For 137 students graduating from the training school of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Monday was a historic day.
The 53rd batch of scientific officers will be the first to join the country’s nuclear establishments after the International Civil Nuclear Cooperation opened doors for nuclear commerce and subsequent agreements signed for supply of nuclear fuel and power plants with several countries across the world.
“We are in an enviable position today,” said R.K. Sinha, director, BARC. “We have full indigenous capability in the nuclear fuel cycle. We also have access to the world’s resources in areas we deem important for our growth.” Speaking of how challenges will change for the graduates following the Indo-US deal, Sinha recounted that when he joined the training school, India had completed its first nuclear test in Pokhran in 1974.
“That brought in the era of international sanctions on the nuclear technology regime. We had to be self-reliant and so industry developed,” said Sinha.
With sanctions lifted for civil use, India today has access to goods, technologies and services from foreign countries as well work towards being potential suppliers to countries outside.
“But we will not be in a situation that will dilute our self-reliance. Internationally, our scientific contribution needs to be more competitive,” said Sinha.
Former director of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science Professor Goverdhan Mehta advised the graduating batch not to get caught up by the number of scientific papers and citations, instead focus on interdisciplinary research.
“Make sure you climb high on social responsibility and human sensitivity index. Teamwork and collaborative efforts are core to solving emerging problems,” Mehta said.
The training school has witnessed an increase in number of aspirants appearing for their entrance exam. While there were around 30,000 applicants last year, the figure has jumped to 88,000 this year. “While the rest of the world appears to grapple with issues with nuclear knowledge management, here we have a consistent influx of fresh scientists and engineers every year into our programme,” Sinha said.