What went wrong with Indian Independence? chapter - 10

What went wrong with Indian Independence? chapter - 10


DEFENCE FORCES REMAIN COLONIAL 

Inheritance of the White British 

            Mahatma Gandhi once said a curious thing, which has become a celebrated quotation. During an interview, an American journalist asked, “It is said that there are some major differences of opinion between you and your disciple, Jawaharlal Nehru. What precisely is the character of these differences?” Gandhiji replied, “I shall be very precise. I am looking forward to a day when the system of the British (Angreziat) will go; it does not matter if the British remain in India. On the contrary, Jawaharlal is keen that the British leave, no matter if their systems persist.” The quotation aptly summarises a very stark reality. 50 years after independence, with the advantage of hindsight, one could suggest only a small modification: In Jawahar’s view the British may leave but their systems must continue unchanged. From the day the Indian National Congress was established, the affluent urban people who had some smattering of English education had maintained one objective and one ambition. Having tested, in Maculae’s words, “the milk of the tigress of English language”, they craved to replace the British. 

            Their position could be summarised as follows. “The British Rule established law and order, installed Police, Post Office, started telegraph and made steam engines pull the trains. This period of peace and stability had come to India after long centuries of turmoil. Nothing should be done that would harm the working of the British system. We should try little by little to take over the reigns of this rule in our hands.” 

            The plan was well drawn. The first step was entry into the Indian Civil Service, then would come popular representation in institutions of local self-government, followed by legislative councils and lastly in Governor General’s Council. All concerned, however, did not have the patience to wait for so long. Some of them wanted a rapid, if not an immediate transfer of power. Their agenda was to make the British quit and to climb on to the seats of power vacated by them. Like the pigs in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ starting to walk on two legs, the radical stream of the freedom movement wished to perpetuate the British system, but under their own control. Speculating the mental process of historical personalities is a very hazardous exercise. It is difficult to be sure of the mental processes of persons even on the current scene; it is impossible to know for sure what went on in the minds of the Indian leaders 150 years back. Our judgement, therefore, will have to be based on the actual outcome of their actions. 

            The type of industrialisation that was tried after independence, the policy regarding Agriculture, Transport and other sectors, as we have seen, give no reason to believe that the Indian leaders were motivated by the desire to make India as a whole a happy and prosperous country. It is understandable if self-interest prevails in socio-economic matters. Nation’s security cannot be put at risk for reasons of self-interest. That the people who talk, day in and day out, of patriotism and nationalism should have allowed their self-interest to influence even the field of defence is difficult to understand or to forgive. The country remains militarily weak even today and vulnerable and India suffers from a sense of insecurity even about a country like Pakistan which is barely one-ninth of its size and has settled down to the idea that its north-eastern borders are indefensible against any invasion from China. 

The professional traditions of the British Army 

            The defence forces and the ‘Jawan’ are subjects of national pride all over. The convention is that no one should, by word or deed, adversely affect the morale, confidence and determination of the soldiers in the army. It is considered a vile act to say anything derogatory against the soldier who, in defence of the motherland, risks his life and willingly accepts martyrdom. 

            The period of 50 years since Independence is not an epoch replete in glory in many fields. However, the nation’s territorial integrity has been preserved by the jawans fighting on the borders and it has been made self-sufficient in food by kisans toiling in the fields. Both, jawans and kisans have to be backed by massive supporting systems and infrastructure. It is the responsibility of the political leadership to maintain those systems well oiled and efficient. Failure in this matter tantamounts to stabbing the soldiers in the back and betraying the farmers. It is hypocritical to pay homage, on the one hand, for their sacrifices and help, on the other hand, through act of commission or omission, cut off their supplies or weaken their position. It is an act of treachery. It is important, in the light of these observations, to examine how the rulers of Independent India provided for the defence of the country. 

            The British Army, Navy as also the Air Force have been fully professional outfits. Young men join the defence forces regarding it as a way of life and a career. They join the defence forces when young, undergo rigorous training and take care, even in normal times, of the security concerns. In the event of out-break of hostilities, the task is too large for the standing army. At times like this, all young men in a certain age group are required to join the armed forces. They are given a short intensive course of training and dispatched to the front. In times of war, every household and every family has at least one person fighting on the front and risking his life every moment. Invasion by an enemy becomes, consequently, a matter of serious concern for each and every citizen. 

