Libmonster ID: IN-1278

"Weapons of Peace". Obsessive use of this oxymoron* India is trying to explain its actions, which in the world seem inconsistent and incompatible with its image of a peace-loving state. After all, even in the struggle for liberation from colonial shackles, India's most powerful weapon was ahimsa, or nonviolence. It was preached by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation and the apostle of peace.


But more than half a century later, this new nation that Gandhi created has lost the "genes" of his philosophy. India is off course. And ran aground. The country, as a "bad" contagious disease, has been plagued by intercommunal unrest, wars, terrorist movements and political assassinations that undermine its viability. The use of violence against each other has now become like adultery, almost a biological necessity.

An independent India has far more to regret than to celebrate its success. The good news is that the product is in short supply. And every time they are reported, there is a surge of joy that does not correspond to the scale of real achievements.

For this reason, the 1974 bombing was greeted with Messianic fervor in the country. After thousands of years of humiliation, the triad of Hindu gods finally gave India the Brahmastra, the most powerful weapon against its enemies described in sacred Indian texts. Now any country would have to consider whether to launch a war against India and try to conquer it.

And yet, can this be the only explanation for the fact that a spiritually advanced nation has acquired a weapon capable of destroying the human race?

Absolutely not. But by 1998, in the era of the revolutionary sexual stimulant Viagra, nuclear weapons also became a symbol of the nation's assertiveness in restoring its dormant potency and changing the image of the country, which even geography has left an imprint on.

As a result of ancient tectonic shifts, the Hindustan Peninsula hangs from the underbelly of the Asian continent like a flaccid penis. This was not a sufficient reason for the nation to doubt its prowess. After all, more children are born in this country every year than in any other.

Nevertheless, the nuclear bomb and its delivery vehicle, the rocket, were perceived by the Indians as a symbol: the phallus of the nation in an erect state, like a steel copy of the lingam, the ancient symbol of Shiva's potency. By the way, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) R. Chidambaram received his pseudonym for the period of testing.

"We need to prove that we are not eunuchs," remarked Bal Thakre, a strong personality in Maharashtra, when asked why India conducted the 1998 tests. Retired General V. N. Sharma, the former chief of Staff of the Army, expressed this idea just as colorfully: "We had to stop being good boys. There are nasty people in the world, and they'll take your pants off, especially if you don't tie them up properly."

The outbreak of national schizophrenia, however, had to be justified somehow. For didn't India win its greatest battle for freedom thanks to Gandhi's principles of satyagraha (perseverance in the pursuit of truth) and ahimsa? Therefore, a "loincloth"was thrown over India's growing nuclear ambitions. The 1974 test was described as a "peaceful nuclear explosion".

Although Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee dropped his affectation about India's nuclear status in 1998, he also adopted the then-familiar mantra***. After the tests, Vajpayee said in an interview: "We don't want to hide our actions under an unnecessary veil of ambiguity. India is now a nuclear-armed State. But our intentions were, are and will continue to be peaceful."

Vajpayee is not the only leader who shows such a mind-bogglingly ambivalent approach to these issues. Since the birth of Indian civilization, the behavior of its people has been deeply affected by two currents of philosophy: immersion in life and withdrawal from it.

There is an erroneous definition-

Continuation. For the beginning, see "Asia and Africa Today", 2003, NN 3-4.

* An oxymoron is a stylistic figure that combines words that are opposite in meaning, for example, a living corpse. (Editor's note)

** Bal Thakre is the founder and head of the Shiv Sena (Shivaji Army), a chauvinist Hindu organization in Maharashtra. (Editor's note)

* * * Mantra - a prayer formula or incantation. It is believed that their repeated utterance awakens unusual abilities in a person. (Editor's note)

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I believe that Indian culture is more a denial of life than a statement of it. But what Indian philosophy preaches is not abstinence from action, but, however contradictory it may seem, separation of oneself from the consequences of what is done, even if it is right. The central focus is on dharma - the duty of a person to fulfill his duties to himself and to others. If he acts morally, it will inevitably lead to appropriate, that is, to positive consequences. The yugadharma (or dharma of a certain era in the mythological chronicle) is that people should act in accordance with such high ideals. Passivity has always been frowned upon.

The Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord), a source of inspiration for many generations of Indians, repeatedly asserts the idea of dharma, appeals to the humanity of people, and gives them the key to understanding the spiritual purpose of their actions.

The Gita indicates two paths to moksha, or liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death.

One way is sannyas yoga, which preaches renunciation of worldly pleasures, advocates seclusion and devoting time to thinking about the true essence of the inner world of a person, so that he can dispel maya, or the illusory nature of the entire perceived world.

The other is karma yoga, a life-affirming teaching that encourages the individual to lead a family life and fulfill his dharma always correctly-both in thought and in action - without fear or partiality. When a person does this, he also frees himself from the karmic bonds that bind the soul to a future bodily existence or reincarnation.

