India refuses to sign cluster bomb treaty & we know not why 3


Here’s a news item from the Real news network on India’s refusal to sign the cluster bomb treaty along with China, US (not surprisingly), Israel, Russia and Pakistan.What is shocking though is the paltry coverage it got in Indian media for an issue that is clearly important. ToI, NDTV, Zee News, Economic Times, and a few others carried an article straight from Associated Press or other services. Given that India had not signed this treaty, some home work could have been done here – but NOTHING was done. This is true of the highly celebrated Hindu as well. No interviews, no commentaries, no reasons offered as to why India did not sign the treaty…the silence is total.

Short video on the treaty

Poor coverage in Indian media

The coverage by Indian media is so un-reflecting that Zee News could carry the headline “111 nations adopt cluster bomb treaty, but not US”…being an Indian media outlet, were they not obliged to highlight India’s stand? The issue was so hushed up, that I had to discover it through Al Jazeera that carried the video above. Thanks to Indian media’s slience, we know not why India did not even participate in the treaty.

Poor media coverage is not a reflection of media’s priorities alone. It reflects the fact that no one in India must have campaigned actively for India to join the treaty. It’s a failure on the part of the civil society here. Even if a small group had taken interest, it would have made it to the media.  Unfortunately, the way a lot of international treaties work is through Western mediation with an agenda set in the West without much domestic consultation.

It looks like India is one of the major producers of cluster bombs. It is unlikely that commercial interests will make way for moral and social concerns without strong public support – no effort has gone into securing it in this country.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.


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3 thoughts on “India refuses to sign cluster bomb treaty & we know not why

  • Eli

    Maybe shame by association?

    China, the USA, Israel, Russia and Pakistan aren’t particularly good company. I always think of the UN General Assembly special session on children in May 2002, where some countries voted to exclude abortion from “reproductive health services”: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, the Vatican, and the USA. Eek.

  • Nesoj

    When at war, the aim of the 1st party is to anhilate the 2nd party at least expense to oneself.
    Cluster bombs are one of the best ways to secure an area. There is nothing called a half war – either you are at war or not war. If at war, one should use all measures available to achieve one’s objective.
    To quote of of the most famous Generals of all time “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country” – If it’s ‘cluster bombs’ that written in his destiny – so be it.

  • Vikram

    Dear Nesoj, you are just looking at Cluster Bombs, as you put it “…one of the best ways to secure an area.” But the essence of this post is to bring awareness to the public about India inclining towards using deadly weapons in its war, deadly because of the after effects of Cluster bombs. The unexploded cluster bombs have a bad reputation of turning into land mines which could kill civilians. The best example is the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, both sides used cluster bombs, but the Israeli forces used far greater in number. It was only recently in 2009 that Israel released the exact locations of where they dropped the bombs, but between 2006 and 2007 it was reported that every month 7 Lebanese died of cluster bombs. These people who die are usually civilians.

    This is the reason the international community took up the initiative to make the countries worldwide not to use the cluster bombs.

    I don’t feel good about India being in a list of countries which endorse the use of Cluster Bombs. Both India and Pakistan have not accepted to take a position about this issue, they are now with ELITES such as USA and Israel…

    Imagine these bombs used in a conflict b/w India and Pakistan (Hope, never in a million years) and after the war who do you think will suffer, civilians, civilians on both sides will die in many years after.

    The Indian air force general says that India is buying laser guided cluster bombs from US, which doesn’t make any sense to me, because with these newer bombs you can only aim more precisely, he should have rather pointed out the failure rate of the cluster bombs.

    Lastly, no cause is just a one where civilians are hurt, ’cause no civilian would ever want a war, where peace could work.