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National Technology Day: 11 May

The day is a significant milestone in the history of India’s technological innovations as India successfully tested nuclear bombs in Pokhran on May 11, 1998.

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The National Technology Day was named by the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee on May 11 as a reminder of India’s technological achievements.

On May 11, 1998, India successfully test-fired its Shakti-1 nuclear missile in an operation called Pokhran-II, also codenamed as Operation Shakti. The nuclear missile was tested at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. This was the second test which was conducted after Pokhran 1 codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha, in May 1974.

The National Technology Day celebrates major achievements which were considered a groundbreaking and important contribution of scientists and engineers in the field of science and technology.

The underground tests marked the country’s arrival on the world’s nuclear stage and set the scene for some impressive developments in its strategic programme.

The first three detonations took place simultaneously at 3.45pm on May 11. These included a 45 kT thermonuclear device, a 15kt fission device and a 0.2 kt sub-kiloton (which is less than a kiloton) device. The two nuclear devices detonated simultaneously on May 13 were also in the sub-kiloton range, 0.5 kT and 0.3 kT.

What is focus of National Technological Day this year 2020?

A high-level digital conference, on Rebooting the Economy through Science, Technology and Research Translations titled RESTART will be organised by Technology Development Board (TDB) a statutory body of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on May 11, 2020, to celebrate the National Technology Day.

Background

Pokhran-II Nuclear test (Operation Shakti)

On 11th May 1998 India conducted a series of nuclear bomb test explosion at Pokhran, Rajasthan which was popularly known as Pokhran II.

  • Pokhran-II was India’s second nuclear test popularly known as Operation Shakti. ( Watch upcoming John’s Movie – PARMANU)
  • Pokhran-II consisted of five detonations, of which the first was a fusion bomb and the remaining four were fission bombs.
  • The first’s nuclear test named Smiling Buddha was conducted in May 1974.
  • 11th May is officially recognized as National Technology Day in India to commemorate the first of the five nuclear tests carried out on 11 May 1998.

Details of tests and bombs

11 May • Shakti I – A thermonuclear device yielding 45 kt

• Shakti II – A plutonium fission device yielding 15 kt and intended as a warhead that could be delivered by a missile.

• Shakti III – An experimental linear implosion design that used “non-weapon grade” plutonium yielding 0.3 kt. 13 May

• Shakti IV- A 0.5 kt experimental device.

• Shakti V – A 0.2 kt experimental device. Announcement to the world by PM Vajpayee on 11 May ,1998

Pokhran is called the land of 5 mirages by the local inhabitants. It got this name from the five salt ranges surrounding the city. Pokhran is actually an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s a place where endless sand dunes are observed.

What was the International reaction after test?

International reaction:

  • The United States imposed sanctions on India, cutting off all aid except humanitarian assistance.
  • The then President Bill Clinton signed official papers imposing the measures on India for carrying out nuclear tests. The two new nuclear explosions drew further world condemnation.
  • Pakistan had bitterly condemned the latest Indian tests. Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan had said the Indian leadership seemed to have gone berserk and was acting in a totally unrestrained way.
  • Strong criticism was drawn from Canada on India’s actions. However, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia refrained from condemning India.

What was Pokhran I ( Operation ‘Smiling Buddha’)?

The day was May 18 in the year 1974. On this day, the Indian government conducted its first nuclear test in the deserts of Pokhran, Rajasthan making it a peaceful nuclear explosion.

‘Smiling Buddha’ (MEA designation: Pokhran-I) was the assigned code name of India’s first successful nuclear bomb test.

With the Smiling Buddha, India became the world’s sixth nuclear power after the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China to successfully test out a nuclear bomb.

The scientists involved

• Homi Sethna

• Raja Ramanna

• Basanti Nagchaudhuri

PM Indira Gandhi and the government declared that India did not intend to manufacture nuclear weapons – although it had the means to do so – but rather make the nation self reliant in nuclear technology and harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

What was the International reaction after test 1?

• Formation of NSG

• Criticism by most western nations

• NPT jeopardised

• Ban on nuclear technology and fuel sale to India by Canada and many other nations

Conclusion:

 India’s doctrine of maintaining a no-first-use status.

India has always regarded nuclear weapons as deterrent, particularly against China and Pakistan.

It has never thought of using the bomb as an offensive weapon and only reserved the right to strike back with massive force if another nation launches a nuclear strike against it.

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