Ashok Parthasarathi was a scientific advisor in Prime Minister of India,
Indira Gandhi’s secretariat at an important time when the ruling government was
shaping the nation’s thinking on technologies ranging from atomic energy and
space to electronics, defence, agriculture and environment. The book is a frank
and critical account of the author’s experience. The author is
critical of the grandiose vision of the atomic energy prepared in 1971 and 1972
envisaging a nuclear power generation of 2700 MW by 1980 and 4500 MW by 1985
which he had doubted from the very beginning. Subsequently he found his doubts
vindicated. He writes about the flawed agreement with USA regarding Tarapur Atomic Power Station in
gave away the right to reprocessing used fuel that, according to him, could
have easily been amended when the agreement expired in 1998. He laments that
successive governments have allowed the Atomic Power Station to continue
producing and dumping dangerous radioactive spent fuel. They could have at
least shut it down, he feels.
In the book writer Ashok Parthasarathi also presents a discussion on
economics of generating nuclear power and accuses the Department of Atomic
Energy of overlooking several important aspects. He made his objections known
in writing in a note he sent when the government was considering sanctioning
funds for a second reactor at Madras.
It was overruled by the Cabinet. Of course he knew that the over-ruling was
mainly due to other and broader objectives of the issue. He predicted that this
would lead to an expanding demand for nuclear power programme which the country
did not need and could not afford.
Another section of the book deals with Indira Gandhi’s decision to test
a nuclear weapon at Pokhran in May 1974 supposedly for an entirely ‘peaceful
purpose’ which keeps the readers fascinated.