See | 50 years ago, India conducted its first ever nuclear test

See | 50 years ago, India conducted its first ever nuclear test

Fifty years ago, India conducted its first nuclear test in Pokhran, codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha. With this, India had entered the league of nations with nuclear capabilities.

An article dated May 19, 1974 states that India successfully conducted an underground test of a plutonium device in the 10-15 kiloton range. It also adds that the then chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Dr. HN Sethna and director of Bhabha Atomic Research Center DR R Ramanna, who supervised the test, flew to Delhi themselves without washing or alteration to give a full account to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

India said it undertook this program to develop its own technology for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and it had no intention of advocating nuclear weapons. The groundwork for testing nuclear energy was laid even earlier by noted Indian scientists Homi J Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. In 1954, the Department of Atomic Energy was founded with Bhabha as its director.

With Smiling Buddha, India became the first nation to conduct a nuclear test, apart from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. After the nuclear test, there was criticism that it was an attempt to divert people’s attention from the economic crisis the country faced in the 1970s.

However, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission said that it was his decision and that there was no political motive, even an article in the New York Times said that “such great talent of resources has been wasted on the vanity of power, while 600 million Indians slide deeper. into poverty”.

India also faced significant criticism from many countries, including Pakistan, the United States and Canada. Pakistan said it would never succumb to “nuclear blackmail” or accept “Indian hegemony or dominance over the subcontinent”.

India did not conduct further nuclear tests until 1998. In 1998, under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India conducted a series of nuclear tests in Pokhran again, codenamed Operation Shakti.

With this, India declared itself a full-fledged nuclear state.

Screenplay and Production: Gayatri Menon

Research: Gayatri Menon and Murali Krishnaswamy

File photo courtesy: M. Srinath

Voiceover: Jude Francis Weston

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