Books : Nuclear Power in India

Mathai Manu, Nuclear Power, Economic Development Discourse and the Environment. The Case of India, London ; New York : Routledge, 2013

« Nuclear power is often characterized as a « green technology. » Technologies are rarely, if ever, socially isolated artefacts. Instead, they materially represent an embodiment of values and priorities. Nuclear power is no different. It is a product of a particular political economy and the question is whether that political economy can helpfully engage with the challenge of addressing the environmental crisis on a finite, inequitable and shared planet. For developing countries like India, who are presently making infrastructure investments which will have long legacies, it is imperative that these investments wrestle with such questions and prove themselves capable of sufficiency, greater equality and inclusiveness. This book offers a critique of civilian nuclear power as a green energy strategy for India and develops and proposes an alternative « synergy for sustainability. » It situates nuclear power as a socio-technical infrastructure embodying a particular development discourse and practice of energy and economic development. The book reveals the political economy of this arrangement and examines the latter’s ability to respond to the environmental crisis. Manu V. Mathai argues that the existing overwhelmingly growth-focused, highly technology-centric approach for organizing economic activity is unsustainable and needs to be reformed. Within this imperative for change, nuclear power in India is found to be and is characterized as an « authoritarian technology. » Based on this political economy critique the book proposes an alternative, a synergy of ideas from the fields of development economics, energy planning and science, technology and society studies. »


Ramana M.V., The Power of Promise. Examinig Nuclear Energy in India, New Delhi: Penguin India, 2013

« Nuclear power has been held out as possibly the most important source of energy for India. And the dream of a nuclear powered India has been supported by huge financial budgets and high level political commitment for over six decades. Nuclear power has also been held out as safe, environmentally benign and cheap. Physicist and writer, M.V. Ramana shows that nuclear power has been more expensive than conventional forms of electricity generation, that the ever-present risk of catastrophic accidents is heightened by observed organizational inadequacies at nuclear facilities, and that existing nuclear fuel cycle facilities have been correlated with impacts on public health and the environment. He offers detailed information and analysis. »


Anderson Robert S., Nucleus and Nation. Scientists, International Network and Power in India, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2010

« In 1974 India joined the elite roster of nuclear world powers when it exploded its first nuclear bomb. But the technological progress that facilitated that feat was set in motion many decades before, as India sought both independence from the British and respect from the larger world. Over the course of the twentieth century, India metamorphosed from a marginal place to a serious hub of technological and scientific innovation. It is this tale of transformation that Robert S. Anderson recounts in Nucleus and Nation. Tracing the long institutional and individual preparations for India’s first nuclear test and its consequences, Anderson begins with the careers of India’s renowned scientists—Meghnad Saha, Shanti Bhatnagar, Homi Bhabha, and their patron Jawaharlal Nehru—in the first half of the twentieth century before focusing on the evolution of the large and complex scientific community—especially Vikram Sarabhi—in the later part of the era. By contextualizing Indian debates over nuclear power within the larger conversation about modernization and industrialization, Anderson hones in on the thorny issue of the integration of science into the framework and self-reliant ideals of Indian nationalism. In this way, Nucleus and Nation is more than a history of nuclear science and engineering and the Indian Atomic Energy Commission; it is a unique perspective on the history of Indian nationhood and the politics of its scientific community. »


See Also :

Singh Swaran, « India’s Nuclear Problem », The Hindu, 09 April 2013. Available online.

Singh Swaran, « India’s Nuclear Policy : Emerging New Trends », Debats Asie, CAPE Paris, 28 March 2011. Available online.

Sovacool Benjamin,  Valentine Scott Victor, The national Politics of  Nuclear Power. Economics, Security and Governance. London ; New York : Routledge, 2012

Books: Homi J. Bhabha

Indira Chowdhury, Ananya Dasgupta, A Masterful Spirit: Homi J. Bhabha, New Delhi, Penguin Books India, 2010

« Scientist, citizen, artist—the Renaissance man of India Homi Jehangir Bhabha, one of India’s outstanding scientists, shouldered the beginnings of India’s nuclear programme. He was the first chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, and the builder of two of India’s most significant scientific institutions—the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Atomic Energy Establishment, renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1966. A Masterful Spirit presents the life and achievements of the man through previously unpublished letters, and photographs and paintings, and the recollections of his family, friends, colleagues and students. Designed to convey the flavour of Bhabha’s life and times, this book tells the inspiring story of a man whom Sir C.V. Raman described as ‘the modern equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci’. It acquaints us with the many facets of Bhabha’s personality: physicist, institution-builder, concerned citizen, artist, connoisseur of the arts, designer of gardens and, above all, a charismatic and compassionate human being. »

Book Review:

Atri Mukhopadhyay, « A Masterful Spirit: Homi J. Bhabha », Science and Culture, July-August 2011. Available here.


R.K. Shyamasundar, M.A.Pai, Homi Bhabha and the Computer Revolution, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2011

« In February 1960, India’s first full-scale digital computer—the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator (TIFRAC)—was launched largely due to the efforts of Homi Jehangir Bhabha (1909–1966). Paying tribute to the remarkable vision of Bhabha, this book looks at India’s past, present, and future in global IT and telecommunications. Tracing the country’s growth trajectory from Bhabha’s time, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Sam Pitroda, F.C. Kohli, and M.G.K. Menon among several leading scientists, policymakers, and industry leaders address indigenous efforts in telecom revolution and how computer and IT can bring about positive changes in our lives. From computerization of services and e-governance to the computer’s impact on biotechnology, IT for power infrastructure, and transport—the essays address wide-ranging issues of tremendous topical relevance. Setting the tone of the volume, the Introduction looks at the contribution of Bhabha and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to the computer revolution in its nascent stages, and later, when India gained prominence as a global player. With a Foreword by Ratan N. Tata highlighting the country’s journey towards self-reliance in IT and telecom, this volume will appeal to students and teachers of computer science and telecommunications, IT and telecom industry professionals, policymakers, and anybody interested to know more about the India story. »


See Also: 

Itty Abraham, The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb. Science, Secrecy and the Postcolonial State, London & New York, Zed Books, 1998

Richa Malhotra, B.V. Sreekantan, « Homi Jehangir Bhabha: A Visionary », Resonance, May 2010. Available here.

G. Venkataraman, Bhabha and his magnificient obsessions (Vignettes in Physics), New Delhi, Sangam Books, 1994