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CV Raman, the man who discovered why seas appear blue

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Photo: www.gqindia.com

By Nithin Sridhar

India has produced many scientists and mathematicians throughout history who have made many significant contributions that has not only furthered the scientific knowledge, but has also revolutionized human life. One such Indian scientist was Sir CV Raman, who was born on this day, i.e. November 7 in 1888 and who later went on to make unique contributions in the field of optics and acoustics that had revolutionized scientific knowledge.

His life: Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, or CV Raman as he was popularly known was born in Tiruchirapalli in the present day Tamil Nadu as a second child of Chandrasekhar Iyer and Pravathi Ammal.

His father was a lecturer of Physics and Mathematics and Raman was naturally exposed to the wonders of science right from childhood. He finished his matriculation at the age of eleven and then he joined Presidency College in 1902, Madras to pursue Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Physics. He won a gold medal in his BA examinations in 1904 and passed his Master of Arts (MA) in 1907 with highest distinctions.

He joined Indian Finance Department in 1907 as Deputy Accountant general in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and in the same year he married Lokasundari Ammal as well. After joining the financial department, Raman found very little time to indulge in his scientific research yet he managed to keep his interest alive by working on experimental research in the laboratory of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) during his free time.

Finally, in 1917, when Raman was offered Palit Chair of Physics at Calcutta University, he immediately accepted the offer. In 1928, he along with his collaborators at IACS conducted experiments on the scattering of lights and that led to the discovery of what is now famous as Raman Effect. He won the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1930.

Later, he left IACS and moved to Bangalore in 1933 to join Indian Institute of Science (IISc) as its first director. A year after retiring from IISc in 1948, he established Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, where he continued his research till 1970. He died on November 21 due to massive heart attack.

For his immense contribution to science, Raman was honored with a large number of honorary doctorates. He was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1924, and was also honored with Knighthood in 1929.

His Legacy

CV Raman made unique and far reaching contributions in the field of optics. In 1921, when Raman was on a voyage to Europe, he noticed the blue color of the glaciers and the Mediterranean Sea. This led him to investigate the phenomenon of scattering of light that led to the discovery of Raman Effect.

Raman Effect is effectively utilized in various different fields ranging from identifying minerals to detecting diseases and mapping cancerous cells. He also made significant contributions in the field of acoustics. He worked extensively on the acoustics of musical instruments. He, along with his student Nagendra Nath provided theoretical explanations for light scattering by sound waves.

Raman also studied spectroscopic behavior of crystals and the properties of diamond among other things. In 1926, he established Indian Journal of Physics and was also behind the establishment of Indian Academy of Sciences. He mentored various students like Nagendra Nath and G N Ramachandran.

CV Raman contributed to the growth of scientific research in modern India through his journals, institutes, and mentoring of students across the length and breadth of the country. But, most importantly, he served as an inspiration for many generations of budding Indian scientists and science enthusiasts.

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Anglophonic education: De-linking students from their roots

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By Dr Kallol Guha

Infosys chief Narayana Murthy, at the convocation speech of Indian Institute of Science on July 15th 2015 stated,

No big invention, earth-shaking idea from India in 60 years”. “Is there one invention from India that has become a household name in the globe? Is there one idea that has led to an earth shaking invention to delight global citizens? Folks, the reality is there is no such contribution from India in the last 60 years.”

In reference to the statement of Narayana Murthy; we must recall what the towering figures of India who at the peak of their fame advised fellow countrymen – that a young mind can understand and absorb concepts and acquires a much better ability to think originally in his/her indigenous language. It was their words of wisdom out of life experience.

Let there be no miscalculation. Higher education in mother tongue is the main catalyst for generating new and original ideas. That is precisely the reason why all great personalities advocated for higher education in vernacular language.  Deprivation of education in indigenous language prevents original thinking.

Personalities like CV Raman who won a Nobel Prize in 1930 and the only Indian Nobel Laureate in Physics, discovered that though incident light was monochromatic, the scattered light due to it, was not monochromatic. This observation is known as the “Raman Effect”. Being confined to colonial India, his interest was in Sanskrit and vibration of strings in Mridanga and Veena. These are the kind of personalities who, thoroughly conditioned by their own culture and heritage, also mastered skills in outlandish language.

Jagadish Chandra Bose in 1895 used an electric wave generator to fire a gun 75 feet away even though the two were not connected by wire. That was the prelude to days of remote control. His essays on scientific theories written in Bangla are proof of his literary talent in his own mother tongue.

Satyendra Nath Bose’s work laid the foundation of quantum statistics and gave rise to Bose-Einstein condensate – a dense collection of particles with a number of angular momentum called BOSON.  Bose’s life dream was to introduce higher technical education in mother tongue. Just recently one of the mainstream media houses wrote an article on “Who was Satyendra Nath Bose”?  Needless to say “Good Schools” of India do not bother to teach Indian children what they are and who they are.

Colonial officials boasted of the ‘civilizing’ effect of American education. Here American flags decorate the classroom of a colonial classroom.

Native Indians of USA often talk about the policy of “Take the Indians from the Indians”. The implication is that the design of American education is to de-link American Indians from their heritage and identity. It is tempting to ask WHY DELINK? The answer is simple–brand of education that de-links its students from their roots also blunts their intellectual capability and creativity.

Students conditioned through thoroughly Indianized education system have much better chance to make new intellectual contribution to various fields. A student well schooled in his/her language, literature, culture, tradition, history, religion among other factors, when exposed to technological subjects in outlandish language has a much better aptitude for innovative and original thinking.

On the other hand, students who are culturally conditioned through foreign language and are dissociated from their indigenous culture and language, as the situation in India today, may become “Your most obedient servant” -(an expression that was – in colonial legacy – commonly used in official correspondence in India until late sixties) but effectively stripped of the capacity of any original thinking.

Medium of current education in all former colonial countries like East and West Africa, Caribbean, South Asia is a language which is not indigenous. Hence, there is no chance that such an education will generate any original thinking, at least it has not done so in India since 1947.

The 10 percent Anglophonic Indians are able to imitate but not express their thoughts in either indigenous or in adopted language. Not only that, these pathetic elements are ignorant about their indigenous culture, heritage, literature, history, tradition and are comparable to the disposition of an illiterate who can barely read and write. They are proud of their pathetic imitation but ignorant of how they are treated as an object of pity by those whom they imitate.

This Anglophonic species is a miserable hybrid who can be branded as uncultured upstarts who are not conscious that they are suffering from identity crisis. These are the kind of products present day education is breeding. Nothing could be more stupid than to expect original contribution from products of such education which is designed to de-link Indians from India.

I wonder if Narayana Murthy would accept this as an explanation to his comment.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifts reproductions of C V Raman’s works to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gifted the German Chancellor Angela Merkel reproductions of some manuscripts and papers by Sir C V Raman who received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1930 for his work on scattering of light and whose life journey, even though he performed most of his studies and experiments in India, had a strong connection with Germany.

A major inspiration for C V Raman to pursue science as a career was the famous 19th century German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz. In a speech, he once compared von Helmholtz to Isaac Newton. Helmholtz’s famous book The Sensations of Tone motivated C V Raman to undertake a scientific study of acoustics of both Indian and western musical instruments.

Two of the scientists who nominated him for the Nobel Prize were the German physician Richard Pfeiffer and the German physicist Johannes Stark who had won the Nobel in 1919. The terms Raman Effect and Raman Spectrum themselves were coined in 1928 by a German physics professor at Berlin University, Dr Peter Pringsheim.

In 1928, Sir C V Raman invited Arnold Sommerfeld, the leading theoretical physicist in Germany, to lecture at the Calcutta University. There, Sommerfeld saw a demonstration of the Raman Effect and the two went on to form a lasting friendship. In 1933, Shri Raman took over as the Director of Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (now Bengaluru) where he invited several German scientists. These included George von Hevesy who went on to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1943. In 1935, Max Born, one of Germany’s leading theoretical physicists of that time (and, later, a Nobel Prize recipient), spent six months at the Institute.

The seeds of Indo-German research collaboration were sown in Raman’s time. Such collaboration has grown immensely over the years and now Germany is one of India’s leading partners in research. Modern laser technology and advances in techniques for the detection of scattered light have made Raman spectroscopy an important tool for the analysis of liquids, gases, and solids, and Raman’s work finds extensive application in diverse areas, including quantum chemistry – a field in which Chancellor Merkel holds a doctorate.