Birthday: February 21, 1894
Died At Age: 60
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar
Born in: Bhera
Famous as: Father of research laboratories
father: Parmeshwari Sahai Bhatnagar
Died on: January 1, 1955
place of death: New Delhi
Founder/Co-Founder: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
education: University of London, University of the Punjab, University College London, Banaras Hindu University
awards: Padma Bhushan (1954)
Fellow of the Royal Society (1943)
Who was Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar?
Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar was an Indian scientist, famously dubbed as the ‘Father of research laboratories’. He was the first director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and a professor of chemistry for over 19 years. If chemical industry is an important part of Indian economy, a lot of its credit goes to this pioneer for his sincere efforts and conviction. Though his areas of interest included emulsions, colloids, and industrial chemistry, but his primary contributions were in the spheres of magnetochemistry. He also made a melodious “kulgeet” i.e. University song for Banaras Hindu University, which is still sung with great pride before any function in the University. During his college years, he also wrote an Urdu play for which he was awarded a prize and a medal. He was, in a way, a bridge between two cultures and two eras. He greeted science with a mission and also valued literature as much as he loved science and engineering. Under his directorship, twelve laboratories were established all over the country for scientific research in multiple areas, including the ones for food processing, metallurgy and chemical research. He could be perfectly described as a unique persona, an exceptional amalgamation of science, engineering and literature.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on February 21, 1894 in Bhera, Shahpur District, British India to Parmeshwari Sahai Bhatnagar, a school master, and his wife.
When his father died, his mother returned to her father’s house in Sikandarabad, U.P where he spent most of his childhood.
His maternal grandfather was an engineer and gradually he also developed an interest in science and engineering. He was also drawn towards poetry through various literary works he encountered in his grandfather’s house.
He received his early education from the DAV High School, Sikandarabad. Then, he attended the Dayal Singh College, Lahore and became an active member of Saraswati Stage Society.
In 1913, he cleared the Intermediate Examination of the Punjab University in first class. Then he got enrolled in the Forman Christian College and completed graduation with major in physics in 1916, and MSc in chemistry in 1919.
After completing his masters, he was awarded a scholarship by the Dayal Singh College Trust to study abroad and he left for England. In 1921, he earned his D.Sc. degree from the London University under the guidance of chemistry professor Frederick G. Donnan.
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In 1921, after his return to India, he joined Banaras Hindu University (BHU) as a professor of chemistry. He served at BHU for the next three years and also wrote the University song ‘Kulgeet’ for BHU.
Later, he moved to the University of the Punjab, Lahore where he was appointed the Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of University Chemical Laboratories. It was the most active period of his scientific career.
He became involved in solving industrial problems of different organizations such as 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.
In 1940, the Board of Scientific and Industrial Research (BSIR) was formed for a period of two years and he was appointed as its Director. In 1941, he persuaded the government to set up an Industrial Research Utilisation Committee (IRUC) for further investment into industrial research.
In 1942, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was formed and the BSIR and IRUC became its advisory bodies. In 1943, CSIR approved his proposal to establish five national laboratories.
Post-independence, he was made the chairman of the CSIR and he became the first director general of the council. He established many laboratories and mentored many great minds during his tenure as the head of the CSIR.
He was appointed as the Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Educational Adviser to government. He played a significant role both in the constitution and deliberations of the Scientific Manpower Committee Report of 1948.
He was also instrumental in the establishment of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) of India and for the initiation of the Industrial Research Association movement in the country.
His major innovation was improving the procedure for drilling crude oil.
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His research contributions in the areas of magnetochemistry and physical chemistry of emulsion were widely recognized. He also did considerable work in applied chemistry.
He is largely celebrated for establishing various chemical laboratories in India such as Central Food Processing Technological Institute, Mysore; National Chemical Laboratory, Pune; the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi; the National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur and the Central Fuel Institute, Dhanbad.
Awards & Achievements
In 1936 New Year Honors List, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his excellent contributions to pure and applied chemistry.
In 1941, he was knighted by the British government for his contributions to science.
In 1943, he was elected a member of Royal Society of the United Kingdom.
In 1954, he was honored with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India.
The ‘Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology’, named in his honor, is awarded to outstanding scientists who made significant contributions in various branches of science since 1958.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was married to Lajwanti who died in 1946.
He died of a heart attack on January 1, 1955 in New Delhi, India.
He was the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission.