International Meeting
2003 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Ilena Sen
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India

Dear friends,

I bring you greetings from the Indian Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace.

Ours is a coalition of more than 200 organizations spread across our vast country of a billion people - one sixth of humankind. CNDP came into existence as the people's response to the nuclear explosions conducted by India and Pakistan in May, 1998.

To consolidate the widespread protests against the military nuclearization of the south Asian sub continent, the World Peace March was organized in India that began in Pokhran, the site of the Indian nuclear explosion on May 11, the first anniversary of the explosion, and culminated at Sarnath, where Lord Buddha preached his message of peace, on August 6, Hiroshima day, 1999. Peoples' widespread peace initiatives were consolidated in 2000 in the formation of the CNDP.

Today, our world is more violent and tense than ever before. In my own part of the world, the three nuclear capable powers, India, Pakistan and China confront each other across long and contested borders, while in my country, India, more than a third of the people, adults and children, suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition.

Elsewhere, a world imperialist system led by the government of the United States of America imposes its diktat on Iraq in flagrant violation of United Nations norms and international public opinion. Meanwhile, the real and demonstrated presence of weapons of mass destruction in Israel draws no sanctions and the suppression of the human rights of the Palestinian people goes unpunished. Large sections of the people living in the continent of Africa find themselves in desperate turmoil over issues over which they have no control.Let me try to make some of these connections clearer.

The connections today between the world imperialist system and the militararization lobby today are starker and more strident today than ever before. The entire system is led by the government and the admisistration of the United States of America, and as is the case in the Us, supported by by several governments across the world against the voices of peace and sanity within these countries. The end of the Cold War did not lead to a reduction of US military and nuclear weapons sockpile stewardship. In 1963, the US had a stockpile of 1300 strategic bombers and 105 ICBM launchers. In 1988, the no. of ICBM launchers stood at 1050 and total warheads at 1300. Although there had been a change in the balance of power between the arms racers and and arms reducers, two important developments in the 1990s tilted the balanced in favour of the militarists again. The NPR (Nuclear Posture Review)in 1994 and the Presidential Decision Directive of 1997 both recognize that in the post cold war era there will be reduction in arms build up unless emerging threats in a new world order are effectively challenged. While the rush of former east European allies of the Soviet Union like Poland, Hungary, and the constituent republics of former Czwcoslovakia to join the NATO gave the US a free hand to consolidate its imperialist ambitions,the Clash of Civilizations theory developed by Samuel Huntington, Professor of Politics at Harvard gave it its intellectual impetus.This theory highlights possible new challenges to US domination by the Islamic states of the middle East and the newly industrializing Confucian Countries of the Far East, and must be interpreted in the context of a consolidation of global trade politics in favour of US led capital as actualized through the World Trade Organization.

In South Asia, where I come from, these developments are mirrored in the hardening of the militarist lobbies and the increasing influence of hardline fundamentalists in civil society in both India and Pakistan. The nuclear weaponization of India and Pakistan are to be seen in this context, as is the recent history of communal violence and strife on the subcontinent. The backdrop is provided by economic and social disorganization touching the lives of millions in the wake of the entry of India and Pakistan into the WTO system, and the lack of transparency and information on the militarization and nuclearization programmes followed by our respective governments. We in India still do not have authoritative information on the exact yields of the Indian or Pakistani nuclear explosions of 1998. In this otherwise grim situation, one positive development after 1998 has been the strengthening of the Peace movement in South Asia, and its conscious and central linkage with movements of working people, and other movements for Human Rights, Environment, and Women`s rights in India and Pakistan.

Last month, my 18 year-old daughter, went to Pakistan as part of a peace camp, where she and other participants from India, spent 10 days living with Pakistani young people and jointly produced a documentary film on peace that was aptly titled "ENOUGH". When they parted, they wept on each other's shoulders. We have had enough of war and nuclear terror, enough of hunger and deprivation. It is time for all of us to join together with with our children and work for PEACE , SHALOM, SALAM, SHANTI .