Saturday, October 01, 2005

Weapons of Peace

Fresh from reading a book by Strobe Talbott, I picked up "Weapons of Peace" by Raj Chengappa from the Library. The book gives a detail account on India's dream of becoming a Nuclear and Missile Power. I finished 200 pages of the 500 page book in 1 day and I could not continue at the same speed. Thereafter I had to take Nap breaks every 10 pages... Oh man the author details into so many irrelevant things. He talks about every bureaucrat and scientist who was involved in the Nuclear and Missile programs.

At times these details get irritating because he takes off his eyes from the core part of the chapter and moves on to describe the Minister, His Secretary, His Life etc..For instance the chapter about our Agni Missile has a big paragraph about K.C Pant.

Come on Mr Raj, I do not want to know what Indira Gandhi's Principal Secretary was like, Tell me more details about the Weapons.

I read rest of the book cursing two people, One Raj Chengappa, second the person who recommended me this book (no prizes for guessing)

The book clearly depicts lack of coordination between various government agencies, bureaucrats, ministers etc. For instance BARC did not know what DRDO is doing and vice versa. Every 50 pages, there is an indication of a Project failure due to lack of funds, coordination and vision. I felt that if somebody like Dr. R.Chidambaram and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam during early days in the quest to become Nuclear Power, We would have mastered the technology even before China.

On the positive side, I really felt proud being born in Tamilnadu. I was thrilled to find that more that 85% of the scientist who took India to the Nuclear Haves Group were from Tamilnadu. Chidambaram, Kalam, Subramanian, Santhanam, Raghavan, Srinivasan and many others. I can tell with no doubt in my mind, If there was no Chidambaram there is no Nuclear India and If there was no Kalam, there is no missiles. I really admire them, as with so many constraints they achieved things which were only dreamt and achieved by economic superpowers. We also need to factor in that many of their achievements would have been gone unnoticed, due to "Top Secret" nature.

On Completion, I felt thrilled and jubilant about our success in Missile and Nuclear Technology. The book is worth a read, if you could tolerate the off context information that Author gives.

Next on Agenda(Kind of a Gamble) - "Kashmir" by Sumantra Bose