India had carried out five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran in the Thar desert in Rajasthan on May 11 and 13, 1998.
President Kovind said the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests demonstrated the country's scientific capacity and political will and had a far-reaching impact on how the world saw India.
He recalled the contribution of his predecessor APJ Abdul Kalam, who had led the scientific team that made preparations for the tests. President Kovind also applauded Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the prime minister at that time, for his "courage" to go ahead with the tests.
"In 1998, the government of the day took the bold decision to go ahead with the tests and re-positioned India on the global stage. The Pokhran tests of May 1998 were a demonstration of both scientific capacity and political will," the President said.
The nuclear programme of the country was "built brick by brick" in a period of technology denial, President Kovind said in his address after presenting awards to innovators on the occasion of 20th National Technology Day, marking the anniversary of the 1998 tests.
He was referring to the sanctions imposed against India after the 1974 nuclear test that was conducted when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister. The sanctions, led by the US, had deprived India of critical nuclear and space technology.
"Those tests had a far-reaching impact on how the world came to see India and on our foreign policy, our strategic relations and eventually our international technological collaborations," he said.
"We also remember with great pride, the skills of our scientists as well as the courage of our political leadership for the historic tests in May 1998," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) tweeted the prime minister as saying.
In the era of technology and innovation, the youth should get acquainted with more aspects of technology, the prime minister was quoted as saying in another tweet.
"Our Government is taking numerous steps to create an ecosystem that furthers outstanding research, innovation and strides in technology ... on National Technology Day, we salute our stupendous scientists and technology enthusiasts," he said.
After the 1998 tests, the US and its allies had again imposed sanctions against India but a decade later, the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation deal was signed. India conducted its first nuclear test in Pokhran on May 18, 1974 after which the US and several countries imposed sanctions on the country.
Post Independence, President Kovind said India began to climb the value chain in technology production in the areas of space and atomic energy and today, it has expanded to best-in-class capacities in communication technology, IT, pharmaceutical and biotechnology.
Noting that India was making preparations for the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon, and several other launches by ISRO, President Kovind said, "These have changed perceptions about our country and helped both our people and our economy. In the past year itself, we have had stand-out achievements such as the launch of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System - 1L," he said.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.