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India should seek nuke self-reliance through thorium: Kalam
H S Rao in London | October 24, 2007 09:56 IST
Former president A P J Abdul Kalam has said that India should seek to achieve self-sufficiency in nuclear power through thorium fuel-based reactors.
"Whatever treaty or agreement we do, if it helps... well and good, but the thrust should be to be self-reliance in thorium fuel-based reactors," Kalam told PTI in an interview in London [Images].
Sidetracking a question on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Kalam, who was in London on a three-day visit that concluded on Tuesday, said: "All our nuclear reactors are uranium fuel-based. In the country we have a shortage of uranium. But we have one of the largest reserves of thorium."
"It is also a fuel, but it is not fissile material. You have to convert it as a fissile material through the fast breeder reactor which we are building.
So the option for India is, while we need some uranium flow, we should go for thorium fuel-based reactor," he said.
While admitting that there was a lot of research still needed in the field, Kalam said, "Our scientists are busy developing it and in the next five to seven years, a thorium fuel-based nuclear reactor will be a reality. That should be our final goal."
The former president, widely regarded as the father of India's nuclear weapons programme, said: "My feeling is that whatever we want to do in that direction, India should become self-reliant in nuclear energy. Fortunately, thorium is there. Some more fast breeder reactors we have to build."
Referring to criticism in certain quarters that India lagged in basic research, Kalam said the government had allotted 2 per cent of GDP for science and technology.
"We have to see basic researches are done, but an environment should be created so that we have great teachers. Not only should there be great universities, but there should be great teachers as well. This combination will increase research intensity. Some of the universities in India are doing excellent research."
To a question on the quality of education, Kalam said primary education in India needed change in order to infuse creativity among children. He said the Professor Yashpal Committee has submitted its report and based on it's recommendations a lot of changes would take place.
"Primary education, that is the thing, we have to give a lot of push. Government is considering changing the syllabus," he said.
Answering a query on India's Vision 2020, Kalam said it called for a steady GDP growth of 10 per cent for a decade in order to turn the country into a developed nation.
He noted that 700 million people in India lived in 600,000 villages and the government was spending about Rs 30,000 to 40,000 crore for uplifting the rural people.
Kalam came to London after a visit to the USA where he was conferred a Doctorate of Science and Technology.
In London, the Royal Society presented him the King Charles II Medal for his outstanding contribution to science, and he was also conferred a Honorary Doctorate by Wolverhampton University.