It is a well known truth that everyone coming to this mortal world has to leave after a destined time. The month of July 2017 saw many great souls of Indian Science viz. Yash Pal, UR Rao, PK Kaw, Komaravolu Chandrasekharan, Mushi Santappa, Mihir Chowdhury, Devraj Sikka, Durga Prasad Roy, Anatol Roshko, C V Vishveshwara, M A L Thathachar & Chokkappa Kempanna, departing this world after leaving their great impacts on Indian Science and Technology. The great contributions in the field of science and technology made by these people as well as many others who departed this world even without getting a mention in news media, will always be remembered with great respect in general and by the people involved in science and technology in particular. People will always get motivated to follow the footsteps of these great science leaders of the country to achieve success with career in science and technology following the qualities of humility and hard work of these souls.
Here, I would like to pay my heartiest tributes to one of these great departed souls, i.e., Prof. PK Kaw. Myself, as IIT Delhi, Ph.D. student enrolled in 1983 in the Department of Physics, with supervisor few years junior to Prof. PK Kaw, it was natural to hear stories about Prof. PK Kaw from his contemporary fellows at IIT Delhi. Not only the department of Physics but IIT Delhi as a whole was under the influence of Prof. M S Sodha at that time and Prof. PK Kaw (Born in 1948) was Prof. Sodha’s first student to get a Ph.D. in 1966 (at the age of just 18 years). My Ph.D. supervisor Prof. BK Swahney was just a few years junior to Prof. PK Kaw with Prof. Sodha as a supervisor. So it was natural to hear stories about the first and quick completion of Ph.D. (in 2 years) by Prof. Kaw and then about his efforts to get a post doc at prestigious Princeton University (USA). It was told to us that Prof. PK Kaw was a very hardworking, intelligent having amicable nature. There was a story of getting a postdoct by Prof. Kaw at the Princeton University as a last chance after getting no from about 49 places out of 50 to which he had submitted post doc applications. This was the time when applying for postdoc positions was not that easy as it is today in the era of electronic revolution. One more story went like that Prof. PK Kaw was offered the founder Directorship by the then Prime minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi when Prof. Kaw was working as a research professor at Princeton University to setup and develop a research institute for studies of Plasma Physics leading towards fusion energy reactors. With great dedication and hard work towards research and appointing/motivating the research staff, the institute presently has come up as Institute of Plasma research (IPR), having established itself as centre of excellence in plasma research at par with research and research facilities to many such reputed institutes of the world. Such stories of Prof. Kaw were always told with great appreciation to new Ph.D. students in the Department at IIT Delhi at that time by their supervisors and senior students in order to motivate the young Ph.D. entrants for dedication in their research work.
Listening only to the great life stories of Prof. PK Kaw, I could not get an opportunity to personally meet him but had many chances to be present in Plasma related nation/international conferences in India where Prof. Kaw used to be an integral part throughout his association with the field. It was really great to see this great researcher to be present in the conferences from opening to closing session duly interacting with each and every speaker, thus, motivating young researchers in particular with his suggestions and ideas about the latest trends in the research of plasma physics. I pray to GOD that Prof. Kaw’s soul rest in peace and give strength to his family members and science (particularly plasma science) fraternity to live in his absence and do their best towards the progress of science and technology for which Prof. Kaw lived his life.