Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha conceived the Nuclear Program in India. Dr. Bhabha set up the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) for carrying out nuclear science research in 1945. To intensify the effort to exploit nuclear energy for the advantages of the nation, Dr. Bhabha set up the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) in January 1954 for multidisciplinary research program essential for the ambitious nuclear program of India. After the sad death of Bhabha in 1966, AEET was renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
Dr. Bhabha set up the BARC Training School to cater to the manpower needs of the expanding atomic energy research and development program. In Bhabha’s own words “When Nuclear Energy has been successfully applied for power production in, say a couple of years from now, India will not have to look abroad for its experts but will find them ready at hand”. Dr. Bhabha emphasized on self-reliance in all the areas of nuclear science and engineering.
BARC is the mother of the R&&D institutions such as IGCAR, RRCAT, VECC, etc., which carry out first research on nuclear and accelerator technologies and industrial establishments such as NPCIL, NFC, ECIL, etc., spearheading nuclear power production, materials technology, electronics & instrumentation.
The Government of India made the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) on 3 January 1954. It was established to consolidate every the research and development activity for nuclear reactors and technology under the Atomic Energy Commission. All scientists and engineers engaged in the fields of reactor design and development, instrumentation, metallurgy, and material science etc. were transferred with their respective projects from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to AEET, with TIFR retaining its original focus for fundamental research in the sciences. After Homi J. Bhabha’s demise in 1966, the center was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on 22 January 1967. All the directors of the BARC were highly qualified doctorates in their discipline and were internationally seen for their contribution in academia, who was the crown of this prestigious research organization.
The pioneer reactors at BARC and its affiliated power generation centers were imported from the west. India’s pioneer power reactors, installed at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station were from the United States.
The basic importance of BARC is as a research center. The BARC and the Indian government has consistently maintained that the reactors are utilized for this reason only: Apsara (1956; named by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru when he likened the blue Cerenkov radiation to the beauty of the Apsaras), CIRUS (1960; the “Canada-India Reactor” with helping hand from the US), the now-defunct ZERLINA (1961; Zero Energy Reactor for Lattice Investigations and Neutron Assay), Purnima I (1972), Purnima II (1984), Dhruva (1985), Purnima III (1990), and KAMINI.
The plutonium utilized in India’s 1974 Smiling Buddha nuclear test came from CIRUS. The 1974 test (and the 1998 tests that followed) gave Indian scientists the technological know-how and confidence not only to create nuclear fuel for future reactors to be used in power generation and research but also the capacity to refine the same fuel into weapons-grade fuel to be utilized in the development of nuclear weapons. It is one of the world’s most mandatory ATOMIC RESEARCH CENTRE.
BARC also architecture and built India’s first Pressurised water reactor at Kalpakkam, an 80MW land-based prototype of INS Arihant’s nuclear power unit, as well as the Arihant’s propulsion reactor.