FOR a cynical city like Delhi to disgorge over 5,000 of its residents onto its streets on the hot, humid morning of August 6 for a fundamentally moral cause like global nuclear disarmament was a heartening sight for a handful of us who had set out to organise the citizens' march to mark that horrific event when the US had devastated Hiroshima as the world's first nuclear target when World War II was already reaching its inevitable end. The target of the citizens' rally was not just the US but also our own government and nuclear-security establishment which have callously invited the distinct possibility of turning some of our own cities, including Delhi, into smouldering, radioactive Hiroshimas. It will not be much of a recompense for any survivors of a nuclear weapons exchange to see that Islamabad or Karachi have also been turned into Hiroshimas along with Delhi or Bombay. The security-mongers have only succeeded in making every Indian citizen more insecure!
Our top security guru, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and his brethren were predictably agitated at the very thought of some thousands of their fellow citizens challenging their strategic scenarios. In a Times of India interview on August 8, he said that we should have held demonstrations in Washington and Moscow to put pressure on those governments to get rid of their huge stockpiles of 10,000 nuclear weapons each. Unfortunately, most of us who participated in the Delhi rally don't have the money or the time to fly to foreign capitals. More pertinently, we do not believe that India's and Pakistan's additional contributions (however small) to the world's huge stock of nuclear bombs and missiles enhance South Asian or global security. Indians, Pakistanis can demonstrate against the nuclear follies of each of their own governments. That is the only way to work towards a safe world without nuclear weapons.