British Army in India 

            At a point of time, the East India Company decided to secure the political power in the Indian continent and started making preparations to that end. The native armies of the Nawabs, Kings, Princes and Knights were outfits that lack discipline, training, mobility as also firepower. Even to continence such ramshackle forces the Company could not depend exclusively on divisions shipped from the Great Britain. The company raised divisions of native soldiers. The recruits consisted mainly of young men from backward communities which had demonstrated their loyalty to the British. These communities had a legitimate sense of grievance and a lot of bitterness against the society that had denied them even minimal human rights. Thus alienated, they had joined, in earlier epochs, the service of the Muslim conquerors also. The armies of these Muslim emperors had in their commands an array of upper caste dignitaries. Consequently, the forces were never fully unified. The Muslim army moved like a disorganised mob. When the British raised the army platoons the soldiers were taught rigorous discipline and given the latest armaments. The British forces so organised loyally fought and decimated the Muslim power as also the forces of the upper caste kings and princes. A large part of the credit for the establishment of the British Rule in India goes to the British Army manned largely by people of the backward communities. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar repeatedly emphasises this fact in his correspondence with the viceroy. Even after the establishment of the British Rule, the army remained a strictly professional outfit keeping its severe distance from the people at large. 

            This was understandable. The British knew very well what would be the consequences if the army was open to all native people. Savarkar had openly asked his followers to join the army, take the guns and change the direction of the guns the time come. The British Rulers were not entirely blind to this possibility. Every recruit to the army had his credentials, loyalty and pedigree minutely checked and tested. Young men, only from families that had a long tradition of army service were recruited. Thus the Company forces, as also the British forces, after revolt of 1857, maintained their strict professional character. They had no links with people outside cantonment areas. In fact, there was a sense of alienation and even, estrangement. The Indian platoons of the British army played a major role during the first as also during the Second World War. This was acknowledged, if with some condescension, by the British Rulers while the people at large denigrated them as hired agents of a foreign power. 

            The situation of the police department was, more or less, parallel. The Colonial government raised a Police Force that kept its distance from the people and ensured a tyrannical rule without any concern for people’s sentiments. Normally, in a district there would be a single white-skinned officer; all others were natives who had a unquestionable loyalty towards the British. 

The Soft Leadership 

            The freedom movement had its brief but brilliant episodes e.g. Revolt of 1857, acts of bravery of the heroes like Vasudeo Balavant Phadke, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad who had armed clashes with the British Rule. The main stream of the freedom movement, nevertheless, consisted of the non-violent civil disobedience programmes, constructive activities and, most importantly, speechifying. This mode of agitation required the leaders to go to jails every time an agitation was announced and whenever the police so required; and, when released from prison, attend felicitatary receptions by an adoring public, give increasingly jingoistic slogans full of bravado. This was all the training the leadership received for facing a situation of armed conflict. During the Second World War, the Japanese forces started advancing rapidly in South Asia; bombs fell on Calcutta. Gandhi, in 1942, had little option but to give a slogan of “Do or die.” The slogan represented lack of preparedness and abdication of responsibilities in an extremely grave situation. There was no planning, either of action or of abstention. That the Independence came in 1947 was due more to the compulsions of the British Rule, the pressure of the international opinion and new doubts raised about the loyalty of the armed forces after the Indian National Army and the Naval mutiny in Bombay than to the strength of the 1942 agitation. 

Indian National Army Condemned 

            In the early wake of India’s independence the leadership was faced with a very tricky question regarding the structure of the army. 

            Subhashchandra Bose escaped the British jail and reached Germany via Afghanistan. He established a government of Independent India (Azad Hind) in Berlin and then proceeded to Japan. The Japanese had triumphed over the British army on the Burmese front and taken as prisoners of war thousands of Indian ranks. 

            “A slave nation has no foreign policy. Enemy’s enemy is our friend. If the Japanese try to rule India after driving out the British we can start the next phase of freedom movement against them. Our priority is to throwing out the deep-rooted British Rule in India.” Subhashbabu’s exhortations moved thousands of Indian soldiers to join the Indian National Army founded by him. The Indian National Army (INA) had few arms, small transport fleet and hardly any system of supplies. It marched, nevertheless, towards the Indian border and came very close to entering India. The Japanese surrendered after the nuclear bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Indian National Army had, naturally, to surrender. Subhashbabu reportedly died in a plane-accident and his soldiers were brought to India as prisoners of war. Bose had asked them to plant the tri-colour on the Red Fort in Delhi; now they were to face the trial in the precincts of the same historic monument. 

