Indian scientists who changed the lives of Indians: let's know about 14 famous Indian scientists
Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

Science plays a vital role in our daily lives, often surpassing our awareness. The countless conveniences and indispensable technologies we rely on, ranging from our modern gadgets to space exploration, are all products of scientific and technological advancements. Contemplating a world without these remarkable inventions raises intriguing questions. Yet, we seldom pause to appreciate the extraordinary individuals behind these innovations, who have significantly improved our quality of life. In the following compilation, we highlight 14 Indian scientists who have garnered international acclaim for their groundbreaking contributions.

Table of Contents

14 famous Indian scientists

1-Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (C.V. Raman)

Indian scientists who changed the lives of Indians: let's know about 14 famous Indian scientists
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (C.V. Raman)

Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, a renowned Indian scientist, made significant contributions to the field of physics, leading to his notable achievement of winning the Nobel Prize in 1930. His groundbreaking research focused on the scattering of light, which revolutionized our understanding of this phenomenon. Born on November 7, 1888, in Tiruchirapalli, Raman holds the distinction of being the first Asian scientist to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences.

In addition to his work on light scattering, Raman delved into the acoustics of musical instruments. He conducted pioneering investigations into the harmonic properties of Indian drums like the tabla and the mridangam, showcasing his diverse scientific interests.

One of Raman’s significant discoveries was the observation that when light passes through a transparent substance, a portion of the scattered light experiences a change in wavelength. This phenomenon, now known as Raman scattering, is a direct result of the Raman effect.

A notable incident occurred in October 1970 when Raman unexpectedly collapsed in his laboratory. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors predicted that he had only four hours left to live. Remarkably, Raman defied the odds and survived. After spending a few days in the hospital, he decided to leave and spend his final moments in the serene gardens of his institute, the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, surrounded by the beauty of nature and his cherished flowers. On November 21, 1970, Chandrasekhara passed away peacefully due to natural causes.

Before his passing, Raman imparted valuable wisdom to his students, emphasizing the importance of preserving scientific journals. He encouraged them to ensure the longevity of these publications, as they serve as crucial indicators of the quality of scientific research conducted in the country and the progress of science as a whole.

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2-Homi J. Bhabha: Pioneering Indian Scientist and Advocate for Peaceful Nuclear Technology

Homi J. Bhabha: Pioneering Indian Scientist and Advocate for Peaceful Nuclear Technology

Born on October 30, 1909, in Bombay, Homi Jehangir Bhabha made significant contributions to the field of quantum theory. His remarkable achievements include becoming the first Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. After commencing his scientific journey in nuclear physics in Great Britain, Bhabha returned to India, where he played a crucial role in persuading influential leaders, notably Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress Party, to initiate a visionary nuclear program.

Bhabha is widely recognized as the driving force behind India’s nuclear power development. However, what remains lesser known is his staunch opposition to the production of atomic bombs in India, even when the country possessed sufficient resources to do so. Instead, he advocated for utilizing atomic reactors to alleviate India’s poverty and suffering.

Tragically, Bhabha’s life was cut short on January 24, 1966, when Air India Flight 101 crashed near Mont Blanc. Various theories surrounding the crash emerged, including a conspiracy theory suggesting the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to hinder India’s nuclear program.

Despite his untimely demise, Homi J. Bhabha’s legacy lives on as an eminent Indian scientist who not only advanced the frontiers of knowledge but also advocated for the peaceful use of nuclear technology to uplift the nation and its people.

3-Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya: Engineer, Scholar, and Statesman

3-Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya: Engineer, Scholar, and Statesman

Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, born on September 15, 1860, was a renowned Indian engineer, scholar, statesman, and the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. His significant contributions earned him the highest civilian honor in India, the Bharat Ratna.

Advocating Industrial Development: A Visionary Perspective

Sir M V Visvesvaraya was a strong advocate for India’s industrialization, believing that the nation could achieve development through the establishment of industries. He emphasized the importance of India striving to be on par with industrialized nations.

Engineering Marvels: Automatic Sluice Gates and Block Irrigation System

Notably, Sir M V Visvesvaraya invented the ‘automatic sluice gates’ and ‘block irrigation system,’ which are still considered engineering marvels to this day. His innovations have had a lasting impact in the field of engineering. In recognition of his contributions, Engineer’s Day is celebrated in India each year on his birthday, September 15.

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Revolutionary Water Filtration: The Collector Wells

Addressing the challenge of expensive river beds, Sir M V Visvesvaraya introduced an efficient water filtration system through ‘Collector Wells’ in 1895. This pioneering method was a rarity worldwide and showcased his engineering prowess and innovative thinking. (Source)

4-Venkatraman Radhakrishnan: Space Scientist and Innovator

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan: Space Scientist and Innovator

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, born on May 18, 1929, in Tondaripet, Chennai, gained global recognition as a distinguished space scientist and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His expertise extended beyond astrophysics, encompassing the design and fabrication of ultralight aircraft and sailboats.

