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- We are always associated with science and its related reach
- Indian scientists have made some cutting-edge research work in various fields
- India’s huge strides in the field of Space program is the result of extensive rersearch work done by many famous Indian scientists
Science is something we are surrounded very briskly. Science has occupied us more aggressively than we can ever assume even. From our regular cellphone to innovative technologies of the 21st century, from our smart homes to space technology, it all fits into science and technology. We can’t imagine a day without the assistance provided by the science.
India has come up a long way in the field of science and technology. The invention of zero and the discovery of ‘Raman Effect”, are all credited to Indian scientists, as they have immensely contributed to their research works.
To appreciate the bliss of such comfort, we have compiled a list of fifteen famous Indian scientists who have changed the whole scenario of living and even achieved global recognition for their immense support to the humanity.
1. Vikram Sarabhai
Vikram Sarabhai is considered as the Father of India’s space program. He was born on 12 August 1919. Vikram Sarabhai’s contribution to the Indian space program is well-known. He was the sole man behind the establishment of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and the Nehru Foundation for Development.
After the launch of the Russian Sputnik satellite, Vikram Sarabhai was able to convince the Indian government about the importance of a space program for a developing nation.
He was honoured with many prestigious awards including Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal in 1962, Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972
2. APJ Abdul Kalam
The former President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was elite spearhead scientist of India. His contribution remains indispensable in the field of defence and missile programs. He worked for two of the most decorated Indian institutes, one as the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and other one is Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Abdul Kalam was born on October 15, 1931. In one of his books, he talked about making India a developed nation by 2020. Abdul Kalam’s love for young generation can be gauged by the fact that he had set a goal of meeting 100,000 students in 2 years after his resignation from the role of scientific adviser in 1999.
Abdul Kalam kick-started his career with designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army. After that, he was moved to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) as the project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). The program resulted in the successful deployment of the Rohini satellite in earth’s orbit in July 1980.
For his contribution towards science and technology, Abdul Kalam was bestowed with prestigious award including Bharat Ratna.
He has inspired millions of people around the globe with his dedication and hard work and he still remains the idol for many of us.
3. Homi Bhabha
Homi Bhabha is acknowledged as the father of Indian nuclear power. Homi Jehangir Bhabha is better known as Homi Bhabha. He was born on October 30, 1909, in Bombay. He is known for his crucial role in the Quantum Theory.
He started his scientific career in nuclear physics from Great Britain. After completing his education in London, Homi Bhabha returned to India and convince the Congress Party’s senior leaders, especially Jawaharlal Nehru, to start the indigenous nuclear programme. Although, he was very much against the development of atomic bombs, even if the country had enough resources to do so. He rather advocated the use of nuclear energy to wave off India’s misery and poverty.
Finally, Homi Bhabha was decorated as the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.
He lost his life in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. There are many conspiracy theories and speculation regarding the role of CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in the plane crash. As some reports suggested, CIA was very much averse to the advancement of India’s nuclear program.
4. Venkatraman Radhakrishnan
Venkatraman Radhakrishnan was an Indian space scientist and is known for his design and fabrication of ultra-light aircraft and sailboats. Radhakrishnan was born on May 18, 1929, and died at the age of 81.
Radhakrishnan was an internationally honoured Astrophysicist. His work helped in understanding the space and many mysteries surrounding pulsars, galaxy structures, interstellar clouds and other celestial bodies. For his work in space exploration, he was taken as the member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
5. M Visvesvaraya
Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was a distinguished Indian scientist, engineer, scholar and statesman. He stressed upon industrialization. He wanted India to be at par with industrialized nations as he believed that India can become developed through industries.
M Visvesvaraya was born on 15 September 1860. He is honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest award.
M Visvesvaraya is acknowledged for his work of inventing ‘automatic sluice gates’ and ‘block irrigation system’ which are still wonders in engineering. He also innovated an efficient way of filtering water through ‘Collector Wells’ in 1895 which was a sensation in itself.
Due to his valuable contribution to engineering, his birthday is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India.
6. Jagadish Chandra Bose
Jagadish Chandra Bose is known for pioneering in the study of radio and microwave optics which helped in the study of plants and establishing the experimental science in the Indian sub-continent. He was born on 30 November 1858. People used to call him as Acharya J.C. Bose. Jagadish Chandra Bose was a multi-talented personality, as he was well versed as a polymath, physicist, biologist, botanist and archaeologist.
