NUCLEAR MARVEL 98, THE WAY TO VICTORY
India’s Nuclear Marvel…
Indian Nuclear Scientists have created a history on the remarkable days of 11th and 13th of the month of May in 1998 by conducting a series of five advanced Nuclear Tests at Pokhran, Rajasthan. In common man’s term these are described as Simultaneous Explosions, but in scientific language, they are Near Simultaneous Explosions. These explosions were not carried out at the same time, but at very minute interval. The first three N-tests were spaced at some hundredth fraction of a second. Let’s see what we have accomplished on the day and what were the devices & technology used for that.
The first of the three N-tests on the first day was like a big Atom Bomb, which can be carried under the wings of a Fighter Aircraft and can be targeted at the enemy destination. It may be labeled as the ‘Conventional Atom Bomb’. The second one was a very small and can be fitted on the tip of the Missile as Nuclear Warhead. If we call the first one as Hi-tech, the second one may be called ‘Super’ Hi-tech. The third explosion was of Thermo-nuclear type. Commonly it is nicknamed in media as Hydrogen Bomb, but actually the device from which this Hydrogen Bomb can be made is known as Thermo-nuclear device. We have tested it here. The real Hydrogen Bomb cannot be tested on the Earth except in the battlefield. It is an extremely destructive and dangerous weapon.
On the first day, just half an hour after the splendid explosions, the IAF helicopter was surveying the site. It was assessing the air and environment. It gave ‘Safe’ signal to the control room situated just five km. from the test-site about the overall safety. It informed that the atmosphere was calm, there was not any kind of environmental insult the people could move up to the test-site.
On receiving these signals, some of the senior officials and the scientists rushed to the site taking the necessary equipment. Geological and Ecological studies were carried out in detail. Test analysis was going on in the control room. The work was divided in the seventeen divisions. Each was given a target. The data and the other details gathered by each division were analyzed. The conclusion at the end of second hour was that there was not a trace of the nuclear insult by the Radio-active radiations emitted following N-explosions.
Returning from the test-site, people of different departments submitted the respective departmental reports to Dr Kalam, Dr Chidambaram and Dr Kakodkar. The results were wondrous and delightful. The twelve of the seventeen departments had achieved 90-92 % success. The remaining five departments were such that Dr Kalam had eulogized them on their accomplishments. These people had achieved 95-97 % success. It is truly marvelous.
On the whole two things were evident. The tests were successful and there was no insult at all to the environment. The message was conveyed to the Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Behari Bajpaiji.
On the same day evening, Prime Minister addressed a Press Conference and acquainted the world with the remarkable event. PM came with the Tri-colour in his hand. He proclaimed in the balanced words, “Bharat is now a Nuclear Super Power. India is now a Nuclear Weapon State.” One meaning of the proclamation was that our nation has put forward an important step necessary for its defence requisites on the foundation of indigenous scientific and technological advances.
Although the immediate effects of the explosions were felt in and around Pokhran and in some 125 villages nearby in the form of tremors or shocks similar to earthquake waves, the political and diplomatic tremors and jerks were felt in each and every nook and corner of the world. The derogatory reactions in very stiff, venomous and non-diplomatic languages began pouring in. The questions asked in the foreign and some local media were like, “Are they crazy?” “Are they lunatics?”
In political field usually such antinational and abusive language is avoided. Instead of commending India and the scientists for their extraordinary achievement, there was a battery of insane, derogatory and malicious criticisms. They expressed the fear that it would accelerate the arms-race already going on in South Asia.
But the common man was delighted. Their reactions were authoritative as if one was the eyewitness to the event. After returning back to Pune at the end of May, I was looking into the newspapers and the magazines of 12-14th May and around. In one daily newspaper of 12th May, the caricature was very specific. Two vegetable vendors sitting on a roadside were talking to each other. One tells the other, “I am feeling energized since yesterday.” This reflects the sentiments of a common man. I feel this is the greatest reward for the daring feat displayed by us. On the net, the common man’s reactions have traversed through a variety of sensors and proved enormously eloquent. There were the numbers of opinion polls, which made it obvious that 92 % of our nationals have wholeheartedly and conscientiously welcomed the incident.
