Nuclear weapons guarantee catastrophe on our planet To speak in favour of Nuclear weapons is irresponsible

Nuclear Test

Speaking in an election rally in Pipariya town in Hoshangabad Parliamentary constituency in Madhya Pradesh on 15 April 2024 the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has made a mockery of nuclear disarmament. In his speech he said ‘those who talk of nuclear disarmament cannot protect the country;’ some constituents of INDIA group talk of nuclear disarmament he warned. There can be only two inferences from his statement. One, that he is using it for petty electoral gains by projecting himself as the saviour of the country who talks on the position of military strength. The other inference could be that he is naïve about the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons.  

It is unfortunate the way the parliamentary elections are being fought this year. There has been too much of use of money and muscle power and state machinery. In addition there is blatant use of religious over tones and communal divide to polarize on the basis of religion to garner votes. In the previous parliamentary election in 2019 we had seen how the Pulwama incident occurred in which our brave soldiers had to pay with their lives. But in the present discourse talking of nuclear weapons is fraught with extremely dangerous implications.

It is well known that South Asia is one of the most deprived regions in the world. Our Human Development Index are very poor. Health scenario in the region is dismal. India is a hub to both communicable and non-communicable diseases. We will soon become Diabetes capital of the world. There is extremely high incidence of Tuberculosis as out of a population of 100000 in our country 36 persons die due to tuberculosis every year. The region needs to spend more on health and education if we have to progress.    

Ironically India and Pakistan both the countries spend huge amount on arms race. Both have amassed nuclear weapons which require lot of expenditure on their maintenance. These weapons pose a real threat to the region. India and Pakistan are the only two neighbouring countries who posses nuclear weapons and have fought four full fledged wars. With the perpetual tension between the two countries the use of nuclear weapons cannot be ruled out. Even if the governments decide to refrain from using these weapons, there is a danger of these weapons being used by the non-state actors, through accident or in the event of a natural calamity.

The studies conducted by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) have shown that even a small nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could kill 20 million people in a week and two billion people would be at risk from death by starvation. There is enough evidence of the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

At the present juncture the whole world is much worried about the use of nuclear weapons because of on-going wars in Ukraine and Middle East. Iranian strike on Israel in retaliation for an attack that killed top Iranian officers in Damascus has further added to the seriousness of the situation. Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu has already said that dropping a “nuclear bomb” on Gaza is “an option,”. Eliyahu, a minister from the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, said that “one of Israel’s options in the war in Gaza is to drop a nuclear bomb on the Strip”. Whereas the world has appealed to Israel to maintain restraint, uncertainty looms large at this hour.  The whole Middle East stands at risk with global ramifications.

It is extremely important at this juncture that the movement for nuclear disarmament is strengthened by the civil society as well as the state parties. India can play a significant role in this process. In this context the statement by the Shri Narendra Modi is highly irresponsible. Jingoism has no place in today’s world. It is important to spread the message emanating from the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Dr Arun Mitra is a Practicing ENT Surgeon in Ludhiana, Punjab. He is also the President of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) 


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