Jayita SarkarJan 12, 2023
Ploughshares and Swords
India's Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War
Cornell University Press 2022
In 1974, India surprised the world with “Smiling Buddha”: a secret underground nuclear test at Pokhran, Rajasthan. India called it a “peaceful nuclear explosion”—but few outside of India saw it that way.
The 1974 nuclear tests became a symbol of India’s ability to help itself, especially given how the country was left out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an agreement the country argued was colonial. But, as Jayita Sarkar’s Ploughshares and Swords: India’s Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2022) points out, India’s nuclear program was in fact the product of Cold War tensions and international networks–including some foreign sources of nuclear knowledge and material. (An open-access version of Jay’s book can be found here)
Jayita Sarkar is Senior Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow and the Founding Director of the Global Decolonization Initiative. She can be followed on Twitter at @DrJSarkar, and her Linktree can be found here.
In this interview, Jay and I talk about India’s nuclear program, from its very beginnings through to when India was brought back into the world’s—or, at least, the U.S.’s–nuclear good graces in 2008.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon.