Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards

Dr. S.S. Verma, Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal, Distt-Sangrur (Punjab)-148106

2019-03-04 07:31:14



Science and technology has its special role and space in every society and India is also in front of recognizing the talent of its young scientists and technologists by bestowing on them with Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) awards every year.  The SSB awards in science and technology are considered very prestigious at the national level. It always creates a curiosity in the people associated with the growth of science and technology in India to come to know about the receipts of these prestigious awards every year.

Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar

Dr Bhatnagar passed the intermediate examination of the Panjab University in 1913 in the first division and joined Forman Christian College for the BSc degree. After taking the Bachelor’s degree in 1916 he decided to take up his first formal employment as Demonstrator in the Physics and Chemistry Department of the Forman Christian College. Later he became the Senior Demonstrator in the Dyal Singh College (Punjab). The employment, however, did not hinder Bhatnagar’s efforts in pursuing higher studies. He joined the MSc course in chemistry in the Forman Christian College. After completing his Master’s degree he went to England to complete his DSc from London University in 1921. Bhatnagar returned to India the 

same year and joined BHU and later to Panjab University, Lahore in 1928, Bhatnagar jointly invented with Dr N. Mathur an instrument called Bh-M-I-B, which was exhibited at Royal Society, by a company in London. Dr Bhatnagar provided innovation solution to several industrial problems and persistently refused personal monetary benefit research facilities at universities. Dr Bhatnagar died of heart attack on 1 January 1955.

Dr Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was the Founder Director (and later first Director General) of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) who is credited with establishing twelve national laboratories in as many years. Dr Bhatnagar played a significant role in building of post independent S & T infrastructure and in the formulation of India’s S & T policies. Dr Bhatnagar concurrently held number of important position in the Government. He was the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). He was Secretary, Ministry of Education and Educational Adviser of Government. He was the first Secretary to Ministry of Natural Resource & Scientific Research and also Secretary of Atomic Energy Commission. He played an instrument role in the establishment of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) of India. His research contribution in the areas of magneto chemistry and physical chemistry of emulsion were widely recognized. In 1936, Dr Bhatnagar was conferred with Order of British Empire (OBE). He was Knighted in 1941and elected Fellow of Royal Society, London in 1943. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 by the President of India.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) Awards

The prestigious award "Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) Prize for Science & Technology" was instituted in his honour.   It was first awarded in 1958.  Given out in seven disciplines – i) Biological, ii) Engineering, iii) Medical, iv) Chemical, v) Physical, vi) Mathematical, as well as vii) Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Plenary Sciences - the awards are given out on February 28, the National Science Day which marks the 1928 discovery of the Raman Effect by India’s first Nobel Laureate in science, CV Raman. The Prize is given each year for outstanding contributions to science and technology. SSB Prizes, each of the value of Rs 5,00,000 (Rupees five lakh only), are awarded annually for notable and outstanding research, applied or fundamental. The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding Indian work in science and technology. Any citizen of India engaged in research in any field of science and technology up to the age of 45 years as reckoned on 31st December of the year preceding the year of the Prize is eligible for the prize. Overseas citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) working in India are also eligible. The Prize is bestowed on a person who, in the opinion of CSIR, has made conspicuously important and outstanding contributions to human knowledge and progress – fundamental and applied – in the particular field of endeavour, which is his/her specialization. The Prize is awarded on the basis of contributions made through work done primarily in India during the five years preceding the year of the Prize.  

SSB awards-2018

The winners were awarded a cash prize and a plaque by Prime Minister.  A skewed gender-ratio was clearly visible – there was only one one woman among the awardees. Several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) combined won eight awards at the ceremony for the coveted Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, in New Delhi. Close behind the IITs was the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc), which won seven prizes at the ceremony. Most of the awards for scientists working with the IITs came in the fields of Engineering and Mathematics-three in each category. The awards won by IISc were more evenly spread, with the institute’s scientists winning the prize in the fields of Engineering, Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Chemical Sciences, among others. Others won it for pioneering works that included designing models and algorithms to solve online problems and problems of clustering, scheduling and network design (Amit Kumar of IIT-Delhi), and the development of end-to-end carrier-class networking solutions and carrier Ethernet switch routers used in the national infrastructure (Ashwin Anil Gumatse of IIT-Bombay), and molecular mechanisms for red cell invasion as highly potent targets for malaria vaccine targets (Deepak Gaur of JNU, New Delhi) 

Awardees in Physical Sciences

Dr. Aditi Sen works with the Harish Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad, was awarded in the physics category for her work in “quantum information and communication, including the formulation of a computable entanglement measure and a novel density-matrix recursion method”. Dr.Aditi Sen De, after doing her schooling (1992), B.Sc. (1995) and M.Sc. (1997) from Kolkata, did her Ph.D. from University of Gdansk, Poland in 2004. Worked as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow, University of Hannover, Germany (Jan'04-Jan'05), Postdoctoral Fellow, ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Spain (Feb'05-Jan'07), Ramon-y-Cajal Fellow, ICFO-The iNstitute of Photonic Sciences, Spain (Jan'07-Nov'08), Assistant Professor, School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (Dec'08-July'09) and then joined  Harish-Chandra Research Institute, India in August 2099. As per Google scholar data, Dr. Aditi Sen has to her credit: Total No. of Publications: 231; Publication in 2010-2013: 30; Citations- 4430; h-index-23 and i10-index-52.

Dr.Ambrish Ghosh is an associate professor (working since 2009) at the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He is known for his work on nanorobots, active matter physics, Plasmonics and Nanophotonics and liquid helium. Dr. Ghosh did his five year integrated M.Sc. Physics (1997) from  IIT Kharagpur and Ph.D. (2004) from Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. Dr. Ghosh worked postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, USA from 2005-2009. As per Google scholar data, Dr. Ghosh has to his credit: five patents, total No. of publications: 271; publications 53, 49, 47, 56, 57, 50, 50 (in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 & 2012 rexpectively); Citations- 3477; h-index-30 and i10-index-66.

Words of concern

Along with SSB awards recipients, congratulations to planners and administration of IISc, Bengaluru, IITs, and IISERs  and few CSIR research institute & laboratories who have made to the list of awardees.  No doubt due limited number of awardees, it does not reflect the true status of science and technology in other educational and research institutes all over the country.  But, still it is really surprising not to see any receipt of SSB awards-2018 from any University in country (out of 821 in all categories) and NITs (31 in all). Moreover, only one woman recipient of SSB award clearly indicate the state of women in science and technology in the country at higher level. Need is to select dedicated people to the job and motivate them further to excel in their pursuits in the growth of science and technology not at national level but at international level.  People showing excellence in research from institutes like IISc, IITs, IISERs, clearly indicates towards their deep exposure, experience and training in science and technology in developed countries.  Science and technology planners of the country need to make it possible to design policies and facilities so that science and technology percolate to the lowest level of the populace in India.  At school, college and university level there is a need to create an environment which can strengthen and motivate student’s attitude towards science and technology.  However, the deep rooting of science and technology in places like IISc, IITs, IISERs in India give us a hope that getting Noble Prize in sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Medical Sciences) after 1930 (Sir CV Raman in Physics) will come true before celebrating its 100 years.