Jagadish Chandra Bose was the first person to demonstrating wireless communication with the help of semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. His other works include the invention of the Crescograph. Through this, he was able to study the plant’s response to various stimuli and proved that plants can feel pain, understand affection etc.
He is also considered to be the father of open technology. He wanted people to work on his developments and thus never patented his work. Jagadish Chandra Bose was also very much into the writing of science fiction and he is also considered as the father of Bengali science fiction.
7. Subrahmanyan Chandrashekar
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was the nephew of the famous Indian scientist, CV Raman. The term, “Chandrasekhar limit” is named after him. He was born on October 19 and died on August 21, 1995, at the age of 82 in Chicago.
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His best-known work was in the radiation of energy from stars, particularly white dwarf stars, which are the dying fragments of stars. For his mathematical theory of black holes, Chandrasekhar was conferred Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983.
In 1953, Chandrasekhar was granted United States citizenship.
8. Satyendra Nath Bose
Satyendra Nath Bose was popularly known as SN Bose. He was an Indian physicist and known for his work in the field of ‘bosons‘, which were named after him by Paul Dirac to commemorate his work in the field. He specialized in quantum mechanics.
Once Satyendra Nath sent a short article on “Planck’s Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta” to Albert Einstein. Interestingly, this article was accepted by Einstein and translated into German. Later it got published in Zeitschrift für Physik under Bose’s name, in 1924. Satyendra Nath also gave a lecture at the University of Dhaka on the theory of radiation and the ultraviolet catastrophe.
The Rabindranath Tagore’s book on science, ‘Visva–Parichay’ was dedicated to him in 1937. Satyendra Nath was also awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954.
9. CV Raman
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman is popularly known as CV Raman and was an Indian scientist. He was born in Tiruchirapalli on November 7, 1888. CV Raman won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for his pioneering work on scattering of light. He was the first Asian and first non-White to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences.
His other works include the working of the acoustics of musical instruments. CV Raman was the one who probed into the sound of the Indian drums such as the Tabla and the Mridangam. “Raman scattering” still remains most accepted and notable work of CV Raman. He explained that, when light passes through a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes into wavelength and this causes “Raman Effect”.
Unfortunately, in October 1970, he fell unconscious while working and was immediately moved to a hospital. Doctors advised him to stay there but he was adamant about moving to his Institute (the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore) and live his last moments in the vicinity of flowers of his institute. He was laid to rest on 21 November 1970.
Before taking his last breath, CV Raman uttered, “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.”
10. Srinivasa Ramanujan
Ramanujam was an Indian mathematician who, with almost no formal training in pure mathematics, made extraordinary contributions. His work includes mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.
Ramanujam was born on December 22, 1887, and by age 11, he hushed up the mathematical knowledge of two college students who were lodgers at his home.
By the age of 13, he mastered a book on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney and came up with his own theorems.
During his stay in England, Ramanujam faced a lot of health problems due to the scarcity of vegetarian food. After that, he came back India and died at the age of 32.
Tamil Nadu celebrates 22 December (Ramanujan’s birthday) as ‘State IT Day’, memorializing his unprecedented feats in mathematics.
Tenali Ramakrishna, or Tenali Raman as he is more popularly known is Birbal's equivalent in South India. A court jester and a scholar exuding great wisdom, Tenali Raman was known as one of the greatest courtiers in King Krishnadevaraya's court.
The Vijayanagar Empire ruled a large part of South India between 1336 and 1646. In the 16th century, the kingdom rose to prominence under the eminent leadership of King Krishnadevaraya. His continuous victories against his enemies ensured a successful and peaceful reign for his subjects. As a patron of art and literature, many crafts and cultural assets thrived in the empire.
Krishnadevaraya's beloved courtier, Tenali Raman is the finest example of the splendour of the Vijayanagar empire. He was born in Tenali, a town in Andhra Pradesh. He lived here until he lost his father, after which his mother brought him to Vijayanagar. He was discovered for his excellent wit and wisdom, and appointed in the court. He was one of the king's ashtadiggajas (collective name for the eight poets and scholars).
A statue of Tenali Ramakrishna near a Municipal Office in Andhra Pradesh Image source: wikimedia commons
Tenali Raman as a scholar, published great texts of wisdom, which have now become artefacts of the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. But his fame does not lie in these achievements. He is known for the mischievous jester that mythical folklore portrays him to be. Through stories, many writers have used jokes to impart wisdom and morals to many generations of people. The stories of Tenali Raman are almost legendary in the Southern peninsula.
