A Bullock Cart on Nuclear-Powered Wheels: Nuclear Science, Indigeneity and the National Development Narrative in India

  • Jayita SarkarEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


The Indian atomic energy program has been historically represented by its elites as a significant step towards a science-led national development project that would emancipate the country from its backwardness. While no national nuclear program is indigenous, the discourse of indigeneity runs deep in India. On one hand, the task of national development in the resource-scarce country necessitated scientific projects that made an immediate contribution to the socio-economic upliftment of the lives of its citizens. On the other hand, the discourse of indigeneity, by underlining the need to establish an indigenous scientific knowledgebase, justified curiosity-driven research or ‘science for science’s sake.’ The trajectory of the Indian atomic energy program manifests a curiosity-indigeneity paradox, which permits the justification of expensive scientific and technological projects without any tangible impact upon national development. This paper analyzes this paradox with respect to (a) the 1951 Franco-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement, and (b) India’s thorium research and development enterprise.


India France Beryllium Thorium R&D Indigeneity Curiosity science Blackett 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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