Peace Lies in Strength

India’s Experience Has Taught That Peace Lies in Strength
By Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India

International Herald Tribune – September 21, 2000

My recent visit to the United States has consolidated relations between the world’s two largest democracies. The joint initiatives and understandings that we reached represent a major step forward. India and the United States can be natural allies in the 21st century. Events and circumstances over the last two years have confirmed this.

We are both motivated by shared values that give freedom, dignity, democracy and tolerance the highest priority. Open societies oppose international terrorism which, in the cloak of religious extremism, is eating away at the foundation of democratic nations.  

The integrity of nation-states as building blocks of a stable international order is threatened by newly-promoted concepts of interventionism that add to insecurity and social chaos. The principle of social equity that must underline economic prosperity and globalisation is often ignored. Barriers to mutually enriching science and technology must be removed to promote creativity and knowledge to the full.  

As the two biggest open societies, India and the United States must address these pressing concerns. Agreement and common action would be ideal; but disagreement on some issues should not constitute division. We have agreed that, as our dialogue proceeds, we will listen with respect to each other and seek to accommodate our mutual concerns. 

As natural allies, it is important that India and the United States remain engaged. Contacts should be so frequent that they become routine. President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in March took place after a gap of 22 years. In the fast-changing world in which we live, even 22 months is an unacceptable interruption.  

India is growing at an annual rate of more than 6 per cent; we aim to reach 9 per cent and beyond. Such growth results from unshackling the energy and enterprise of the Indian people. India is a vast market as well as an expanding platform for manufacture and services.   Its growth has generated an insatiable thirst for green energy, efficient communications and modern infrastructure. India is open for business and partnership.  

India is in the vanguard of the knowledge revolution. Information technology and knowledge-intensive industries, including biotechnology, entertainment, communications and services, have taken root. They are now moving beyond India to network at a global level.   Traditional industry and science also continue to flourish. India today is equally adept in both “brick” and “click” economies.  

No armies from India have stepped out to conquer and dominate others. We want a world free of weapons of mass destruction.   But security in the real world must be based on the principle of equal security for all.  Without a non-discriminatory world order, our experience has taught us that peace lies in strength. The security of one billion Indians is central to Asia?s security and stability.  Yet peace and strength are not incompatible. As a nuclear weapon state, our approach is guided by a sense of responsibility and transparency that we urge others to adopt.   

A unilateral moratorium on explosive tests, a policy of “no first use,” a tight export control regime and a willingness to engage with other countries on all aspects of international security are the principles of India?s nuclear policy.