21 Lesser Known Facts about BARC

Who made India a nuclear power? Which organization is to be credited for atomic energy research in India? It’s BARC – Bhabha Atomic Research Center.

1. BARC – Its ‘Atoms in Service of the Nation’


2. Total budgetary allocation (capital + revenue) of BARC for 2010-12 was just Rs 188.7 crore

That’s comparable to the amount of money spent on producing some Bollywood movies now!

This one, for example, incurred a production cost of more than 150 crores.

3. The Core philosophy of BARC is peaceful application of nuclear energy; but nuclear bombs are just as important for peace

4. BARC handles all facets of nuclear power generation

From Designing of reactors, modeling, risk analysis and simulation, it all happens here. Just another day at work!

5. Earlier Known as Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), it was created in 1954

Scientists at that time were brought in from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Nehru and Homi J. Bhabha

Caption: Pt Nehru and Homi J. Bhabha

The name was changed to BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Center) to honor Homi J. Bhabha.

6. While the freedom struggle was on, Homi J. Bhabha was starting a career in nuclear physics in UK, in 1939

Homi J. Bhabha– Father of Indian Nuclear Program – was visiting India in 1939 on a holiday. He chose to stay back and revive its fortunes in nuclear energy.

7. Research center’s top guy was a genius

Homi J. Bhabha got recognition initially after he devised the correct expression for scattering electrons, by the process he devised, called Bhabha scattering.

8. Bhabha died in a mysterious air crash, supposedly brought down by CIA

There are assassination conspiracy theories still doing the rounds that the plane by which Bhabha was travelling was brought down by the CIA. Only a bag with unimportant documents was found from the site. Rest went missing.

9. BARC has till date successfully established multiple 5 Power Reactors

Earlier, the first power reactors were brought in from the USA. India is now fully equipped to carry on research and designing of nuclear reactors independently.

Apsara in 1956 was the first reactor. The picture below shows Apsara, CIRUS (another reactor provided by Canada), and a plutonium processing facility.

India used the spent fuel (Converted into Plutonium) from CIRUS for 1st nuclear test in 1974.

You can thank Canada for the CIRUS and USA for heavy water. Though they pretty much hated what India did back then.


10. BARC designed India’s first pressurized water reactor of 80mw capacity at Kalpakkam

11. BARC employees cannot even carry a silly SIM card inside the premises

People here work from the everlasting captivity of gadgets.

12. A good many people, brilliant or otherwise, quit BARC due to politics in work culture, unfair appraisal, favoritism and monotony.

No offence to some really-good people working there.

13. A total of 3,887 health-related deaths in the atomic energy hubs across the country over the last 20 years were due to cancer

That is the flipside of atomic energy. Source: RTIIndia

14. Nearly one scientist/officer per month on an average in the last 20 years took his or her life

Investigations revealed that the deaths were either due to family problems or prolonged illness. Sad but true.

15. The organization played a significant role in making India the 6th country in the world to have a nuclear submarine

It’s INS Arihant – The Slayer of Enemies! And it’s made-in-India.

The submarine can go untraced from one end of Indian Ocean to the other without being traced and it increases India’s second strike capability. Needless to mention, India has no-first policy for nuclear warfare.

16. Civilian Research: they successfully developed 15 new varieties of groundnuts!

Yes, and 3 varieties of mustard, 2 of soybean, 8 of greengram, 5 of blackgram and so on!

The recently released large seed mutant varieties benefited many farmers, traders and exporters by virtue of their earliness, moderate seed dormancy and superior productivity.

17. BARC has decided to establish 3 multi-million and multi-products plants in Punjab

They will be fully equipped to handle the crop diversification needs of the state. High yielding varieties of potatoes, sugarcane and maize will be processed here.

18. BARC and ECIL have collaborated to develop an IDSN (Indian Deep Space Antenna System) that will be used for reception of data from Chandrayaan-1

19. The two power reactors at have enough plutonium to rage a furious Nuclear War

20. Dhruva reactor developed at BARC is Pride of the Nation

Dhruva reactor is the most significant achievement of BARC till date. This flux reactor is totally designed, commissioned and constructed by Indians. The reactor actually uses uranium as fuel and heavy water for a coolant.


21. BARC developed an indigenous, easy to use tool for detection of Fluoride levels in groundwater

More than a 1,000 companies all over India have already adopted this new technology, and more are ready to make a go for it. This tool enables companies to detect fluoride levels in water, in order to protect people from related diseases.


Despite the tight budgets, babudom, not-so-serious successive governments and lack of support from foreign countries, BARC did actually manage to put atoms in the service of nation.


Salutes to all those people at BARC who worked tirelessly over the years to achieve one milestone after another!

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