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May 11, 1998
'The West cannot ignore the fact that India is a large market'
Monday afternoon's explosions at Pokharan arouses the prospect of US and European economic sanctions against India. K K Modi, chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, explains Indian industry's apprehensions and fears.
Industry is concerned about the sanctions which can be imposed against India after the government's nuclear explosion at Pokharan. But all of us are with Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's decision.
I spoke to S K Birla, Hari Shankar Singhania of ASSOCHAM and Rahul Bajaj of CII and all of them expressed the same view about the explosion.
Though there is concern that the explosion has come at a time when India is already going through bad times I think the West cannot ignore the fact that India is a large market in the world for them just like China.
I am going to the US tonight and I will make the Americans understand that India cannot afford to remain weak when they are surrounded by neighbours with nuclear capabilities. I will stress on the point that India is a peaceful democracy. In its 5,000 year history, India has never attacked any country. On the contrary, India was always attacked and invaded by others.
With this explosion, I feel there will be stability in this region. The Americans and other Western powers do not need to send arms and ammunition to India in case it is attacked. In fact, this explosion will benefit Western countries as they will not have to send their soldiers to protect us as they did for Kuwait during the Gulf war against Iraq. And as a result of which their entire economy was disturbed.
In today's world, India cannot rely on any country for military help. Look at the East European countries, once the mighty USSR withdrew their military support they became weak. I don't think there is anything wrong in going for these tests and I congratulate Indian scientists for their achievement.
However, we hope that the West will not impose trade sanctions considering that it will directly affect the Indian poor. Western countries did not do impose any sanctions against China and France when they conducted nuclear explosions. So I hope there will be no sanctions against India too.
As told to Syed Firdaus Ashraf
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