Tag Archives: ramanujan

Let’s talk to the Book (Religious reform) – Ramesh Venkataraman

Source : Indian Express

Ramanuja and Martin Luther underline how religion evolves by debating with scriptures, not by being beholden to them.

This year marks the 1,000th birth anniversary of Ramanuja, the great Vaishnava theologian who reinvented and revitalised Hinduism, and the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s triggering of the Protestant Reformation which fundamentally reshaped Christianity. Both events are a salutary reminder in these troubled times of how religions can evolve and reform.

Ramanuja is most often hailed for his philosophic articulation of “qualified monism” or visishtadvaita. But it is as a visionary religious leader and organiser that Ramanuja truly made his mark. When he became head of the Srirangam Mutt, Ramanuja inherited a theological tradition that had championed the Pancaratra Agamas — a set of scriptures composed outside the dominant Vedic and Brahmanic mainstream — as equally the product of divine revelation as the Vedas themselves. The Agamas, unlike the sacrifice-oriented Vedas, sanctioned image worship and inclusive temple-based rituals that women and lower caste believers, and not just Brahmin males, could participate in.

It was Ramanuja’s brilliance that gave practical effect to this theological innovation. He organised the daily pujas and annual festival cycle at the Srirangam Ranganatha temple in line with Agamic norms, thereby broadening the temple’s constituency to include rising peasant castes and women. He also made room for the emotive Tamil hymns of the Alvars in the otherwise austere Sanskrit temple liturgy. Eventually, under his leadership, these reforms took hold at other Vaishnavite temple complexes such as Tirupati and Melkote that had sprung up across South India over the preceding centuries.

Ramanuja, thus, profoundly reinvented Hinduism in response to societal conditions of the 11th century (albeit his inclusiveness did not extend to the “untouchable” community). Over time, the transformation he initiated was carried across India by the so-called “bhakti movements”. Ultimately, Ramanuja’s Agamic revolution, placing popular and dramatic temple rituals and emotional image adoration at the centre of worship and widening participation beyond Brahmin males, became mainstream to Hinduism displacing older practices rooted in the Vedic tradition.

In 1517, 500 years after Ramanuja, Martin Luther, a German monk and theologian, sparked the Reformation by posting “95 Theses” on a church door in Wittenberg, questioning portions of the Christian Church’s doctrine and specific corrupt practices — notably papal indulgences, a sort of whitewash of sins that were hawked by the Vatican for a hefty fee. Luther’s challenge set in train a seismic reshaping of Christianity and ultimately laid the foundation for the modern West. At the heart of the Lutheran revolution was the idea that Christians should themselves read the Bible, vernacular translations of which were beginning to roll off Gutenberg’s newly-invented printing presses, rather than have it presented to them by their priests.

But as soon as more and more people started to read the Bible, it became obvious that much of what is in the New and Old Testaments is ambiguous, impractical, and often contradictory — the Bible, like most scripture, does not speak with a single voice. To take one example cited by the philosopher Anthony Appiah, the same St. Paul who says women should cover their heads in church and men shouldn’t, also told the Galatians: “There is neither male nor female: For ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Protestant communities springing up across northern Europe chose to grapple with these scriptural conundrums themselves in self-study sessions rather than take their cues from the Church in Rome. They decided, in Appiah’s words, “which passages to read into and which to read past,” to shape their faith for their day and age.

Eventually, in the wake of the Reformation, good Christians could see that other sincere, committed Christians around them — be they traditional Catholics or members of one of the new Protestant sects from Calvinists and Anabaptists to Puritans and Presbyterians — came to believe in very different things. This ultimately infused (more than a century of brutal conflict later!) a more tolerant and sceptical spirit across Europe that gave birth to the liberal, secular, and humanist values of the 18th century Enlightenment.

It is worth reminding ourselves of this history when we are faced with shrill arguments that Muslims are immutable to change — whether on how they treat women or other religions. The argument goes as follows: Committed Muslims must take their beliefs directly from the Quran. For example, the Quran clearly says women are inferior to men in passages such as Surah (4:34): “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other.” Therefore, Muslim societies are bound to continue to treat men as superior to women. Indeed, this sort of scriptural determinism is mobilised by both sides — outsiders looking to indict Islam and insiders defending practices they favour.

But scriptures in other faiths also put down women — be it the Dharmashastras, the Torah, or the Bible — often in harsher terms than in the Quran. “Women have one eternal duty in this world,” says Bhishma in the Anusasana Parva of the Mahabharata, “dependence upon and obedient service to their husbands.” Thankfully, however, religious beliefs do not repose in sacred texts. Much of scripture is written in language that is poetical, metaphorical, or simply obscure. Much of it consists of narratives or fictional parables. Scripture, therefore, requires interpretation.