The reactions were not confined to India. The CNN channel had organized a series of opinion polls from 12th to 30th May on the subject. The queries were straight and simple. “Do you justify India’s N-explosions? Give reasons.” Though it was destined to last until 30th May, it was abruptly and prematurely concluded on 22nd May. Adil Sopariwala, a political analyst, was associated with the poll as a member of the poll analyzing team. He displayed an interesting analytical report of the poll till the date. He told that they had announced to continue the poll till 30th May, but were winding it up prematurely on 22nd May, because the magnificent and intuitive expressions received till the date were so enormously unilateral that it was impossible to receive the enough contradictory views.
Similar were the reactions of common man in the outside world. They were for greeting the Indian government’s decision. Especially those of the European common men were of felicitating India. The reactions of the non-resident Indians, persons of the Indian origin and the people of those European nations who consider India as their natural friend & ally, were stating that, India that was till 11 May 98, in the list of developing nations, has now put forward a strong and assertive step towards a league of developed nations. They could receive India’s help when needed. Such were the responses of most of the countries.
I am citing an example that elaborates that how encouraging were the common man’s reactions. While returning Mumbai, we landed at the airport late night. We decided to reach Anushaktinagar for night stay and go to Pune in the morning. We had some precious equipments to be delivered at BARC before proceeding to Anushaktinagar. We needed a taxi from airport to BARC then to Anushaktinagar. Usually the taxi fare from airport to BARC is 1.5 times the regular fare. I know the habits of Mumbai taxiwalas. We reached BARC around 2 am. We decided to take vehicle from BARC. The driver listened that. To our surprise he told us that there was no need to change the vehicle as he would take us there. But he kept a precondition. We were surprisingly listening to him. He told, “I won’t take single rupee from you as fare.” We were not known to him. He might have inferred the identity of the persons going to BARC and Anushaktinagar at the midnight in such a way. We refused. But what he told was to me and my colleagues the greatest reward of our exertions. He explained, “As you are doing such an exemplary work for our nation, can’t we do a little for you?” Such astonishing were the greetings from the mass.
Another type of reactions came from the nuclear technocrats. These are very much important for persons like us working in atomic energy field. We were lucky to have an unexpected opportunity to receive such precious views. At Pokhran, our food was arranged by a Sarpanch of nearby village. We were a group of few persons who stayed at Pokhran after 11th May, rest had returned to their respective places. So instead of having meal at worksite, we went to the village for dinner. On our request the Sarpanch arranged for TV. Coincidently around 11pm, there was a press conference followed by panel discussion on BBC. The panel was comprised of three renowned nuclear scientists, the French, a Dutch and a British. They were introduced to the viewers. The French scientist had taken part in more than 200 N- tests of nearly 400 tests carried out by France under the sea water & the ground. He was just like ‘Bhisma Pitamah’ of our field. Such a great authority was evaluating our tests. We were extremely eager to listen to his views. Fortunately the moderator began with him. He asked, “Is it not amazing that India has emerged as a strong contender in the nuclear field after a big gap of 24 years? He was true. After our first test in 1974, we remained dormant for a long period of 24 years. In the field of scientific research, only achievements & evidences are considered. One can spare 5 to 6 years maximum after the first test to do 2nd test in the name of preparations. The nuclear club member countries knowing what did the delay mean, were looking at us contemptuously. So in these circumstances it is not a simple matter to have advanced N- tests and all proving successful. That is why the world was amazed. The first sentence of the French scientist was very commending. He accepted, “it is not only amazing but it is stunning.” He exclaimed that he could not understand that even after not getting any opportunity for N-test in 24 years, how the people could continue working in India. If he would have been told to wait, he could have waited for merely 5 or 6 years only. He would have left the project and joined the nuclear project of some other country. It was extremely amazing for him that we had persons silently working for 24 years without even expecting for N-test of any type.
Obviously this is the fact. Although the people of present generation like me have impressed the world by successfully executing the N- tests, I must sincerely have to admit that the scientists and the researchers of the previous two generations were patiently working in the adverse circumstances. They erected a grand structure with the strong base. We just kept a ‘kalash’ on the top of that magnificent edifice. They worked incessantly in the toughest conditions, faced the difficulties bravely, accepted the financial limitations & other resource scarcity, always encouraged the newer generations and hoped that the future generations, if not they, might get the opportunity. They truly deserve all the credit.
