Even small criminal gangs have taken to using the 600- rounds- a- minute AK- 47s. Their easy availability has completely transformed the security scene. The emergence of non- state actors who now challenge the might of the modern nationstates is directly related to this development. With violence becoming the more important means of political discourse, civilian casualties from small arms have kept on rising. Unfortuna little attention's been given to this can-ceroustely, proliferation. "After more than two killed six million the world'smillion now recognisedand the threatinjured, from light weapons proliferation." estimated 500 million weapons are out ofAn state control. A superpower like the USSR could be destabilised by the use of small arms. In India's neighbourhood, Bangkok, Chiang Mai in Thailand and Manerplaw— a Karen stronghold in Myanmar, Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh, and Khyber area on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border have become major trading centres for the sale of all types of sophisticated weapons. Chinese and Cambodian arms bazaars are supplying small arms in the entire region. The emerging reality of a growing network among terrorist groups across international boundaries is even more alarming. Smuggling routes are diverse. The author's traced the huge dimensions of this menace in India. Smuggling is place through air, land and sea. Non-statetaking structures have reach and clout comparable to small and medium size states. Improved technology has vastly increased the effectiveness of small arms. The use of RPG -18, the Chinese 107 mm high explosive rocket and the accurate Stinger SAM forced a superpower to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Tara has described in detail the emerging nexus between drugs, light weapons, organised crime and secessionist movements. A drugs and arms nexus was apparent in Iran. The rise of fundamentalist forces is mainly due to the proliferation of small arms. And "once interfactional rivalry begins the sources of weapons multiply and many regional and international dealers in arms and organised crime step in for a bigger role". Narcotics and weapons have been used not only to fund covert operations abroad, but also for political objectives in internal politics. This nexus has an economic fallout too. India should learn from the Pakistani experience. The danger of Pakistan going the Columbia way is very real. In Sri Lanka the civil war against the LTTE is essentially a "light weapon war". "Proxy arming has its own price tag," as the Indians discovered in Sri Lanka which has seen more than 50,000 dead in the last 14 years. Terrorist movements in Punjab, the North-east, and the low- intensity war in J& K are being sustained by light weapons.
This is a painstaking research study which should be of enormous interest to both scholars and lay readers. It is a well- written and readable book. As one of the few reference books on the subject, with so much information, it fills in an important gap.