While fundamentalists of all stripes persist in trying to turn the clock back to what they regard as original, divinely-ordained doctrine, Jewish, Christian, and Hindu communities have been able to evolve their creeds by interpreting their scriptural dictums for the world they live in. No one would have predicted if they simply read the Manusmriti that we would have sudra archakas (shudra priests) in Hindu temples or inferred from the Torah or the King James Bible that there would be women and gay rabbis and Anglican bishops.

Islam is no different. There are very few verses in the Quran which actually lay down law. Quranic verses — like most scripture — are vague and quite general. They have to be read along with other sources such as the sayings and doings of the Prophet to determine the rules for specific situations. Islam has a hoary tradition of schools of jurisprudence that have devised sophisticated theoretical frameworks to come up with the law governing the behaviour of Muslims. But these schools diverge in their views which is why there is a great range of social practice — whether on polygamy, women being veiled, serving liquor in public places, or tolerance of other faiths — between Turkey and Morocco and Saudi Arabia, all avowedly Muslim countries.

This is why the Supreme Court case on triple talaq, on which the Quran typically offers no clear-cut direction, is so important for India’s Muslims. Whatever be the court’s final judgement, and despite the political calculus that lies behind the Sangh Parivar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for abolishing triple talaq, the hearings have provided an unprecedented forum for the Indian Muslim community — ranging from petitioner Shayara Bano to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board — to have a vibrant public debate on whether this practice should prevail in this day and age.

What Ramanuja and Luther underline for us is that it is precisely this sort of reasoned debate amongst fellow believers, in dialogue with but not beholden to their scriptures, that has allowed religious communities throughout history to reform themselves — for the better.


