India: Poverty trap vs the Agni-V
Asghar Ali Shad, Saira Rehman


Right from the beginning, the ruling elite of India indulges in the futile pursuit of achieving hegemony over China, Pakistan and other neighborly countries by shrewd use of diplomatic tactics and military power. To achieve the very same objective, India launched a missile test of Agni IV on April 19, 2012.

This missile had to be tested on April 18, but due to poor weather conditions, that was delayed for one day. Various Indian analysts commented that the missile test did not bring about the desirable results. But to protect its image and morale, the Indian government and the concerned authorities did not present the true picture and kept the people in dark.

The range of the missile is five thousand kilometers. So in that way, large part of the continents of Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia are in the range of the Indian nuclear weapons. In this perspective, almost all the leading Indian newspapers mentioned that India at any time can target any part of China with the help of its nuclear weapons. A few Indian newspapers and TV channels have also named the Agni-V the “China Killer”. According to the Indian media, only in the short time span of 20 minutes this intercontinental missile can drop an atomic bomb of the weight more than a ton anywhere in the range of five thousand kilometers. Its own weight is near about fifty tons. In the coming three years, it is planned to handover the missile to the Indian army after testing it.

Neutral analysts are also naming this fresh move as a part of a war-obsession of the Delhi government. According to which, the Indian leaders are dreaming of becoming a global power by targeting the whole region including China for their wide-ranging interests. The Agni-V has been tested in the coastal area of Balasur of the Indian province of Orissa. The regional capital of Orissa is Bhubaneshwar and this province comprises of thirty districts including the province of Cuttack.

The total area of Orissa is 55707 km2 and according to the population census of 2011, total population of Orissa is 36706920. Orissa is the ninth largest state by area in India, and the eleventh largest by population. After analyzing the situation, it becomes crystal clear that like other underdeveloped countries, India does not pay any heed to the welfare of its people, otherwise it would not have fanned the weapons race to that extent.

It is not a hidden fact that in 2010, the global institute, ‘Oxford Poverty and Human Rights Institute’ disclosed in its report that residents of eight Indian provinces, that include Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and the West Bengal are subject to the worst poverty in the world. The situation in the mentioned areas is worse than famine. Rohini Mukherjee, Executive Head of the Indian NGO, Naadi, in one of her reports claimed that more than sixty-five crores Indians are bound to live below the line of poverty. Similarly, according to the latest report of the UNICEF, one third of total number of the world population of children suffering from scarcity of food is Indian children.

World Bank report of 2005 also shows that the income of 41.6 percent Indians’ per day was 1.25 American dollars. The Global Hunger Index of 2011 shows that during 1996 to 2011, poverty in India has further increased. According to the report, a survey has been conducted in 81 countries that include Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya etc but India stands at the lowest position. The ‘Tendulkar Report’ prepared by the Indian Planning Commission indicates that the ratio of poverty in India is 37 percent while according to the Saxena Report it is 50 percent.

A few weeks back the head of the Indian Election Commission told the Indian Supreme Court that any Indian, who earns Rs. 26 per day should not be considered poor. Over which, the Indian media and the Supreme Court severely criticized the Delhi government. Paradoxically, it is hard to understand that under such gloomy situation, which sort of message India has been conveying to its population by testing missiles and nuclear weapons in its most poverty-stricken province. It is hoped that the Delhi government would abandon this race and pave way for durable peace by calling back its armies from Siachen and Kashmir.