To bring a certain order to their lives and make it more accessible to observe the dharma, the ancient Indians divided society into four groups, this division at first, presumably, was not rigid. There was a social-estate hierarchy of brahmins (priests), kshatriyas (warriors), Vaisyas (merchants) and sudras (farmers)**.

Human life was also divided into four periods.

The first of them is youth, the time of apprenticeship, acquiring knowledge and developing self-discipline.

The second is the time of family life.

The third period is characterized by the entry of a person into the age of an elder mentor, whose life experience and objectivity help a person to devote his life to social work, without pursuing personal gain.

And the fourth is the life of a yogi or yogini who breaks with worldly temptations and seeks the deeper meaning of life.

Along with this division, an attempt was also made to combine two opposing tendencies of Indian philosophy: acceptance of (worldly) life in its entirety and its rejection.

Although much of the ancient Indian philosophy and culture was formed almost 3,500 years ago, it has stood the test of time, even though it was the reason for such a turn of fate when fortune turned sharply away from the country. The Bhagavad Gita has also had a profound impact on contemporary Indian leaders.

Gandhi spent a lot of time "experimenting," as he called it, in search of the true meaning of life. He practiced thyaga, or self-denial, believing that true happiness should come not only from curbing worldly desires, but above all from a willingness to sacrifice. He abstained from sexual relations, refused meat, and avoided all the comforts of life. Gandhi was capable of great things. At the same time, he correlated his actions with high moral standards, always claiming that "the end does not justify the means."

Many Indians see Gandhi as the true embodiment of the Indian ideal: a hermit who plunged into the reality of life to show them the spiritually and morally acceptable path to freedom. When Gandhi preached the Ahimsa principle, it was clear to him that this principle was not an act of cowardice or a weapon of the weak.

Nehru believed that for Gandhi, " even in the Ahimsa concept, nonviolence had more to do with motivating actions, avoiding the very thought of violence, and self-discipline and restraint."-

Karma - the law of causation; the sum of actions and their consequences, which determines the nature of a new birth, as well as their impact on the present and subsequent lives of living beings. (Editor's note)

* * From these groups, which are called Varkas, the caste system later developed. According to the traditions of one of the oldest sacred texts - the Rig Veda, from the mouth of the primordial Purusha arose the varna of Brahman priests, from his hands - the varna of kshatriyas, from the thighs-the varna of simple farmers and pastoralists - vaishyas, and from the feet - the lowest varna - Sudras. (Editor's note)

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rather than physically deterring people from taking violent actions when they became necessary and unavoidable."

Nehru, as a visionary and as a pragmatist, confessed his inability to grasp all the subtleties of Indian philosophy. He saw the Gita as "an attempt to reconcile and reconcile the three directions of human progress.": the road of reason or knowledge, the path of action, and the path of faith." And he came to the conclusion: "Probably, faith is given more importance than the other two."

These two leaders, however, were not concerned with abstract philosophizing about life, but with making the nation strong again and throwing off the oppressive yoke of the mighty British Empire, over which "the sun never set." The India that Gandhi and Nehru inherited was poor and illiterate. The per capita income in the 1920s was only Rs 12, compared to Rs 300 per Englishman.

British rule meant that India not only missed out on the industrial revolution, but also remained technically extremely backward. India was mainly used as a source of cheap raw materials, which made British industry highly profitable. The industrial development of the country remained at an early stage of formation, and if any infrastructure was built, whether railways or conventional roads, it was mainly to facilitate the empire's management of the country.

In the field of defence, after the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, India's first great battle for independence, the British took measures to ensure that local government had no control over the armed forces. To weaken India's ability to re-enter the fray, the British successfully implemented a divide-and-rule policy. They supported the traditional rajahs (princes), giving them a semblance of autonomy, while at the same time maintaining complete control over everything. As part of this process, India was divided into about 600 principalities.

The British also sowed the seeds of disunity between Hindus and Muslims by allowing the creation of separate electoral curia for Muslims as early as 1907. This practice was soon extended to other religious communities, and India became a mosaic of such cells, which constantly showed a tendency to further fragmentation. This was one of the reasons why India was divided in 1947.

Although the Indian National Congress was formed in 1885, and political activity began to emerge, every event, whether it was the formation of provincial legislatures and governments, or participation in resource management, was a victory for the Indian independence fighters, won in a fierce struggle.

It was in this context that several major ideological trends (schools) were formed in the process of finding ways to get India out of a difficult situation. In general terms, they are defined as the modernist approach that Nehru symbolized, the traditionalist return to the" basics " that Gandhi preached, and the desire for rebirth that Vajpayee mentors from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Union of Voluntary Servants of the Nation - RSS) began to embody. All the activists of these schools were concerned with finding the vital energy of the people, which they could use and turn into a driving force that could throw off foreign masters.

