Of Nuclear Submarines and TOI’s Filthy Journalism

Nuke-powered sub INS Arihant ready for sea trials

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  NEW DELHI , December 16, 2014

First Published: 00:03 IST(16/12/2014) | Last Updated: 01:26 IST(16/12/2014)

The indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant on Monday left the Visakhapatnam harbour for sea trials in the Bay of Bengal, a crucial step towards India’s goal of completing its nuclear triad — ie. its ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar flagged off the 6,000 tonne Arihant — which means destroyer of enemies. The submarine is likely to be inducted into the navy by the end of next year after completion of sea and weapon trials.

It will be equipped with the K-15 missile, a closely guarded Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) secret, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead up to 750 km away.

The miniature reactor on board the submarine attained criticality last August. The Arihant will complete the sea-leg of India’s nuclear triad, giving it enduring nuclear strike and counter-strike capabilities.

India already has the capability to carry out nuclear strikes with fighter planes and land-launched missiles. The Agni series of ballistic missiles and fighters planes, such as Sukhoi-30MKIs and French-origin Mirage-2000s, can deliver nuclear warheads.

The United States, Russia, the UK, France and China are the only countries that can deliver nuclear warheads from a submarine. India’s submarine fleet is expected to have at least five nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in the future.

Sid Harth

When an entire comments section is wiped out, where do comments go? Bunch of idiots! …and I am Sid Harth

Sid Harth

But it was not until the George H.W. Bush administration that we succeeded in closing the deal on the far more important strategic weapons, the long-range missiles on either side. The START I Treaty was signed in 1991 and ratified three years later, thus beginning a ten-year process of reductions that resulted in the destruction of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. A second treaty, START II, was signed in the closing days of the G.H.W. Bush administration. In these two treaties, we achieved goals we had been pursuing for twenty years—including deep reductions, the elimination of heavy missiles, intrusive verification and the like. But then something funny happened. In the early 1990s, the USSR ceased to exist, the Cold War was over, and we suddenly ceased to care very much about these things anymore. We no longer worried about the Soviet strategic threat; the urgency was no longer there. START I was not ratified until three years after it was signed, in 1994; START II was never ratified at all. Real arms control, it seemed, became possible only when it was no longer necessary. But it would be wrong to argue, as some have, that these treaties were unnecessary or redundant because the Soviets would have reduced on their own, or to underestimate their importance because the Cold War had ended. The treaties provided a useful framework for the transformations taking place and an indispensable instrument for managing the end of the Cold War and the decline of Soviet power. They locked into place the reductions as well as transparency and verification mechanisms, and they remain very important. Today the Cold War is long over, but there are still thousands of strategic weapons out there. Ninety percent of them belong to the U.S. and Russia. After the languid pace of arms control during the last eight years, further reductions are now an urgent task.

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Gorbachev’s arrival on the scene changed this dynamic. It was not Ronald Reagan’s firmness, our outsized defense budgets, or the pressure of SDI that brought the Cold War to an end, but rather Gorbachev, who understood how counterproductive the Soviet military build-up of the 1970s- 80s had been—bankrupting the Russian economy, generating hostility in the outside world, and generally isolating Moscow. He now sought, in parallel with the domestic reforms known as perestroika, to give a new direction to Russia’s relations with the outside world and to reduce the weight of military expenditures on the Russian economy—among other things, through arms control agreements. In Reagan, he was surprisingly to find a supportive interlocutor. And so, for a time, we find Gorbachev throwing out arms control proposals like a sparkler, for the abolition of this, deep reductions of that, and so on. This energy resulted, among other things, in the famous Reykjavik meeting of October 1986, where agreement was reached on a breath-taking series of proposals, including the elimination of all nuclear weapons, only to have everything fall apart at the end over SDI. Many people, including our European allies, were quite relieved. In the end, only the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Agreement survived the wreckage of Reykjavik. This treaty, which was signed in December 1987, eliminated an entire class of weapons, the intermediate-range nuclear weapons—on the U.S. side, the Pershings and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) that had been so recently deployed in Europe in the face of massive political opposition, and on the Russian side, the SS 20s.

