With three to five consecutive years of drought, north India and interior Deccan had been brought to its knees in the past few years. What complicated the scenario was the annual prediction of 'normal' monsoon by the Met department, which failed to materialise on ground. So this year’s prediction of another 'normal' monsoon was greeted by skepticism on ground, which the media amply magnified.
So when the monsoon turned out to be normal over most of the land, it came as a major relief to agriculturist everywhere. Between June 1 and September 30, 33 of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions received normal to excess rainfall. The only hydrological units that did not receive adequate rainfall were North and South Karnataka and Kerala, while Chhattisgarh, East Madhya Pradesh, West Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, Western Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Kutch and Diu and Gujarat region, Daman and Dadra and Nagar Haveli actually received excess rainfall.
With agricultural production looking up after years, this translated into a spurt for the economic indices to reflect a growth curve, with a return to 6.5 per cent growth rate. And with 77 per cent of the nation’s districts getting adequate precipitation, floods affected a larger than normal proportion of the land, even killing people in Rajasthan, where till just a month back, drought and famine had been claiming lives.
India bottles up nuclear genie
Sense finally prevailed over sensibility in 2003. While no one is yet willing to lock up weapons of mass madness and throw the keys away, India took a step in the right direction by placing its nuclear arsenal under a unified command structure on January 6. Besides sending a tough message to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf who had threatened to use the 'non-conventional' option during the Kargil war, the move was also meant to reinforce India's credibilty as a responsible nuclear power.
India's Nuclear Command Authority will comprise of a Political Council, chaired by the prime minister, and an Executive Council, headed by the National Security Adviser. Sources suggested that the Political Council would in essence be the present Cabinet Committee on Security.
Orders have gone out for the appointment of a Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Forces Command which will control the nuclear systems. The command will be a mixed one with representation from the three military services.
Sources say that in the present scheme of things, a political decision on nuclear weapons will go through the Executive Council to the Strategic Forces Command. The C-in-C of the Command will report to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The plan announced by the Cabinet also approved an alternate command chain for retaliatory nuclear strikes "in all eventualities". While the government said it would keep to its pledge of 'no first use, it reserved the right to use nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack.
According to defence analysts, with the definition of the doctrine, what was already a practice has become a norm for subsequent governments to follow. The new strucure, say experts, will help India to ensure a swift retaliatory strike and avoid any confusion that was bound to arise if it faced a nuclear, chemical or biological attack.