The government of India was faced with the problem - which is the real Indian army? 

            “The Indian National Army may have lost on the borders with Burma but the flag that they carried is flying over Delhi. This, in effect, means that the Indian National Army has been victorious. By this logic, the Indian National Army should have been recognised as the official army of the newly independent nation. The old British army which enforced the British imperial rule in India should be disbanded. The possibility of merging it after an appropriate scrutiny in the Indian National Army could be examined.” This was the nature of the proposal that came before the provisional government. 

            The British Rulers and the army officers took a very rigid position on the question. “The soldiers of the Indian National Army had joined enemy forces by breaking the oath of loyalty. There can be no question of their heading the army; they cannot even be readmitted in the army. Such re-admission would tantamount to honouring the traitors which would demoralise other soldiers and spread general dissatisfaction in the army and provoke a general revolt.” That was their line of proposal. 

            “The soldiers of the Indian National Army must face trial on charge of abandoning forces, they must be given appropriate punishments. Eventually, the Governor General, in his magnanimity, may suspend the sentence. These traitors have no rights to except a more generous treatment.” Thus ran the proposal. 

The Bogie of International Politics 

            The leaders of independent India acquiesced in the argument of the Army brass. Indian National Army was disbanded. The British army in India became the official army of the independent India. This decision has to be looked at from various angles. 

            All the leaders of the Congress Party did not universally like Subhashchandra Bose; many were jealous of his charismatic standing amongst Indian people. Mahatma Gandhi himself had used subterfuges to make Bose resign from the Presidentship of the Congress. Bose held Gandhi, nevertheless, in high respect and venerated him as the ‘Father of the Nation’. 

            The anti-Bose group lead by Nehru questioned the very merit of the INA. “The Fascist dictatorship was a crime against humanity; the alliance of the democratic nations against the Fascist axis was morally superior. It behoved a country of India’s Culture and History to give support to the allied nations. There can be no question of India siding with the Axis powers against the British. There would be little point in India gaining independence if the rest of the world is trounced by Nazi and Fascist dictators.” 

            This argument had quite some influence. The independence was preceded by communal riots all over the country. The partition brought in even more horrendous communal conflicts. Lakhs of people became destitute refugees. Nobody appeared to be capable of re-establishing peace and order. If the army is disbanded at such a juncture, it was feared, India will be overtaken by anarchy. It was, therefore, considered necessary to retain the British army as it stood. The first Independence Day saw curious sites. The tricolour of Independent India was hoisted at many places by civil servants who had whipped and tortured freedom fighters. When the army was saluting in Independence Day parades, the soldiers of the erstwhile Indian National Army were standing in crowds with tears in their eyes. The decision to adopt the British army was not taken too willingly. The British had imposed a condition that the government of independent India will do nothing to affect the position of the Indian Civil Service, army and British Legislation. The British structure remained in place, the British left India. That is about all. Jawaharlal triumphed the Mahatma was humiliated. 

The Anglo-phobia of the Army 

            Gandhi’s assassination suddenly brought the whole nation to its senses. The communal conflicts subsided little by little. A sort of peace was established. It should have been possible at the stage to take a second look at the constitution of the Indian armed forces. No such exercise appears to have been attempted. Army was sent to Telangana to quench the farmers’ uprising. It was used again against Naxalites, in Punjab, in Kashmir etc. Whenever a civil discontent erupted army was dispatched to deal with the situation. This has continued ever since. The British army adopted by India was used exactly as the British Rulers had done. 

            May be adoption of the British army had its own justification. May be acceptance of the British model of armed forces by independent India had its own reason. One would expect, however, that, at least in situations of grave emergency attempt would be made to mobilise the youth of the country in the service of national defence. Why was it not done? Indian army, even after independence, remained a society apart. They had little contact with the citizenry in the day-to-day activities. The Indian army needs to be felicitated for one thing. They could have easily taken over the civil government on many occasions. This would have not been a novelty. Coups d ètat were being staged all over the third world. Not that some of the Generals would not have liked the idea. Occasionally, there is a debate on the relative position of the Civil Administration on one hand and the armed forces on the other. Each time the conclusion was that the civil government is paramount. The Defence forces have accepted this situation. 

