Sir Shanti SwaroopBhatnagar (21 February 1894 - 1 January 1955) was a well-known Indian scientist.
Bhatnagar was born in Shahpur,Punjab, British India( now in Pakistan), in a Hindu Punjabi family. His father died when he was eight months old and he spent his childhood in the house of his maternal grandfather, an engineer, where he developed a liking for science and engineering. He used to enjoy building mechanical toys, electronic batteries, string telephones. From his maternal family he also inherited a gift of poetry, and his Urdu one-act play Karamati won the first prize in a competition.
Education and Early research
He went to England on a research fellowship after completing his Master's Degree in India. He received hisD.Sc from the University College London in 1921, under the guidance of chemistry professor Frederick G. Donnan. After returning to India, he was awarded a professorship at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He was knighted in 1941 by the British Government as a reward for his research in science. On 18 March 1943 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. His research interests included emulsions, colloids, and industrial chemistry, but his fundamental contributions were in the field of magneto-chemistry. He used magnetism as a tool to know more about chemical reactions. The Bhatnagar-Mathur interference balance, which he designed along with a physicist R.N. Mathur was later manufactured by a British firm. He also composed the kulgeet (anthem) of BHU, which is sung with great reverence prior to university functions.
Work in India
Prime Minister Nehru was a proponent of scientific development, and after India's independence in 1947, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) was set up under the chairmanship of Dr.Bhatnagar. He was named the first Director General of the CSIR. He became known as "the Father of Research Laboratories" and is largely remembered for having established various chemical laboratories in India. He established a total twelve national laboratories such as Central Food Processing Technological Institute, Mysore, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, the National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur, the Central Fuel Institute, Dhanbad, just to name a few.
While at CSIR, he mentored numerous other promising young scientists of the time who were working in the very productive climate in those days at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) in Kolkata, including SyamadasChatterjee, Santilal Banerjee (MSc Gold Medalist- Dacca University and a DSc from the US) who later moved to the National Physical Laboratory in Delhi at Bhatnagar's urging), AsutoshMookherjee etc. Bhatnagar also closely followed the work of C. V. Raman and KariamanickamSrinivasa Krishnan at IACS on the Raman Effect and in particular the work Krishnan and his partner, Santilal Banerjee, were doing on the magnetism of small crystals.
Shanti SwaroopBhatnagar played a significant part along with HomiJehangirBhabha, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Vikram Sarabhai and others in building of India's post-independence science & technology infrastructure and policies. Bhatnagar was the Founder Director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which was to later become a major agency for research in independent India. He was the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).He was Secretary, Ministry of Education and Educational Adviser to Government. Bhatnagar played an important role both in the constitution and deliberations of the Scientific Manpower Committee Report of 1948.
Bhatnagar was a University Professor for 19 years (1921-40) first at the Banaras Hindu University and then at the Punjab University and he had a reputation as a very inspiring teacher and it was as a teacher that he himself was most happy. His research contribution in the areas of magneto chemistry and physical chemistry of emulsion were widely recognised. He also did considerable work in applied chemistry. He played an instrumental role in the establishment of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) of India, which bridges the gap between research and development. Bhatnagar was responsible for the initiation of the Industrial Research Association movement in the country. He constituted the one-man Commission in 1951 to negotiate with oil companies for starting refineries and this ultimately led to the establishment of many oil refineries in different parts of the country. He induced many individuals and organisations to donate liberally for the cause of science and education. He exhibited high poetic talent particularly in Urdu.
After his death, CSIR established the Shanti SwaroopBhatnagar Award for eminent scientists in his honour.