Assessing Indian Nuclear Attitudes

By Aditi Malhotra
CTBTO Youth Group member
Originally published on Stimson, 2016.





India’s nuclear journey, which began in the 1950s, has matured, both in terms of its energy
and nuclear weapons programs. Despite a gamut of nuclear-related studies devoted to the
Indian case, the focus has remained limited to the nuclear evolution, India’s nuclear energy
and weapons programs, and nuclear policies. Despite being the world’s largest democracy,
there is limited scholarship exploring the connection between Indian public opinion and
nuclear issues. Given this context, this paper underscores the need to comprehensively study
Indian public attitudes on nuclear issues in India. This is substantiated by the fact that India
is undergoing a transformation marked by an upward economic trajectory, growing literacy
rates, increasing nuclear dependency, and a more politically engaged and vocal youth.

The paper begins by conceptualizing the different publics relevant to the subject before
proceeding to a review of the existing literature on the topic. It also maps broader changes
that are taking place in the country that are likely to affect public attitudes towards nuclear
issues in the coming decades. The paper covers the extant public surveys and polls which
seek to unravel Indian attitudes on a range of nuclear issues. Subsequently, it identifies the
gaps in current methodologies and points to a possible way forward that would result in a
more nuanced, well-informed understanding of how the Indian public perceives nuclear

Read the full working paper here