By Lohita Turlapati:
It seems the Sachin Mania has yet to die down since the resignation of the star cricketer, whose contribution to Indian cricket has been recognized world-wide and also with two jewels to his crown namely, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the most recent Bharat Ratna Award. Whilst the people are debating whether the little master was awarded a jewel too big, the Sachin hysteria is still gripping the nation. However, behind all this, an under-noticed Professor Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao quietly walked away with his own Bharat Ratna with not enough recognition and mass appreciation for his contributions to the country and achievements.
Dr. CNR Rao is the third scientist to be awarded the highest civilian award – Bharat Ratna, a crowning glory of his inexorable list of outstanding achievements following CV Raman and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
Born in 1934 to a family that nurtured Rao’s insatiable quest for learning, he is currently serving as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. After having completed his BSc in 1951 followed by a PhD in 1958, Rao joined the faculty of IIT, Kanpur in 1963. He has also had the privilege of meeting Nobel laureate professor C V Raman when he visited Rao’s school in 1946.
Rao, founder of the Bangalore-based Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, has served as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to Prime Minister under different regimes, a manifestation of immense faith different governments have placed in him.
A renowned scientist and an institution builder, Rao is one of the world’s foremost solid state and material chemists. He has contributed to the development of the field over five decades. His work on transition metal oxides has led to the basic understanding of novel phenomena and the relationship between materials properties and the structural chemistry of these materials. Rao has made immense contributions to nano-materials over the last two decades, besides his work on hybrid materials.
Rao’s work has led to a systematic study of compositionally controlled metal-insulator transitions. Such studies have had a profound impact in application fields such as colossal magneto resistance and high temperature superconductivity. He is the author of around 1,500 research papers and authored and edited 45 books. Such prolific work is usually recognized only in the exclusive world of science academia and research.
Irrespective of whether the Government’s decision of awarding the Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar was made in haste, the moot unfortunately seems to have gone way past the direction of questioning the deserving of the individual’s contribution towards a far more political tangent. In all this hullabaloo, a man who has made pioneering and fundamental research in science over the past five decades has been honoured without sufficient recognition. As a country, we have constantly proved our mettle in science, arts, sports, literature and all other fields. However, we need to stop burying these achievements under petty issues and ignorant tattles and give credit where it’s due. Until then we cannot expect our achievements to lead to our development.