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Mr. Inder Kr. Gujral

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Mrs. Shiela Gujral

Excerpts from the book "A Foreign Policy for India"

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Key-note address at Economists Allied for Arms Reduction [ECAAR] Symposium at U.N. University, Tokyo (JAPAN) on 27th October 1998

Address by Mr.I.K. Gujral, M.P. & Former Prime Minister of India at 1355 hours on Tuesday, at ECAAR

I stand before you as an Indian of the generation that had joined one of history’s longest struggles for liberty and independence of the vast majority of humankind from colonial rule, the generation that grew under the ennobling shadows of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, the generation that founded the largest democracy in the world; The Republic of India. Our freedom struggle was a unique application of ahimsa or non-violence as the weapon of liberation. Unfortunately, liberation came in the shadow of violence and bloodshed when India was partitioned in two sovereign states not friendly to each other. It is a matter of deep regret and frustration of each of the billion-plus people of the subcontinent that we have still not succeeded to build bridges of brotherhood and cooperation between India and Pakistan, although efforts in this direction are being sustained.

Six months ago, the two governments conducted eleven nuclear tests thereby expanding the number of nuclear-weapons states from five to seven. Am I proud of the Indian nuclear weapons? No, I am not proud of them. Am I ashamed of them? No, I am not ashamed of them. I am profoundly sad about them, and also of the nuclear tests conducted by our almost next-to-kin neighbour, Pakistan. As India’s Prime Minister for a transient span of time, I faced the dilemma that predecessor Prime Ministers of my country faced in a world living in thraldom of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons that could destroy human civilisation many times over. It was the dilemma of the Prime Minister of a large state that is surrounded by nuclear weapons and that itself had developed the technology of the nuclear weapon largely depending on its own human and material resources, a government that possessed the ability to make nuclear weapons but was refraining from doing so in deference to its own commitment to a world freed from the incredibly awesome burden of such weapons. The restraint could not go on for ever without loud and clear demonstration by the nuclear powers that they were honestly and truly moving towards complete nuclear disarmament. This demonstration failed to come. The result was the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests of May.

ECAAR is an organisation committed to "universal, perpetual peace" among nations, peoples, civilisations and societies of the entire planet, to world disarmament and peaceful settlement of all disputes wherever they exist, and whoever may be the contenders. May I vow my total adherence to these noble commitments.

This century has been a short, event-packed century of great sunshine and terrible darkness. The sunshine can be seen in the deliverance of two-thirds of humankind from the yoke of colonialism, in the mind-boggling achievements of science and technologies, and in giving a not-so-distant touch of realism to the long-cherished utopia of One World. It has seen more revolutions than any previous century. It has created unprecedented wealth and woven the planet together in countless ties of trade and business. This century has spawned a world market without creating a world community. It certainly has made the planet a smaller place than ever before, and created the sound-byte of the coming century - The Global Village. This century has brought about a global information revolution. The next century, which is knocking at our doors, will have to accomplish the task of turning information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom.

I have spoken about the world-spread sunshine of this century. Let me now speak about the world-spread darkness it is leaving behind. The military historian Quincy Wright has listed three thousand and eighty wars fought in the first 45 years of this century, including two world wars. In addition, there have been countless internal wars - revolutionary wars, ethnic wars, religious wars. In the latter half of the century, parallel with the Cold War, some 300 wars have been fought, involving one or the other or both of the superpowers. Can anyone imagine the oceans of hatred created in the human mind by the gigantic bloody streams of wars? The fathomless depths of anger, frustration, deprivations, and rejections left behind by thousands of war and weapons that can wipe out human civilisation? Is it at all surprising that the century is ending leaving behind perhaps the biggest monster ever created by man - the Terrorist, who observes no rules of war, who operates wherever he can manage to dig in his toe even for a short while, whose targets include everyone and everything from the heads of governments to innocent new-born babies in their mothers’ arm? Only an incalculable mountain of hatred and fear could make the nuclear weapons and only an unbounded depth of undefinable hatred and wrath could create the modern Terrorist. One hundred years before this year of 1998, Ivan S. Bloch published his book in St.Petersburg under the title The War of the Future. He argued that war had become so costly, so murderous, and so complicated, that it was impossible to win, and war was therefore bound to be obsolete. Bloch must have turned many times in his grave when thousands of wars broke out in the century. However, a book published in 1991 with the title The Future War was nearer the awesome reality we face in the last years of the second millennium. In it, author Martin van Creveld warned that it is only nations which have lost the power to win victories; "their incredible fighting machines and vast armies will crumble into dust" even if they are theoretically able to destroy each other. They dare not use their most lethal weapons. But the Terrorist is having his time of terror and horror. The ultimate weapon cannot be used against him. Air strikes across the world skies will not destroy the Terrorist. The Terrorist is the ultimate offspring of the Weapon of Ultimate Terror - the nuclear and hydrogen bombs. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are taking with us from the 20th to the 21st century enemies who reside in our own midst, who defies all weapons and all counter-attacks. The Terrorist is a mirror of the Nuclear Bombs piled up in five countries, the bulk of them in just two countries.