Exploring Celestial Mysteries: Contributions to Astrophysics

Renowned for his astute observations and theoretical insights, Venkatraman Radhakrishnan significantly contributed to unraveling mysteries surrounding pulsars, interstellar clouds, galaxy structures, and various celestial bodies. His pioneering work made substantial contributions to the field of astrophysics.

End of an Illustrious Journey: Legacy and Passing

Venkatraman Radhakrishnan passed away in Bangalore at the age of 81. His remarkable achievements continue to inspire the scientific community, and his contributions to space science and innovation remain a testament to his exceptional legacy.

5-S. Chandrashekar: Nobel Laureate and Stellar Astrophysicist

5-S. Chandrashekar: Nobel Laureate and Stellar Astrophysicist

S. Chandrashekar, born on October 19, 1910, in Lahore, British India, received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes. The Chandrasekhar limit, named after him, holds significant importance in the study of stellar structures. Notably, he was the nephew of the renowned scientist C.V. Raman. Chandrashekar obtained United States citizenship in 1953.

Radiation from Stars: A Remarkable Contribution

Chandrashekar’s notable achievements revolved around the study of energy radiation from stars, particularly white dwarf stars, which are remnants of dying stars. His groundbreaking work in this field propelled advancements in understanding stellar structures.

A Lasting Legacy: Honors and Death

Chandrashekar passed away at the age of 82 in Chicago on August 21, 1995. His contributions to astrophysics and his impact on the scientific community remain invaluable, leaving a lasting imprint on the field.

6-Satyendra Nath Bose: Quantum Mechanics Pioneer

Satyendra Nath Bose: Quantum Mechanics Pioneer

Satyendra Nath Bose, born on January 1, 1894, in Calcutta, was an Indian physicist renowned for his contributions to quantum mechanics. He is primarily remembered for his significant role in the class of particles known as “bosons,” named in his honor by Paul Dirac.

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Bose-Einstein Statistics and Collaboration with Einstein

Bose’s notable achievement occurred when he adapted a lecture on the theory of radiation and the ultraviolet catastrophe at the University of Dhaka into a short article titled “Planck’s Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta.” He sent this article to Albert Einstein, who agreed with him and translated it into German, having it published in Zeitschrift für Physik under Bose’s name in 1924. This collaboration laid the foundation for Bose-Einstein Statistics.

Recognition and Honors: Contributions and Dedication

In 1937, Rabindranath Tagore dedicated his only book on science, Visva–Parichay, to Satyendra Nath Bose. Bose’s remarkable contributions were acknowledged by the Government of India, which awarded him the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, in 1954.

7-Meghnad Saha: Astrophysicist and River Planning Architect

Meghnad Saha: Astrophysicist and River Planning Architect

Meghnad Saha, born on October 6, 1893, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, made significant contributions to astrophysics, particularly in the field of thermal ionization of elements. His groundbreaking work led to the formulation of the Saha Equation, a fundamental tool for interpreting stellar spectra. By analyzing the spectra of stars, their temperature can be determined, and Saha’s equation helps determine the ionization state of the elements comprising the star.

Beyond astrophysics, Saha invented an instrument to measure the weight and pressure of solar rays. However, his talents extended even further as he played a pivotal role in river planning in India. Notably, he was the chief architect of the original plan for the Damodar Valley Project.

8-Srinivasa Ramanujan: Extraordinary Mathematician and Legacy

Srinivasa Ramanujan: Extraordinary Mathematician and Legacy
Srinivasa Ramanujan:

Srinivasa Ramanujan, born on December 22, 1887, in Tamil Nadu, India, is celebrated as an exceptional mathematician and autodidact. Despite minimal formal training in pure mathematics, he made remarkable contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.

Ramanujan’s incredible mathematical abilities became apparent at a young age. By the age of 11, he had surpassed the mathematical knowledge of two college students who resided in his home. He later delved into advanced trigonometry, mastering a book written by S. L. Loney by the age of 13 and independently discovering sophisticated theorems.

Unfortunately, Ramanujan faced numerous health challenges during his time in England, largely due to the scarcity of vegetarian food. He returned to India and tragically passed away at the young age of 32. Today, his home state of Tamil Nadu commemorates his birth anniversary, December 22, as ‘State IT Day,’ honoring both his remarkable accomplishments and lasting legacy.

9-Jagadish Chandra Bose: Multifaceted Pioneer in Science

Jagadish Chandra Bose

Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, born on November 30, 1858, in Bikrampur, West Bengal, India, was a polymath known for his contributions to multiple scientific disciplines. He excelled as a physicist, biologist, botanist, and archaeologist. Bose pioneered the study of radio and microwave optics, and he made significant contributions to plant science, laying the foundation for experimental science in the Indian subcontinent.

