“Indian Institute of Science is the only Indian institution that has a chance to break into the list of top institutes in the world“, said Bharata Ratna Prof C N R Rao. He was speaking at the IISc Alumni Global Conference at the J N Tata Auditorium in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus.
The IISc Alumni felicitated the legendary scientist for his remarkable contributions to science. Prof Rao is associated with the IISc for more than fifty years, and his path breaking research has brought laurels to the country in general, and to the IISc in particular.
“My life is intimately connected with this Institute”, he said with a sense of nostalgia. Recollecting his early days in the Institute, he said, “Some of the best friendships of my life were developed here. I met JRD Tata and Satish Dhawan at the IISc”. He called Satish Dhawan “the moral conscience of Indian science”. Prof Rao also revealed that he proposed to his wife Indumati, by calling from a landline phone in the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry! Back then, that was the only phone in the whole Department! He also wrote his first scientific paper as an independent author, when he was at IISc.
In his speech, Prof Anurag Kumar, Director, IISc said, “Our vision is to be among the world’s foremost academic institutions”. He took the audience through the research activities and infrastructural developments taking place in IISc. He also unveiled a path to realise the vision of making IISc one of the best in the world.
In a session on ‘Contribution of IISc to Strategic Sectors’, leaders from Indian science and technology elaborated on how IISc has played an important role in the development of many technologies of national importance. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, Space Commission, and an IISc alumnus, said, “If ISRO exists today, it’s mostly because of its connections with IISc”. The architects of the Indian space program, Vikram Sarabhai and Prof Satish Dhawan, had very close connections with IISc. Prof Dhawan also served as the Director of IISc from 1962 to 1981.
Bhujanga Rao, Director General, DRDO said, “IISc has contributed a lot in the form of talent. Many of leaders of DRDO studied in IISc”. Elaborating on the “long history of partnership since 1970’s”, he mentioned that a lot of basic research critical for DRDO get done at IISc. “Many faculty members from various departments of IISc are deeply involved in DRDO projects”, he said.
Baldev Raj, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, spoke about the role of IISc in the development of atomic energy technologies in India. “Homi Bhabha, the father of atomic energy program, extensively used his connections with IISc”, observed Baldev Raj. Calling IISc his mother, he said, “Without IISc, I wouldn’t have achieved even a small fraction of what I achieved”.
Kota Harinaraya, Former Chief, LCA Programme, explained how IISc played a crucial role in the development of India’s first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas. He said, “IISc has nourished the LCA program, and the Department of Aerospace of Engineering virtually it”. According to him, many IISc faculty members worked a lot on the design of the aircraft, development of software tools, and in rigorous testing of components of the aircraft.