30 Great Scientists of India

  • Aryabhatta
    • Author of several treatises on mathematics and astronomy, some of which are lost.
    • Aryabhatiya, a compendium of mathematics and astronomy. Covers arithmetic, algebra, plane trigonometry, and spherical trigonometry. It also contains continued fractions, quadratic equations, sums-of-power series, and a table of sines.
    • Arya-siddhanta, a lost work on astronomical computations.
    • Used place value system.
    • Used Zero
    • Approximation of  pi (π)
    • Calculated Area of a Triangle
    • Algebra
    • Aryabhata correctly insisted that the earth rotates about its axis daily, and that the apparent movement of the stars is a relative motion caused by the rotation of the earth, contrary to the then-prevailing view, that the sky rotated. This is indicated in the first chapter of the Aryabhatiya, where he gives the number of rotations of the earth in a yuga, and made more explicit in his gola chapter.
    • Solar and lunar eclipses were scientifically explained by Aryabhata. He states that the Moon and planets shine by reflected sunlight. Instead of the prevailing cosmogony in which eclipses were caused by pseudo-planetary demons Rahu and Ketu, he explains eclipses in terms of shadows cast by and falling on Earth.
    • Some of his results are cited by Al-Khwarizmi and in the 10th century Al-Biruni stated that Aryabhata’s followers believed that the Earth rotated on its axis.
    • His definitions of sine (jya), cosine (kojya), versine (utkrama-jya), and inverse sine (otkram jya) influenced the birth of trigonometry. He was also the first to specify sine and versine (1 − cos x) tables, in 3.75° intervals from 0° to 90°, to an accuracy of 4 decimal places. In fact, modern names “sine” and “cosine” are mistranscriptions of the words jya and kojya as introduced by Aryabhata. As mentioned, they were translated as jiba and kojiba in Arabic.
    • Aryabhatta Knowledge University (AKU), Patna has been established by Government of Bihar for the development and management of educational infrastructure related to technical, medical, management and allied professional education in his honour.
    • India’s first satellite Aryabhata and the lunar crater Aryabhata are named in his honour. An Institute for conducting research in astronomy, astrophysics and atmospheric sciences is the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) near Nainital, India. The inter-school Aryabhata Maths Competition is also named after him, as is Bacillus aryabhata, a species of bacteria discovered by ISRO scientists in 2009.
  • Charak
    • One of the principal contributors to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda, a system of medicine and lifestyle developed in ancient India. He is referred to as the Father of Medicine.
    • He is the author of Charaka Samhita,  one of the two foundational text of Ayurveda, the other being Sushruta Samhita. For two millennia it remained a standard work on the subject and was translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Latin.
    • He seems to have been an early proponent of prevention is better than cure doctrine. The following statement is attributed to Acharya Charaka: “A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases. He should first study all the factors, including environment, which influence a patient’s disease, and then prescribe treatment. It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure.”
    • Charaka was the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity.
    • Charaka knew the fundamentals of genetics. For instance, he knew the factors determining the sex of a child. A genetic defect in a child, like lameness or blindness, he said, was not due to any defect in the mother or the father, but in the ovum or sperm of the parents (an accepted fact today).
    • Charaka studied the anatomy of the human body and various organs. He gave 360 as the total number of bones, including teeth, present in the human body. He wrongly believed that the heart had one cavity, but he was right when he considered it to be a controlling centre. He claimed that the heart was connected to the entire body through 13 main channels. Apart from these channels, there were countless other ones of varying sizes which supplied not only nutrients to various tissues but also provided passage to waste products. He also claimed that any obstruction in the main channels led to a disease or deformity in the body.
  • Sushruta
    • The Sushruta Samhita (सुश्रुत संहिता) is a Sanskrit redaction text on surgery. The original text however is lost and modifications and edited versions are currently available.
    • The text discusses surgical techniques of making incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, and trocars for draining abscess draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid, the removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, vesiculolithotomy, hernia surgery, caesarian section, management of haemorrhoids, fistulae, laparotomy and management of intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines, and accidental perforation of the abdomen with protrusion of omentum and the principles of fracture management, viz., traction, manipulation, appositions and stabilization including some measures of rehabilitation and fitting of prosthetics. It enumerates six types of dislocations, twelve varieties of fractures, and classification of the bones and their reaction to the injuries, and gives a classification of eye diseases including cataract surgery.
    • The text was translated to Arabic as Kitab-i-Susrud in the eighth century.
    • The earliest known mention of Sushruta is from the Bower Manuscript, which is dated to the 4th or 5th century, where Sushruta is listed as one of the ten sages residing in the Himalayas. It is thus not entirely certain that Sushruta is a historical figure, but most scholars tend to allow for the possibility that he was.[clarification needed] Later Ayurvedic texts present him a son of Vishvamitra or a descendant of Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods in Hindu mythology.
  • Bhaskaracharya( Bhaskar II)
    • Was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. He was born in Bijapur in modern Karnataka.
    • Bhāskara and his works represent a significant contribution to mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the 12th century.
    • He has been called the greatest mathematician of medieval India.
    • Bhāskara’s work on calculus predates Newton and Leibniz by over half a millennium. He is particularly known in the discovery of the principles of differential calculus and its application to astronomical problems and computations. While Newton and Leibniz have been credited with differential and integral calculus, there is strong evidence to suggest that Bhāskara was a pioneer in some of the principles of differential calculus. He was perhaps the first to conceive the differential coefficient and differential calculus.
    • He was born in 1036 of the Śaka era (1114 CE), and that he composed the Siddhānta Śiromaṇī when he was 36 years old. He also wrote another work called the Karaṇa-kutūhala when he was 69 (in 1183). His works show the influence of Brahmagupta, Sridhara, Mahāvīra, Padmanābha and other predecessors.
    • The Siddhānta Śiromaṇī discusses  zero, infinity, positive and negative numbers, and indeterminate equations. In particular, he also solved the 61x^2 + 1 = y^2 case that was to elude Fermat and his European contemporaries centuries later. In the third section Grahagaṇita, while treating the motion of planets, he considered their instantaneous speeds. He arrived at the approximation:
      \sin y' - \sin y \approx (y' - y) \cos y for y' close to y, or in modern notation:
       \frac{d}{dy} \sin y = \cos y .
    • Some of Bhaskara’s contributions to mathematics include the following: A proof of the Pythagorean theorem, solutions of quadratic, cubic and quartic indeterminate equations, conceived differential calculus, after discovering the derivative and differential coefficient, calculated the derivatives of trigonometric functions and formulae, properties of zero (including division, and rules of operations with zero),  the time that is required for the Earth to orbit the Sun, as 365.2588 days which is the same as in Suryasiddhanta (The modern accepted measurement is 365.2563 days, a difference of just 3.5 minutes). 
    • Bhaskara II conceived the modern mathematical convention that when a finite number is divided by zero, the result is infinity. In his book Lilavati, he reasons: “In this quantity also which has zero as its divisor there is no change even when many [quantities] have entered into it or come out [of it], just as at the time of destruction and creation when throngs of creatures enter into and come out of [him, there is no change in] the infinite and unchanging [Vishnu]”.
  • Bhaskar I
    • Inventor of ZERO (0).
    • First to write numbers in the Hindu decimal system with a circle for the zero.
  • Varahmihira
    • An Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer who lived in Ujjain.
    • He is considered to be one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas) of the court of legendary ruler Yashodharman Vikramaditya of Malwa.
    • He was the first one to mention in his work Pañcasiddhāntikā that the ayanamsa, or the shifting of the equinox, is 50.32 seconds.
    • Another important contribution of Varahamihira is the encyclopedic Brihat-Samhita. It covers wide ranging subjects of human interest, including astrology, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfall, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, and rituals. The volume expounds on gemstone evaluation criterion found in the Garuda Purana, and elaborates on the sacred Nine Pearls from the same text. It contains 106 chapters and is known as the “great compilation”.
    • Among Varahamihira’s contribution to physics is his statement that reflection is caused by the back-scattering of particles and refraction (the change of direction of a light ray as it moves from one medium into another) by the ability of the particles to penetrate inner spaces of the material, much like fluids that move through porous objects.
    • He was among the first mathematicians to discover a version of what is now known as the Pascal’s triangle. He used it to calculate the binomial coefficients.
    • Varahamihira’s mathematical work included the discovery of the trigonometric formulas:-