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Finally, even though Ronald Reagan had sharply attacked the SALT II agreement during his 1980 presidential election campaign and was never to ratify it, his administration observed the treaty’s limits by mutual agreement with the Soviets until 1986. And so we come to the final phase, the winding down of the Cold War, the Reagan-Bush-Gorbachev era. Even those of us who were not particular admirers of President Reagan will concede that he has emerged as a more complex figure than he seemed at the time. Among his more intriguing characteristics was his very genuine abhorrence of nuclear weapons. However, little during Reagan’s first term prefigured the nuclear abolitionist of the Reykjavik summit. To the contrary, the often bellicose rhetoric emanating from Washington, the suggestion that a nuclear war could be fought and won in Europe, the build-up of our nuclear arsenal were developments deeply unnerving to public opinion and inspired the creation of a nuclear freeze movement that brought out half a million people in Central Park in the early 1980s. There was not a single high-level meeting between the U.S. and Soviet leaders during this period. If Reagan’s insistence that arms control must produce real reductions was not unreasonable, his fantastic vision of a missile shield that would render nuclear weapons obsolete, the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), was ably manipulated by the opponents of arms control in his administration into a permanent blocking device for any arms control agreement at all.

Sid Harth

So what can we say about arms control during this period of the Cold War? Its achievements were modest; it’s easier to say what it did not achieve than what it did. It did not end or even slow the arms race, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Numbers continued to rise. Neither side gave up a single weapon system that it really wanted. It did not reduce defense spending; to the contrary, both SALT and I and SALT II were purchased at the price of a significant increase in the U.S. defense budget. It is sometimes claimed that it helped to stabilize relationships between the two superpowers, but this claim does not really withstand scrutiny. Arms control was a very fragile bloom, and it was blown off course by political winds on numerous occasions. Thus, Eisenhower’s hopes for signing the LTBT were dashed with the downing of the U2 and the cancellation of his summit with Khrushchev. LBJ had hoped to open the SALT negotiations in 1968, but the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia put an end to that. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan crushed SALT II. Moreover, the agreements themselves were often sources of bitter controversy. But if we accept that it was unrealistic to think that arms control could transcend the political hostility of the broader relationship, we can see that its modest contribution was significant in its own way. First, the very fact of the dialogue between the two nuclear-armed superpowers was reassuring to publics and perhaps in some ways to the participants themselves. It helped, however minimally, to lessen the nuclear anxiety to which I have alluded. This nuclear anxiety certainly increased during periods when there was no arms control negotiation going on. The agreements themselves provided a modicum of transparency and predictability. Moreover, a decade of arms control negotiations created a small community of experts on either side who among themselves created the building blocks—the terms, the definitions, the “counting rules”—that were to provide the foundation for the later, more lasting agreements of the Reagan-Gorbachev era.

Sid Harth

Then too, the Interim Agreement froze the numbers at higher levels for the Soviets than the U.S., a fact that was more important because of political perceptions than it was militarily. SALT I was nonetheless ratified, and new negotiations began immediately for a successor treaty. However, these were not completed until the very end of the Carter administration. SALT II was everything SALT I was not. It provided for equal levels between the two sides, heavy bombers were included, it dealt with such problems as heavy missiles and MIRVs, it was carefully and precisely drafted, a lawyer’s dream in many ways. The only problem was that it capped weapons at levels far above existing ones, so that the Soviets actually had the right to deploy an astonishing 1,200 additional weapons. SALT II was greeted by a storm of criticism which ultimately reflected less its own inadequacies than a radical change that had occurred in the political climate in the seven years it took to negotiate it. By 1979, the Kissinger-Nixon d‚tente was discredited. It was felt that the Soviets were on the march throughout the globe, while we were in retreat in Vietnam and elsewhere. People worried about Soviet strategic superiority and something called the “window of vulnerability.” The final straw was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, after which President Carter withdrew the treaty from the Senate. That was in effect the end of arms control during the Cold War proper. There was to be a long hiatus before arms control negotiations got going again in earnest, and by that time, Gorbachev’s arrival on the scene signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Sid Harth

