Tag Archives: CV Raman

Nehru shattered the dream of CV Raman to establish a research institute

CV Raman had the vision to establish a research institute – complete with a lab, a science museum, a science library, a lecture hall and office rooms – in Madras (Chennai). It is the same city where Raman commenced his scientific career, and to make a “distinct contribution” to the scientific life of the town, but it has remained an unfulfilled dream.
However, the idea of the research institute could never be realised since Jawaharlal Nehru, strangely famous as an institution builder, and his Government’s policies were the main hurdle. Nehru, time and again, ensured that anyone who was not a part of the Nehruvian consensus was not given any help in his lifetime.
It is well-known that Nehru was left embarrassed on a visit to Raman’s laboratory in 1948. It perhaps explains the agony of the man and his dislike for Raman. On this particular visit, Nehru was tricked in front of an audience into identifying copper (glowing under UV rays) as gold. Almost as if he were identifying a character flaw, Raman boomed “Mr Prime Minister, everything that glitters is not gold.”

Raman Openly Criticised Nehru
Raman resented Nehru’s policy of concentrating research in specialised institutions such as the Atomic Research Establishment at Trombay and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Laboratories while apportioning a smaller chunk of research funds to universities. He coined the phrase “Nehru-Bhatnagar effect” to describe the mushrooming of CSIR laboratories in the 1950s, predicting they would achieve little despite the massive sums spent.
In 1959, Raman tried to establish his second research institution, 11 years after establishing Raman Research Institute (RRI) in Bengaluru, on a four-acre land parcel owned by him in Mylapore (Madras), where “scientific work of the highest standard could be carried on”.

He estimated that the research institute could be built with a budget of a couple of lakhs of rupees and carry on work with a minimum recurring expenditure of Rs 2,000 a month. “My confidence in the usefulness of the proposed institute is indicated by my preparedness to find from other sources one half of the capital expenditure proposed and also to meet one half of the recurring expenditure necessary for the next five years. If the Government of Madras could see their way to make an equal contribution, the construction of the institute could be immediately taken up and proceeded with,” states the renowned physicist’s letter dated August 18, 1959, to the late C Subramaniam, minister for Finance Education, Government of Madras.

CV Raman demonstrating his experiments to visitors
The Subsequent correspondence between Subramaniam and Raman point at the State Government’s willingness to support the proposed institute, but with a suggestion that the Nobel laureate writes to the Union Government for the non-recurring expenditure of the project. Subramaniam replied to Raman saying that, “I may say, however, that subject to the condition that the assistance to be given by the Government of India, if any, will be taken into account in fixing the actual grant, this Government will be willing to meet a maximum of half the non-recurring cost of establishing the research institute and to make a suitable annual recurring grant for five years in the first instance.”

With the erstwhile Madras Government listing several conditions as part of the grant-in-aid code for a half grant towards construction of the institute and repeated suggestions for securing the Union Government’s financial support, Sir Raman’s subsequent letter to Mr Subramaniam points at his reluctance to seek help from New Delhi. “My experience and present knowledge of the attitude of the Central Government in matters concerning scientific research alike indicate thatany application for a building grant made to that Government for the proposed institute would be met with a refusal. Not until the institute has been fully established and proved itself useful would the Central Government feel at all inclined to extend a helping hand to it,” mirrors his disinclination to write to the Centre.

And thus, what could’ve been one of the finest research institutions of the country couldn’t take shape because of the Nehruvian policies of exclusion!
Source : Organiser 
Read a short biosketch of CV Raman here
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Quantum Indians – A Tribute to 3 Great Scientists

When CV Raman got the Noble prize, he cried on the stage stating “I am coming from a country which does not have its own flag and I cannot even call myself a free Indian”. He dedicated his prize to the freedom fighters of India. Exemplary scientists who were fired with imagination and also the spirit of nationalism.

This film is a tribute to the three exemplary minds, the significance of whose contributions was of vital importance during that time, and even today with great strides being made in quantum physics, fibre optics, nuclear science or astrophysics. They were not only great scientists, but were rooted to the social and political realities of the time and dedicated their lives to modern science in India. Along with being institutions by themselves, they built stellar institutions in the country that inspired many great scientists of the following generations.

Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (C.V. Raman)

CV Raman

Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman(November 1888 – 21 November 1970) was an Physicist of Bharat,  born in the former Madras Province, 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.

Raman passed his matriculation examination at the age of 11 and he passed his F.A. examination (equivalent to today’s Intermediate exam) with a scholarship at the age of 13. Love of science, enthusiasm for work and the curiosity to learn new things were natural to Raman. Nature had also given him the power of concentration and intelligence. He used to read more than what was taught in the class. When doubts arose he would set down questions like How?”, “Why?” and “Is it true” in the margin of the textbooks.

At the age of 19, Raman held a high post in the Government. He was appointed as Assistant Accountant General in the Finance Department in Calcutta. One evening Raman was returning from his office in a tramcar. He saw the name plate of the “Indian Association for the Civilization of Science”. Immediately he got off the tram and went in. Dr. Amritlal Sircar was the Honorary Secretary of the Association. There were spacious room and old scientific instruments, which could be used for demonstration of experiments.

Raman asked whether he could conduct research there in his spare time. Sircar gladly agreed. Raman took up a house adjoining the Association. A door was provided between his house and the laboratory. During the daytime he would attend his office and carry out his duties.
His mornings and nights were devoted to research.

Raman was appointed as Professor in Science College of Calcutta. He sacrificed the Government job which gave him good salary. Raman was deeply interested in musical instruments. Sir C. V. Raman had proved that plant growth can be positively influenced by music, as the plants have life. Smilarly cows and buffaloes yielded more milk when music was played.

Raman was president of the 16th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1929. He was conferred a knighthood, and medals and honorary  doctorates by various universities. He did eventually win the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his work on the scattering of light and for the
discovery of the Raman effect”. He was the first Asian and first non-white to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences. Before him Rabindranath Tagore had received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Raman and Suri Bhagavantam discovered the quantum photon spin in 1932, which further confirmed the quantum nature of light.During his tenure at IISc, he recruited the then talented electrical engineering student, G. N. Ramachandran, who later was a distinguished X-ray crystallographer.

Two days before Raman died, he told one of his former students, “Do not allow the journals of the Academy to die, for they are the sensitive indicators of the quality of science being done in the country and whether science is taking root in it or not.”

Source: “Dr.C.V.Raman” Book by A. KRISHNA BHATT; and Wikipedia