Although Gandhi had much in common with the revivalists, the leaders of the RSS began to oppose him as they began to better understand his ideas. They were concerned about his ascetic, non-Kshatriya (non-Military) leadership style, his definition of oharma as a non-violent search for truth, and his assimilative concept of the Indian nation, which he saw as a brotherhood or confederation of communities.

Many leaders, including Nehru, rejected Gandhi's vision of an economy and society based on self-sufficient villages. However, when Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress in the early 1920s, he brought revolutionary changes to its working methods and social base. He considered members of Congress too elitist and out of touch with the problems of the masses. He attracted peasants to the party, making it a more numerous agrarian organization.

The nature of the actions that Gandhi practiced was also radically different. It is not at-

* Sepoys-hired soldiers from the local population in the Anglo-Indian army.

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he knew neither passive resolutions or speeches, nor terrorist activities that, in his opinion, contradicted the main policy of the Congress. Instead, he developed the idea of peaceful but persistent resistance, with voluntary (if necessary) martyrdom to achieve the goal.

Nehru once remarked, " Gandhi was an unusual pacifist-active, with an overflowing energy. There was no submissiveness to fate or anything else that he considered evil, he was filled with the spirit of struggle, although peaceful, but worthy."

Gandhi, who had honed his satyagraha skills in South Africa, decided that he would call for the struggle to liberate India not only from foreign oppressors, but also from the curse of many social plagues.

Gandhi also vowed to work tirelessly to create "an India in which the poorest feel that they belong, and in the process of becoming a country where they actually have the right to express their opinions, an India in which there are no upper and lower classes of people, an India in which all communities will be free." live in perfect harmony... India, where there is no place for the scourge of untouchability or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs... in which women will have the same rights as men... This is the India of my dreams."

Gandhi won the hearts of the masses by trying to bring them out of their stupor. He wanted to restore the spiritual unity of the people, to identify the sprouts of life in the old roots and rely on them. No single religion mattered to him. He believed that Indian culture is neither entirely Hindu, nor Islamic, nor any other, but a synthesis of them all. Gandhi said: "I want the culture of all the Indian regions to develop around my home as freely as possible. But I refuse to give preference to any of them. I refuse to live in the homes of other nations, meddling in their affairs, or as a beggar or slave."

Until his death, Gandhi worked to bring Muslims into the mainstream of Hindu political life. Gandhi's" soft-heartedness", both in his attitude towards Muslims and in his tactics of fighting for the liberation of India, appalled the RSS. Its leaders believed that thousands of years of foreign rule had robbed the Hindu majority of its strength and purpose. For them, the restoration of the Hindu way of life held the key to India's rebirth.

The Second World War was a crucial test of Gandhi's faith and his life's work. Much to the disappointment of his colleagues, he did not abandon nonviolence. In 1940, as war raged in Europe and threatened to spread to India, he wanted Congress to declare its commitment to the principle of nonviolence even for a free India. For him, India was to become a symbol that would make the world give up its habit of war and its cruelties.

On this issue, there was a certain split between Gandhi and the Congress. The INC made it clear to Gandhi that it was unrealistic to oblige India or the party itself to apply the principle of nonviolence in the international sphere in the future.

According to Nehru, Gandhi understood that an independent India would still have to strengthen its military, naval and air power to protect itself. He wrote: "The principle of nonviolence has never been extended to the Army, Navy, air force, or police. It was self-evident that its use was limited to our struggle for freedom."

Ironically, just as humanity was perfecting peace and nonviolence as a tool for overthrowing a once - powerful empire, it was also developing the most destructive weapon in its history: the atomic bomb. It was as if the human race was being offered a choice between a genuine weapon of peace and a weapon that could lead to total annihilation.

The atomic bomb, which Gandhi described as the result of the most "diabolical application of science," did not undermine his faith in truth and nonviolence. In February 1946, just six months after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Gandhi wrote in the weekly Harijan: "Not only did this not dissuade me, but it clearly demonstrated to me that the twins (truth and nonviolence) are the most powerful force in the world, and the atomic bomb is powerless against them. The two opposing forces are completely different in essence, one moral and spiritual, the other physical and material. The first is infinitely superior to the second, which by its very nature has a limit. The power of the spirit is always progressive and infinite. Her full expression makes her invincible all over the world."

There can be little doubt that Gandhi was one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century. In his book "Outstanding Minds: The anatomy of leadership "Howard Gardner writes that" leaders succeed mainly because of their ideas." Moreover, leaders "bring their ideas to life" with their lifestyle as an example to inspire others.

Gardner places Gandhi in the rare category of visionary leader who, in his definition, "is not content with voicing contemporary ideas or recreating ideas pulled from the distant or recent past. This individual actually creates new ideas that were not previously known to most individuals, and achieves at least some degree of success in effectively communicating these ideas to others."

Who else does Gardner put in this category?

Jesus Christ, Buddha and Muhammad.

