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Race, Ethnicity and Nuclear WarRepresentations of Nuclear Weapons and Post-Apocalyptic Worlds$
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Paul Williams

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781846317088

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846319792

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date: 20 October 2018

‘The Hindu Bomb’: Nuclear Nationalism in The Last Jet-Engine Laugh

‘The Hindu Bomb’: Nuclear Nationalism in The Last Jet-Engine Laugh

(p.202) 7 ‘The Hindu Bomb’: Nuclear Nationalism in The Last Jet-Engine Laugh
Race, Ethnicity and Nuclear War
Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores how South Asian writers have understood the possession of nuclear weapons — particularly the testing of India's nuclear arsenal in 1998 — as being central to the Hindu nationalism which achieved electoral success during the 1990s and 2000s. The discussion centres on Ruchir Joshi's novel The Last Jet-Engine Laugh (2001), with extended references to the writings of other South Asian novelists and essayists, including Romesh Gunesekera, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Chandra. As their fictional and polemical texts observe, proclaiming nuclear weapons as a way to achieve parity of international importance with former colonizers and other superpowers is inherently problematic. While a nuclear-armed India fulfils Hindu nationalist rhetoric of national autonomy and the privileging of indigenous culture, such nuclear nationalism is predicated on wielding military technology already possessed by the Cold War nuclear powers. Paradoxically, many Hindu nationalists tried to define India's superior identity as distinct from those nuclear powers.

Keywords:   Nuclear weapons, India, nuclear testing, Hindu nationalism, Ruchir Joshi

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