New Delhi: Twenty one summers ago, when the nation was battling heat, another battle was unfolding in the desert of Rajasthan. More than 100 scientists, engineers and defense personnel were endeavouring to make India a nuclear state.
Their efforts materialised and India successfully conducted five nuclear explosions, three on May 11 and two on May 13 in 1998, at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan.
These tests are also known as Pokhran – II tests.
Pokhran – I test was under Operation Smiling Buddha in which one nuclear bomb was tested on May 18, 1974 at the same location.
Post the tests in 1998, India was declared a full-fledged nuclear state.
President Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter to convey his wishes to the scientific community as the day is also celebrated as ‘National Technology Day’.
Greetings to our scientific community on National Technology Day, marking the anniversary of the Pokhran Tests of 1998. India is committed to using technology to accelerate the developmental process, and ensure a dignified existence for every citizen #PresidentKovind— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) May 11, 2019
PM Narendra Modi also hailed the then government headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the courage shown to undertake these tests. He also congratulated the scientists for their efforts.
The patriotism and farsightedness of Atal Ji and his team have a major role to play in the success of tests of 1998. Atal Ji’s unwavering faith in our scientists proved valuable during that crucial time. It also demonstrated the difference a strong political leadership makes.— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 11, 2019
Operation Shakti, as it was codenamed, was India’s secret mission to conduct nuclear tests near the dessert town of Pokhran in Rajasthan.
The mission was headed by Late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam who was in Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The team comprised Dr Anil Kakodkar, the then chief of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Dr R Chidambaram who headed the team from Department of Atomic Energy.
The preparations for the tests were done maintaining utmost secrecy as the government feared the intervention of the United States (US) and others affecting the work as happened in the past.
Post the success of these tests, the US admitted to have faulted in not anticipating them and called it its intelligence failure.
The reason India did not declare itself a nuclear state post the 1974 test was its apprehension to face sanctions which it did face after the 1998 tests but India braved its way to declare itself a nuclear state....