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Strategic Matters


K. Santhanam

BIO-TERRORISM AND BIO-DEFENCE
Edited by P.R. Chari and Suba Chandran
Manohar, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 246, Rs. 595.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

This is a collection of articles by twelve Indian scholars in a field normally replete with US and western (occasionally Soviet) perceptions. As such, it is a welcome addition to the body of literature  on strategic matters emerging from India.       The authors are from diverse disciplines:  administration, strategic analysis, the Services and  microbiology. As such, it is in the direction of a multi-disciplinary effort. The dominant majority  of articles (10 out of 11)  is by persons from the loosely defined community of ‘strategic analysts’. There is just one article from a microbiologist;  that too  from a   private drug firm. This has, inevitably, led the book to be centred on  ‘policy issues’ with a glancing side-lobe scan on equally meaty scientific and technical matters. It would have benefited substantially if there were contributions, say, from the Indian Council of Medical  Research, New Delhi or the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Pune.        A very common feature of books on these and similar topics is that they provide ‘good surveys of literature’. A wag once said that if one goes to  a library, one won’t get solutions to a problem; only cross references. A pound of inference and analysis is better than a ton (or kiloton) of literature surveys. In any case, the absence of any reference to SIPRI’s monumental, multi-volume study of biological and chemical warfare is intriguing.       Summarizing someone else’s writings or views  is simple and easy.  But it serves only a very limited purpose.   Most readers would have liked to see more  light thrown on threats to India, their effects on unprotected populations and to what extent agencies of Central and  State governments would (or could) undertake disaster management in  the post-attack  scenario. This is absent in the book.      Further,  omission  in the survey of literature of  the historic report (PAC 2000) of  the Public Accounts Committee of the Indian Parliament on the ramifications of the “WHO-fronted” project (actually US-led ) on “Genetic Control of Mosquitoes” is surprising.  Also, India’s “bird man”, the venerated Dr Salim Ali, was innocent and  unaware of the hidden goals of the study of ticks free-riding on birds migrating from India to the Soviet Union.  A young science journalist in the Press Trust of India, Dr K.S. Jayaraman, investigated the project and found significant indications of India being `used’ for the conduct of  biological and chemical warfare studies by USA. The project was wound ...


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