Twentyone years ago, when the nation was battling May heat, another battle was unfolding in the desert of Rajasthan. More than 100 scientists, engineers, and defense personnel were endeavoring to make India a nuclear state.
Their efforts materialized 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.
Operation Shakti, as it was codenamed, was India’s secret mission to conduct nuclear tests near the desert town of Pokhran in Rajasthan. The nation is observing the 21st anniversary of Pokhran nuclear tests.
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’.
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.
Former CM of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje greeted the country with this tweet-
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 D R Chidambaram who headed the team from Department of Atomic Energy.
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.
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 has happened in the past.
Post the success of these tests, the US admitted to having faulted in not anticipating them and called it its intelligence failure.