The ABM Treaty has assumed iconic status to both its supporters and detractors as the embodiment of the strategy of mutual assured destruction (MAD), and was elevated into a cornerstone of strategic stability. It was unquestionably a major achievement, but its origins were rather more mundane than later interpretations suggest. We had an antimissile system that wouldn’t work. that was hugely expensive, and which the Senate was refusing to fund. The Soviets, who did have an ABM system, were happy to close off an expensive technological race with the U.S. that they were sure to lose. Unquestionably, mutual deterrence, and a condition of mutual vulnerability were the existential realities of the Cold War. At one level, this reality was probably accepted by both sides. In this sense, the ABM Treaty codified a fact of life rather than a choice of doctrine, particularly since the Soviets never really bought into MAD, at least in the sense it was understood by American strategists. The second agreement, the Interim Agreement, froze ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) at existing levels, limits that have been rightly characterized as “temporary, high, and incompletely agreed.” There were some serious omissions. The agreement failed to limit the growth of Soviet heavy missiles, a particular bugaboo of American strategic planners. More seriously for future stability, it did nothing to constrain the new technology of multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). This allowed a single missile to carry up to 8–10 warheads. Once MIRVs were introduced, first by us and then by the Soviets, the total numbers of weapons were to rise to really stratospheric levels. But the Interim Agreement said nothing about MIRVs.

Sid Harth

Thus, nuclear weapons came in some sense to be regarded as a stabilizing factor. We lost any interest in abolishing them or even in the pretense that this would be a good thing. But the numbers continued to grow, and by the late 1960s the Soviets had built up their arsenals of ICBMs to levels approaching ours. People worried that if we did not stop the inexorable rise of Soviet weapons, they would soon outpace us. Out of this concern were born the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), which produced two agreements, SALT I and SALT II. Limitation was the operative word, because at that time there was really no thought of trying to agree on reductions. Our goal was to slow, and ultimately halt, the pace of increase. The SALT I agreement, which was signed in 1972 during the Nixon administration, in fact included two agreements: the ABM Treaty and the “Interim Agreement.” Under the ABM Treaty, with the exception of two ABM sites allowed to each side, the U.S. and USSR renounced the idea of building nationwide defenses against nuclear attack.

Sid Harth

In many ways the 1963 LTBT set the pattern for how arms control was to proceed during the Cold War. It was an important milestone, unquestionably. It showed that we and the Soviets could find common ground on nuclear issues, despite our larger political hostility. But it did nothing to slow the rapidly increasing numbers of nuclear weapons on both sides. Still less did it do anything to slow or constrain nuclear testing. Testing simply went underground. Fifty-four percent of all U.S. tests between 1945 and 1980 took place after 1963, and today the goal of abolishing all nuclear tests remains unrealized and controversial. By then, of course, it was clear that nuclear weapons were here to stay. We came to regard them as a fearsome necessity designed to ward off not only a Soviet nuclear attack but also, more plausibly, a conventional attack by superior Warsaw Pact forces on NATO forces in Europe, to which the U.S. was committed, at a point purposely left vague, to respond with its nuclear weapons. It was our firmly held belief that nuclear weapons kept the peace by forestalling an otherwise inevitable conventional war in Europe. And indeed, if we look at the historical record of how great power rivalries have resolved themselves in the past, I’m not prepared even today to say that this was wrong.

