The then US president John F Kennedy was an admirer of Indian democracy, and when he learnt that China was on its way to detonate a nuclear device, he wanted that it ought to be a democratic country like India, and not communist China, which should have nuclear capability. The Kennedy administration was ready to help India out with nuclear deterrence. But, Nehru rejected the offer.

Currently, India has been canvassing support from various countries to become a member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—in vain, so far. Had Nehru gone along with Kennedy’s advice, India would have detonated a nuclear device well before China. Had that happened, not only would India have been a member of the NSG long, long ago, but China would not have dared to attack India in 1962, nor would Pakistan have taken liberties to attack India in 1965.

Former foreign secretary Rasgotra disclosed:
“…Kennedy’s hand-written letter was accompanied by a technical note from the chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, setting out the assistance his organisation would provide to Indian atomic scientists to detonate an American device from atop a tower in Rajasthan desert, the release said… In the letter, Kennedy had said he and the American establishment were aware of Nehru’s strong views against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons, but emphasised the political and security threat China’s test would spell for Nehru’s government and India’s security, it said, adding the American leader’s letter emphasised that ‘nothing is more important than national security.’”

Gandhian ‘Ahimsa’ had not only totally vitiated free India’s approach to retaining its own freedom by strengthening its defence and external security; but had also provided excuses to pacifists like Nehru to not fulfil their basic responsibility as prime minister of protecting India, under the garb of the hypocrisy of high moral principles, and being flag-bearers of world-peace. Nehru failed to grasp the deterrence value of nuclear weapons. What is surprising is what were his cabinet colleagues and other leaders of the ruling and the opposition parties doing? Were they mere mute and spineless witnesses to whatever the autocratic and undemocratic Nehru chose to do?

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