These are not Diwali Firecrackers, please!

What are these people even trying to do?!!

Click and Click.

It’s both puzzling and unnerving.

Even if it is assumed that whatever Sathnam says is indeed true, then what does it imply? Just that whatever decision the government will reach regarding CTBT will be for personal gains of those running it, as they would be paid (bribes) by the private firms wishing to sell their products/expertise to India by further ending India’s nuclear isolation. That’s all! And that’s an accepted package in democracy!!

But what do we mean by “further ending”? India’s nuclear isolation is already ended. The US has already entered into deals. Russia has just recently so, and France was (if media reports are to be believed) wooing India last year to sign deals!

But most important point is: nuclear tests are not firecrackers to discuss their fizzle v/s bang in public!

One of the purposes of possessing nuclear weapons is not exactly to threaten others: “we will kill you”, but to let the hostile neighbors with proven track record of disturbing our peace, unprovoked, know that “be careful before messing around with us”.

What is Sathnam doing? Why disturb the enemies’ restraint earned owing to India’s image of a formidable target?

What is Sathnam trying to do by calling into question the success of those tests?

Kilotons of TNT is huge amount of destructive energy – capable of killing lakhs of people. 45 or 25 of it doesn’t make much difference for an enemy to fear it!! Plus, the fission-based tests were totally successful!

More important, why are India’s nuclear secrets being discussed so openly?

Why is Sathnam being given so much media-coverage?

But of course, all this comes into play only if we are to ASSUME what Sathnam says is true. We’ll have to still take it on that flimsy thing called ‘trust’. And how do we establish that? My suggestion is: the leading dailies coming out with a ‘Pokhran-special’, reporting in detail, EVERYTHING. Then we’ll have a truly ‘open’ democracy.

This is another clear case of irresponsible, misguiding, sensationalist and propagandist approach of the Indian media.

11 thoughts on “These are not Diwali Firecrackers, please!

  1. Well, how do we know it isn’t true? Managers are known to over-hype results. Because ultimately they are responsible for ‘showing results’ 😛

    The consideration could have been,
    “Hey I look good by showing good results, plus it serves the ‘altruistic’ purpose that India’s enemies take notice and trembling”

    Further, might have thought that world will definitely raise a ruckus as soon as the tests are done. There is no saying whether we will get second chances or not. Do better create a formidable impression now itself. eg if the next test (if at all) takes place in 2015 (hopefully ‘100%’ successful, we had a good psychological deterrent at least till then. A poker bluff with a good cause I would say (and also some personal gains and/or kudos for the ‘leader’ involved, maybe.) Chanakya-niti?

    Besides, Santhanam is saying the tests were 50-60% successful (I am hoping this is strictly referring to power output or something, and not ‘only 50-60% functional or controllable’, eg if door latch is only slided 50-60%, door is definitely NOT LATCHED!). So like you said, 25 instead or 45 enemies will die (of course units can be hundreds thousands lakhs, anything, we are just interested in giving a ratio here), so thats still a formidable deterrent. On other hand, if citizens and government of our own country are being fibbed, we would know this way only right? By some whistle-blower? In fact, if some bombs are already handed over to the armed forces, knowing the true strength of the bomb can be important part of mission strategy. Isn’t it better that the truth comes out? I am not saying that the final truth should come out in such cheap newspaper sensationalism. But rather, hopefully the armed forces insiders/government will ask some hard questions and seek solid proof (If they hadn’t asked for it in the first place) and go home with truth (good or bad).

    //Why is Sathnam being given so much media-coverage?

    On one hand, its just that in times of peace, in absence of nuclear wars, everybody just loves a good scandal over a cup of tea 😛
    Then again, what if its true? Should TOI just gloss it over? And if it were such a threat, would the government not have ordered these articles taken offline?

    //My suggestion is: the leading dailies coming out with a ‘Pokhran-special’, reporting in detail, EVERYTHING. Then we’ll have a truly ‘open’ democracy.

    Discussing ‘EVERYTHING’ would be a real disaster. First for the scientist who described it to the media, then to the media who would publish it and finally to the whole country as whole world would now what exactly we have/don’t have. In fact, since its so not plausible, if it does come in the media, I would be very inclined to think its either mostly bullshit, or airbrushed ‘presentation’ rather than the real thing.