       \sin^2 x + \cos^2 x = 1 \;\!
       \sin x = \cos\left(\frac{\pi} {2} - x \right)
       \frac {1 - \cos 2x}{2} = \sin^2x

      Varahamihira improved the accuracy of the sine tables of Aryabhata I.

  • Nagarjuna
    • One of the most important Buddhist philosophers after Gautama Buddha. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is considered to be the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism.
    • He is traditionally supposed to have written several treatises on rasayana alchemy as well as serving a term as the head of Nālandā University.
    • Nagarjuna also taught the idea of relativity; in the Ratnāvalī, he gives the example that shortness exists only in relation to the idea of length. The determination of a thing or object is only possible in relation to other things or objects, especially by way of contrast. He held that the relationship between the ideas of “short” and “long” is not due to intrinsic nature (svabhāva). This idea is also found in the Pali Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas, in which the idea of relativity is expressed similarly: “That which is the element of light … is seen to exist on account of [in relation to] darkness; that which is the element of good is seen to exist on account of bad; that which is the element of space is seen to exist on account of form.”
    • Nagarjuna was also a practitioner of Ayurveda, or traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. First described in the Sanskrit medical treatise entitled Sushruta Samhita (of which he was the compiler of the redaction), many of his conceptualizations, such as his descriptions of the circulatory system and blood tissue (described asrakta dhātu) and his pioneering work on the therapeutic value of specially treated minerals knowns as bhasmas, which earned him the title of the “father of iatrochemistry(chemical medicine)”.
  • Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya
    • A notable Indian engineer, scholar, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore during 1912 to 1918.
    • He was a recipient of the Indian Republic’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955.
    • He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire (KCIE) by King George V for his contributions to the public good.
    • Every year, 15th September is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India in his memory. He is held in high regard as a pre-eminent engineer of India.
    • He was the chief designer of the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad in Telangana, as well as the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mandya.
    • He was instrumental in developing a system to protect Visakhapatnam port from sea erosion.
    • Upon graduating as an engineer, Visvesvaraya took up a job with the Public Works Department (PWD) of Mumbai and was later invited to join the Indian Irrigation Commission.
    • Visvesvaraya supervised the construction of the KRS Dam across the Kaveri River from concept to inauguration. This dam created the biggest reservoir in Asia when it was built.
    • Rightly called the “Father of modern Mysore state” (now Karnataka).
    • He was known for sincerity, time management and dedication to a cause.
    • During his period of service with the Government of Mysore state, he was responsible for the founding of, (under the Patronage of Mysore Government), the Mysore Soap Factory, the Parasitoide Laboratory, the Mysore Iron & Steel Works (now known as Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Limited) in Bhadravathi, the Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic Institute, the Bangalore Agricultural University, the State Bank of Mysore, The Century Club, Mysore Chambers of Commerce and numerous other industrial ventures. He encouraged private investment in industry during his tenure as Diwan of Mysore. He was instrumental in charting out the plan for road construction between Tirumala and Tirupati.
    • In 1906–07, the Government of India sent him to Aden (in Middle East) to study water supply and drainage system and the project prepared by him was implemented in Aden successfully.
    • In India, numerous engineering colleges have been named in his honour.
  • Salim Ali
    • An Indian ornithologist and naturalist.
    • Referred to as the “Birdman of India”.
    • Was among the first Indians to conduct systematic bird surveys across India and his bird books helped develop ornithology.
    • He became the key figure behind the Bombay Natural History Society after 1947 and used his personal influence to garner government support for the organisation, create the Bharatpur bird sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and prevent the destruction of what is now the Silent Valley National Park.
    • He was awarded India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 1976.
    • Dr. Ali had considerable influence in conservation related issues in post-independence India.
  • Har Gobind Khurana
    • An Indian-American biochemist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that helped to show how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell’s synthesis of proteins.
    • He served as MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry, Emeritus and was a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute.
    • The University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Government of India (DBT Department of Biotechnology), and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum jointly created the Khorana Program in 2007. The mission of the Khorana Program is to build a seamless community of scientists, industrialists, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and India. The program is focused on three objectives: Providing graduate and undergraduate students with a transformative research experience, engaging partners in rural development and food, security, and facilitating public-private partnerships between the U.S. and India. In 2009, Khorana was hosted by the Khorana Program and honored at the 33rd Steenbock Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Khorana was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides.
  • APJ Abdul Kalam
    • An Indian scientist and administrator who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.
