Remembering Pokharan 1974

September 13, 2009

Reflections and recollections of India’s first nuclear test in 1974


P.R. Chari, one of India’s most senior security analysts, has written an interesting paper titled “Pokharan-I: Personal Recollections” published as IPCS Special Report 80, August 2009.

The title suggests that it is a rare memoir of security decision-making, but because it follows a very neutral, third person style except in a couple of places, it is not easy to discern exactly what Mr. Chari’s location was in the decision-making process and thereafter. That stylistic choice however does not detract from the paper’s intrinsic utility in providing both analysis and perspective on an almost-forgotten historical moment. For present and future scholars of South Asian security, in particular, this could be very useful.

While there are other reconstructions and analyses of security decision-making available (two of which Mr. Chari has co-authored, plus those by Itty Abraham and George Perkovich, for instance), the habit of memoir-writing is still rare among South Asian policy-makers. It would be really interesting to have someone with Mr. Chari’s credentials and experience reflect on his many years of engagement with the field, noting the many, many changes along the way.