The French added further that as he had taken part in nearly 200 N- tests, he knew the intricacies & risks of even single N- test. It is very difficult to conduct two tests simultaneously. But it was an absolute madness to take the risk of doing three advanced N- tests at a time. Explaining the dangers he added that if any one of the three N- tests went wrong, other two might have gone out of control. The first casualty would be the scientists observing from just five km distance from the test site. They had taken a big risk. Elaborating the possible reason, he told that there was no opportunity in last 24 years and the people were not sure to get another in the future. To transform the only chance in to the success they endangered their lives. He frankly admitted that of 200 tests he participated only six were of thermo-nuclear variety, and unfortunately all had failed miserably, in spite of all resources and equipments provided by their (French) government.
We have to keep in mind that who is confessing this. The well experienced person who had to his credit the splendour of 200 advanced N- tests was telling that they were unable to succeed in super hi-tech thermo-nuclear tests. So it is but natural for him to eulogize the team for the rare accomplishment after a dwarfing break of 24 years.
It is very interesting to know that what our previous nuclear generations had done. Just after India’s freedom the Nuclear Corporation was established in 1948. The Atomic establishment was started in 1951, which after the death of respected Dr Bhabha, was rechristened as BARC- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. An experimental reactor came to us in 1955.
From the very beginning our people realized that if we wanted to advance in this field, extremely diligent persons must be brought in. People trained under the guidance of experienced and learned professors in the university would be needed. So the department of Nuclear Physics was started in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and the Allahabad University. If a student of a science faculty is told that the new course of Bachelor degree is started in University but there is no experimental laboratory, and yet not sure when it will, none will seek an admission in such a course. Such were the challenges faced by the brilliant students opting for the study.
We are fortunate that having studying the Nuclear Physics from the Allahabad University and later teaching there, Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi became a minister looking after the department of higher education in the central government. As we think, it becomes apparent that what an appropriate appointment it was, when a person associated with such an important subject from the very beginning was given the charge of nation’s higher education.
The biggest task was to motivate such students to work there even without experimental laboratories and to ask them to face the plenty of challenges in the field. The students came, the professors came. But what could they do without experimental laboratory? Had they been reading books only? But they didn’t bow down to the limitations. They gathered the minute details of researches going on in the outside world in the subject. They studied and were unceasingly considering that whether they could add newer aspects to the subject.
Result was that these western people who felt that our people would know nothing of it, we needed not be given any mean or material and within a year or two the game would be over, their responses started reversing. Due to all those efforts we got an experimental reactor in 1955. But how much vigilance was kept while giving this? Even by mistake we would receive the full fledged reactor and we could make atom bomb, then? Instead of that, give experimental reactor. What would happen by it? Even the electricity generation would not occur. Only the experiments in the laboratory would be feasible. But we accepted it gratefully and our unending success story begins from there.
We had only three reactors till 1974 (first N– test). One of those was able to generate electricity in the limited amount. There was one test site only. Such were the meager resources at our disposal. How much did our capabilities grow steadily upon time? We had advanced having 21 reactors, 8 heavy-water plants and a full fledged most advanced test range by 1990. To do all these was to swim against the stream. But all of us had a strong determination in our minds that we must have to surpass all the peaks of this N- field. It was like a reverse journey of going to Gangotri from Rishikesh, not with the stream!
The nature has created a big obstacle for us. Nuclear grade Uranium essential for all these tests was not available here. It is the wonder of destiny that the world-best uranium mines were unearthed in Karnataka in June after the N- tests were completed in May. It means that the God helps true human efforts. If we sit with folded hands he will also sit in the same way. Surely, thou shall help our efforts. God was testing our essence. We had no other way but to search for the alternative to uranium as no country was going to give it unconditionally. Then what to do? Like ‘Prayatnate Parmeshwar’, on searching for alternative, one option came to us. Of course, the whole process was very expensive and tedious. But there was no other way. What was the option?
There are plenty of Thorium deposits, a radioactive substance, is available in the coastal sands of Kerala, Tamilnadu & Ram-Setu. As it is from the beach sand, it is in plenty and free of cost. The process to convert the Thorium to nuclear grade Uranium is very expensive and complicated. So those having sufficient Uranium had neglected this process. Due to that the Thorium processing equipments were impossible to be acquired from the world market. Our situation was different. We could get the Uranium from nowhere. That is why we proceeded with step by step by carrying out requisite advances on researches out of available resources.