    • Worked as an Aerospace engineer with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
    • Kalam is popularly known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology.
    • He played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.
    • He is currently a visiting professor at Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and Indian Institute of Management Indore, honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University (Chennai), JSS University (Mysore) and an adjunct/visiting faculty at many other academic and research institutions across India.
    • Kalam advocated plans to develop India into a developed nation by 2020 in his book India 2020.
    • He has received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
    • Kalam is known for his motivational speeches and interaction with the student community in India. He launched his mission for the youth of the nation in 2011 called the What Can I Give Movement with a central theme to defeat corruption in India.
  • Birbal Sahani
    • An Indian paleobotanist who studied the fossils of the Indian subcontinent, was also a geologist who took an interest in archaeology.
    • Founded the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow, India.
    • The Hindu described Sahni as the “Pioneer of palaeobotany” (in India)
  • CNR Rao
    • He is an Indian chemist who has worked mainly in solid-state and structural chemistry.
    • He currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.
    • Rao has honorary doctorates from 60 universities from around the world.
    • He has authored around 1,500 research papers and 45 scientific books. 
    • He is the recipient of most of the major scientific awards, and is member of all major scientific organisations.
    • He was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2014.
  • C.V. Raman
    • Was an Indian physicist whose ground breaking work in the field of light scattering earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physics.
    • He discovered that, when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon is now called Raman scattering and is the result of the Raman effect.
    • In 1954, he was honoured with the highest civilian award in India, the Bharat Ratna.
    • India celebrates National Science Day on 28th February of every year to commemorate the discovery of the Raman effect in 1928.
  • Homi Bhabha
    • Was an Indian nuclear physicist,founding director, and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
    • Known as “father of Indian nuclear programme”
    • Was the founding director of two well-known research institutions, namely the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment (now named after him); both sites were the cornerstone of Indian development of nuclear weapons which Bhabha also supervised as its director.
    • Bhabha played a key role in convincing the Congress Party’s senior leaders, most notable Jawaharlal Nehru who later served as India’s first Prime Minister, to start the ambitious nuclear programme. As part of this vision, Bhabha established the Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the institute, began to work on the theory of the movement of point particles, while independently conduct research on nuclear weapons in 1944.
    • Bhabha gained international prominence after deriving a correct expression for the probability of scattering positrons by electrons, a process now known as Bhabha scattering. His major contribution included his work on Compton scattering, R-process, and furthermore the advancement of nuclear physics
    • He was awarded Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1954.
    • He later served as the member of the Indian Cabinet’s Scientific Advisory Committee and provided the pivotal role to Vikram Sarabhai to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research.
    • He is credited with formulating the country’s strategy in the field of nuclear power to focus on extracting power from the country’s vast thorium reserves rather than its meagre uranium reserves. This thorium focused strategy was in marked contrast to all other countries in the world. The approach proposed by Bhabha to achieve this strategic objective became India’s three stage nuclear power programme.
    • As a result of Bhabha’s vision, India has the most technically ambitious and innovative nuclear energy program in the world. The extent and functionality of its nuclear experimental facilities are matched only by those in Russia and are far ahead of what is left in the US.
    • After his death, the Atomic Energy Establishment at Bombay was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in his honour.
  • Jagadish Chandra Bose
    • A Bengali polymath, physicist, biologist, botanist, archaeologist, as well as an early writer of science fiction.
    • He pioneered the investigation of radio and microwave optics, made very significant contributions to plant science, and laid the foundations of experimental science in the Indian subcontinent.
    • The inventor of “Wireless Telecommunications”.
    • IEEE named him one of the fathers of radio science.
    • He is also considered the father of Bengali science fiction.
    • He also invented the crescograph.
    • A crater on the moon has been named in his honour.
    • He made remarkable progress in his research of remote wireless signalling and was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. However, instead of trying to gain commercial benefit from this invention, Bose made his inventions public in order to allow others to further develop his research.
    • Bose subsequently made a number of pioneering discoveries in plant physiology. He used his own invention, the crescograph, to measure plant response to various stimuli, and thereby scientifically proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues. Although Bose filed for a patent for one of his inventions due to peer pressure, his reluctance to any form of patenting was well known. To facilitate his research, he constructed automatic recorders capable of registering extremely slight movements; these instruments produced some striking results, such as Bose’s demonstration of an apparent power of feeling in plants, exemplified by the quivering of injured plants.
