NO matter what nations say about the use of nuclear power for constructive purposes, the very first thought that comes to the mind on using the word ‘nuclear’ is ‘weapons’ and weapons of mass destruction in public consciousness. This book takes us on a journey of a fascinating place called nuclear power. Indeed, the pioneers in the field of nuclear physics had a very different power of the atom in their mind than what was put on display at Hiroshima. They saw nuclear power as elegant, technologically advanced solution to the world’s energy needs.
Nuclear reactors have been around for a long time now, but human beings have taken rather long to wise up to the constructive potential of nuclear power. In the late 1930s scientists proved that a self-sustaining chain reaction could be set up through neutron bombardment of heavy nuclei and this could have far-reaching consequences. This was followed by the tragic demonstration of power over Japan in 1945 with dropping of ‘Fat Man’-the bomb on Nagasaki. Then came the nuclear catastrophes at the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl but unfazed by these, France, Japan, South Korea and to a lesser extent India continued to build new reactors. Over the years and till now, things began to change as the price of oil began to shoot up and global warming became a serious issue. Accordingly governments began to dust off nuclear plans put on the backburner and seriously start considering building of new reactors. With days of regulated electricity generation fast getting over, nuclear power is being touted as beneficial for ‘favourable economics’ due to its many intrinsic advantages. Nuclear power is much cheaper than electricity for most renewable resources.
The author is in favour of generating electricity through nuclear energy as it is the only ‘firm power’ to help in India’s industrialisation. He also feels that with the signing of nuclear treaty with USA, India can start manufacturing critical equipment in India. For the first few imported reactors, the domestic production can be increased from 30 to70 per cent as more reactors are imported and India may soon have the in-house capability to manufacture most of what goes into imported light-water reactors. The author is convinced that the country can become a supplier in this domain in the not-so-distant future and “India of 2008 is different from India of 1998 and will be more different from India of 2018.” India is already a military power and will very soon become an economic heavyweight rivalling Germany and Japan in terms of Gross Domestic Product and to quote our former President-scientist, “Nobody can stop! Nobody can stop!”
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