Albert Einstein, whose research paved the way for the atomic bomb he helped develop, was a deep admirer of Gandhi. He noted: "Gandhi clearly showed that a strong person can become not only at the expense of guile, ordinary political intrigues and deceptions, but also by setting a convincing example of a highly moral lifestyle. In our time of complete moral decline, he was the only real political figure who advocated higher human relations in the political sphere... Future generations... hardly powe-

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they say that a man of flesh and blood like him ever walked the earth."

Martin Luther King put them on a par: "Humanity has shown the ability to think only twice in this century: once in the person of Einstein, and then in the person of Gandhi. Einstein's thought changed the understanding of the physical world, Gandhi's thought transformed the understanding of the political world."

However, after Gandhi's death in 1948, even independent India began to distance itself from his ideology. The leadership passed to Nehru, who, although a staunch Gandhian, took a different path.

Unlike the RCC, which believed that the Indian spirit was suppressed by foreign conquests, Nehru believed that the root of the disease was much deeper. He believed that Indian civilization itself had lost its energy and was in a difficult situation. As Nehru put it: "The spirit of search and rationalistic curiosity has given way to narrow orthodoxy, taboos, and blind idolatry... like a sluggish trickle slowly seeping through the piles of dead centuries."

By the eighth century, Indian science and creativity had reached their zenith, and the country boasted such great men as the mathematician Aryabhata, the physician Charaka, and the astronomer Varahamihira. But when the first millennium ended, science barely glimmered. India has lost its technical advantage, even in weapons. However, she still lived in a naive confidence of her own greatness.

When Indian civilization declined, it became easy prey for invaders. The gifted eleventh-century scholar Al-Biruni, who served in the court of Mahmud of Ghaznavi, the Muslim conqueror who plundered India, wrote: "The Hindus are sure that there are no other countries besides their own, no other peoples like them, no other rulers like them, no comparable religion and science. They are arrogant, absurdly vain, arrogant, and dispassionate... If they traveled and interacted with other peoples, they would soon change their minds, because their ancestors were not as narrow-minded as the current generation."

Nehru believed that in order for India to regain its vitality, it needed to revive the spirit of change in its people. He acknowledged that among the Indians there was always a "desire to synthesize the old and the new. It was this drive and desire that kept them moving forward and enabled them to absorb new ideas while preserving much of the old."

Dissatisfaction, Nehru believed, is the driver of progress. And if India is to move forward, it must not only take the best of the past, but also fundamentally change its approach so that it can absorb the ideas of the present and build a new future. He wrote: "I was aware that Indians have huge reserves of energy and abilities, and I wanted to release these reserves and make people feel young and full of life again. India cannot really play a secondary role in the world. It will either make a huge difference, or it will not be taken into account at all."

But Nehru's idealism was shattered when India became independent and he became Prime Minister. The partition of India gave birth to Pakistan and decades of hatred and strife on the continent. The partition cost five million people their lives and sent three times as many more into poverty.

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It took great skill on the part of the Nehru Government to persuade more than six hundred maharajas to join the dominion of the Indian Union. It was necessary to work out a new constitution, and so to balance the powers of the center and the federation of states. In foreign policy, the country had to find its own niche as the largest democracy in the world. If an independent India were to face famine, there would not be enough resources to alleviate the human suffering. Most of its nascent industries were technologically in the Middle Ages, and even then in a state of depression.

Nehru wrote that the proposed Panchayati Raja plan* was too slow a method of transformation and could lead to the collapse of the newborn Indian state. At an early stage, he became a proponent of an industrial and technological development model that would allow India to "rely only on its own strength." His first priority was to raise the standard of living of the people, and in second place was to ensure the national security of India, increasing its role in the global power structure to a level corresponding to the size and significance of the country.

Impressed by socialism and its success in the Soviet Union, Nehru believed in a centralized system of government. He decided that the state should achieve commanding heights in the economy. Planning became the main principle, and five-year development plans were adopted. The temples of modern India were supposed to be large dams and heavy industry enterprises financed and managed by the state.

Science and technology were supposed to provide both the work of "think tanks" and the implementation of innovations necessary to accelerate the development process. As early as 1937, he told scientists gathered at the Indian National Science Congress that " only science could achieve the elimination of hunger and poverty, unsanitary conditions and illiteracy, overcome superstition and stagnant customs and traditions, and end the waste of large resources of a rich country inhabited by starving people."

Nehru's approach to security concerns has been strikingly ambivalent. His idealism about world peace and the prospects for general disarmament took on a touch of pragmatism that he tried to hide. Nehru believed that India should play a major role in convincing the world to give up weapons of mass destruction. But he also clearly understood that if his efforts failed, India should not remain vulnerable, even if it required harnessing the energy of the atom.

Khaksar, who was a leading adviser to Indira Gandhi during her formative years as prime Minister , is one of those who managed to get to the heart of Nehru's thinking and views at the time. Khaksar got to know Nehru well while serving as Deputy High Commissioner** India in the UK in the 40s and later, working in Delhi.

