Opinion | A weapon that could change the game if India plays tough4 min read . Updated: 29 Mar 2019, 12:07 AM IST
The country must resist pressure to sign treaties that impose restraints on its ability to make the most of its A-SAT capability
General elections are often a prompt for Indian prime ministers to take strategic “big bang" decisions that they put off making during most of their time in office. Atal Bihari Vajpayee could have followed up the 1998 series of nuclear tests by ordering the launch of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), the design of which the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, had on its shelf for several years previously and was itching to test. It could have won the Bharatiya Janata Party a second term. Manmohan Singh could have derailed Narendra Modi’s ambitions in 2014 had he mustered the gumption to resume thermonuclear testing on the reasonable ground that the fusion device tested in the Shakti series of tests under a BJP dispensation had fizzled. Modi likely approved the testing of the anti-satellite (A-SAT) weapon, a capability former chiefs of the Defence Research and Development Organisation maintain was in suspended animation for almost a decade, as insurance against his re-election prospects trended in the wrong direction. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to blow up a satellite in space with a direct missile hit to follow up on the Balakot air strike as a way to burnish the Prime Minister’s tough guy image. But mark this: In each case, the decision was made or not made for extraneous reasons, and not to strategically advantage the country.