2002 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Hiroshima – Closing Plenary

Praful Bidwai

Dear Comrades-Not-in-Arms, but Against-Arms,

I bring you greetings from the peace movement of India.

India was once known as the land of the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and non-violence.

Today, with Pakistan, it has become gthe most dangerous place in the worldh,and a likely candidate for a nuclear catastrophe. Right now, one million troops remain armed to the teeth at the India-Pakistan border. This is the worldfs greatest military mobilisation since World War II.

India was once a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. Today, it has become a servile junior partner of the U.S. It was the first state to welcome Bushfs gStar Warsh.

India was until recently an apostle of pluralism, secularism and tolerance between the thousands of different ethnic groups, religions and cultures that give India its unique identity. Today, India has become a cauldron of majoritarian tendencies and of ethnic-religious hatreds—as the massacre of 2,000 Muslims by Hindu fundamentalists in Gujarat shows.

The same fundamentalist forces were responsible for reversing Indiafs 50 year-long nuclear policy and conducting the tests of 1998. These forces are above all represented in the BJP which leads Indiafs ramshackle 27-party coalition!

The Indian elite, and the U.S. government, supports these fundamentalist forces. The elite likes the A and H bombs. The people hate them.

Donft believe the pictures you saw on CNN 4 years ago. Celebrating the tests was a minuscule phenomenon. There were much bigger protests that very week.

These protests have now snowballed into a growing, vigorous, peace movement supported by the intelligentsia, trade unions, farmersf associations, artists,  feminists, environmentalists, and above all, the poor majority of the people.

Our people know that making nuclear weapons is socially, economically and politically disastrous. India and Pakistan are two of the worldfs poorest countries, where 30 percent of the people live on less than 150 yen a day.

Each time a nuclear Bomb is made, each time a nuclear-capable aircraft is bought, each time a missile is tested, hundreds of schools are closed down and thousands of village  clinics disappear.

Only militarists, majoritarian fundamentalists and Hindu neo-fascists gain from the Bomb. The Bomb panders to their vanity, false sense of gnational prestigeh, and their search for a shortcut to the worldfs High Table—at the expense of their own peoplefs needs.

The Bomb has been even worse for Indian and Pakistanfs security. The two countries have become more unstable, more undemocratic, more strife-torn, and more insecure.

The Bombfs apologists told us that nuclear weapons would induce gstabilityh and gmaturityh in India-Pakistan relations, and prevent conventional war.

But India and Pakistan fought a major, bitter conventional war within one year of their tests—at Kargil, in Kashmir. This was historyfs biggest conventional conflict between two nuclear powers.

They exchanged 13 nuclear threats during the Kargil war. These threats were backed by actual preparations

Once again, India and Pakistan are on the brink of war because India is trying to imitate the U.S.fs Rambo-style ganti-terrorh war.

The South Asian nuclear danger is even grimmer today than three years ago. This is the only region of the world to have witnessed a continuous hot-cold war for half a century. Both rivals have nuclear weapons—and plans to use them. Not to be underestimated is the danger of accidental or unauthorised use in these disaster-prone societies.

We in the subcontinental peace movement believe that the only way to reduce the nuclear danger is to de-nuclearise India and Pakistan.

This wonft be easy as long as America sees India as a client-ally against China, and Pakistan as an anti-Taliban collaborator.

But de-nuclearise we must. We are fighting the battle in South Asia. However, we need the global peace movementfs support.

You in Japan have a unique position in this regard. Your moral stature is globally unmatched because you alone suffered an atomic attack. Now, you can help prevent an impending Hiroshima and Nagasaki in South Asia.

You inspire us to fight harder—and to win. And WE SHALL ALL WIN. Arigato.