President Ram Nath Kovind today tweeted to thank the country's scientific community on the 21st anniversary of the Pokhran-II nuclear bomb tests, which were conducted at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer district in May 1998.
A series of five nuclear explosions were conducted between May 11 and May 13, 1998, at the end of which the government led by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state.
"Greetings to our scientific community on National Technology Day, marking the anniversary of the Pokhran Tests of 1998. India is committed to using technology to accelerate the developmental process, and ensure a dignified existence for every citizen," President Kovind tweeted this morning.
Greetings to our scientific community on National Technology Day, marking the anniversary of the Pokhran Tests of 1998. India is committed to using technology to accelerate the developmental process, and ensure a dignified existence for every citizen #PresidentKovind- President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) May 11, 2019
May 11, the day of first of the five explosions during the Pokhran-II nuclear weapons testing, was officially declared as the National Technology Day.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi credited the "patriotism and farsightedness of Atal Ji" for the success in the nuclear tests. "The patriotism and farsightedness of Atal Ji and his team have a major role to play in the success of tests of 1998. Atal Ji's unwavering faith in our scientists proved valuable during that crucial time. It also demonstrated the difference a strong political leadership makes," PM Modi said.
He also tweeted a separate message on National Technology Day.
Greetings on National Technology Day! We remember with immense pride the accomplishment of our scientists on this day in 1998.- Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 11, 2019
The hard work of our scientists has always ensured a stronger and safer India. May we continue leveraging the power of technology for national progress.
For Pokran-II, a team of more than 100 scientists, technicians and soldiers under the leadership of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, then the chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO, and Dr R Chidambaram, then the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, conducted five underground nuclear tests.
The Pokhran-II nuclear weapons tests, code-named Operation Shakti, are considered different from the 1974 Pokhran-I exercise, code-named Smiling Buddha, because back then India conducted one detonation that it designated a "peaceful nuclear explosion".
Many experts believe that designating the exercise as a nuclear weapons test in 1974 would subject India to the kind of sanctions and embargoes it experienced after 1998 - thus crippling its nuclear programme. This is why India did not declare itself a nuclear-weapons enabled country in 1974.