Even till the day, the West was thinking that the something was missing for India to conduct N–tests. India still was the nuclear incapable state. But the reality was different. We had enough resources in relation to the physical need. Only one thing was lacking and that was a will, a will power, a strong will. The moment we were blessed with the Will-Power, we conducted the N– explosions.
The next question asked to the French expert was very specific. He was asked that what would be the devastating capability of the bomb made of this thermo-nuclear device. The known examples of nuclear holocaust are Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A single bomb destroyed a city. The devastation was decisive for the world war outcome. A variety of cancer like diseases and congenital anomalies, which are not hereditary, still afflict newborn babies. Such was the terrible nature of that bomb. Both the bombs were of limited 12 kiloton capability. Our tests were of 55 kiloton capability (energy released was equal to 55000 tons TNT. What would be the heat generated due to this? I read a book named Nuclear drive. I got shivers reading the narration. While studying the effect of bomb in Hiroshima, a human fossil was found on the footsteps of a house, close to the site. It is impossible to get the fossil on the surface. Then how it became possible? It became apparent on studying that at 3200 ℃ heat generated by the N- explosion, granite got melted and a man got burnt to ashes to form a fossil. A small bomb can generate such an extremely devastating heat. Oxygen from the air is very rapidly pulled towards a center, resulting in to an enormous cyclone. The wind velocity in such an explosion is generally 2,700 to 3,200 m/sec. A small pebble of stone of 3 gm weight flying with such a high speed is enough to kill a man. The devastating energy of the atom bomb can be estimated from it while elaborating such known nuclear holocaust. He had told that if such 20 bombs, one bomb every year, till 20 years, were dropped continuously and the condition that results can be created by such one bomb of thermo-nuclear variety.
It becomes apparent from this narration that what would be the destructive capability of this one weapon only. Due to this, the country like China, having ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) and who had developed atom bomb quite ahead of us, but unable to make hydrogen bomb had tacitly avoided giving any specific reactions. Indeed China was dumbstruck. They didn’t know how to react. Who can opine against a nation that has astonished the world by such notable feat at a stretch.
On the contrary, now they have suspicions in their minds that this may be the tip of iceberg. It is not apparent that how much is beneath the water. So the people who were ridiculing India that it was like a closed fist, and would be exposed, now are unable to estimate that what is further in the fist, as India has closed the fist after opening for a while. And this thing is absolutely unbearable to all of them.
It is told that the history repeats. USA didn’t know about 1974 explosions. They were having an intelligence network that time also. USA inquired 24 hours after the test that whether there was something like earthquake in the Rajasthan desert. India politely told “ No, there is no earthquake. This was due to our N -test.” After that event, from 1976 onwards, to keep a close watch and to gather the details of such activities, USA has positioned one Geo-synchronous and 3 Geo-stationary satellites in the Indian sky. Still they could not even smell about any of the five N tests of 1998. That was very hard to digest for them. Explosion was not unnoticeable. That is why American senate asked the president that what CIA was doing, what was the use of big expenditure on CIA. The members ridiculed that whether their watchdog satellites were only show-pieces & asked the government to investigate the matter. A high level committee was formed under the chairmanship of a former CIA president. There were many arguments & criticisms, but they could investigate nothing. Later on I came across an article written by the chairperson of the committee. It is interesting what he is confessing. He accepted that their satellites could not keep a watch on Indian operation. But he regretted that in spite of having ground network or local contacts, they couldn’t convert even a single Indian to their disposal. USA couldn’t get even a single Jaichand & our people collectively conducted such a great & successful marvel. It could be possible only if the minute planning with the foresight was done by the people having the responsibility. Bold decisions were to be taken. PM took the decision to strictly ration the information even for the cabinet ministers on need basis only. How difficult was it for a government surviving on the support of multiple small fractions? It would had been fatal if someone had opposed it. All were taken in to confidence but the information was restricted only on need basis.
I received a letter from the director on 7th April. I was asked to get prepared & report to the airport in two hours. When I reached the airport, some of my colleagues were also present. We were curious, but no one knew anything. A man gave us a boarding pass and told to check the name. There was no mention of place to reach. We asked him but he also knew nothing. We boarded in the plane shown to us. On landing a police officer took us, with our equipments, to another aircraft without any talk. We landed on 3rd day at Jodhpur airport. Now we felt a little where we were going. Such was the veil of secrecy even for those directly linked with the operation.