    • His books include Response in the Living and Non-Living (1902) and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926).
    • Bose’s place in history has now been re-evaluated, and he is credited with the invention of the first wireless detection device and the discovery of millimetre length electromagnetic waves and considered a pioneer in the field of biophysics.
  • Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman
    • Well known for his contribution to Unani medicine.
    • He founded Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences in 2000.
    • Author of 45 books and several papers on different aspects of Unani, he also owns one of the largest collection of books on Unani medicine.
    • The Government of India conferred him with Padma Shri award in 2006 for his contribution in the field of Unani Medicine.
  • Meghnad Saha
    • Was a Indian astrophysicist best known for his development of the Saha equation, used to describe chemical and physical conditions in stars.
    • His best-known work concerned the thermal ionisation of elements.
    • Saha equation: This equation is one of the basic tools for interpretation of the spectra of stars in astrophysics. By studying the spectra of various stars, one can find their temperature and from that, using Saha’s equation, determine the ionisation state of the various elements making up the star.
    • Saha was the chief architect of river planning in India and prepared the original plan for the Damodar Valley Project.
    • Saha also invented an instrument to measure the weight and pressure of solar rays and helped to build several scientific institutions, such as the Physics Department in Allahabad University and the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Calcutta.
  • Panchanan Maheshwari
    • A prominent Indian botanist and Fellow of the Royal Society, noted chiefly for his invention of the technique of test-tube fertilization of angiosperms.
    • He was second Indian Botanist to be awarded F.R.S. by Royal Society of London in 1965.
    • This invention has allowed the creation of new hybrid plants that could not previously be crossbred naturally.
  • Prafulla Chandra Ray
    • Was an Indian chemist, educator and entrepreneur.
    • The Royal Society of Chemistry honoured his life and work with the first ever Chemical Landmark Plaque outside Europe. He was the founder of Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals, India’s first pharmaceutical company.
    • He is the author of A History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times to the Middle of Sixteenth Century (1902).
  • P.C. Mahalanobis
    • Was an Indian scientist and applied statistician.
    • He is best remembered for the Mahalanobis distance, a statistical measure.
    • He made pioneering studies in anthropometry in India.
    • He founded the Indian Statistical Institute, and contributed to the design of large-scale sample surveys.
    • In later life, Mahalanobis was a member of the planning commission contributed prominently to newly independent India’s five-year plans starting from the second. In the second five-year plan he emphasised industrialisation on the basis of a two-sector model. His variant of Wassily Leontief’s Input-output model, the Mahalanobis model, was employed in the Second Five Year Plan, which worked towards the rapid industrialisation of India and with other colleagues at his institute, he played a key role in the development of a statistical infrastructure.
    • Was  the Secretary and Director of the Indian Statistical Institute and as the Honorary Statistical Advisor to the Cabinet of the Government of India.
    • Awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1968.
  • R.A. Mashelkar
    • He is the former Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), a chain of 38 publicly funded industrial research and development institutions in India.
    • In the post-liberalized India, Mashelkar has played an important role in shaping India’s science and technology policies. He was a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and also of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet set up by successive governments. He chaired twelve committees established to examine a variety of issues including higher education, national fuel policy, the drug regulatory system and the agriculture research system.
    • Mashelkar has made some path-breaking contributions in transport phenomena in and thermodynamics of swelling, superswelling and shrinking polymers, modelling of polymerisation reactors, and engineering analysis of Non-Newtonian flows.
    • Mashelkar has received over fifty awards and honorary doctorates and is a member of numerous scientific bodies and committees. The President of India honoured Mashelkar with Padma Shri (1991) and with Padma Bhushan (2000), which are two of the highest civilian honours in recognition of his contribution to nation building. On 25 January 2014, he was awarded Padma Vibhushan, 2nd highest civilian honour of India by the President of India.
  • Raja Ramanna
    • Was an Indian nuclear scientist, best known for his leadership directing the research integral for the development of Indian nuclear programme in its early stages. Having started and joined the nuclear programme in 1964, Ramanna worked under Homi Jehangir Bhabha, and later directed this program in 1967. Ramanna expanded and supervised the scientific research on nuclear weapons and was the first directing officer of the small team of scientists that supervised and carried out the test of the nuclear device, under a codename Smiling Buddha, in 1974.
    • Ramanna associated and directed the India’s nuclear weapons for more than 4 decades, and also initiate industrial defense programmes for the Indian Armed Forces. Because of his directing role and leadership for the developing the Indian nuclear programme for 4 decades, Ramanna is often considered as the “Father of the Indian nuclear programme”, and also was a recipient of highest Indian civil decorations for honoring his services to build the nuclear programme.