    //We’ll have to still take it on that flimsy thing called ‘trust’.

    Sure, thats why enemy strategists definitely can’t go by such bickerings. If they don’t have ‘other sources’, they are nowhere and if they do have, then this news article is not much to them

    //This is another clear case of irresponsible, misguiding, sensationalist and propagandist approach of the Indian media.

    Whats ‘clear’ in it, and how?

    Anyways, the bigger joke is, when I clicked on both the links, the pics that went along with both articles, as if related to the article, were advertisement to watch MTV Dare2Date on Friday 8pm :P. I am not talking of ads on the side. These were embedded right in the article, like a regular pic that goes with news article.

    Anyways, it isn’t like I support Santhanam. Just cos you presented the whole article with lot of emotional rhetoric against it I felt like reasoning in its ‘favour’.


    //I think Nuclear weapons are so overrated

    Wow man! Spoken like a true cockroach!

  2. Well, if a war ever breaks out, it wouldn’t matter much whether these nukes are fully competent or not. I think the single role nuclear weapon in 21st century is to prevent another World War, and if it fails to achieve that, it’s pretty much downhill course from there on – mushroom cloud or otherwise.

  3. Stupidosaur, your name is quite apt… seriously.

    And why this envy towards cockroaches? Oh, I forgot, they’re supposed to survive more than stupid dinasours right…

    I think these are overrated coz. I don’t think they’ll ever be used… at least not in my life time. So doesn’t really matter if you have them or not. Just say that you do.

  4. @ Rakesh:

    Yes, Rakesh you put it very aptly. It indeed sounds so much like who loves whom in the school – accusations being leveled with no hope or scope to substantiate them, and yet, all this receiving such widespread media-coverage.

    With regard to nuclear weapons being overrated. I think that holds true only till they’re actually not used for their ‘real’ purpose.

    In context of terrorism, there have been many things we thought would not happen in “our lifetimes”, but they happened. There are many speculated (and somewhat confirmed) cases of smuggling of fissile material, e.g., Pakistan to Iran.

    When terrorist outfits have not minded blowing themselves up only to kill others in the most ‘spectacular’ fashion possible. I think it is wishful to think, they would be averse to using nuclear weapons to do the same.

    Remember, one of the devices tested at Pokhran-II was made from the same material (plutonium) used in nuclear reactors used to produce electricity. And there are hundreds or maybe, around a thousand of them (reactors) in the world currently.

    With regard to cockroaches, Stupidosaur was simply alluding to widely held (mis)belief that cockroaches are the ONLY organisms that can survive nuclear explosions because of their external covering of chitin. So when viewed in context of this misconception that cockroaches would not be damaged in nuclear explosions, obviously cockroaches would find nuclear weapons overrated. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!

    If you find time, please do go through my previous three posts. You might find them significant.



    My primary objection to this kind of news-reporting is that there is no practical way to ascertain either of the claims as facts. I’m not taking sides here; most part of my post goes with this assumption that the tests had simply been a ‘fizzle’ as Santhanam describes them. I’ve not believed even the old ‘leaders’ completely, simply ‘cuz these things are indeterminate for the common man, and hence giving them such widespread coverage and spicing them up with words like ‘liar’ is distasteful. Okay, you might ironically point out how ‘spice’ makes something dis’taste’ful, and that taste is subjective. 😛 But well, I concede it’s my personal opinion, and that’s why it finds a mention on my blog. 🙂 …

  5. …If you say, foreign intelligence would be so good that they would anyway know the ‘true’ status of India’s nuclear capabilities, then isn’t the Indian armed force not even more likely likely to know about it? So anyway they won’t be misguided in their planning.

    But here much larger issue I wanted to draw attention to was that the bigger issue in warfare is not how many kilotons TNT you’re using. But can your carry your warhead (nuclear or otherwise) to the desired place without getting detected? And that’s where I find the reporting insufficient and misguiding. So the ‘delivery system’ (missiles) are more critical. 25 kilotons is pretty destructive, anyway. And the fission-based tests were anyway successful, so why focus so much on this issue, especially when the ‘truth’ can’t be ascertained?