I was associated with the project since 1990. My marriage took place around that time. But my wife could know about my involvement with the project only after 13th may-98, when I returned home after the second series of tests have been finished and the news of the successful tests became public. I had to face her anger. This is the amount of psychological pressure faced by the people working with the project.
The decision taken by the government was really bold. It was a litmus test for the political leadership. If anything went wrong or a mishap occurred, they would have to be answerable. Only the people who consider the nation the first and power is secondary can take such courageous decisions. A phrase is popular in the armed forces, “It is not the gun, but the hand on it that fights. And it is not the hand on the gun but the mind behind it that fights.” The success depends on the psychological preparedness and the mental involvement in the work.
It is true as reported in the media that all the preparations were made in just one month. We had only a month’s time to work on the test site. We met on 11th April. Dr Chidambaram told us the exciting news that we had got the approval of the central government to test our N- devices. We were very much joyous. But his successive statement froze our enthusiasm. He told, “We have a great challenge. We have only one month and we have to test not one but five devices. We were stunned. We knew that how much efforts were needed for a test in 1974. It was evident to us that how impossible was the task to prepare for five tests in just one month’s time.
Why only one month? It was 11th April. The time and site were of great geographic and climatic challenge to us. We knew the wind pattern. It blows from Pakistan, Baluchistan, then traverses north Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and reaches Bay of Bengal. The wind is up to Pak-Afghan border till mid- May. If the N- tests are done after 15th May, and unfortunately any one goes wrong, the radioactive particles traversing with the wind may create havoc for the country. The tests had to be finished by 15th May.
How were the preparations? The shaft (well) of 200-300 meter depth underground (nearly 60 storey building’s height beneath the ground) is needed for the underground test. There was one old shaft of 1974 test that could be used for one test only. It was decided to have three wells. So, two new wells needed to be prepared. That was not an easy task. The soil was sandy and deep to it was the black stone. Moreover the watchdog satellites spying from sky must be avoided during the work. The digging of the wells only was not enough. It needed a lift to carry men and machines. The equipments and sensors were to be fitted at different levels. We know the difficulty in erecting a lift for 60 storey building. Here, it was needed to go sixty floors beneath the ground. That seemed an impossible task. But we have seen the determination, swiftness and courage of our armed forces in Kargil war. Just like war, at civil requirement also, armed forces’ role is commendable, particularly in such scientific ventures. The Bengal Engineering Troops picked up the challenge.
We had a strong motivating force in the form of our team leaders. Feeling the state of our mind following Dr Chidambaram’s announcement, Dr A.P.J. Kalam rose to break the ice. He grasped the word ‘challenge’ from Dr Chidambaram’s speech and told, “Friends, this is the challenge as well as an opportunity for us. We have to pick it up and convert the challenge in to the opportunity. Else we have no right to be recognized as the scientists.” That was a frank evocation as if reminding Veer Hanuman of the great capabilities. A number of small group meetings followed and the challenge was accepted. We requested Dr. Kalam to fix the date for the N– tests. He was not having a calendar and no one knew that Buddha Jayanti would be on 11th May 98. He just told, “Clock is sounding tick tick. It means thirty. Only 30 days. Calculate the date.” The work began calculating hours, minutes and seconds remaining.
There wasn’t even a single incident when even ten people of 250 working on the site gathered to have tea. The Food was supplied at the work site. A light stream of air would shower much sand to the food. On 11th April, the temperature was 46 degree C. At the end of April in morning 6 AM it was 46 degree C. Around 5th May, at 10 AM it became 48 degree C. On 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th May, 5 PM it peaked up to 52 degree C. Not to think of AC or fan, even shade was not available while working. In such harsh environment, with youngsters like me, an old man of 68 year, Dr. Kalam was working unceasingly. If a vehicle was not available to move from one place to another he walked in the sand. The sand was so hot as if walking on a burning coal. In such scorching heat, shirt buttons could not be kept unfastened. A touch of a sand particle was enough to develop a bleb and cause tremendous burning. If the body was kept covered, there were dripping sweats. As an antidote, a rickshaw used to distribute ‘gud’ pieces and water from a leather bag (pakhal). There wasn’t any possibility of any more facility and also no expectation at all. Many of us suffered nausea, vomiting and giddiness due to the over work during the day and night in the harsh conditions. But none complained of the sickness. Because one would have to go back if fell ill, and there was no future possibility to get such an opportunity again in the life. So all of us were determined not to return home until the work is completed.
