Why is National Technology Day celebrated? Here’s how Pokhran changed India forever

The growth of technology has been the building block of developing India and it has become an inevitable part of our daily life. Many are relentlessly pursuing Science and Technology and are making significant progress in the field. By celebrating National Technology Day, we are appreciating them for their groundbreaking work.

Why is National Technology Day celebrated?

On May 1998, under the rule of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India successfully conducted Pokhran II or Operation Shakthi, a series of five nuclear tests, at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Range. It made India the sixth country in the world to possess nuclear weapons, after the US, Soviet Union, the UK, France and China. To commemorate this eventful day, the Indian government chose May 11 to be celebrated as the National Technology Day every year.

A brief history

In 1945, India’s first institute dedicated to the study of nuclear energy, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIRF), was established in Bombay with the efforts of Homi J. Bhabha and J.R.D Tata. It was Bhabha who steered the nuclear programme in the direction of weapons design and production in 1954. By 1967, India started building nuclear weapons and the first nuclear bomb test was conducted on May 18, 1974, under the code-name, Smiling Buddha, in Rajasthan. In 1998, a nuclear power station was set up in Indian Army’s Pokhran Range under the guidance of the Project Chief Coordinators, A.P.J Abdul Kalam, head of DRDO and Dr R. Chidambaram, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and the department of Atomic Energy.

A series of five successful nuclear tests were conducted there in the name Pokhran II or Operation Shakthi. It contained five denotations – one fusion bomb and four fission bombs. This led to India being the 6th country in the world to possess nuclear weapons. In order to commemorate this significant achievement, the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, announced May 11 as National Technology Day. This event led to India now possessing an operational nuclear triad capability, allowing for launch of weapons from land, air and sea.

Significance of the day

National Technology Day acts as an inspiration to future generations to pursue careers in science and technology. The day is mainly celebrated by awarding various personalities and industries that has made significant contributions in the field of science and technology. Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar (RVP) and National Technology Awards are awarded to recognise such achievements.

The government has mentioned that the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar is to recognise the notable and inspiring contribution made by the scientists, technologists and innovators individually or in teams in various fields of science, technology and technology-led innovation and it can be considered as one of the highest recognitions in the field of science and technology.

The Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar shall be given in 13 domains – Physics, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Mathematics & Computer Science, Earth Science, Medicine, Engineering Sciences, Agricultural Science, Environmental Science, Technology & Innovation, Atomic Energy, Space Science and Technology, and Others.

The four categories of awards are Vigyan Ratna, Vigyan Shri, Vigyan Yuva and Vigyan Team. The awards are announced on the May 11 every year and the Award Ceremony will be conducted on the August 23, 2024, on National Space Day.

The National Technology Awards was instituted by the Technology Development Board of India, for successful commercialisation of indigenous technology by industrial concerns. Four other awards have been introduced under the National Technology Awards, along with the main award. These include National Technology Awards (MSME), National Technology Awards (Startup), National Technology Awards (Translational Research) and National Technology Awards (Technology Business Incubators). The awards are presented to the awardees on the National Technology Day.

In addition to this, many institutions in the country hold various programmes to honour all those who contribute to India’s scientific and technological progress and to acknowledge their achievements.

Facts to remember

  • National Technology Day is celebrated every year on the May 11.
  • It is conducted in commemoration of India’s first successful nuclear tests Pokhran II or Operation Shakthi.
  • This day is celebrated by recognising and appreciating the efforts and achievements of scientists, researchers, engineers and all others who work in the field of science and technology.
  • Every year, on May 11, the central government awards the notable achievements in science and technology.