    So, obviously my ‘suggestion’ of reporting “EVERYTHING” was truly sarcasm. 🙂

    “Then again, what if its true? Should TOI just gloss it over?”

    No, of course, it should not be glossed over if they have verifiable proofs for their convention. But apparently, except for the touted ’eminence’ of scientists, they don’t have anything to support their claims!

    They can simply report the contention from Santhanam once. And follow up on it, when something substantial happens in terms of clarifications. Simply reporting things like who is on whose side, does not constitute covering the issue properly…

  6. …Especially, when statements like “I can’t recall the exact number but it wasn’t more than that. My assessment is based on the report by the programme coordinator and also the instrumentation data” are used to create such a big controversy, it further deteriorates the credibility of what he’s trying to say.

    And any scientist is basically ’eminent’ if you want to mention their names in the newspapers. Purported eminence does not qualify a person to pronounce personal opinions, especially in matters where carefully taken recording and statistics are the concern. This angle is significant, ‘cuz though I’ve not confirmed information, P K Iyengar had retired as the Atomic Energy Commission in 1993, five years ahead of tests in Pokhran (click). So the simple implication is, he was not present at the field, when Pokhran II tests were being carried out!! Quoting him on such numerical things as quantitatively how much was the yield is simply ridiculous and totally misguiding, in my opinion. This further makes me wonder of the intention of reporting news thus.

    So, if the ’eminence’ of a scientist is the only criterion to gauge truth, then how do we measure eminence? Are the ones who’re claiming yields to be true, less eminent? I repeat, the truth in this issue remains practically indeterminate, and to report the issue in such misguiding fashion is even worse. Quoting Iyengar is like quoting Newton on the soundness of launching a particular satellite, only ‘cuz he’d given the law of gravitation (of course, I’m exaggerating for the effect, especially if you don’t believe in existence of soul of someone as eminent as Newton! 😛 )….

  7. …As you rightly pointed out, in times of peace, everyone likes a new scandal. I agree, and probably, that was the true purpose. And that’s precisely what I’m against!! Spicing up of news. Just because it is the norm, does not make it justified. If we’re to take same standards, then managers exaggerating their achievements should be justified. 😉

    And you probably missed another instance of sarcasm! The one dealing with bribes being acceptable in democracy. 😉

    And well, I didn’t find your analogy of ‘latch’ appropriate ‘cuz (as you yourself also pointed out) we’re not talking an ‘all-or-none’ phenomenon here. What a single 45-unit thing could do, definitely same would be done by two 25-unit ‘things’. 😉

    I don’t think the government actually has much control over this kind of reporting. ‘cuz government is an official body, but those who constitute it, are real persons and need the same ToI on other occasions! 😉

    Yes, I saw there were embedded advertisements, and I’d been curious, what they were ‘cuz flash doesn’t work on my phone. 🙂

    My post looks emotional for two reasons – first, it WAS emotional, ‘cuz if you’d read my previous 4 posts, all have dealt with bad journalism in India. Second, the logic behind all this couldn’t have been pointed out just in the post, which I was hoping to present once questioned in the comments, and you (quite unexpectedly) precisely did that. For which I’m thankful. 🙂

    When it comes to nuclear weapons, even cockroaches are overrated, it seems! 😉 Click.

    And one more suspect thing in the whole issue is, going by Santhanam’s role in preparation and setting up of instruments, it does not seem like it was his official duty to get privy to the collected data. 🙂 Setting the question paper is not the same as knowing what a particular candidate writes as answer. 😉

    Thanks for pointing out the typo. Am not correcting my inadvertent revenge. 🙂 Honestly, I’ve nothing against Santhanam, since maybe he only got carried away by the attraction of media glare. But what irks me is the quality of reporting.


    @ mgeek:

    Yes, you’re right. Honestly, I’d like the ENTIRE world to be de-nuked as far as weapons are concerned. But the ‘entire’ part seems to be the problem, and only fueling further paranoia and arms’ race. Thanks! TC.

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