Those acquainted with my writing are no doubt aware of my antipathy for Dr. R Chidambaram, erstwhile Chmn, AEC, and for the last decade, S&T adviser to the PM whose removal has been advocated by me post-1998 tests. He has been the greatest retardant of the nuclear weapons program — by placing it in the no-testing mode. He’s finally gone, and good riddance. What little good he did do — by calculating the equation of state for the fissile material in our n-weapons was long ago frittered away by his dogmatic championing of the “no need for more N-tests”-thesis, which has been lapped up great many in the policy Establishment and the commentariat, who are a little too mindful of the American don’ts than is good for the national interest.
That the former scientific adviser to the PM V Saraswat’s name is being bandied about as RC’s replacement is problematic for three reasons: (1) He is absolutely innocent of any intimate knowledge of N-weapons/warheads, (2) lacking any technical insights of his own, he has blindly toed the RC line — and believes that software and simulation is enough to make modifications in the failed thermonuclear design (S-1 tested in 1998) and to render the extant fusion arsenal credible. The third reason is in a generic sense similar to RC’s — he’s wedded to the idea of the ballistic missile defence system, he being the chief promoter of this project. Physics, as I have argued, is against the BMD, but Saraswat has managed to keep this exorbitantly priced project funded by making wild promises of superior performance that cannot be supported by the orchestrated tests DRDO has conducted so far. It has screwed up the country’s deterrence posture. As S&T adviser he’ll ensure a lot of good money goes down that sinkhole. It’s one of the many projects that India cannot afford, and ought to be if not shut down altogether, continued with as only a technology demonstrator.