            What would be the ideal constitution of the Indian army? This is a continental country with large population, very little capital and poor technology. The logical conclusion would be that the defence forces should emphasise use of manpower. The soldiers of the Chinese People’s Army who carried sacks of barley flour for their sustenance drove back the Indian professional army on the northeast frontier in 1962. Mere babies of the Vietnamese Army countenanced the carpet-bombing by the American Air force. And the Vietnamese forces living like rodents in underground tunnels forced an abject surrender on the American Army equipped to the teeth with the most modern gadgetry. 

            It is futile to maintain that equipment makes the army. In a real prolonged armed conflict India can be defended only through defence plans based on effective use of manpower. 

            At independence, India was dependent for all arms and ammunitions, with minor exception of guns, cartridges and shells, on imports from abroad. Since then, there has been a significant improvement in defence production. Compared with many a country of the third world India is more self-sufficient in military hardware. We have tanks copied from one country, trucks from a second one, guns from yet another one and bombers and fighter planes from still another country. This kind of configuration is of questionable utility in a conflict with any major power. We cannot fight them with equipment which are poor copies of their own material. This is not idle scare mongering. China is a hostile neighbour. It is pointless to debate which side was guilty of aggression in 1962. In 1998, the defence minister of the BJP government stated that China is the main threat to India. If there is another breakout of hostilities with China or if China rushes to Pakistan’s assistance in any of the routine conflicts we persistently have with that country how long will our stocks of arms, ammunitions and other equipment last? 

Strategy of 21-day Defence

            Even leaving aside the case of conflicts with a super-power, let’s examine the situation of conflict with Pakistan. Pakistan has smaller territory, lesser population and a weaker economy. Our defence strategy vis-à-vis Pakistan, at least till Kargil, appears to have been on the following lines. In case of break-out of hostilities deploy planes, rockets and guns to protect cities near the border, like Delhi and Amritsar; keep the exchanges on the border going for three to four weeks in a manner that would make the stocks last as long as possible and hope that some third power or the United Nations will step in to bring about a cease-fire and cessation of hostilities. In the meanwhile, the citizens would display about the war the same kind of interest as they have for football or cricket match, finding out from news bulletins, every now and then, the scores. With the cease-fire both sides can claim that they have scored a victory and give out for the consumption of their public colourful pictures of how the enemy would have been totally annihilated if only the third party had not forced a cease-fire. Both the countries start afresh amassing arms and equipment for the next conflict. Like young urchins exhausting their stock of firecrackers, the top brass and the political leadership of both the adversary countries become free to purchase or produce fresh equipment and earn fresh commissions. 

            This certainly cannot be healthy for India’s defence system. After Independence, at least after some sort of normalcy was restored, if a system of one year’s draft for all the young men was introduced by now, at least 15 million young men would have been ready trained in the use of minor weapons in defence of the Mother-land. In that case, even China could not have easily taken condescending positions towards India and Pakistan would certainly be less offensive. The army in China is the peoples’ army and not a professional outfit. That essentially is the secret of its prowess. The important question that one asks oneself is why was the Indian army not made peoples’ army. There exist multi-fold vested interests in having a professional army. Professional soldiers are not very happy about admitting the civil population amongst them. Far more importantly, no government sceptical of its legitimacy likes to put arms in the hands of common people. Switzerland in Europe is tiny country reputed for neutrality and policies in favour of peace. In a country of this kind, every Swiss man, till the age of 65 years, is supposed to be prepared to present himself at the front within 24 hours of the call. He keeps even his automatic weapons at home. It is said that the favourite pastime of a Swiss housewife is to keep these arms well oiled and well polished. This is possible in Switzerland but not in Stalin’s Russia nor in India ruled by the Black Britishers. The psychological compulsion to keep a full-fledged professional army clearly signified that the government is unwilling to trust it’s own citizens. If the government’s perception is that it may be forced to send army to suppress civil unrest every now and then and that the economic system it presides over can be maintained only with the support of the armed forces it is unlikely to shift from the professional army to a people’s army. An army estranged from the citizens, a police department that lacks sympathy for the people, all these indicate that the enforcement machinery has no roots among the people. This does not happen in all the countries, that it has happened in India, is a clear indication that it has not become independent in the real; sense of the term. The white Britishers have left and have been replaced by the Black Britishers. The “Beating the Retreat” to the tune of Scottish bagpipe music in New Delhi is as close as it can be to the pigs’ walking on two legs in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. 