    • He is remembered as a leading figure in the development of nuclear physics.In 1990, Ramanna was made Union minister of State for defence in 1990 by V.P. Singh administration. He was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003. Dr. Ramanna was closely associated with the I.I.T. Bombay, having been Chairman of the Board of Governors for three consecutive terms from 1975 to 1984. In 2000, Ramanna was also the first director of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
    • Was awarded Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
  • Satyendra Nath Bose
    • Was an Bengali physicist specialising in mathematical physics.
    • He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate.
    • A Fellow of the Royal Society, the Government of India awarded him India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954.
    • The class of particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics, bosons, was named after him by Paul Dirac.
    • A self-taught scholar and a polyglot, he had a wide range of interests in varied fields including physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy, philosophy, arts, literature and music. He served on many research and development committees in independent India.
    • Bose’s work stood at the transition between the ‘old quantum theory’ of Planck, Bohr and Einstein and the new quantum mechanics of Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Born, Dirac and others.
  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar
    • Was a well-known Indian scientist, a professor of chemistry for over 19 years.
    • He was the first director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and he is revered as the “father of research laboratories”.
    • He was also the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
    • To honour his name and achievements, CSIR instituted an award Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, since 1958 for outstanding scientists who made significant contributions in various branches of science.
    • Bhatnagar’s first industrial problem was developing the process for converting bagasse (peelings of sugarcane) into food-cake for cattle. This was done for Sir Ganga Ram, the Grand Old Man of Punjab. He also solved industrial problems for Delhi Cloth Mills, J.K. Mills Ltd. of Kanpur, Ganesh Flour Mills Ltd. of Layallapur, Tata Oil Mills Ltd. of Bombay, and Steel Brothers & Co. Ltd. of London.
    • His major innovation was improving the procedure for drilling crude oil. The Attock Oil Company at Rawalpindi (representative of Messers Steel Brothers & Co London) had confronted a peculiar problem, wherein the mud used for drilling operation got hardened upon contact with the saline water, thereby clogging the drill holes. Bhatnagar realised that this problem could be solved by colloidal chemistry. He added an Indian gum, which had the remarkable property of lowering the viscosity of the mud suspension and of increasing at the same time its stability against the flocculating action of electrolytes. M/s Steel Brothers was so pleased that they offered Bhatnagar a sum of Rs. 1,50,000/- for research work on any subject related to petroleum. The company placed the fund through the university and it was used to establish the Department of Petroleum Research under the guidance of Bhatnagar. Investigations carried out under this collaborative scheme included deodourisation of waxes, increasing flame height of kerosene and utilisation of waste products in vegetable oil and mineral oil industries. Acknowledging the commercial success of the research, the company increased the fund, and extended the period from five years to ten years.
    • Bhatnagar persistently refused personal monetary benefit from his research fundings, and instead advocated for strengthening research facilities at the university. His sacrifices drew wide attention.
    • Bhatnagar wrote jointly with K.N. Mathur Physical Principles and Applications of Magnetochemistry which is considered as a standard work on the subject.
    • Bhatnagar played a significant part along with Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Vikram Sarabhai and others in building of India’s post-independence science and technology infrastructure and policies. Prime Minister Nehru was a proponent of scientific development, and after India’s independence in 1947, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was set up under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhatnagar. He became its first Director-General, and by his works he is largely remembered for having established various chemical laboratories in India. He established a total twelve national laboratories such as Central Food Processing Technological Institute, Mysore, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, the National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur, the Central Fuel Institute, Dhanbad, just to name a few. While at CSIR, he mentored a number of promising young scientists of the time who were working in the very productive climate in those days at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) in Kolkata, including Syamadas Chatterjee, Santilal Banerjee (MSc Gold Medalist- Dacca University and a DSc from the US) who later moved to the National Physical Laboratory in Delhi at Bhatnagar’s urging), Asutosh Mookherjee etc.
    • In independent India, he was the President of the Indian Chemical Society, National Institute of Sciences of India and the Indian National Science Congress. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 1954.
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan
    • Was an Indian mathematician and autodidact who, with almost no formal training in pure mathematics, made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.
    • Living in India with no access to the larger mathematical community, which was centred in Europe at the time, Ramanujan developed his own mathematical research in isolation. As a result, he rediscovered known theorems in addition to producing new work. Ramanujan was said to be a natural genius by the English mathematician G. H. Hardy, in the same league as mathematicians such as Euler and Gauss.
    • During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3900 results (mostly identities and equations).
    • He stated results that were both original and highly unconventional, such as the Ramanujan prime and the Ramanujan theta function, and these have inspired a vast amount of further research.