Textbooks have been written with his moral stories in mind, and these days, many self-help book are also incorporating his wisdom. His most popular stories are, 'Mother Tongue', 'Cursed Face', 'Saluting the Donkeys' and many more. Through these stories, Tenali Raman, in some way, brought about social justice. Perhaps this is why he is most beloved by many people even today.
Keywords: Tenali Raman, Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadevaraya, Jester, Wisdom
It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there’s no mention of Sita’s abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki’s Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana’s pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki’s version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
When a baby is born in an Indian household-they invite hijra to shower the newborn with their blessings for their blessings confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. But when that child grows up we teach them to avert their eyes when a group of hijras passes by, we pass on the behaviour of treating hijras as lesser humans to our children. Whenever a child raises a question related to gender identity or sexuality they are shushed down. We're taught to believe that anything "deviant" and outside of traditional cis-heteronormativity is something to be ashamed of. This mentality raises anxious, scared queer adults who're ashamed of their own identity, and adults who bully people for "queer behaviour".
Hijras are a community of people who include eunuchs, intersex, and transgender people. They worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata. Most hijras, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony known as "nirvana" in which they remove their male genitalia as an offering to their goddess. The whole community is vibrant with hundreds of people with hundreds of ways of expression, the true identity of a hijra is complex and unique to each individual. In India, hijras prefer to refer to themselves as Kinner/Kinnar as it means the mythological beings who excel at singing and dancing.
Hijras worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata.homegrown.co.in
The hijra community works systematically, the community separates itself from the outside world and teaches lessons to the young ones in secret. Each community has a guru and the other hijras are their disciples or chela. The "hijra ways of life" are taught to the disciples in a secluded environment where they leave their families and live with other hijras in the community. More often than not hijras are thought of as nothing different from transgender and often referred to as transgender; however, scientifically these two terms denote a different class of people. Hijras are a part of the whole community of people with various identities and of spiritual and cultural values meanwhile, transgender merely refers to those people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, they are a part of the community and do not represent the whole community.
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Historically and culturally the community has existed in the Indian subcontinent as long as the civilization has existed. There are mentions of hijra in The Mahabharata, a holy book of Hindus. Shikhandi who was neither male nor female is a mythological legend. In another version of Mahabharata Arjuna, one of the Pandavas was cursed to be the third gender by Urvashi, when he refused to be sexually involved with her. In a story by Padma Purana, it is seen that Arjuna transforms into a woman to take part in Krishna's mystical dance which only women can take part in. The Hijra figures are prominent in Indian Mughal History as well, referred to as Khwaja Siras and known for their loyalty to the ruler, they worked as the sexless watchdogs of the Mughal harems. They held important positions in court and various facets of administration during Mughal-era India, from the 16th to 19th century. The Hijra community is a testament to the sexual diversity that is integral yet often forgotten in Indian culture.
If the whole hijra community was looked upon with enamor and respect in our history, what happened that when we come across the community we look at them with contempt and are filled with a mixture of negative, fear, laughter, and odd emotions. It's owing to the fact that under British Raj, the Criminal tribes Act 1871 hijras were criminalized and the law was made to eradicate the whole community. However, these acts were abolished by the Indian government after independence, and by 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh all had officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights where the third gender means individuals categorizing themselves as neither male nor female. Even though the progress is slow but in 2015 Madhu Kinnar became the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh.
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Although the hijra community was revered by society and is invited to births and weddings for religious and spiritual ceremonies, they still become victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hate crimes against the community have become common. They are deprived of education, job opportunities, seating in restaurants, etc. leading them to live in poor conditions barely surviving. They often have to resort to begging and prostitution to earn a daily living. The government has tried to address this issue by introducing bills for the protection of the hijra community, with prison terms and other punishments for those offending them, but there is little to no less effect on the social stigma against the community.
In India, the hijra community comes under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ and we notice that they lack voice and representation when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. We need to understand that when we fight for LGBTQ+ rights we fight for the whole community, we fight for hijras who have been victims of violence, hate crimes, and disrespect from none other than the people of our society. And although hijras are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, they have an independent subculture of their own. It is worth every effort to know about them, to study about them, to befriend them, and to smile at them for they are every bit of human as we are and they have nothing but blessings in their heart.