If the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan hasten the process of real disarmament by the nuclear powers, they would have served a useful purpose. In 1997, when I was India’s Prime Minister, I expressed my inability to sign the CTBT because it represented the nuclear weapons states’ attempt to perpetuate a discriminatory and an unequal nuclear status quo for all time to come. As far as India and Pakistan are concerned, that discrimination is no more. The two countries are separately negotiating their adherence to the CTBT. They have almost a year to conclude these negotiations. In the meantime India and Pakistan are bilaterally engaged in working out details of measures that would inculcate mutual trust and confidence and avoid any accidental flare up. All the same, how can we be sure that some other country will not go nuclear in the next decade? The only way to really prevent proliferation is for the nuclear powers to engage in a process that will lead to complete nuclear disarmament over a reasonable time frame. I am happy to see Mr.Robert McNamara, amidst us this afternoon. We have known him for many years and we hold him in high respect. As is known he is an active member of the Abolitionist Movement in the United States that stands for total abolition of nuclear weapons. I have no hesitation to offer my support to this lofty cause of the Abolitionist Movement. Unfortunately, and I say it with sadness, the vast majority of the strategic community in the Nuclear Power countries are still committed to the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

Some time back, the former Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Nakasone suggested that the nuclear powers join to declare a ‘Non first use of the nuclear weapons’ and

- Pledge never to use nuclear weapons against a country without

nuclear weapons;

- Establish a system to ensure that all nuclear countries, not only declared

ones, prevent nuclear arms and related technology from spreading;

- Urge all nuclear countries to join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as soon as possible; and

- Exhort all nuclear countries to reduce nuclear and other arms with the ultimate goal of abolishing all nuclear weapons. This should also include calls to the governments concerned to come up with specific plans to fulfill these objectives within a certain timetable.

I wonder if he got any response.

During my tenure as the Prime Minister, we also made similar proposals. I had promised that India would sign the CTBT if the Nuclear Five agreed to a time bound programme for nuclear disarmament. We got no response from any nuclear weapon states. Even in its present form that is highly unsatisfactory, the CTBT remains to be ratified by the US Senate and the Russian Duma.

Presently, the nuclear weapon powers are talking about a treaty that will cut off fissile material in possession of the nuclear powers. India will join the negotiations for the treaty, but, once again, success will depend upon how the nuclear powers approach the treaty, whether they are really willing to dispose off their stockpiles and help others to do the same. There could be some progress towards complete nuclear disarmament if the United States and Russia were to negotiate Start-III agreements for reduction of their arsenals to 2,500 warheads, and then proceed to eliminate them. More than a decade ago, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted by a big majority an Indian proposal for phased elimination of all nuclear weapons. Nobody expects that to happen at one go, in a short space of time. What the world needs and what we ask, however, is a firm commitment by the nuclear powers to total nuclear disarmament within a reasonable time frame and incremental action towards that goal.

You will permit me to say a few words about sanctions against countries making nuclear tests. The US Congress has enacted mandatory sanctions, and the President of the United States uses the law to slap sanctions on any country that Americans suspect of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme and undertakes a test. The sanctions are economic - suspension of aid and credits and of sensitive technologies. In the case of India and Pakistan, Japan, Canada, Germany, Australia and Sweden are the countries that have joined the United States in running a regime of sanctions.

