The natural states of man are peace; and everywhere, in all ages, civilize; men have been its ardent votaries. Wars have always been condemned; brutal, inhuman, and thoroughly impractical for the purposes of settling disputes.
After every war fought in this world, men of good will have made earnest efforts to establish the reign of peace on earth. In the pre century, this universal concern for peace manifested itself in the establishment of the League of Nations, and later the United Nations Organisation. Even though these bodes were not successful in achieving their objective, yet they served to emphasize that above all, man wanted to live in peace.
Experience has, however, shown again and again that the desire for it alone is not sufficient to ensure peace. Just as is the case with everything else, we have to pay a price for it. And there are different ways of paying it. A nation may be able to purchase peace by appeasing the aggressor, and agreeing to give concessions at the cost of national honour and prestige. But a patched-up peace of this nature, secured through compromise with the aggressor is at best short-lived and invariably sows the seeds of future discord.
The Munich agreement signed just before the Second World War is a case in point. The ink on the agreement was hardly dry when the war broke out. Britain had to submit to the indignity of Munich mainly because she was not at that time in a state of readiness to meet the challenge posed by Hitler's activities in Europe.
Similarly, if we examine the factors which have from time to time disturbed the peace of the earth, we shall find that while avarice, ambition, anger, envy and pride have not infrequently motivated warmongers, perhaps the greatest contributory factor in bringing about wars has been the disturbance of the balance of power in a certain part of the world.
Nations, which yielded to complacency and ignored their defenses' always tempted aggressors and were invariably vanquished and subjugated. On the other hand States, which built up their strength, and kept themselves in a state of readiness, commanded respect. Other nations sought and valued alliances of peace and friendship with them, and they were allowed to live in peace.
To be real and lasting peace has to be with honour. The effort required to be put in to win such peace is not in any way less than that required to winning wars. Just as eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, only keeping prepared for was can pay for peace with honors. If the would-be aggressor knows that the other party is in a position, not only to withstand the pressure he may be able to exert, but also to strike back, he will think a hundred times before putting forward any unjust demands or firing a shot across the border.
And even if some unscrupulous adventurer does throw a challenge, a nation in a state of preparedness can meet it adequately. This was amply demonstrated in the Indo-Pak conflict. U.S. A. and the promises of help held out by China, the Pakistan warlords miscalculated India's strength and attacked the country in the belief that it would either be defeated in a few days or surrender on their terms They might well have proved themselves right, had it not been for the fact that India, having learnt from earlier reverses, had been preparing herself to meet the challenge.
The result was that not only was the attack repelled, but also the highly sophisticated war-machine built up by Ayub so assiduously over a number of years was destroyed in a war of attrition lasting barely three weeks. The Pakistani leadership would henceforth never be in a hurry to take up arms against India.
Being prepared for war thus serves a dual purpose. It not only gives a nation the strength to defend her but also acts as deterrent against aggression. These are the minimum conditions necessary to assure for, country both the form as well as the content of peace. The assurance in secure frontiers is a great spur to efforts towards consolidating peace, which mean progress.
In this world full of strife, any nation, which tries to reverse the order of priorities, does so at its own peril. Peace is undoubtedly an essential precondition for all progress and that in turn presupposes preparedness for war.
Therefore, the problems of a country's defence and its war- capability must of necessity come before everything else. Viewed in this context, the debate that has been going on in India for nearly a year of merits and demerits of the country manufacturing nuclear weapons would appear to be inane.
Being surrounded on all sides by hostile neighbors', India cannot afford to close her eyes and refuse to see the realities of the situations. She has to rise to her full stature to be a force on the side of peace. Even Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest apostle of peace and non-violence who lived in modern times felt that it was necessary for India to regain the power to fight. Writing to his friend, H.S.L. Polak, Gandhiji said, "I had made the discovery that India has lost the power to fight—not the inclination. She must regain the power and then, if she will, deliver to a groaning world, the doctrine of ahimsa. She must give abundantly out of her strength, not out of her weakness. She may never do it."
Being prepared for war and acquiring the power to fight is the necessary, not only for national peace but also for establishing a maintaining international peace. A nation which is itself weak cannot pull its weight in the international community, and being always subject to pressures and counter-pressure, ultimately bids fair to end up as the arena of conflict between big powers. It cannot make any contribution to international peace. On the other hand, it is more likely to imperil it. Only a voice from a position of strength can make itself heard effectively in favour of peace or for that matter in favour of any other desirable international goal.
The world today is in the grip of war-hysteria. The large variety of cold, not so cold and hot wars, confrontations and crises which are disturbing the peace in almost all corners of the globe can be traced to an imbalance between the areas of strength and weakness in the world. If this is not to be allowed to become a permanent condition, all nations of the world, particularly those considered weak, have to make earnest efforts to gather sufficient strength to withstand undue pressures. This is a duty they owe to them and to the future of mankind, which is inextricably bound up, with the prospects of a world-order based on international peace being established.