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Smiling Buddha – Pokhran 1

India’s PNE at Pokhran 1974
A number of you would have seen the recent film ‘Paramanu’ and have assumed that the tests of 1998 was the seminal event signaling India’s nuclear journey, but many of you would not have heard of Smiling Buddha, a PNE (peaceful nuclear explosion) which was conducted some 24 years before the 1998 Pokhran II tests. I am not surprised because so little is written about that first test and if you did want to try and unearth that story, you would have to scour all around to find a rare copy of Raj Chengappa’s magnum opus “Weapons of peace’. I do not promise to provide you much more, but I can give a decent overview for those interested in perusing the matter further. Those aware will know the reason for the difficulties, a decision was taken early by the team, to commit nothing to paper in the interest of national security, and so you will discover no paper trail.But naturally, memories of those involved did conflict here and there, so their own accounts differ …

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