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Nuclear Science, Sovereignty and Strategic Policy in India, 1947-2007

Jayita Sarkar

This doctoral research concerns the role of nuclear science in the definition of national sovereignty for India over a period of six decades, since its Independence in 1947. It traces the gradual transition of the trajectory of India’s atomic energy programme, from a ‘nuclear science/national development’ dyad to a ‘nuclear science/strategic policy’ dyad, underlining the evolution of India’s narrative of sovereignty over time. While India considered its quest for nuclear technology and knowhow fundamental to its plan for national development, it faced obstruction from both rival blocs during the Cold War. On one hand, was the postwar Anglo-American information censorship while on the other was the Soviet Union’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, leading Moscow to maintain distance from India’s nuclear programme. A newly-independent non-aligned country’s anxieties of losing its foreign policy agency amidst superpower politics, coupled with its prioritization of atomic energy in its programme for ‘catching up’, makes nuclear technopolitics during the Cold War a significant dimension of this research.

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