    • In December 2011, in recognition of his contribution to mathematics, the Government of India declared that Ramanujan’s birth date (22 December) would be celebrated every year as National Mathematics Day and declared 2012 the National Mathematics Year.
    • He often said, “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.”
    • The number 1729 is known as the Hardy–Ramanujan number. He said “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.” The two different ways are:
    • 1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103.
  • Subrahmanyam Chandrashekhar
    • Was an Indian astrophysicist who, with William A. Fowler, was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes, which was a key discovery that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars.
    • The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him.
    • He worked in various areas, including stellar structure, theory of white dwarfs, stellar dynamics, theory of radiative transfer, quantum theory of the negative ion of Hydrogen, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, general relativity, mathematical theory of black holes and theory of colliding gravitational waves.
    • Chandrasekhar’s most notable work was the astrophysical Chandrasekhar limit. The limit describes the maximum mass of a white dwarf star, ~1.44 solar masses, or equivalently, the minimum mass which must be exceeded for a star to ultimately collapse into a neutron star or black hole (following a supernova). The limit was first calculated by Chandrasekhar in 1930 during his maiden voyage from India to Cambridge, England for his graduate studies.
    • In 1999, NASA named the third of its four “Great Observatories” after Chandrasekhar. This followed a naming contest which attracted 6,000 entries from fifty states and sixty-one countries. The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999.
    • The Chandrasekhar number, an important dimensionless number of magnetohydrodynamics, is named after him.
    • The asteroid 1958 Chandra is also named after Chandrasekhar.
  • T.R. Seshadri
    • Professor Seshadri along with his collaborators published about 1100 original research papers as well as multiple books in chemistry in natural products.
    • His primary line of research was the organic chemistry of natural products which play an important role in drugs, insecticides and anti-oxidants.
    • His research on hundreds of plants led to the discovery of many new chemical compounds.
    • He was also considered an expert in the chemistry of lichens, a fungus-like growth.
    • He not only discovered new compounds in them, but also studied the damage they caused to trees and ways to prevent such damage.
    • Professor Seshadri was elected a ‘Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS)’ in 1960.
    • He was also the President of the Indian Chemical Society and of the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress before being elected the General President of the Indian Science Congress.
    • Among the awards he received were the ‘Bhatnagar Medal’ of the National Institute of Sciences of India, the ‘Padma Bhushan’ in 1963 from the Government of India and the ‘Honorary Doctorate’ from Andhra University.
  • Vikram Sarabhai
    • Was an Indian physicist.
    • Known as the father of India’s space programme. 
    • The establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of his greatest achievements. He successfully convinced the government of the importance of a space programme for a developing country like India after the Russian Sputnik launch.
    • Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, widely regarded as the father of India’s nuclear science program, supported Dr. Sarabhai in setting up the first rocket launching station in India. This center was established at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian Sea, primarily because of its proximity to the equator. After a remarkable effort in setting up the infrastructure, personnel, communication links, and launch pads, the inaugural flight was launched on November 21, 1963 with a sodium vapour payload.
    • As a result of Dr. Sarabhai’s dialogue with NASA in 1966, the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was launched during July 1975 – July 1976 (when Dr.Sarabhai was no more). Dr. Sarabhai started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite. As a result, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian Cosmodrome.
    • Dr. Sarabhai was very interested in science education and founded a Community Science Centre at Ahmedabad in 1966. Today, the centre is called the Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre.
    • Along with other Ahmedabad-based industrialists, he played a major role in setting up of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
    • In 1973, the International Astronomical Union decided that a lunar crater Bessel A in the Sea of Serenity will be known as the Sarabhai crater.
    • Was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
  • Satish Dhawan
    • Was an Indian aerospace engineer
    • Widely regarded as father of experimental fluid dynamics research in India.
    • Dhawan was one of the most eminent researchers in the field of turbulence and boundary layers, leading the successful and ingenious development of Indian space programme. He succeeded Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of the Indian space programme, as Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1972.
    • Dhawan carried out pioneering experiments in rural education, remote sensing and satellite communications. His efforts led to operational systems like INSAT, a telecommunications satellite; IRS, the Indian Remote Sensing satellite; and the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), that placed India in the league of space faring nations.
    • Received the awards: 
      • Padma Vibhushan (India’s second highest civilian honour), 1981
      • Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, 1999
      • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Science
      • Distinguished Alumnus Award, California Insititute of Technology, 1969

Source: Wikipedia