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Call To Preventive Action

George Perkovich

Edited by Raja Menon
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2004, pp. 278, Rs. 330.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

India has all the features of a state and society that must worry about being attacked with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Terrorists and other violently disgruntled actors operate in the country.  An erstwhile adversary, Pakistan, possesses nuclear weapons and continues to reject the territorial status quo between itself and India.  Another neighbour, China, continues to rise as a global power which India must take into account.  India’s liability rises still further because Pakistan is both a state-competitor and an incubator of terrorists.      Even if the odds of India’s being attacked by dramatically destructive weapons are low, the consequences are potentially so grave that the threat must not be shrugged off.  Imagine the recriminations that would fly against an Indian government after a terrorist nuclear bomb were to destroy the financial center of Mumbai, or smallpox were to break out in Kolkata.  Politicians and mobilized citizenry would scream: Why wasn’t more done to detect and prevent the attack?  Why were health and security agencies so poorly prepared and equipped to respond to it?      Kudos, therefore, to Admiral (retd.) Raja Menon for producing the edited volume, Weapons of Mass Destruction: Options for India. The book is a serious, earnest effort to inform Indians of the particular threats posed by chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and to assess what should be done to prevent or counter these threats.  Part I describes the physical effects and political-military effectiveness of various types of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  Part II contains one essay, by M.S. Mamik, on ‘Formal and Non-formal Nuclear Threats to India’.  Part III contains essays by Matin Zuberi and Arundhati Ghose, respectively, on the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the chemical and biological weapons regimes.  In Part IV these same lucid authors – Zuberi and Ghose – report India’s negotiating positions in the nuclear and chemical and biological weapons regimes.  The final part has one essay on means for protecting against chemical attacks and one, by Raja Menon, on policies to reduce the risks and potential consequences of biological and toxin warfare.      Admiral Menon gets the volume off to a good start with an introduction that describes major changes in the international system since the end of the Cold War and the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the U.S.  Menon relates these systemic changes to parallel developments in technology and globalization, all of which could increase the ...

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