, and nothing that we have done will dissuade or should dissuade the American private investors and multinational corporations from taking advantage of these various projects. So, on the balance, we may not lose, we may even gain.

The Prime Minister mentioned this morning that they have declared a voluntary moratorium. I would like to know a little more about this. What exactly do you mean by this `voluntary moratorium'? We have already said that we would consider signing some aspects of this CTBT. Nobody has clarified, what is meant by `some aspects of the CTBT'. One of the main conditionalities of the CTBT is that nuclear testing should be stopped. This applies to all signatories to the CTBT. If we have already unilaterally declared that we are going to go in for a voluntary moratorium, now does it mean that one of the conditionalities of the CTBT is, in fact, being accepted by us by the back-door and that is the signal that we want to send out? Whatever it is, let the country and the Parliament be taken into confidence. There should be transparency now about these things and we should be told what exactly the Government is preparing to do.

So, Sir, I must say more or less in conclusion that the whole exercise appears to me to have been an exercise in futility. This type of weapon does not strengthen our security at all. Secondly, we have declared a moratorium. Thirdly, we do not know what is going to be the cost of it. We have a pretty favourable standing in the international comity of nations. I do not know to what extent this thing will reduce our friends abroad and, perhaps, isolate us to some extent.

Fourthly, it is a very ironical matter, Sir, that in the Capital City of Delhi, thousands and lakhs of people are going without power and water, and we are going to go in for producing nuclear power now and saying that this is a great achievement, that you have done something which requires to be hailed with great enthusiasm. They cannot supply ordinary water and power to the inhabitants of the Capital City of this country. You just see what is going on. Yesterday, people from so many colonies and areas of Delhi have come out of their homes and staged angry demonstrations and they have even gheraoed the houses of some Councillors and other popular representatives of the ruling party because they have been given all sorts of assurances and those assurances have come to nothing. So, where does all this lead to? How does it add up?

Therefore, I think that this is something which after a few days you will find there is little room left for enthusiasm. What is the enthusiasm about it except that our scientists have proved that they are second to none in the world? That is something which I am proud. But beyond that, where do we go from here?

So, these are some of the questions which I would like the Prime Minister to deal with when he replies and apart from that, I do not have anything much to say because we are not condemning the fact that nuclear testing has been done. That by itself, technical or scientific, is a good achievement. But, on the other hand, there is nothing to get so euphoric about it.

Therefore, we should continue to pursue the other methods and other efforts that we have been making over the years in order to improve our relationship.