In 1930, when Khaksar was seventeen years old, he first saw Nehru in Allahabad, and his attention was drawn to Nehru's face. Khaksar wrote: "I think you could look at his face for hours, like you look at the changing face of monsoon clouds after a downpour. The vast majority of us don't have faces that are visible to others. We wear masks. And he didn't have a mask. His face expressed every fleeting mood, feeling and experience." During the time Haksar knew him, Nehru's face reflected the turbulent events of his era with rare moments of calm.

According to Khaksar, Nehru wanted the new world to be freed from the shackles of Clausewitz's axiom that "war is the continuation of politics by other means" and Churchill's approach that states "have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests". Nehru did not believe in the theory of the balance of power, according to which in the event of a conflict, the most important thing is who is on your side and who is against you.

In a 1998 interview, Haksar noted, " Nehru wanted to dispel the notion that different states could take colored pencils, divide the world among themselves, and slice up dominions." As an adherent of the idea of non-alignment, Nehru saw it only as "a means of moving forward, preserving and protecting world peace at a certain time and place."

Haksar recalled Nehru's shock at the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Americans. He believed that it made Nehru even more energetically urge the countries of the world to abandon war as a mechanism for settling international disputes and abandon nuclear weapons. This approach was not a far-fetched idealism: Nehru understood that the creation of nuclear weapons meant that the next world war could lead to the destruction of all life. Haksar recalled Nehru telling him, " We have no right to fail in this case. Let's save future generations from the scourge of nuclear war."

Nehru was deeply disappointed when the Baruch plan presented to the UN in June 1946, which, among other things, proposed to outlaw atomic weapons and provide for strict sanctions for violating this ban, was rejected. Multi-millionaire financier Bernard Baruch, who launched the initiative on behalf of US President Harry Truman, prefaced his proposals with a dramatic statement: "We must choose between the living and the dead." But the choice had already been made by Stalin's Soviet Union, determined to build an atomic bomb. Thrusts-

Panchayati Raj - a system of rural local government. (Editor's note)

** High Commissioner - the name of the head of the diplomatic mission (Ambassador) of one country of the British Commonwealth to another. (Editor's note)

*** -"The "Baruch Plan" was a propaganda campaign aimed at virtually preserving the US nuclear monopoly. It provided for the establishment of control over the uranium mines of other countries, primarily the USSR, while preserving the right of the United States to produce atomic weapons. (Editor's note)

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A grueling arms race was underway.

Nehru sensed ominous omens. He knew that at the very time when he was fighting for a world without war, India would have to build up its own defense capabilities, as well as use the unlimited power of atomic energy. On February 2, 1948, he wrote to Defense Minister Baldev Singh: "The future belongs to those who produce atomic energy. It is expected that it will become the main source of energy in the future. Of course, the defense industry is very interested in it. The possession of atomic energy even has political consequences."

Earlier in the new government's defense policy, it was mentioned: "The possible use of atomic energy in military operations is likely to lead to a revolution in our ideas about war and defense. At the moment, we can ignore this factor, except for recognizing the absolute need to develop ways to use atomic energy for both civilian and military purposes. This means conducting scientific research on a large scale."

In this case, Nehru relied on Homi Jehangir Bhabha.


It was the duo of Nehru and Bhabha that dominated Indian nuclear politics in the 50s and early 60s. Bhabha treated Nehru like an older brother and usually used the word "brother"in his official letters to Nehru.

Comparing their characters, the famous scientist M. J. K. Menon noted: "Both of them had an amazing sense of beauty. Homi enjoyed music, painting, flowers, gardens, and architecture; Jawaharlal always wore a rose in his buttonhole, and was known for his love of mountains and poetry. Each of them was deeply devoted to India and concerned about its future... Both had a strong belief in the power of science and technology as a lever for economic and social change."

Like Nehru, Bhabha seemed to fill every room completely with his presence. But unlike Nehru, he was a gruff snob. He had accumulated a rich vocabulary of expletives, and he had a habit of laughing out loud. Bhabha was a man of great alacrity and energy, who was eager to do as many things as possible in his life.

In 1934, Bhabha, at the age of twenty-five, wrote to a friend of his: "Since I can't increase the saturation of life by extending its duration, I will extend it by increasing its intensity. Art, music, poetry, and everything else I do has this one goal-to increase the intensity of my consciousness and life."

Unlike many of his fellow citizens, Bhabha could afford it. Born in 1909, Bhabha was related to influential people -his father's sister was married to Sir Dorab Tata, the son of the founder of the Tata Group. His father served as the Inspector General of Education in Mysore, and Bhabha grew up in Mumbai.

He was attracted to the natural sciences, and a construction kit given to him as a child fascinated him. He was also interested in music and painting, and even took lessons in these subjects from specialists. He spent Saturdays and Sundays at his aunt's house, which was then frequented by leading luminaries of the Indian liberation movement, including Mahatma Gandhi. In such meetings, some researchers see the reason for his national liberation fervor in later years.

