National and Transnational Perspectives
The First Stages of India’s Nuclear Policy1 Hans-Joachim Bieber Nuclear planning before independence On the eve of independence, India was still a largely agrarian society. Although there was some industry, mainly textile processing and steel production, and even a relatively extensive rail network, more than 70% of the country’s popula- tion worked in agriculture; only about 10% were employed in manufacturing and industry, and 14% in the service sector.2 In 1939, the generating capacity of British India’s power plants amounted to just about one million kilowatts; elec- trification had occurred in only 17% of all communities with more than 5,000 inhabitants. The majority of the population relied on the use of wood and cow dung as the most important source of energy.3 Future energy needs depended on the speed and extent of India’s industrialization. The members of the independ- ence movement had various ideas on what industrialization was to accomplish. According to Mahatma Gandhi, the movement‘s charismatic leader well into the 1930s, industrialization was to satisfy the Indian population’s basic material needs. Gandhi wanted to preserve (or restore) agrarian social structures and maintain traditional trades and crafts. Moreover, he wished to retain cultural values such as simplicity, sense of community, and spirituality. By the time in- dependence came within reach, however, the Indian National Congress, the po- litical organization of the independence movement, was led by Jawaharlal Ne- hru. And Nehru’s vision of India’s future was influenced by European models, particularly by the Soviet combination of industrialization, socialism,...
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