India is observing the 46th anniversary of its first nuclear test in Rajasthan’s Pokhran today. The peaceful test — codenamed ‘Smiling Buddha’ — conducted in 1974 helped India become the sixth country in the world to conduct a nuclear test.
The test was conducted on May 18, 1974 under the supervision of Raja Ramanna, who was then the director of India’s premier nuclear research institute Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
The test was named ‘Smiling Buddha’ because it was conducted on Budda Purnima that year. “The Buddha has smiled,” Dr Ramanna is learnt to have told then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after the test.
With this feat, India became the first country outside the five permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members to conduct the test.
In his tribute on twitter, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that the test wrote a new chapter in India’s nuclear energy.
On this day in 1974 India conducted its first nuclear test,#SmilingBuddha under the leadership of then PM Smt #IndiraGandhi ji & with the untiring efforts & contribution of our scientists & military officers. My tributes to them,who wrote a new chapter in India’s nuclear journey. pic.twitter.com/LZ677BeLGm
– Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) May 18, 2020
Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted:
Exactly 46 years ago, a new chapter began in India’s nuclear journey – Smiling Buddha
India became the first country,outside the 5 permanent UNSC members, to conduct a nuclear test
Our tributes to the leadership of our scientists,military officers and Indiraji for this feat pic.twitter.com/lXog0mx6yz
– Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) May 18, 2020
Though the BARC never said anything about the yield of the device detonated at Pokhran, experts maintained that the actual yield was around 8-12 Kilotons of TNT. The key highlight of the test was that India managed to avoid detection by the United States and other intelligence agencies.
The US and other industialised nations, however, imposed certain tough sanctions on India after the tests claiming that these tests can lead to nuclear proliferation.
The plan was ‘Smiling Buddha’ was initialised on September 7, 1972 when then Indira Gandhi authorised the BARC scientists to detonate an indigenously designed nuclear device.
After the 1974 tests, India conducted five tests – three on May 11 and two on May 13, 1998. The tests codenamed ‘Operation Shakti’ were carried out again at the Pokhran test range when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.