At his father's insistence, in keeping with family tradition, Bhabha sailed to England in 1927 to study engineering at Cambridge. He was more interested in science, but his father, probably concerned that he was wasting his time, believed that engineering would better ensure his son's career prospects.

A year later, Bhabha began to complain and wrote to his father: "I seriously think that business or engineering is not for me. They are completely alien to my character and incompatible with my temperament and views. My vocation is physics. I know that I will achieve a lot in this area. Because each person can work best and excel only in the field that they passionately love and believe, as I do, that they have the ability to do it."

Unsurprisingly, at Cambridge, Bhabha was more interested in physics, and consequently mathematics, than in engineering. Meanwhile, researchers in Europe and the United States were making sensational discoveries about the structure of the atom, especially the atomic nuclei and the forces that hold them together.

In the 1930s, the impressive Bhabha's career led him to the best laboratories in Europe, where he studied under the guidance of the then luminaries such as Nobel laureates Enrico Fermi, Wolfgang Pauli and Niels Bohr,

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each of them has made a significant contribution to solving the mysteries of the atom.

Bhabha's association with a number of outstanding scientists led him to understand the limitless possibilities of atomic energy, and also gave him experience in equipping sophisticated laboratories for experiments with it. This later proved useful for India. At Cambridge, his rowing teammate was W. B. Lewis, who later became chairman of the Canadian Energy Program. It was Bhabha's friendship with him that helped the Canadians, together with generous help, agree in the 50s to create the Cyrus research reactor (English abbreviation for "Canadian-Indian reactor"). The plutonium produced in this reactor was secretly used in the creation of the Indian atomic bomb.

By 1945, Bhabha had persuaded the leadership of the Tata Monopoly Group to establish the Tata Institute for Basic Research (IFIT) in Mumbai. Even then, Bhabha began to use an expression that became part of the professional jargon to describe the new nature of India's scientific and industrial development: "Self-reliance."

The idea of self-reliance also became the leitmotif of Nehru's statements, when he, as the first prime Minister of the state, was preparing to pull an independent India out of the beaten track and firmly put it on the path of progress. Bhabha was able to convince Nehru that it took a lot of effort to achieve anything significant. Even though nuclear power opened up the potential for unlimited energy, they were both clearly aware of its destructive potential.

Bhabha, based on his foreign experience, proposed a plan to create a developed infrastructure that would allow mastering the critical technologies required for the production of nuclear energy. He knew as well as Nehru that this would open the way for India to build a bomb. Such a plan made it possible to avoid the heated moral discussions that India would probably have caused if it openly supported the creation of a bomb.

In April 1948, Nehru agreed to Bhabha's proposal to pass the Atomic Energy Act in the Constituent Assembly and establish the KAE (Atomic Energy Committee. - Ed.), stating: "We are now entering the atomic age... and it carries something infinitely more powerful than both steam and electricity. If we want to keep up with the times, we should develop nuclear energy not for military use - yes, yes, I think we should develop it with the intention of using it for peaceful purposes."

It is significant that Nehru added: "Of course, if we, as a state, are forced to use it for other purposes, most likely, no amount of sanctimonious feelings of any of us will stop the nation from using atomic energy in this way."

In 1949, Bhabha recruited Ramanna, a scientist destined to become the "father" of the Indian bomb. Like Bhabha, Ramanna was a multi-faceted person. He played the piano with an extraordinary passion. His favorite piece was Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 in G Major, which, unlike most of the composer's raging works, sounds calm, even sincere.

It was his love of music that led Ramanna to meet Bhabha by chance in Mysore in 1944. He was introduced to Bhabha by Dr. Alfred Mistovsky, who was practicing with the Mysore Palace Orchestra. Bhabha liked the young man with the bristly mustache, who talked about music as much as he talked about physics. A few months later, he offered Ramanna a J. N. Tata fellowship to conduct physics research at King's College London.

Later, during his visit to England, Bhabha offered Ramanna a job. He should have contacted the Indian diplomatic mission in London to arrange his return. Ramanna quickly made his way to the office headed by the then acrimonious V. K. Krishna Menon. Bhabha and Menon have had a strong dislike for each other since they were students at Cambridge. Later, when Menon became defense minister, they often had skirmishes over important issues.

That day, after some grumbling about Bhabha's manners, Menon asked Ramanna to approach Haksar, who was then his second-in-command. Khaksar took a liking to Ramanna and even after many years relied on him to secretly push India's nuclear weapons program. In 1949, Khaksar arranged for Ramanna to move to India.

When Ramanna returned, he was surprised to find that Bhabha had already laid the foundation of atomic energy research. It was obvious that there was always a bomb in the back of Bhabha's mind. Bhabha told Ramanna at that time, "We must have a potential opportunity. We should establish ourselves first, and then talk about Gandhi, nonviolence and a world without nuclear weapons."

