India V/S The World; Reopening The Pokhran Files To Remember India’s Superpower Moment On This Independence Day

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August 9th, 2018 / 11:00 AM


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On that historic day in May 1998, Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed the nation, “Today, at 1545 hours, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range. These were contained explosions like in the experiment conducted in May 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out the successful tests. Thank you very much indeed.”

This show of strength against all odds was carried on the front page by all the Indian as well as international media houses. 

It was a historic day and a historic event | Source: Daily Herald

The World’s Reaction To India’s Success

The whole world stood in awe, and the reaction of other countries was of fear and threats, however, they were marked with the distinct undertone that now India has joined the big league. 

Coverage by The New York Times on May 12, 1998

India’s response to CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) which prohibits all nuclear tests, was seen as a defiance of the status quo. Kofi Annan, the then UN Secretary-General said this was a “deep regret.” India had refused to be a part of CTBT and decided to march to the tune of its own drummer.

The Clinton Administration was ”deeply disappointed” and talked about placing sanctions on us. Britain voiced its ”dismay” while Germany called it ”a slap in the face.” Even the Russians voiced their displeasure.

Coverage by The Washington Post on May 13,1998

Pakistan, who had tried hard and long to restrict India’s success was apoplectic with rage and regret. This became clear when the then Pakistan Foreign Minister said to BBC (as reported by NY Times), “We are surprised at the naivete of the Western world, and also of the United States, that they did not take the cautionary signals that we were flashing to them. I think they could have restrained India. Now India has thumbed its nose to the Western world and the entire international community.”

Reportedly, Pakistan is still sending spies to Pokhran to collect sand from the Test Site.

India Became A Superpower With A Bang

On May 11, 2015, Former President and the brain behind the Pokhran success, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam tweeted, “Today, I remember the hot day of 1998 at Pokhran: 53C. When most of the world was sleeping; India’s nuclear era emerged.”

The people behind the success of Pokhran | Source:

Not just the hot weather, the Thar landscape was challenging in many ways. It abounded with scorpions and camel carts had to be used to transport weapon parts. Moreover, it provided little natural cover from the enemy spy satellites which tried their best to hinder our plans.  

But we stood our ground and used ingenuity beyond measure, including camouflaging our scientists as army men so that the enemy does not suspect anything is out of the ordinary.

Dr Kalam and other scientists in army fatigues | Photo: India Today

Dr Kalam, R Chidambaram, the then chairman of Atomic Energy and nuclear scientist Dr Anil Kaodkar stayed in Pokhran disguised as army captains and majors.

The result is there for all to see. As our enemies watched with fear and suspicion, India took a historic step towards becoming a superpower on the auspicious day of “Buddha Purnima” in May 1998.

Test site in Pokhran with the proud Indian Flag flying high | Source: Times Of India

To celebrate India’s Superpower Moment, recently a movie was made called PARMANU – THE STORY OF POKHRAN. The movie chronicles the struggle of the people involved in this covert mission and their inspiring story behind the Pokhran-II nuclear tests.

You can watch the World TV Premiere of Parmanu – The Story of Pokhran this Independence Day at 12 noon only on Zee Cinema.

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