It is quite a bizarre situation. The United States is the most powerful nuclear power that has performed nearly two thousand tests and continues to do so even now. It is the only power that has actually used nuclear weapons against an enemy country, namely Japan, in the last days of World War-II. But who applies sanctions against the United States? Paradoxically the USA assumes the right to "punish" nations for committing the ‘crime’ of which they themselves happen to be guilty? Nothing betrays the unequal, unjust, unfair and arbitrary character of the power structure of the world more than the power the United States has assumed for itself as the sole policeman of the planet. The policeman’s job is stated with cynical candour. It will not hesitate to use even nuclear weapons to defend its own - and Western interests - in strategically important regions of the world. It is an arrogant declaration of the supremacy of power in defence of perceived interests of a group of powerful states.

The grim irony of the situation is that this supercilious assertion of power does not work. It only breeds resentment, reaction and worse in millions of human hearts and this frustration manifests in ways that are now familiar to all of us. I admire Japan’s commitment to non-proliferation. But would Japan have remained a non-nuclear power if it did not enjoy the protection of American nuclear weapons? I beg your indulgence to ask our gracious host country another question. Why has it not unmasked before the entire world the culprits who had callously thrown the two nuclear bombs on the innocent populace of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? We notice that the elites of some countries entertain a romantic perception of nuclear bombs because they have not been told and shown what a single nuclear bomb did to the population of an entire city. Such ideas have built up over the long years since 1945 some odd notions regarding the ‘majesty’ of the nuclear weapon? Its ‘grandeur’ if at all lies in its capacity to annihilate civilisations and the people. It may be worth asking as to who glorified the nuclear warhead as the ultimate keeper of the peace between enemies and adversaries even if it be the barren peace of a graveyard? Have they not for all these fifty years and more constantly lured humanity all over the world either to make the nuclear bomb or to seek shelter and protection in someone else’s nuclear umbrella? If in spite of all the provocations, the vast majority of nations have stayed away from the proliferation path is it not because they may have lacked the resources to make the bombs or they have protected themselves from the ultimate ego and the ultimate hatred that have to join together to make the ultimate weapon of human annihilation? I say all this not in anger but with profound sadness.

The blunt and brute reality is that voice of the peoples of the world has not risen against the ultimate weapon and the ultimate violence that it represents. Its owners still believe that it is possible to win a nuclear war even if they do not say this as loudly now as they once did. All of us who have gathered at this conference have to build up a world wave of demand that nuclear weapons are thrown out of the arsenals of nuclear powers. We have to bend the minds and energies of all nations to build mechanisms of conflict resolution and peace building as well as peace preservation without nuclear deterrents.

I know we cannot fight this grand war without enlisting the multimedia as our vanguard. The unprecedented development of weapons of war and their frequent use have made conflict the daily staple of the multimedia industry. Thanks to the blind use of violence in the electronic medium, the gun has entered our homes and schools and captured the minds of our children. The seemingly endless bloodletting in certain politically soft regions of the world is hardening the minds of huge youth cohorts who may well turn out to be the biggest danger of tomorrow’s civil societies in all parts of the world. From Somalia to the Sudan, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, seemingly endless bloodletting is spawning a new genre of terrorist mercenaries who may well hold many civil societies of the next century at ransom. On the other hand, just two decades of peace, of freedom from violence and from weapons of ultimate violence, can give the newly liberated humanity in two-third of the planet all that they need for growth and development with justice and equity. Civilisation can flower in splendours we can hardly imagine at this time.

As the 20th Century comes to its close, it leaves for all humankind the greatest dilemmas and the toughest challenges it has ever known. It is the dilemma between the ultimate terror and assured peace and development. It is the challenge to divert the incredible creative power of humankind as a result of multiple revolutions in this century to causes of peace, development, justice and equity.

All that I can say at this august forum is that I, a man from the developing world who is nearing four score years of age, who has seen and still sees oceans of human misery but who has also witnessed, has indeed been fortunate enough to taste, some of the golden gifts of science and technology as principal of tools of civilisation, will be with you in the struggle that beckons us in the years ahead.

Thank You.

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Bio-Profile :
Mr. Inder Kr. Gujral

Bio-Profile :
Mrs. Shiela Gujral

Excerpts from the book "A Foreign Policy for India"

Selected Speeches

Latest Articles