"Have we kept it for Diwali?" Modi's remark on India's nuclear weapons draws sharp criticism from anti-nuclear groups

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: April 24, 2019
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) has released a statement expressing "shock and dismay" at Prime Minister Modi’s recent remark, in which he said, "India has stopped the policy of getting scared of Pakistan's threats. Every other day they used to say "We've a nuclear button. What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?" Modi made this remark while speaking at a rally in Barmer, Rajasthan. The CNDP has termed his comment "public nuclear sabre-rattling," declaring, "To speak so casually about the possible use of nuclear weapons and that too for the purposes of winning votes through arousal of hatred and by promoting an ugly, masculinist militarism, is deeply disturbing."

Modi

The CNDP argued that the "very least that is demanded from nuclear armed governments is that their leaders should display some sense of responsibility and sobriety in what they say and do," adding that Modi "has disregarded all this only goes to reinforce the view that South Asia is potentially the most dangerous place in the world." The organisation reasoned that those genuinely  "concerned about ensuring the safety and security of Indians would not indulge in such reckless rhetoric," and cited a study that, per the International Business Times, predicted that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would prompt worldwide famine and kill two billion people. The 2013 study was conducted by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War  (IPPNW) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

In fact, per Scroll, the Indian affiliate of the IPPNW, the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IPDP), also issued a statement criticising Modi. The group said its senior vice president, Dr. Arun Mitra, had filed a complaint with the Election Commission. The statement alleged, "The irresponsible, dangerous and provocative nuclear rhetoric that India does not have nuclear weapons for Diwali by the prime minister at Barmer, Rajasthan on April 21 amounts to threatening the neighbour," adding, "It can push the whole region into nuclear catastrophe. He should be debarred from contesting elections and addressing any election rally and making such statements," Scroll reported.

The complete CNDP statement may be read here:
 
It is with shock and dismay that the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) takes note of the Indian Prime Minister's public nuclear sabre-rattling on April 21, 2019 in Barmer in Rajasthan when he mindlessly and sarcastically declared that India’s nuclear weapons were not for celebrating ‘Diwali’ (the festival of lights and sound)! To speak so casually about the possible use of nuclear weapons and that too for the purposes of winning votes through arousal of hatred and by promoting an ugly, masculinist militarism, is deeply disturbing. The very least that is demanded from nuclear armed governments is that their leaders should display some sense of responsibility and sobriety in what they say and do. That Prime Minister Modi has disregarded all this only goes to reinforce the view that South Asia is potentially the most dangerous place in the world.
 
Those who are really concerned about ensuring the safety and security of Indians would not indulge in such reckless rhetoric. How will the promise of obliterating Pakistan through a “second strike” guarantee the security of those Indians who are likely to be wiped out in a Pakistani “first strike”? The issue is of taking all necessary steps to prevent a nuclear war; it is not about retaliatory strikes.
 
Not for nothing, are nuclear weapons dubbed as "weapons of mass destruction" and a credible study has predicted that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan may wipe out the human civilisation itself (ref.: <https://www.ibtimes.com/india-pakistan-nuclear-war-would-kill-2-billion-people-end-civilization-report-1503604>).
 
CNDP calls on the PM and all other politicians to immediately stop fuelling and inciting reactions in such a manner from those who gather in large numbers at such rallies. This is not just a further debasement of our public political discourse but such cavalier boasts and threats may provoke a war of words leading to an unwanted and unwarranted escalation of inter-country tensions which in turn can set off a very dangerous dynamic. 
 
Anil Chaudhury
N.D. Jayprakash
Sukla Sen
Lalita Ramdas
Achin Vanaik