            In the 50th year of India’s independence, the BJP Government made a quantum leap in the matter of India’s defence. Five nuclear devices were exploded at Pokharan to demonstrate to the world India’s nuclear capability. The Prime Minister maintained that this was a matter vital to India’s defence and the decisions in this respect can be taken only in the light of national interest. Pakistan responded by detonating six nuclear devices. It’s Prime Minister made a stalemate which echoed word for word the statement of his Indian counterpart. 

            Does the possession of nuclear bombs make a country’s defence system any stronger? The BJP Defence Minister pronounced that China was India’s principal adversary and that the main threat to India came from the Chinese, rather than Pakistan border. We have fought three wars with Pakistan. The issue of Kashmir is simmering for 50 years. In fact, Kargil happened within a few days of the Defence Minister’s pronouncement. It may be said that right since the partition, there has been an undeclared and continuous war between these two countries. China is far ahead of India in the matter of nuclear capacity. India would have difficulty to match China’s might even in a conventional war. A nuclear conflict with China is inconceivable. Briefly, the possession of nuclear weapons does not appear to help India against one of the two principal belligerent countries. 

            The whole Indian nation suffers from a peculiar complex as regards Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan is no match for India. It is a small country. Its population is much less, economy much poorer. Its military capacity would not come to even 30 per cent of that of India. It is true that it possesses jet fighters and rockets that have a slight edge over those with the Indian army. It would be foolish to imagine that Pakistan can ever overcome India militarily. The successive leaders of Pakistan have been very conscious of this fact. They have been taking political stances calculated to put India on the defensive. 

            Now that both, India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, what difference does that make to the relative strength of their defence forces? It would appear that Pakistan has been the net gainer, at least in the short term. India has tarnished its image as a peace-loving democratic nation. It was this stature enjoyed by India in the international community that kept even Islamic countries from going beyond certain limits in supporting Pakistan even on issues like Kashmir. A thousand year traditions of Gautam Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi lay in ruins within two days of the five detonations at Pokharan. 

            Gone are the days when the state of advancement of a country was judged by its nuclear arsenal. Many a student of Physics in the U.S. and Europe possess all the technical know-how required for exploding an experimental nuclear device. If India wished to demonstrate its advancement in Science and Technology, it could have done it in a hundred and one ways that would not have tarnished its image as country of Gautam Buddha. 

            Most of the Islamic countries would like to have at least one atom bomb howsoever small. Most of them are itching to use it against Israel, whose army has thrashed the Arabs on several occasions. They are hoping that Pakistan’s know-how will become available to them. It is certainly not to the liking of the western powers that the nations ruled by despots should possess nuclear bombs. Even the rich Arab countries of the Middle East who have the nuclear ability do not dare use it for fear of American reprisals. Gadafi and Saddam are not the only rouge despots in the world. The world knew that India had the nuclear ability and the world knew that Pakistan was similarly placed. India’s explosion has proved nothing new. It has certainly strengthened the bonds between the Islamic nations which cannot be to the benefit of India. The western countries have for long watched with amused interest the frequent conflicts in the Indian sub-continent. The Pokharan has changed the scenario. The sub-continental context has suddenly become a potential threat for the globe as a whole. The western countries would try by all possible means to stop Pakistan from helping an Islamic nuclear bomb. If Pakistan complains of the need to have arms-parity with India, the U.S. will be prepared to supply it with abundant non-nuclear armament and equipment. Thus Pakistan’s position in a conventional war will actually have improved because of Pokharan. Pakistan would have been better advised not to respond to Pokharan. It would have been more advantageous for that country to go on holding out a threat of nuclear explosions but never really carrying them out. That would have certainly changed Pakistan’s image of a rogue nation and helped it acquire generous quantities of conventional armaments. Luckily for India, Pakistan succumbed to jingoistic posturing and had its own N-tests. 

            As in India so in Pakistan, jingoistic stances are more popular. And the Pakistani Prime Minister thought that if India had the bomb he has to show that Pakistan could do it too. By responding to Pokharan, Pakistan has axed the very branch on which it was perched. It cannot hope any more to get supplies of conventional armament to close the gap with India. Pakistan has thus literally slaughtered the hen that lay golden eggs. 

