The Search for a Scientific Temper: Nuclear Technology and the Ambivalence of India’s Postcolonial Modernity

Citation:

Chacko, Priya. 2011. “The Search for a Scientific Temper: Nuclear Technology and the Ambivalence of India’s Postcolonial Modernity.” Review of International Studies 37 (1): 185–208.

Author: Priya Chacko

Abstract:

This article examines the relationship between India's nuclear programme and its postcolonial identity. In particular, I argue that making sense of the anomalies and contradictions of India's nuclear behaviour, such as the gap of two decades between its nuclear tests, its promotion of nuclear disarmament and its failure to sign non-proliferation and test-ban treaties requires an understanding of the racially gendered construction of India's postcolonial modernity and the central roles given to science and morality within it. I suggest that India's postcolonial identity is anchored in anticolonial discourses that are deeply ambivalent toward what was viewed as a Western modernity that could provide material betterment but was also potentially destructive. What was desired was a better modernity that took into account what was believed to be Indian civilisation's greater propensity toward ethical and moral conduct. India's nuclear policies, such as its pursuit of nuclear technology and its promotion of disarmament cannot be seen in isolation from the successes and failures of this broader project of fashioning an ethical modernity.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Nationalism, Weapons /Arms Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

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