We had an inspiring example. Our team leaders were extremely prompting. A message came during breakfast on 2nd May. The chit went to Dr. Kalam. He read and gave it to Dr. Kakodkar. It was regarding death of Dr Kakodkar’s father in Mumbai. He should return home living the work. Dr Kakodkar went to a lonely place. Dr. Kalam went to him and told him that he should go home. His family needed him. The arrangements were made and Dr. Kakodkar went Mumbai. We thought that Dr. Kakodkar is out of project. But to our surprise he was with us in the next day’s morning meeting. There was no sign of sorrow on his face. The most of our colleagues, who heard late about his going to Mumbai, thought that he might have gone for some BARC task. Most of the people present there came to know about his father’s death only after 15th July, long time after the tests, through an article in ‘India Today’. How can it become possible? Was Dr. Kakodkar made of a different soil? Was he working for a reward from the government of India? There was a synergy among such a great leadership, a team of dynamic youths working with them and the blessings of the seniors (‘Rishis’) who had worked in this field for long years. What a great miracle could be resulted by their combined efforts had been displayed to the world by India on doing these successful N– explosions.
Let us talk of political reaction. The first response was that it was a political decision. I strongly feel that if political leadership were not needed to be consulted, our scientists could have tested the N- devices quite earlier. The question is, “why the previous leadership couldn’t take such decision?” It was not so easy to face the harsh reactions after the tests. It was a fire-test. So the leadership who had a strong determination and confidence of success can take such a serious and historically important decision. And it became apparent that how malicious and derisive were the immediate reactions following the N –tests.
Bill Clinton was in Germany on that day. He was very furious. He declared from there many punitive measures in form of the sanctions for India. What a need for haste! He couldn’t keep patience even to consult his colleagues before taking such an important decision to completely boycott a nation like India. He went to Burmingham on 12th May. The G-8 nations were to meet there. On landing on airport, while talking with the journalists, his attitude had changed. He requested specifically to the heads of the G-8 nations, “Please don’t try to isolate India.” What does it mean? Yesterday you were talking to boycott India and today requesting others not to do such. What was the reason? He realized the mistake and damage due to his knee-jerk response. Was the decision taken in anger on the previous day rational? There was a beautiful caricature in ‘Sunday mirror’. Standing on a small peanut size piece of land on the globe of earth, Bill Clinton tells the world, “Don’t try to isolate India.” It was apparent who was isolated in reality.
G–8 meet started on 13th May and we carried out two more explosions. The interviews of some of the head of nations were telecasted on BBC that night. The first one was of the French President Jacques Chirac. An interviewer requested him to tell about world affairs of the day. He began telling that many of his friends were talking of isolating India, but he wanted to remind them that the country like India was developing the advanced technology like Thermo-nuclear device on its own. He told the world to notice that the country which had developed the advanced technical expertise in spite of many obstacles and limitations, could do anything and no technical skill was unattainable for India. She could develop the essential requisites on her own. India had left it to the world whether to be India’s friend or foe. He was talking like India’s advocate.
America might be calculating that like Iraq, the decision to put comprehensive sanctions over India could be taken by all the nations in G-8 meet. To their misfortune, France and Russia declared their plans to support India on the very first day. It was surprising that USA’s friends like Australia and England also took neutral position. Such was a miscarriage of proposed resolution of USA. It couldn’t even come on the table for discussion. It was the first insult to America. Clinton returned home on 14th May. Soon the CEOs of some MNCs met him.
In this background, an article by an economist Ms. Rubin came in New York Times. The title of this article was, “If sanctions are imposed, who is going to be affected? India? ” It was a question-mark. In her article she raised the issue that many of US companies/ MNCs had 30–50 % investment in Indian subcontinent. Some industries were establishing, some were in the initial phase. At this time if India retaliates to sanctions by making changes in her import export policy, what would happen? Had the president thought that who would be bearing the maximum shocks of it? Stressing the point further, she wrote that not only the cheaper but the most trustworthy and reliable software were supplied by India. The MNCs had flourished over that support. If the export duty on the software was increased, India can cover up the deficit resulted from the sanctions.