Sid Harth

Nearly a decade passed before the next serious effort at arms control, a decade that marked the height of the Cold War with all its crises and tensions, the Korean War and the Berlin blockade. The Soviets had by then acquired their own bomb, which added to the underlying nuclear anxiety. To the extent nuclear arms control was considered at all, it took the form of empty and propagandistic schemes for abolishing the bomb in the context of complete and general disarmament. It was ironically the invention of thermonuclear weapons that provided the impulse for the first real arms control agreement, the Limited Test Ban Treaty. Public concerns about the fallout from testing, which were already acute, intensified with the spectacular tests of these vastly more destructive weapons, in particular the U.S. Bravo series. Public protests and pressures to end testing increased, but it took eight years, some very difficult negotiations, and the combined efforts of two U.S. presidents before a Soviet proposal for a standalone ban on testing, first put forward in 1955, became the landmark treaty of 1963, which banned all testing in the atmosphere, the oceans, and space. President Eisenhower said that the deepest disappointment of his presidency was his inability to conclude this treaty, and it fell to JFK to finally do so. But this did not happen until we had gone, as the phrase goes, eyeball-to-eyeball with the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It may indeed have been this sobering experience that pushed the two leaders, Kennedy and Khrushchev, to bring the negotiations to a conclusion.

Sid Harth

If the results were modest until the very end of the Cold War, they were not without significance. In a sense, the impulse to control the new and terrifyingly destructive power of nuclear weapons preceded the weapons themselves. Well before the Trinity test, some of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project fretted about their larger responsibility to humanity. Niels Bohr among others lobbied to open early discussions with the Russians in order to establish postwar international control of nuclear weapons, an idea rapidly squelched by Winston Churchill. The idea of international control resurfaced in what might be called the first nuclear arms control proposal of the Cold War, the Baruch plan, which the U.S. put forward in 1946. The Baruch plan would have created a supranational body, the Atomic Development Agency, with a global monopoly over virtually the whole field of atomic energy and the right of intrusive inspection. But the Russians were even then hard at work on their own nuclear weapon and had not the slightest interest in giving it up, so the Baruch plan went nowhere.

Sid Harth

FootNotes Arms Control in the Cold War Vol. 14 No. 7 The Hon. Avis Bohlen is former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control. This essay is based on her talk at the FPRI Wachman Center’s History Institute for Teachers on Teaching the Nuclear Age, held March 28–29, 2009. The Institute was cosponsored by the American Academy of Diplomacy and cosponsored and hosted by the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. See for videofiles, texts of lectures, and classroom lessons. The History Institute for Teachers is co-chaired by David Eisenhower and Walter A. McDougall. Core support is provided by the Annenberg Foundation and Mr. H.F. Lenfest. Avis T. Bohlen May 2009 In talking about arms control during the Cold War, I will focus on the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Control aspect of it. This is of course by no means the whole picture; it leaves out, among other things, the Nonproliferation Treaty. But the U.S.-Soviet strategic relationship was what occupied our attention most of the time. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the Cold War was really about nuclear weapons. The nuclear age and the Cold War begin at roughly the same time. Nuclear weapons defined in important respects the Cold War relationship between the two main protagonists. It was nuclear weapons that made the Cold War different from the great political rivalries of the past. The nuclear dimension was rarely if ever lost sight of by leaders, and in publics it produced a pervasive nuclear anxiety, particularly at the beginning of the Cold War. Every U.S. president since the Cold War began felt compelled to try to find in some way ways to control nuclear weapons—even though most of them were at the same time also building up our nuclear arsenal.