This belief coincided with the desire of Indian scientists to prove that the country could do this. Ramanna notes: "There has never been a discussion among us about whether we should build a bomb. More important was how to do it. For us, it was a matter of prestige that would justify our ancient past. The question of a deterrent came up much later. As Indian scientists, we also wanted to show our Western colleagues, who didn't think much of us in those days, that we could also do this."

By that time, Nehru, who promoted the ideas of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), was gaining a reputation as "Mr. Third World". He sincerely believed that he played a major role in ensuring world peace, and fought persistently and persistently for global disarmament. Nehru made it clear to Bhabha that he would not make the nuclear option as long as there was a real chance for his peace efforts to succeed. B. K. Nehru, a former Indian ambassador to the United States and Nehru's cousin, remembers meeting Bhabha in 1951 when he asked him why India had no plans to detonate a bomb. Bhabha replied: The " old man "(Nehru) won't let me. He approved of my plans for atomic energy, but said that under no circumstances-

page 56

In the future, I should not produce weapons."

Meanwhile, Nehru has never allowed his ideological beliefs to influence the decision-making process. In 1953, he considered the "Atom for Peace" proposal put forward by US President Dwight Eisenhower as a ploy designed to nip in the bud the emergence of pretenders to the status of a nuclear power. Eisenhower promised to help non-nuclear-weapon States build nuclear power plants, as well as establish a "bank" from which they could obtain fissile materials for their own needs, instead of producing their own fuel. The President of the United States proposed the creation of a specialized UN agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to regulate such activities and ensure that fissile materials supplied to different countries will not be used to create weapons.

Bhabha was eager to sign that document, but Nehru, as is well known, wrote on the folder with materials on this topic:: "This is a political decision that should not be made by nuclear scientists." Nehru was opposed to India abandoning its plans to build an atomic bomb and warned Bhabhu that India should first develop the capability to produce such weapons.

Nehru's biographer, Professor S. Gopal, who had access to his correspondence with Bhabha during this period, said in a 1997 interview: "It is not widely known that Nehru wrote to Bhabha that he was against the prohibition of atomic weapons. Nehru's policy was to refuse to use it, not to possess it. And Bhabha, in keeping with Nehru's public appearances, wanted to completely outlaw him. Nehru snapped, " No! No! Don't go that far."

So, just as Nehru was loudly proclaiming that he would never allow India to develop atomic weapons, he was giving the green light to Bhabha's plans to build the infrastructure needed to produce them.

P. K. Iyengar recalls that at that time there was talk of Nehru collaborating with two other founders of the Non - Aligned Movement-Egyptian President Gamal Nasser and Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito-to master bomb-making technology so that they could form a powerful third force. Yugoslavia has already mastered the production of heavy water. And Egypt, with the help of the Soviet Union and Norway, was supposed to produce plutonium. But there is no evidence to confirm the accuracy of information about such plans, if any.

Nevertheless, at the end of 1955, a logical decision was made - to establish cooperation with Canada in order to build the Cyrus research reactor, which allowed for the rapid production of plutonium. India needed access to either enriched uranium or plutonium if it was to develop its nuclear weapons capability. But no country was willing to share these fissile materials without strong guarantees that they would only be used for energy production.

At the same time, intelligence reports began to arrive about China's secret preparations for the creation of atomic bombs. Although Nehru believed that he had cemented his friendship with China by signing the Panchashila (Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence) Agreement in 1955, there were tensions along the border that he could not ignore. Since Cyrus was expected to be operational in 1960, Bhabha convinced Nehru that India should not delay in building a plant to extract plutonium from the spent fuel rods of the reactor.

In July 1958, Nehru gave permission for this project, code-named "Phoenix", designed to annually process 20 tons of fuel to produce 10 kilograms of plutonium - the equivalent of the" stuffing " of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The plant, which was being built in the Trombey complex, was planned to be put into operation in mid-1964.

Bhabha then used every opportunity to gather information on how to make a bomb. In 1960, France moved well-known laboratories from Fontenay-aux-Roses, where most of its work on neutron fuzes for atomic bombs was carried out, to Saclay. The French offered to allow some Indian scientists to see how large nuclear power plants were created. Bhabha directed Vasudeva Ayya and told him to find out as much as possible, especially about the production methods of polonium used in fuses. Although the French did not disclose any technological processes, during lunch breaks they politely, though without delay, guided him through some secret laboratories.

The following year, in August 1961, Bhabha confessed to a senior Foreign Ministry official that India not only knew about China's preparations for an atomic bomb, but that Nehru had told him to "take precautions". Bhabha then optimistically estimated that if he had been given permission to make the bomb, it would have taken India two years to do so.

In January 1962, Bhabha made the first serious attempt to organize the study of the physics of the nuclear explosion by assembling, with Nehru's consent, a small group of physicists led by Professor R. K. Asundi.