I am not bluffing. You know the well known MS-office software for computer. It is known as user friendly software. There is a word package in it known as MS-word. It is very easy and convenient package. We may not even think that it reached the whole world from Pune. There is a company named Priston engineering. There are only 32 people from peon to MD working in it. This company had done $ 450 million contract for three years with Microsoft. The market of MS-office is about billion dollars every year. Three of the first ten rich people are from Microsoft. Does this company come to India only for cheap material? The most important thing for a company is to establish the trustworthiness in the global market. So it purchases software from India paying $ 400 m. If the export duty of software is raised by 300– 400 %, calculate the figures.
Ms. Rubin brought to the notice many similar possibilities. On that basis, she asked President the question. At the end of the article, she wrote a very bashful sentence to the Americans. “It is an unfortunate part on our side that we will observe one of our presidents surrendering without fighting a war.” It was not like the war with Iraq or Taliban. It was an economic war with a promising economy.
She wrote this in June 98. The things became obvious now. Many roars of sanctions became irrelevant or ineffective. After sometime they proclaimed that they were lifting the sanctions off India in view of Indo–Pak dialogue. What an excuse for face saving! What were the sanctions applied? What were you giving previously that you are threatening not to give tomorrow?
The history is the witness. In 1974, when we did the first N– test, Canada, from where we had received N-technology and N-fuel to establish Atomic energy centre at Rajasthan Atomic power station (RAPS), called back their technologists and materials. This is the characteristic of their aid. None of our work got paralyzed on withdrawal of their help. The people working in the field learnt a lesson. They were determined that we have to arise on our legs if we want to succeed in this field. No one can win the race with crutches. We must be self-reliant to make our progress possible. The ‘Swadeshi Mantra’ was realized. All the experts of our nation working in this field were brought together and the data collected by them were studied. In six months, there stood a new unit. With the inputs from Canada, it would have been of 40– 42 % capacity; ours was of only 21 % capacity. But what is the situation today? The units in Canada run by 62– 64 % capacity, while the two units developed by RAPS are working with 74– 76 % capacity. How did it become possible? We realized what to do. We learnt how it works and we displayed it to the world. That is why we reached where we are today.
Before concluding I would like to request you. Many times ‘Swadeshi’ is derided. But it is very essential to consider it seriously. I am giving a simple logic easily understandable even by school children. Indian government spent Rs.1500 Crore to carry out research in the Nuclear field and to conduct N– Tests during the period from 1985 to 1999. Let us see the other figures. During April-May, most of us take soft drinks. Today no soft drink is ‘Swadeshi’. If our 90% of population drink only one bottle soft drink during these 2 months, we give Rs.900 Crore to the foreign companies. And these are not going to use a single rupee for the welfare of our nation. The substance of the ‘War’ as mentioned by Ms. Rubin in her article is here. When our ordinary shopkeeper, feeling that the MNC goods are unsaleable, needlessly occupying space, will throw them away, we will win the war. This is true for all the products of MNCs. Very useless products drain our thousands of crores of rupees in foreign coffers. On the other side, we had allotted 1500 crores only on strategic technology indispensable for our national security and sovereignty during last 15 years.
It is the time demanding actions, not only thinking. A practical housewife knows that water will be drained out through a small hole in it, and soon finds solution to it. Is it not our responsibility to plug the holes and loopholes in our system? Are we waiting for someone from west to come here and teach us this? Let us start from the self and spread the logic to anyone coming in our contact.
Once I kept the subject amongst the school students. Next day a lady doctor phoned me with an anger. She told that on listening my lecture her son threw ‘colgate’ toothpaste and toothbrush into dustbin. I told her that I would give her son a gift of swadeshi toothbrush and paste. I went to her home and explained the subject. After a good discussion, she was convinced. The result is that now, she used to go to different hotels of Pune daily for an hour and disseminates the subjects to many people. She has distributed more than 20000 copies of the list of swadeshi products.
The statesmen of our nation took one firm step and the whole world is astonished. Bhagavan Vaman had measured the world in three steps only. One step is placed. It is our responsibility to take further two steps and conquer the world. Bharat will be the superpower, scientifically, militarily and economically as well as all the fields of development of life.
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