In 1974 India exploded an atomic device. In May 1998 the new right-wing BJP Government set off several more, encountering in the process domestic plaudits, but also international condemnation and possibly sparking a new nuclear arms race in South Asia. What explains the enthusiasm of the Indian public for nuclear power? This book is the first serious historical account of the development of India's nuclear programme and of how the bomb came to be made. The author questions orthodox interpretations implying that it was a product of international conflict. Instead, he argues that the explosions had nothing to do with national security as conventionally understood and everything to do with establishing the legitimacy of the independent nation-state. He demonstrates the linkages that exist between the two apparently separate discourses of national security and national development.
The result is a remarkable book that breaks new ground in integrating comparative politics, international relations and cultural studies. It is also a pioneering exploration of the sociology of science in a Third World context and offers a radically new argument about the Indian state and its post-colonial crisis of legitimacy.