On July 20, 2023, Red Lantern Analytica organised a webinar on ‘India’s Nuclear Policy’ and a book discussion on ‘India’s Nuclear Titans: Biographical Tales’. The Speakers for the session were Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from Odisha, Dr. Amar Patnaik; Dr. J Jeganaathan, Associate Professor at Centre for European Studies at SIS-JNU,; Editor & Co-Editor of the book titled ‘India’s Nuclear Titans: Biographical Tales’, Dr. Soumya Awasthi & Dr. Shrabana Barua, respectively.
Dr. J Jeganaathan commenced the session by elaborating on the topic of the webinar and journey of India’s nuclear policy & how it has evolved over the year. He said, “Our nuclear policy has been quite open, clean and transparent; everyone has contributed in it from Mrs. Indira Gandhi to Homi Jehangir Bhabha.” Dr. J Jeganaathan also made his observations about the book and termed it a very important book for the students of International Relations and all those working in the field of India’s Nuclear policy.
Dr. Amar Patnaik, in his keynote address said, “Our nuclear policy has been in tandem with our space policy and that has served us well.” He said that the coverage on India’s nuclear policy has been very well captured in the book. “India has put the right amount of deterrence with its nuclear policy and has made the world to respect us with the right use of the nuclear power,” he said. Dr Amar Patnaik stated, “Nuclear energy has an important role to play in energy transition.” He also said that the Government must from time to time refute apprehensions regarding the security in case of any nuclear disaster. He also added that going forward, a shift in nuclear energy’s favour will happen in India’s energy basket. He concluded his keynote address by congratulating the authors of the book and discussed many details related to India’s nuclear policy and the nation’s success story as a nuclear power.
Dr. Soumya Awasthi, the editor of the book shared about how she and Dr. Shrabana Barua came up with the idea of writing the book on the subject and what all it took for the project to become the reality. They started with an aim to let the people know how India is a responsible nuclear power & how the nation’s nuclear policy evolved over the years. “The book is a journey from Operation Shakti to Operation Smiling Buddha and what happened after that. It has inspiring journeys of individuals helping India crossing the river from being idealist to realist,” she stated. While answering to a question of the role of various diplomats in the India’s Nuclear weapons development; she also said that she will be coming up with the second volume of the book with special focus on women and other noteworthy people (who didn’t feature in the current book since only a limited number of people can be discussed in an edition) who shaped the nation’s nuclear policy.
Dr. Shrabana Barua, the co-editor of the book said that the book is overall about India’s nuclear story. She gave details about Dr. Raja Ramanna and his contributions in making India Aatmanirbhar in the field of nuclear power. “It is not important for everyone to know nuclear science, physics to contribute to the nuclear story of India,” she said. She further added that as a diplomat your skills to negotiate will be of more use than the knowledge of nuclear science. “Everyone irrespective of their background can contribute to our nuclear story,” she mentioned. Dr. Shrabana Barua also shared insights about Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha and how passionate he was in making the nuclear bomb. Dr. Bhabha was supported by supported by the Indian administration whole-heartedly in his endeavours. She also talked about Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s contribution in India’s nuclear journey & helping the nation in establishing credible deterrence and what a great institution builder he was. He carried on the dream of Dr. Bhabha in mission mode.
Following the address of keynote and guest speakers, there was an in-depth Q&A session. Mr. Sidharth Gosh, Senior Member of the Red Lantern Analytica, moderated the session. The session was brought to a close after Ms. Shalini Arya, Research Associate at Red Lantern Analytica delivered the vote of thanks.