Nuclear power was necessary to force our country into the big power league. Considering its size, resources and population India would soon have to play a more dominant role in world politics and that was only possible when the other nations looked upto us. The other major factor was our emphasis on the fact that our enemy and neighbor, Pakistan, was being helped covertly or overly by China, in the development of nuclear grade weapons. A fact denied by both the countries and supported by the West. They were proved as liars when Pakistan exploded a nuclear device just a fortnight after our second experiment Pokharan II in May 1998.
There was total furor over our nuclear implosions. Even earlier Pakistan with the active assistance of China had so often announced its nuclear aspirations and the leading international periodical Newsweek had published a report regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapon stockpile of 10 to 15 bombs. India leadership would be forfeiting security of the country if it did not keep pace with the developments in our enemy country.
The threat of sanctions would not deter Pakistan and India was also agreeable to this. India on 11-5-1998 and 13-5-1998 proved its capability by carrying out five underground nuclear tests in the face of mounting opposition by developed countries. The level of sophistication and enhancement in prowess was thus brought to the forefront. These were categorized as “contained explosions” with the three tests on May 11 being conducted with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermo nuclear device. The remaining two experimented on May 13 were of sub-kiloton variety meant for weapon calibration. This was the more sophisticated one as it needed the use of minimum fissile material, to gain maximum impact. The tests also meant another step towards computer simulated experiments which may be supported by sub-critical experiments.
The success of Pakharan II catapulted India into becoming a formal member of nuclear weapon club. With a proven capability acting as a deterrent to the misadventures of our neighbours, we are now in a position to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) promising to refrain from conducting further tests. India has always been a reluctant nuclear weapon state forced into this club as all its earlier arguments for total nuclear disarmament were brushed aside and nuclear weapon legitimization by the powers through indefinite extension of NTP. The continued and dual collaboration of Pakistan and China in elevating the former’s missile capabilities, the Ghauri Tests and the failure of the world community to enforce non-proliferation on then were the reasons for India to conduct its underground implosions. India also had to prove to the western skeptics their capability of developing sophisticated warheads ranging from a few kilotons to megatons. From the moment, India crossed the nuclear Rubicon by imploding the nuclear testing weapons, it had realized the efficacy of a reconciliation with the superpowers in the nuclear field but the necessities which should guide their diplomacy seemed to have been last track of.
We had already best two and a half decades in taking decision on conducting further tests after Pokharan I 1974 and now that we have been positive once, we should continue to ensure that we do not lose our position. However, it should be kept in mind that the technology we are researching is already more than 50 years old and getting obsolete fast. We should not continue to be obsessed with this and overlook crucial investments in the new revolution in military affairs (RMA). The new technological advancement in Information Technology has linked up all military hardware, or at least most of them to computerized systems. The dramatic advances in this sector and their application to warfare will increasingly determine the locus standi of military powers in the new century. It also needs to be kept in mind that being delayed starters, we can never hope or even strive to reach the rank of superpowers, Instead, we should consider the point which we have made, which is going to serve as a deterrent for the adventure which was our intention. After proving our point, we should go ahead with the more pressing agenda of economic modernization, political reforms and social advancement we have fallen way behind most nations on the economic and social fronts, where most of these nations were behind us or at par. We can never hope to achieve leading status in the group of nations with our miserable economic development and social backwardness.
We should take advantage of the current elevation to consolidate our efforts to expand our regional influence and global standing. Draining of previous resources without proper foresight will land is in the same mess which resulted in the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union.