ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Under the Nuclear Shadow

South Asia on a Short Fuse by Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999.

The current nuclear stand-off between     India and Pakistan is embedded in the much larger matrix of global relations. Capturing this complexity is not an easy task and this is what Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik attempt in their latest book South Asia on a Short Fuse. Bidwai and Vanaik are well placed to respond to the new scenario as they have written extensively in the past on the issue of nuclear disarmament. Their contribution will certainly enrich the current debate that includes Itty Abraham’s The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb (Zed Books, London and Orient Longman, 1998), N Ram’s Riding the Nuclear Tiger (Leftword, New Delhi, 1999) and George Perkovich’s India’s Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (University of California Press, 1999). All these books examine the implications of Pokhran II and Chagai, though from different viewpoints.

The book covers a lot of ground – from the global context of nuclear weapons to a history of the Indian bomb and the Pakistani response. The details covered by each of these issues help the readers locate Indian developments within the larger context. I will not try and summarise the arguments of the book but instead focus on the major contentious issues in nuclear discourse today. While this may well mean bringing out differences more sharply than is the case, differences play a more important role in the dialectics of developing ideas, and therefore need to be privileged over agreements.

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