Of Smiling Buddha and Other Giant Leaps. The Glorious History Behind National Technology Day.

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Every year the Ministry of Science and Technology celebrates National Technology Day on 11th May. The day is considered as a symbol of pursuit for technological creativity, scientific inquiry, and the conversion of that pursuit in the integration of society, industry, and science.

But what is the significance of celebrating it on 11th May and not any other day? Well, it was on this day in 1998 the nation achieved many milestones, announcing India’s emergence as a new world power. Let’s go back to that momentous day to understand how technology changed the course of India’s history in a single day.

India joins the nuclear club

On 11th of May, 1998, India successfully conducted nuclear tests at Pokhran Test Range, becoming the sixth country in the world to join the nuclear club. The operation saw the late president and aerospace engineer Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam leading a team of Indian scientists. Two days later, the country successfully tested two more nuclear bombs. Codenamed ‘Smiling Buddha’, the operation’s achievement is regarded as one of the most significant moments in the history of independent India.

Flight of the first indigenous aircraft

Becoming the world’s sixth nuclear state wasn’t the only feat India achieved on that day. The country’s first indigenous aircraft, the Hansa-3, was flown in Bengaluru while the nuclear tests were being conducted in Rajasthan. Developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab, the Hansa-3 was a light two-seater general aviation plane used in flying institutes for pilot training, sports, surveillance, aerial photography, and environment-related projects.

Test firing of Trishul

May 11, 1998, was also the day on which the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) completed the final test-fire of the Trishul missile after which it was inducted into service by the Indian Army and Indian Airforce. A short-range, quick-reaction, surface-to-air (SAM) missile, Trishul was a part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme – a Ministry of Defence initiative that has resulted in the creation of the Agni, Prithvi, and Akash missile systems.

With all these technological progress being completed on the same day, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced May 11 as the National Technology Day. Since then National Technology Day is celebrated across India to honour the advancement of Science and Technology and to acknowledge the efforts of people in making India a leading nation with advanced technology.

There is no doubt that technology and progress go hand in hand. Be it the progress of the nation or an individual. Extramarks salutes the spirit of scientific inquiry and technological creativity. We’re journeying along with the nation to scale heights of technological advancement.