Hiroshima Day: Never again
No, you are not getting told how it happened, all over again. You will find that at plenty of places. You are not getting reminded of colossal numbers that need commas to make sense at one reading. No repetition here of the effects of exposure to environs contaminated by radiation that ran down generations. One can confidently confirm that if you are equipped enough to be reading this piece right now, you probably know what happened on 6 August 1945.
Unless you have been living under a rock all this while.
The era that Hiroshima is best described in, came of the prediction that was made of ‘Little Boy’ and his ilk. Prophesized to end all conventional wars, they instead nourished almost all major conventional wars hence. Korea, Vietnam and Iraq can all be seen as enriched-uranium fuelled phenomena, even if it was never used on ground. Their biggest achievement, undoubtedly and ironically, has been that they have not been used again.
Most probably because they have gotten way too good at what they do.
Even so far from our partners in the maintenance of a free South China Sea we do not really need Hiroshima to remind us of itself. Two nuclear armed and not so cosy neighbours have done enough to make sure we get home schooled well enough. India and Pakistan are still engaged in what is one of the longest drawn (un)conventional wars of the Hiroshima era, Mutually Assured Destruction assuring the status quo. And China, well, is China.
So here (and with equal enthusiasm ‘there’) we have anniversaries of the republic celebrated by brandishing our own cruise constraints. Fissional egos get to have fancy names from mythology and history. Military experts repeat how one can definitely take on the other, only to conclude that it is only Brahmos and Babur that are keeping each other from each other.
Does one then go about advocating complete and unilateral action against nuclear weapons? Of course not. Non proliferation need not necessarily be naive. But we can do a lot more. We can definitely go beyond blatant celebration of our might, beyond excessive chest bumping about our own insecurities. We can go beyond governments and politics and neo-propaganda, and as can be done with all hard questions take this one up seriously. We can make nuclear non-proliferation fashionable again; make sure it occupies relevance in public opinion and discussions all through the year, and not just twice a year. And the funny part is that right now, today, we must.
The Japanese call the victims of the two bombings ‘Hibakusha’, or explosion affected people. The Hibakusha have for a long time not just been bearers of an uneasy legacy in the post war Japanese society, but also been ostracised because of fears of radiation induced defects. And though it is well nigh impossible to elucidate such a baggage, in all senses it is a baggage shared by seven billion people. We are all Hibakusha, and we all risk passing on the baggage to our progeny.
The only true homage one can pay to the bones of those who woke up to the sound of Enola Gay’s rattling engine this day 71 years ago is not forgetting that we still go to sleep with the same fears ever since. One has to do her bit, pass it on or keep it in loop, give it importance and never overlooking the burn marks singed into us all.
Soumyajit Saha is a reporter for The Manipal Journal. All views expressed are personal