Sid Harth

Obama’s Nuclear Upgrade The Case for Modernizing America’s Nukes By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press July 6, 2011 To many, the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy appears to be schizophrenic. In April 2009, in Prague, President Barack Obama pledged to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security policy and to work toward global nuclear disarmament. His aspirations have been reflected in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia and in a new strategic review, ongoing this summer, that is intended to pave the way for further U.S. nuclear cuts. But even as the administration cuts the force and talks about a world free of nuclear weapons, it has proposed a major multi-year campaign to replace aging weapons and modernize the U.S. arsenal. The plan calls for a new class of nuclear submarines, new nuclear-capable bomber and fighter aircraft, and updated nuclear bombs, warheads, and missiles. The price tag for this nuclear overhaul is estimated at $185 billion over the coming decade, but the actual cost will no doubt be higher. Is there a sensible strategy behind these proposals? Does nuclear modernization contribute to deterrence, which the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review called “the fundamental role” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal? In “The Nukes We Need” (November/December 2009), we described the deterrence challenges that the United States will likely face in the coming years and the nuclear capabilities that might mitigate them. First, we argued that the United States is likely to face tougher deterrence problems in the coming years than it did during the Cold War. Specifically, as nuclear weapons proliferate, it becomes increasingly likely that the United States will find itself in conventional conflicts with nuclear-armed adversaries. Those adversaries have witnessed the catastrophic consequences of losing a war to the United States — regime change, with prison or death the frequent fate of enemy leaders. Coercive nuclear escalation is one of the only trump cards that countries fighting the United States hold, offering the prospect of a battlefield stalemate and keeping existing regimes in power. For the United States, deterring weak, desperate adversaries from using their nuclear trump card will be a major challenge — especially as these weapons spread.

Sid Harth

The Nukes We Need Preserving the American Deterrent By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press From our November/December 2009 Issue The success of nuclear deterrence may turn out to be its own undoing. Nuclear weapons helped keep the peace in Europe throughout the Cold War, preventing the bitter dispute from engulfing the continent in another catastrophic conflict. But after nearly 65 years without a major war or a nuclear attack, many prominent statesmen, scholars, and analysts have begun to take deterrence for granted. They are now calling for a major drawdown of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and a new commitment to pursue a world without these weapons. Unfortunately, deterrence in the twenty-first century may be far more difficult for the United States than it was in the past, and having the right mix of nuclear capabilities to deal with the new challenges will be crucial. The United States leads a global network of alliances, a position that commits Washington to protecting countries all over the world. Many of its potential adversaries have acquired, or appear to be seeking, nuclear weapons. Unless the world’s major disputes are resolved — for example, on the Korean Peninsula, across the Taiwan Strait, and around the Persian Gulf — or the U.S. military pulls back from these regions, the United States will sooner or later find itself embroiled in conventional wars with nuclear-armed adversaries. Preventing escalation in those circumstances will be far more difficult than peacetime deterrence during the Cold War. In a conventional war, U.S. adversaries would have powerful incentives to brandish or use nuclear weapons because their lives, their families, and the survival of their regimes would be at stake. Therefore, as the United States considers the future of its nuclear arsenal, it should judge its force not against the relatively easy mission of peacetime deterrence but against the demanding mission of deterring escalation during a conventional conflict, when U.S. enemies are fighting for their lives.

Sid Harth

The Flip Side of the Record By Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson From our March/April 2005 Issue Robert Kagan (“A Matter of Record,” January/February 2005) accuses us of contradicting our own previous writings in our essay “The Sources of American Legitimacy” (November/December 2004). Kagan claims that we intentionally distorted the historical record by asserting, among other things, that the United States pledged itself to international law in the aftermath of World War II. We reject these charges. BONES TO PICK There appear to be three main issues in the dispute: first, how to construe a U.S. diplomatic record in which a commitment to consensual decision-making existed alongside a proclivity for unilateralism; second, how to characterize a Cold War stance in which the United States accorded the UN Security Council a marginal role while claiming fidelity to “the principles of the UN Charter”; and third, how to reconcile the United States’ professed commitment to the rule of law with its occasional departures from legal principles. In “The Sources of American Legitimacy,” we wrote that a pillar of U.S. legitimacy was Washington’s commitment to consensual decision-making, especially within the Western alliance. Kagan insists that we emphasized unilateralism previously and were right the first time. But Kagan himself has argued in these pages (“America’s Crisis of Legitimacy,” March/April 2004) that “during the Cold War, even a dominant United States was compelled to listen to Europe, if only because U.S. policy at the time sought above all else to protect and strengthen Europe. Today, Europe has lost much of that influence.” Apparently, then, we are in good company in finding a difference between the Washington that once listened to allies and the one that listens no longer. We appear also to be in good company in holding that U.S. legitimacy does have something to do with the principle of consensual decision-making, for Kagan himself advises that a greater sensitivity to allied concerns could help renew legitimacy.

