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Laurie Baker: Pokharan II and After

This article, until now unpublished, was contributed by Sundar Ramanathaiyer. Sundar stresses that "Laurie Baker was an anti-nuclear activist who has drawn several anti-nuclear cartoons [yes, cartoons]". Here is what he wrote 8 years ago.

Pokharan II and After

I believe it is wrong to kill people. It is wrong to steal - but you can give back or repay. It is wrong to tell a lie - but you can confess and tell the truth. You can kill - but you cannot bring that life back.

As far as I am concerned these thoughts cover most of my feelings about the Pokharan Tests. These tests and all the wonderful scientific work that preceded them, were not done to produce a fireworks displays nor just to make a big bang to frighten those whom we think are our enemies. They were made to test a Bomb that can be used - either if over-provoked, or to use as an imagined defences or retaliation.

I don't think I need to bring my religion, or any other religion, into it. Non-violence is my way of life, and at 82 I am not persuaded or tempted to change my beliefs.

I was born during the first `Great' World War and I `went through' the Second `Great' World War. I refused to join the armed forces but within a week of the declaration of the War II `joined up' with an organisation whose main work was to retrieve a care for and nurse those injured by bombing. I was doing this in a hospital on the South Coast of England when it was bombed from the air, this work also took me to China and later to India. In England, China and Burma, I experienced bomb raids and even `got used to them' - but there was one thing that I never got used to and will never I forget - helping to dig people out of bombed buildings and finding that what we had just dug out - a bloody mangled body - was that of a child - who, probably less than an hour before, had been lively, happily playing.

I went to keep on telling everyone that a bomb does not know how to distinguish between a soldier and a small child, let alone women and elderly people who can't get to a shelter quickly enough. Perhaps even worse is to find people and again worse still children, who have been wounded or blinded - never to walk, or see, again.

I know I will be called a sentimental old fool - but this is what War is and this is precisely what bombs do. I am also old enough to remember my own shock - and the shock waves that flew round the whole world, when we heard of the so called `Atom Bomb' that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Again I want you never to forget that those bombs not only killed thousands, blinded thousands, mained for life thousands - not to mention that they destroyed the greater part of a city - not only its buildings but its water, its power, its sanitation, its transport systems - but that the first one was timed to fall and kill and blind at a time when all were out on the streets to enjoy the annual cherry blossom festival! Ane, the Scientists to whom the nation cheered and honoured under the impression that our bombs will only drop on "an enemy" and will not tough children? That it will only destroy military and government targets and not tough food supplies or playgrounds - or cherry blossom?

I would now like to turn to another aspect of these tests and bombs. Apparently it means nothing to those whom we elect to govern us that we have living with us as fellow citizens well over forty million families who are to all intents and purposes homeless! There are uncomfortable millions who don't get a really square meal every day. There are tens of thousands of villages with no proper permanent drinking water system, no sanitation, no power or electricity, almost no transportation. Does it mean nothing to those who allow thousands of crores to be spent on these `tests' that for two crores we could have built a thousand homes for our homeless ones - or we could have given 10,000 people - a square meal every day for a whole year and so on.

Finally I want to remind you of the Father of Nation - we seem to have forgotten him and his belief in non-violence - wish enabled us to get rid of a dominating foreign power. I fell we must ask ourselves a question - if we ever do have to use this bomb - will you be proud to have approved of killing thousands of simple, helpless, lovable children and their parents destroyed their homes?

The time to stop this wickedness, this nonsense, is now.


[Pokhran is the test site for India's nuclear program. The
Atomic Energy Commission of India detonated its first underground nuclear weapon there on May 18, 1974. The Indian government, however, declared that it was not going to make nuclear weapons even though it had acquired the capacity to do so. It claimed that the Pokhran explosion was an effort to harness atomic energy for peaceful purposes and to make India self-reliant in nuclear technology, but subsequently, India conducted five nuclear tests on May 11 and May 13, 1998.]

Here is a Frontline magazine article (part of the same work):

Note: Beatriz C. Maturana and the Architects for Peace Team would like to thank and acknowledge Sundar Ramanathaiyer for this important contribution.


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