“Greetings to everyone, especially our industrious scientists and those passionate about technology, on National Technology Day.”
It is with these words that Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people of India on National Technology Day. He also followed this up with a number of tweets that extolled the contribution of scientists and the courage of the political leaders in successfully conducting the Pokhran tests of 1998.
History of National Technology Day
11 May, 1998, was a very important date in the history of modern India. On this day, India successfully test fired the indigenously manufactured Shakti-I nuclear missile at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. A couple of days later on 13 May, India followed up with the successful test firing of two more nuclear weapons – all three making up the glorious Operation Shakti led by former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (then head of DRDO) and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R. Chidambaram and a team of erudite scientists. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India nuclear capable and India became the sixth country of the world to join the “nuclear club”.
It was a happening day for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Trishul, the quick reaction, short range SAM (surface-to-air missile) – part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, successfully underwent its final test fire on the same day. The next year, Trishul was inducted into the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. Once again, Indian scientists proved their mettle making the nation proud.
This is not all. On the very same day, Hansa – 3, India’s first indigenous aircraft was first flown in Bengaluru. This light two-seater, multi-purpose aircraft was developed by National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), collaborating with Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd.
To commemorate the three astounding achievements of Indian scientists and the breakthrough technology that was showcased in each case, PM Vajpayee declared that starting 1999, 11 May would be commemorated as National Technology Day.
The Technology Development Board (TDB) of India oversees the national celebrations and also picks out a science and technology theme for the year. The TDB also awards exceptional scientific and technological achievements on this day. Various scientific and technological research organizations also hold celebratory functions across the country.
India’s Tryst With Technology
India has produced some of the finest scientific minds in the history of the world. We may even go so far as to say that technology is a national passion. Be it building indigenous nuclear capabilities or constructing our own light combat aircraft, Tejas, Indian scientists have demonstrated that our defence technology is second to none. Going from defence to space exploration, let us look at the success of Chandrayaan 1 the space probe that reached moon’s orbit in 2008 and put ISRO on the same platform as NASA and European Space Agency. And then there is Mangalyaan – a stellar example of low cost, cutting-edge technology driven by passionate scientists. India indigenously built its first super computer PARAM 800 back in 1991 – a massive stride in the world of supercomputing. Millions of Indians are now tech savvy and India is one of the largest markets for computers, tablets, and smartphones. Indians and techies of Indian origin make up a considerable percent of the population in the Silicon Valley. The world still looks at India for technological breakthroughs and solutions.
National Technology Day is the perfect occasion to encourage our young and old to explore the marvelous world of technology, to step up and take our rightful place as leaders of scientific development and technological innovations in the world. India kept its tryst with Destiny over 7 decades ago, it is now time for our country to keep its momentous tryst with Technology.