Dr. H.J. Bhabha ITI Khichripur, Mayur Vihar


Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha
Full credit for the establishment of India's nuclear research program, and its nuclear weapons program, must be given to Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, a man who throughout his life dominated both the scientific and policy spheres of India's nuclear affairs, first bringing the Indian nuclear program to life and then setting its priorities and direction.

Bhabha was born in 1909, in 1927, at age 18, Bhabha sailed to England to study engineering at Cambridge. He soon decided that his true interest was in nuclear physics, a field then flowering with Cambridge as one of its centers. Bhabha received a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University in 1935, studying the physics of cosmic rays. While in Europe he met many of the greatest physicists of the day, who would later play major roles in the US-UK wartime atomic weapon programs -- among them Niels Bohr, James Franck, and Enrico Fermi. Bhabha was well respected within the international physics community, and has left his name associated with the phenomenon of Bhabha electron scattering. Bhabha learned of the discovery of fission while abroad. He returned to India in 1939, taking the post of Reader in Theoretical Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore under Nobel laureate Sir C.V. Raman.
In April 1948 , then Prime Mininster agreed to legislate at Bhabha's request the Atomic Energy Act in the Constituent Assembly, creating the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).
In 1955 Bhabha's personal relationsip with Lewis was instrumental in the program to build Cirus, the Canadian heavy water reactor - ostensibly for peaceful research but desired by India for its potential as an ideal system for producing weapons grade plutonium, a capability later exploited.
The power that Bhabha held is no where more sharply illustrated by the fact that in the wake of China's first nuclear test PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, Nehru's successor, found it necessary to align his policies with the preferences of Dr. Bhabha, and secure his personal endorsement to withstand legislative and public criticism.
The earlier pattern of Bhabha and the Prime Minister privately setting Indian nuclear policy, which had been established under Nehru, continued under Shastri. This pattern had disastrous results in 1966 when PM Shastri died of a heart attack, on 11 January 1966, and just two weeks later on January 24, a day after Shastri's successor Indira Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister, Dr. Homi Bhabha was killed while on a trip to Europe when the plane in which he was flying collided with Mount Blanc. India's impressively large nuclear establishment was suddenly left without any plan or policy to give it direction.
On 12 January 1967 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi renamed the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay -- India's premier nuclear center, and weapon development laboratory -- to be the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

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Last Updated :02/May/2018