A few days after the Chinese nuclear test of 16 October, 1964, as a deputy secretary in the Ministry of Defence, I wrote a note on the implications of the test for India and urged that India should initiate action to counter the Chinese nuclear capability.
I suggested immediate formation of a committee under Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha to consider steps to be taken by India. Totally independent of my move, K.R. Narayanan, then director, China, in the Ministry of External Affairs, had forwarded a similar note to the foreign secretary. Though the committee under Dr Bhabha was constituted, both of us were not in the loop as we were too junior in the official hierarchy.
From what Dr Raja Ramanna told me, I gathered that the Department of Atomic Energy got the go-ahead for an underground nuclear test from Indira Gandhi only in October 1972. At that time the government of India was not aware of the decision already taken by Z.A. Bhutto in January 1972 to develop the Pakistani nuclear weapon and the ongoing negotiations between Beijing and Islamabad on the former proliferating to the latter. At that stage China was peddling the Maoist line that all peace-loving countries had a right to have nuclear weapons.
Curtisy :K. Subrahmanyam