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 issues.
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Source: The Stimson Center, Washington D.C.