When India began its preparations to build its own nuclear bomb production capability, Bhabha immediately advocated for maximum secrecy in the work. In September 1962, two months before the war with China, Nehru agreed to pass a law in Parliament that gave the central government full control over decisions on atomic energy and tightened articles relating to the preservation of state secrets.

India's disastrous war with China, which began in October 1962, not only undermined Nehru's health, but also weakened his influence in the country. B. K. Nehru, who was then India's ambassador to the United States, says: "Nehru was an idealist, out of touch with reality in many ways. He saw the Chinese aggression as a vicious, cruel, and selfish act, and it broke him." Nehru himself admitted

page 57

in Parliament, he said that he "lived in an artificial world created by ourselves."

India knew that it would take years to gradually establish some sort of parity with China in conventional weapons. The only way to deter China from any encroachment on Indian territory was to acquire a nuclear bomb. China has not yet detonated its bomb, and Bhabha has been seeking Nehru's permission to continue building Indian nuclear weapons.


A month after the outbreak of war with China, on November 4, 1962, Bhabha hand-wrote a secret note to Nehru outlining India's dilemma. The note was innocuously titled " Priorities for the Atomic Energy Program." But in essence, it dealt with the inexorably approaching nuclear explosion in China and contained proposals for developing retaliatory measures.

In his note, Bhabha wrote:: "The only way we can respond to the expected explosion of a Chinese nuclear device within the next year and a half is if we have a much broader program for the peaceful use of nuclear energy than they do. Getting plutonium measured in kilograms within a year and a half will clearly demonstrate that we could make atomic weapons if we wanted to, but we are refraining from this step."

Shortly thereafter, Bhabha met with Nehru in Delhi to discuss the memo and how to proceed. The full content of their meeting is still a mystery. But in rare moments of candor, Bhabha, shortly before his death (he died in 1966), told the former First Deputy Foreign Minister Maharaja Krishna Rasgotra some of the conversation with Nehru. Bhabha told Rasgotra that he had tried to persuade Nehru to allow him to conduct a nuclear test. For greater effect, according to Bhabha, he even suggested drilling a mine in Ladakh. But " Nehru almost threw me out of his room."

Although Nehru vehemently opposed the nuclear test, he still agreed to speed up preparations for a peaceful nuclear explosion.

The meeting with Nehru led to another significant event. During the war with China, one of the main mistakes made by India was the refusal to deploy air forces to conduct counterattacks. The director of the Institute of Defense Research and Analysis in New Delhi, retired Air Commodore * Jasjit Singh, recalls how, as a fighter pilot during the war and stationed at the Tezpur Air Force Base in Assam, he never received a combat mission. He says: "Our warplanes stayed on the ground because there were concerns that our cities might be hit by the Chinese Air Force. We didn't have early warning systems or interceptors like missiles. We were concerned that our cities were unprotected." So among the measures taken after the war to strengthen India's security was the decision to create the latest radar early warning systems, not to mention missiles, to resist the attacks of the Air Force, and possibly later become carriers of India's nuclear weapons.

Bhabha also persuaded Nehru to significantly increase funding for the fledgling Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCKI), then headed by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, to ensure that India could start developing long-range rockets. Established two years after the Soviet-built Sputnik made its spectacular space flight in October 1957, INCKI was designed to pave the way for India to explore this exciting new field. The committee's secretariat was located in the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, and initially it was planned that it would launch only small rockets for meteorological research and the study of cosmic rays.

In 1963, India developed plans to launch its own geophysical rockets in order to improve them for launching satellites. Among the many scientists recruited for this work in 1963 was Abdul Kalam, then only thirty-two years old. India's ambitious space plans were probably the earliest signal that the search for a reliable means of delivering India's nuclear weapons had begun.

Around the same time, there were reports that the United States, alarmed that communist China was preparing to detonate an atomic bomb, wanted to help India develop the technology as a democratic counterweight to China in Asia. At least B. K. Nehru, India's ambassador to the United States, claimed that there were no discussions on this topic at his level.

The main reason for Nehru's reluctance to accept US aid was that it was at odds with India's non-aligned policy.

However, some US actions still played a role. The CIA helped India establish its own foreign intelligence agency, the Directorate General of Security-the predecessor to the current innocuously named Office of Research and Analysis (OIA). India also began helping the CIA track China's nuclear preparations. When China detonated its first atomic bomb on October 16, 1964, at the Lobnor test site, India was the first to break the news to the world. UAI sources say that in fact, India and the United States were supposed to announce it at the same time, but this did not work out due to confusion. Such a failure has all but lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding the joint Indo-American effort to track China's nuclear program. Although the collaboration continued for some time, it ran into major problems when, later, an avalanche at the Annapurna test site in the Himalayas caused the loss of American nuclear-powered generators that served tracking devices.

(To be continued)

* Air Commodore is an Air Force officer rank equivalent to Brigadier General in the Indian Army. (Editor's note)


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