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Praful Bidwai on Nuclear Weapons and Energy

A Principled and Knowledgeable Critic

An appreciation of Praful Bidwai's knowledgeable critique of nuclear energy and nuclear power. Praful Bidwai, 66, died in June.

For about four decades, the late Praful Bidwai, who was 66 when he died suddenly last month in Amsterdam, was no stranger to the readers of this journal. He wrote prodigiously on various aspects of nuclear weapons and energy. Even for someone as widely published as Praful, the sheer volume of his output is noteworthy. One could classify his writings into four categories: critiques of nuclear energy, dangers associated with nuclear weapons, nuclear diplomacy (pertaining both to weapons and energy), and chronicles of people’s resistance movements. These are not watertight compartments and many articles might be classified in more than one category; others may not quite fit in any.

It was in the late 1970s that Praful emerged as a prominent and well-informed critic of nuclear energy. His 1978 article in Business India entitled “Nuclear Power in India—A White Elephant?” was a landmark exposé of the poor state of operations at the nuclear reactors operated by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). After that, Praful wrote prolifically about the activities of the DAE, ranging from the problems in constructing and operating heavy water plants to the safety and economic costs of nuclear reactors in the pages of outlets such as Times of India, Economic & Political Weekly and Frontline.

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