'Agni-V will prove ruinous for India'

Should India bother with the development of a missile technology that only stokes fears in the region and is nothing but a visible deterrent against its enemies?

FP Staff April 20, 2012 16:01:32 IST

Is the success of the Agni-V missile just an instance of chest beating hyper-nationalism which will only start a missile race that India can ill afford?

AgniV will prove ruinous for India

The Agni-V being launched in Odisha yesterday. AP

As news anchors and commentators went breathless describing how India's successful launch of the Agni-V finally meant we could target anyone who dared take us on, others saw it as getting into an arms race that a country like India could ill afford.

"It reminds me of this very chauvinistic hyper-nationalism the kind that was witnessed in Germany and Italy before the war (World War II) and this is a fanaticism of a different kind which really disturbs me," Praful Bidwai, activist and political commentator, said on CNN-IBN yesterday.

"We should not be proud of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

And for those who believe that the existence of the missile gives us a strategic advantage, with belligerent neighbours like China and Pakistan, Bidwai was dismissive of it as well.

"Not only a beginning but an escalation of a missile arms race with China which is three times bigger than us and bigger than us economically and militarily," he said.

"It will prove more ruinous for India without any strategic advantage," Bidwai said.

Does Bidwai have a valid point?

India, China and Pakistan have been increasing their spending on defence every year with each country constantly testing, showing off and then upgrading different technologies that they hope will deter attacks.

Agni-V surely won't be the last technology that India will have to develop in order to promise its citizens safety. The need for new and possibly more effective delivery mechanisms will mean more spending on defence, which will mean less money that could have been used for a developmental project.

Firstpost had earlier argued about how development of the Agni-V was merely meant to be deterrent and that the promise of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) will inhibit our “enemies” from doing anything to us that they wouldn't want happening to them.

So is the successful launch of the Agni-V a cause for the kind of celebration we've witnessed over the last 24 hours or should we be a little more circumspect about our constantly growing spends on technologies that we hope never to use?

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