Sid Harth

Nuclear Exchange: Does Washington Really Have (or Want) Nuclear Primacy? By Peter C. W. Flory, Keith Payne, Pavel Podvig, Alexei Arbatov, Keir A. Lieber, and Daryl G. Press From our September/October 2006 Issue Just the Facts Peter C. W. Flory The essay by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press (“The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy, “March/April 2006) contains so many errors, on a topic of such gravity, that a Department of Defense response is required to correct the record. Lieber and Press assert that current U.S. nuclear policy looks “like a coordinated set of programs to enhance the United States’ nuclear first-strike capabilities,” an erroneous inference that has already prompted harsh reactions in Russia and other countries. Lieber and Press allege that the U.S. Air Force is “significantly improving its remaining ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] by installing the MX’s high-yield warheads and advanced reentry vehicles on Minuteman ICBMs, and it has upgraded the Minuteman’s guidance systems to match the MX’s accuracy.” In fact, the MK-21 reentry vehicles and warheads from retired Peacekeeper missiles (formerly known as “MX”) are being installed on Minuteman III missiles to take advantage of the MK-21’s improved safety characteristics. There is no increase in yield, and the MK-21 reentry vehicles do not increase the accuracy of Minuteman III missiles. Nor will the guidance replacement program under way for Minuteman III missiles — which involves upgrading guidance components to extend the missiles’ lives — result in those ICBMs’ reaching a level of accuracy equal to that of the Peacekeeper. The authors go on to question why crews of the B-2 stealth bomber train in low-altitude flight unless their “mission is to penetrate a highly sophisticated air defense network such as Russia’s or, perhaps in the future, China’s.” It is no secret that the combination of stealth technology and low-altitude flight increases the survivability of an aircraft in a hostile environment. But these attributes are valuable across the full spectrum of warfare (B-2s have been employed in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq). Publicly available facts contradict Lieber and Press’ thesis that the United States is pursuing a first-strike strategy. President George W. Bush set the nation on a path to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons in a May 2001 speech at the National Defense University, stating, “I am committed to achieving a credible deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs, including our obligations to our allies. My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces.”

Sid Harth

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press From our March/April 2006 Issue PRESENT AT THE DESTRUCTION For almost half a century, the world’s most powerful nuclear states have been locked in a military stalemate known as mutual assured destruction (MAD). By the early 1960s, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union had grown so large and sophisticated that neither country could entirely destroy the other’s retaliatory force by launching first, even with a surprise attack. Starting a nuclear war was therefore tantamount to committing suicide. During the Cold War, many scholars and policy analysts believed that MAD made the world relatively stable and peaceful because it induced great caution in international politics, discouraged the use of nuclear threats to resolve disputes, and generally restrained the superpowers’ behavior. (Revealingly, the last intense nuclear standoff, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, occurred at the dawn of the era of MAD.) Because of the nuclear stalemate, the optimists argued, the era of intentional great-power wars had ended. Critics of MAD, however, argued that it prevented not great-power war but the rolling back of the power and influence of a dangerously expansionist and totalitarian Soviet Union. From that perspective, MAD prolonged the life of an evil empire. This debate may now seem like ancient history, but it is actually more relevant than ever — because the age of MAD is nearing an end. Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the United States’ nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia’s arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China’s nuclear forces. Unless Washington’s policies change or Moscow and Beijing take steps to increase the size and readiness of their forces, Russia and China — and the rest of the world — will live in the shadow of U.S. nuclear primacy for many years to come. Register for free to continue

Source: TOI

…and I am Sid Harth