The Indian nuclear option (whether or not to develop nuclear weapons) had been around, a bit, after China's first test in 1964. But development imperatives in a fledgling democracy with a "deficit" economy inevitably led us to adopt the comfortable policy of "not now, later" in the earlier decades. It was sound politics to merely think the unthinkable in a democracy weighed down by the "moral" burden of non-violence while being vulnerable to external pressures and fanciful figures of 'cost' and 'pain'. There was, of course, the questionable assumption that the services 'don't need nuclear weapons'. (One also wonders what the economic conditions were, say, in China and France when they chose to go nuclear.)
The Indian nuclear capability would appear to have been achieved despite the fact that the high priority authoritarian regimes accord to such programmes was missing here. Our nuclear research mode was, at best, 'reluctant'. Yet, credit is overdue to all governments before 1998, barring Morarji Desai's short spell, as they all quietly nurtured the nuclear option.