The mainstream English language media is now obsessed with just two subjects. One being a statement by Dr. V.Santhanam, formerly with the Atomic Energy establishment, that the 1998 nuclear tests did not yield the results that were claimed; and the other being that the Chinese army has made some incursions in the Sino-Indian border along Arunachal Pradesh.
Let me deal with Santhanam’s point to begin with. In the first place, the Atomic Energy establishment consisting of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Atomic Energy under whom all that goes in the name of nuclear fission, fusion and other things come, is so much autonomous that its affairs are not even within the purview of Parliament. It is a fact that the financial allocations to these organisations are not to be debated or scrutinised by Parliament. Such is the secrecy.
Now, Dr. Santhanam, having been a part of that establishment for several years and having enjoyed the privilege in all these years to information and knowledge that is top secret now says that the department told a lie over the yield of the thermonuclear explosion on May 11 and May 13, 1998. According to Santhanam, the tests were a flop. And he says that now! In other words, Santhanam, despite his love for the nation, decided to keep his job all these years and has chosen to play the role of a patriot now.
This takes us to the point as to whether Santhanam has an agenda now as much as he had all these years. The answer is obvious. He has an agenda and that is to force some more tests. And even if Santhanam is satisfied over the yield in the tests that he is now campaigning for, there is no guarantee that some one else, like him, will not open his mouth after some years. In other words, Santhanam’s agenda is plain and simple: To keep on testing. Santhanam is not the one to bother about the money that will have to be spent on such tests and also the fact that such money will have to be raised by reducing government’s expenditure on such heads as education, healthcare, public transport, food for the poor, building houses for those without homes and such things.
The reason why Santhanam need not bother about these is plain and simple. His medical bills will be reimbursed by the Atomic Energy Commission, his children, grandchildren and great grand children, in any case did not have to face deprivation whether it be schooling or higher education. His family lived and will continue to live in comfortable houses. And he is not bothered about the others! And it makes sense for him and people like him to keep on testing underground and make the world less and less safer by way of building a huge pile of nuclear weapons.
The tragedy is that the mainstream media too is showing similar tendencies. And the worst ones are the senior professionals in the English language papers who are out there in the open urging the Government to listen to Santhanam and embark upon further tests. It is sad that the media, whose role in a democracy must be that of a watchdog of the interests and the aspirations of the people and their well-being is now engaged in a campaign that is unethical (because it is based on the ranting by a retired bomb-man violating the tenets of the Official Secrets Act with such impunity) and also anti-civilization.
A world with nuclear arsenal, let me reiterate, cannot be a safer place than one without such weapons of destruction. But the Santhanams and their followers in the media refuse to see reason in this argument. They just want tests and a stock-pile of nuclear weapons even if that means the Governments spend huge sums of money over that and at the cost of some of the essentials of human life. And this campaign is being run in the name of love for the nation and patriotism.
The point is that it is time that the media professionals are made to realise that their campaign is against the people whom they seek to speak for. And this is true in case of the campaign involving China too. It may be a fact that China is doing things that it is not supposed to. But the point is to leave it to the Government to handle the issue and the media will do a service to its own cause and the people by devoting some energy and space to such issues as the rise in prices, falling employment and the decline in the nutritional levels of the people.