Highest civilian Padma Awards are bestowed by Government of India every year in different fields (like: science & engineering, medicine, art, trade & industry, social work, literature and education, sports, public affairs and others) to mostly Indian nationals with some exceptions to foreigners also in the recognition of one’s exceptional pursuits in comparison to others in the respective fields. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of a high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. With all the prerogative of Government of India screening and evaluation methodology, still the awards and awardees are always given high esteem in the society considering that the awardees must have shown some exceptional attributes. Padma awards for 2020 were declared by the Government of India on the eve of Republic Day. President of Indian approved this year 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri Awards among these only 33 have been awarded to women.
Padma awards in the field of science & engineering always attract the attention of the people in general but people associated with science and engineering in particular. Readers always would like to know the attributes of the awardees in the field to get inspired and motivated by their way of working and thinking towards the development as well as popularization of science and engineering for the benefit of mankind. This year eight Padma Shree (the fourth highest civilian honour in the country) awards are conferred in the field of science & engineering. This article aims to bring a brief introduction about these Padma awardees of 2020 in Science & Engineering and their works for the benefit of readers with a hope that their life and works will not only inspire and motivate the budding scientists and engineers in different fields towards excellence but also prove turning points to young students in choosing the science and engineering as a career.
Raman Gangakhedkar (from Maharashtra) is Head of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-NIV Pune. He leads the efforts of ICMR-NIV to curb viral diseases in India. Dr. Raman is a renowned pediatrician and public health expert with reference to reproductive and pediatric AIDS in India. Presently, he also the head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases division of ICMR. He is currently working as Professor for National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune, India. His research interest is HIV- AIDS. He published many articles in reputed Journals. His research interests include Drug Resistance, Risk Behaviours of HIV/AIDS, Risk Analysis: HIV, HIV, AIDS, HIV and AIDS Research, HIV/AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, HIV surveillance, HIV Super Infection, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Drug Resistance of HIV.
Sujoy K. Guha (from Bihar) is an Indian biomedical engineer. He was born in Patna, 20 June 1940. He did his undergraduate degree (B.Tech.) in electrical engineering from IIT Kharagpur, followed by a master's degree in electrical engineering at IIT, and another Master's degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He later received his Ph.D. in medical physiology from St. Louis University. He then founded the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, IIT Delhi and AIIMS and also obtained his MBBS degree from the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University. One of the founders of biomedical engineering in India, Prof. Guha is internationally known in the areas of rehabilitation engineering, bioengineering in reproductive medicine and technology for rural health care. He has received several awards and has more than 100 research papers in cited journals. In 2003 he became a chair professor at IIT Kharagpur. His major contributions have been in the invention and development of non-hormonal polymer-based injectable male contraceptive (RISUG) for which the Final Phase-III Clinical trials are underway; Problem-solving at a national level regarding contraceptives in mass usage, especially Copper T individualized spot air-conditioning system for hospital patients and rehabilitation of the blind, with emphasis on opening automobile repair as an employment avenue.
Sudhir Jain (from Gujarat) is currently serving his third term as director of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, which he joined as founder director in June 2009. He was on the faculty of IIT Kanpur for 35 years from 1984-2019. Dr. Jain is an internationally reputed scholar of earthquake engineering and a passionate academic administrator. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Roorkee, and Masters and Doctoral degrees from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He served as President of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering from 2014-18. He was elected Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering in 2003, and conferred Life Membership by the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) in 2013.
Navin Khanna (from Delhi), Recombinant Gene Products, was awarded Padam Shree in recognition of his achievements in the field of science at the service of the public. During the course of his research career at International centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) New Delhi, Dr. Khanna has developed the cost-effective, Dengue Day 1 diagnostic test, and the world’s first botanical drug against dengue. Together with this team, he has developed 26 diagnostic kits in as many years of research. Dr. Khanna has a prolific research career and has published more than 150 research papers in referred journals with more than 3500 citations with 35 h-index and 71 i10-index.
Kattungal Subramaniam Manilal (from Kerala) is an Emeritus of the University of Calicut, a botany scholar and taxonomist, who devoted over 35 years of his life to research, translation and annotation work of the Latin botanical treatise Hortus Malabaricus. This epic effort brought to light the main contents of the book, a wealth of botanical information on Malabar that had largely remained inaccessible to English-speaking scholars, because the entire text was in the Latin language.
Pradeep Thalappil (from Tamil Nadu) is an Institute professor and Professor of chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. He is also an Institute Chair Professor. In 2020 he has received the Padma Shri award for his distinguished work in the field of Science and Technology. He has also received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology in 2008 by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Harish Chandra Verma (from UP) is an Indian experimental physicist and a professor emeritus of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. Prof. Verma was born in 1952 in Darbhanga in Bihar. His field of research is nuclear physics. Prof. Verma is noted educator and retired IIT-Kanpur professor in Physics. He has made immense contribution not only to the field of physics, mathematics, but also social work. He has worked tirelessly to make easy and rich content so that students can understand science easily. He has also written several books in Physics for School and College level. He has developed more than 600 physics experiments which can be used by teachers as DEMOs in their classrooms. He has also produced a set of 45 video lectures in Hindi at school level through which teachers are explaining science to the students easily. Professor Verma has done and B Sc (Physics) from the Science College, Patna and later obtained his M Sc degree from IIT Kanpur. In early 1980, he joined the Patna Science College as a lecturer and stayed there for around 15 years before joining IIT Kanpur as Assistant Professor in 1994 in the Physics department. He has been instrumental is making a group of IIT Kanpur faculty members and students together with local youths to run an NGO called Shiksha Sopan. Through various centres in the villages around IITK Shiksha Sopan is in direct daily contact with about 250 families.
He also had deep interest in the glorious traditions of science in ancient India and has given talks on topics such as Mathematics before ZERO, Computation sciences in Ancient India, Surgery: A 9000 years olds tradition in India. Many students have have become scientists, doctors and engineers after reading Professor Verma's books and many more will be inspired by the amazing works of the brilliant educator. Dr. Verma is highly popular amongst class 11th and 12th students due to his well-known Physics reference book “Concept of Physics” known as a bible for IIT JEE preparation. Its two volumes remained as a best seller amongst a whole generation of engineering aspirants. Prof. Verma has also authored several under-graduate, graduate and school text and reference books.