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Book Extract : How To Kill Everyone On The Planet – Ukraine And Other Recipes For A Nuclear Matricide By Rajesh Talwar

Ninety-five per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons are with the Americans and the Russians (and to a lesser extent the Chinese). Each of these major powers possesses nuclear weapons in the thousands. In comparison India and Pakistan have each less than two hundred nukes, although that lesser number too is enough to devastate the planet. Any solution however must clearly lie with the major powers.
How can we convince them to reduce their weapons of mass destruction? Who will convince them? Is it even possible to convince them? Should the decommissioning of nuclear weapons on the planet be a phased process?

Is it possible to have a global treaty signed by all the major nuclear powers in the world to rid our planet completely of nuclear weapons? Any such convention would need to have a trans-national inspection regime that not only checks whether Iran has nuclear weapons, but if anyone else, including the superpowers have any. After all, a responsible nuclear power could turn turn irresponsible or even rogue tomorrow.

I once read a novel by the American author Gore Vidal, in which a group of biological terrorists decide to exterminate all human life on the planet using a deadly virus. The virus has been designed in such a way that it will affect only humans and no other life forms on the planet. Eventually, the terrorists are successful in their efforts – and all human life on the planet is indeed destroyed. This was however the second last chapter in the book and not the very last one. What remained to tell in the story, a reader might wonder, just as I did at the time? The novel, I had assumed, was a tragedy. I was wrong. In the very last chapter, the planet starts to resurrect. The forests start growing, the air starts to get clean, the birds start to fly across clean skies, the nearly extinct mammals and other species start to repopulate. The earth begins to sing and dance once again. The novel has a happy ending. Isn’t the survival of the planet and thousands of life forms more important than the survival of the human species alone – a question that Big Head, one of the aliens in the play asks the others? Our world is a strange, mysterious and miraculous place and the human being a miraculous and wonderful creation, as is the planet that we inhabit. Among the thousands of life forms that populate the planet, is a snake that is known to eat its own tail without realising it. Is our human species like that serpent then, with the difference that while the serpent does at some point realise that he is eating himself and backs off, we may not, till it is too late?! The world may end, as we know it, but in truth the world never ends. We are not ‘conquerors’ of the planet and should not assume that we are.

We are merely residents and should be grateful to Mother Earth for all that she gives us. Our pagan ancestors were far more respectful, as well as in awe of the lakes, rivers and mountains spread across our planet than we ourselves have been. For all our technological advancement, mankind appears to be living in an age that, as the poet T S Eliot put it, appears to be moving ‘progressively backwards.’

–  Rajesh Talwar, Noida

Pg: xxiv-xxvi )

( Carried with due permission from the author and the publisher Bridging Borders)

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