            It should be clear that in case of an actual breakout of war nuclear devices become irrelevant. There is no scenario where either Prime Minister would feel justified in using the ultimate weapon. If the extremists in Kashmir slaughter a thousand Hindus, will the Indian Prime Minister press the nuclear button? Will he do that if hoards of Pakistani invaders cross the Line of Control? Will he decide to use the nuclear bomb if the Pakistani forces helped by the local populace reach Shrinagar? Will he do that if Pakistani Air Force starts bombarding Amritsar, Ludhiana or even Ambala? Atom bomb is thoroughly useless not only as a deterrent, but also as an instrument of last resort. In a war between India and Pakistan there can be no winner. It is inconceivable that one of them will be able to trounce the other militarily and effectively occupy and hold the enemy’s territory. 

            If the BJP Government were sincerely concerned about India’s defence they would have undertaken a total reorganisation of the armed forces rather than going for sophisticated equipment, planes, missiles and nuclear devices. The India-Pakistan war-match cannot last beyond 2-3 weeks, since both of them will have exhausted all their arms and equipment by then. At that stage, the country which can adopt tactics like human waves with the help of large number of young men wielding small modern weapons that will have an advantage in holding out indefinitely. To provide the Indian jawans with a state-of-the-art automatic machine-gun in place of the present obsolete rifles would be far more effective than any number of nuclear devices. But, that kind of a measure has none of the political glamour that “Pokharan” has. During war, the jawans risk their lives while the civilians shout nationalistic slogans. It would be interesting to see if they would continue with the same jingoistic slogan-mongering hysteria if their own children were liable to be called to the front any moment. 

            In the post-Kargil and post-Pokharan era another opportunity has arisen to rethink on the structures and the constitution of the Indian Armed Forces. The moment is ripe for making the army open to people by introduction of compulsory military service so that young men pick up, during the training of about two years a fairly high level of industrial and combat skills. This long-pending reform will give India’s defence a big boost and also provide a rich source of skilled manpower for the Indian economy. It will also ensure a sense of discipline, patriotism and idealism that could help India recover from its present slide of apathy and avarice. 

COST OF THE NUCLEAR LUXURY 

            The Ministers of Finance, Commerce and other Ministries are going round the world soliciting foreign investments in India. Despite all tall talk, everyone knows that one really bad monsoon and the Indian economy will be in jeopardy. The year of the Pokharan, over thousand and five hundred farmers committed suicide by consuming poison. A Pokharan might do a lot of good for some time to the national ego. But, in the long run, that may prove to be expensive. If India faces a famine situation in times to come, it would have great difficulty in obtaining food-grains for the starvings. The switch over from a super-power pretension to the role of a mendicant is extremely painful and ridiculous. The world does not take kindly to it. A poor man subsisting by the leftovers of the affluent in the neighbourhood can ill-afford to suddenly turn into a Mafia Don for howsoever brief an interval. This kind of comedy can go on only for a certain time but not for too long. India can have no grievance if all the threatened sanctions are actually implemented. Iraq’s Saddam picked up the gauntlet, it must be said to his credit that he sustained and survived some of the fiercest punching by the American forces. It would be difficult to claim that India could take the beating that Iraq did. Of course, Iraq is not India and the Iraqi scenario is unlikely to be repeated here. The question is, did those who gave green signal to Pokharan, plan for such a contingency? It is equally doubtful if the authors of Pokharan had taken into consideration the consequences on the process of Globalisation under WTO. 

            Pokharan appears to have been a political bonanza for the ruling party. Not even the leaders of the opposition party have raised any significant protests. Everyone appears to be unanimous in praising the genius and the ability of India’s scientists. Was Pokharan good or bad? The answer appears to have been provided by the market. The share market collapsed and the Rupee fell by 70 paise per U S dollar. 

           Atal Behari Vajpayee is a highly respected leader and a popular Prime Minister. There could be no better judge of the possible response of the Indian people to a call to come to the defence of their Motherland. People have responded with great enthusiasm, every time there was a threat to the nation. Pokharan has given Indians a big ego trip. It is to be hoped that this will outlast possible economic sanctions, trade boycotts, shortages of petroleum, fertilisers and chemicals. If the Indian economy is weak and India is unable to import Diesel, there will hardly be any point in putting even a Hydrogen bomb in the arsenal of the Indian army.

                                                                                                                                -Sharad Joshi

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