Among his notable achievements, Bose was the first to use semiconductor junctions for detecting radio signals, thereby demonstrating wireless communication for the first time. Additionally, he embraced the concept of open technology, freely sharing his inventions and work for others to further develop. His reluctance to patent his work became legendary.

Bose’s inventions also include the crescograph, a device that measured plant responses to various stimuli. Through his research, he hypothesized that plants can experience pain and exhibit understanding of affection.

Interestingly, alongside his scientific prowess, Jagadish Chandra Bose is considered the father of Bengali science fiction, showcasing his talents as an early writer in this genre.

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10-Vikram Sarabhai: Father of India’s Space Programme

Vikram Sarabhai: Father of India's Space Programme
Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram Sarabhai, born on August 12, 1919, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, is revered as the Father of India’s space program. He played a crucial role in establishing the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) after recognizing the significance of a space program for a developing nation, following the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik.

Sarabhai’s vision for the space program was articulated in his quote: “There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.”

His contributions were recognized with the Padma Bhushan in 1966, and posthumously with the Padma Vibhushan in 1972. Sarabhai’s impact extended beyond the realm of space exploration, as he also spearheaded the establishment of other prestigious Indian institutions, notably the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), and the Nehru Foundation for Development.

11-Salim Ali: The Birdman of India

Salim Ali: The Birdman of India

Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali, born on November 12, 1896, in Mumbai, India, was a distinguished ornithologist and naturalist. Recognized as the Birdman of India, Salim Ali conducted pioneering bird surveys across the country, contributing significantly to the development of ornithology in the subcontinent.

Key Figure and Influencer: Bombay Natural History Society

Ali played a pivotal role in the Bombay Natural History Society after 1947. His influential position allowed him to garner government support for the organization, shaping its growth and impact. In recognition of his remarkable contributions, he was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, in 1976.

12-Har Gobind Khorana: Pioneer in Biochemistry and Gene Synthesis

Har Gobind Khorana: Pioneer in Biochemistry and Gene Synthesis
Har Gobind Khorana

Har Gobind Khorana, born on January 9, 1922, in Raipur village (now in Pakistan), was an Indian-American biochemist. He shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for their research elucidating how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids controls protein synthesis in cells.

Groundbreaking Gene Synthesis and Biotechnological Impact

In 1970, Khorana achieved another significant milestone by synthesizing an artificial gene within a living cell. This groundbreaking work formed the basis for subsequent advancements in biotechnology and gene therapy.

The Khorana Program: Strengthening Scientific Collaboration

Few may be aware that the Khorana Program was established in 2007 as a joint initiative between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum. The program aims to foster collaboration between scientists, industrialists, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and India. Khorana passed away from natural causes on November 9, 2011, at the age of 89.

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13-Birbal Sahni: Pioneer in Paleobotany and Geology

Birbal Sahni: Pioneer in Paleobotany and Geology

Birbal Sahni, born on November 14, 1891, in West Punjab, India, made significant contributions to the field of paleobotany. As an esteemed paleobotanist and geologist, he conducted extensive studies on the fossils found in the Indian subcontinent. Sahni’s work encompassed both present and historical contexts, providing valuable insights into India’s plant life.

Honors and Founding the Paleobotanical Society

In 1936, Sahni received the prestigious honor of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS), becoming the first Indian botanist to achieve this distinction. He also played a pivotal role in establishing The Paleobotanical Society, which laid the foundation for the Institute of Palaeobotany. Initially operating within the Botany Department of Lucknow University, the institute has become a renowned center for paleobotanical research. Sahni passed away on April 10, 1949, due to a heart attack.

14-APJ Abdul Kalam: Visionary Scientist and People’s President

APJ Abdul Kalam: Visionary Scientist and People's President

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, born on October 15, 1931, was an esteemed Indian scientist. He served as an aerospace engineer for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Contributions and Achievements in Aerospace and Space Research

Kalam began his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army. He worked closely with Vikram Sarabhai, a renowned space scientist, as part of the INCOSPAR committee. In 1969, Kalam transferred to ISRO, where he served as the project director for India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). Under his leadership, the SLV-III successfully deployed the Rohini satellite into near-earth orbit in July 1980.

The People’s President and Vision for India

Beyond his scientific endeavors, Kalam served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He advocated for India’s development and outlined his vision in his book, “India 2020,” aiming to transform India into a developed nation by the year 2020. Recognized with numerous prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, Kalam’s love for children was evident in his goal of meeting 100,000 students in the two years following his resignation as the scientific adviser in 1999. His enduring legacy continues to inspire millions.

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