I have never seen anyone who enjoyed science so much. The sheer
joy of seeing things and doing science filled him with exuberance
and excitement. He had an incredible zest for life. He enjoyed
his food, his jokes, his fights and quarrels. Yet the enjoyment
he had for his science was something apart. In this pursuit it
was as if his ego disappeared completely in the presence of effulgent
Nature. Yes, he was truly lost in the wonder and beauty of what
he was trying to comprehend.
S. Ramaseshan on C.V.
Raman (quoted from C.V. Raman : A Pictorial Biography, Indian
Academy of Sciences Bangalore)
Many people know Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman
(more popularly known as C.V. Raman) because he was the first
Indian Nobel Laureate in science. Till date Raman remains the
only Indian to receive a Nobel Prize in science. There are two
Indian-born scientists viz., Har Gobind Khorana and Subrahmanyan
Chandrasekhar (who became US citizens) got Nobel Prizes in science.
Raman was also the first Asian to get Nobel Prize
in science. Raman's celebrated discovery, the Raman Effect, experimentally
demonstrated that the light-quanta and molecules do exchange energy
which manifests itself as a change in the colour of the scattered
light. However, this phenomenon was earlier predicted theoretically
by Hendrik Anthony Kramers (1894-1952) and Werner Heisenberg (1901-76).
It was the most convincing proof of quantum theory of light. This
does not diminishes the importantce of Raman's discovery. As Albert
Einstein (1879-1955) wrote : "C.V. Raman was the first to recognize
and demonstrate that the energy of photon can undergo partial
transformation within matter. I still recall vividly the deep
impression that this discovery made on all of us…."
Raman's interests in science were wide, from
astronomy and meteorology to physiology. 'Raman published 475
research papers and wrote five remarkable monographs on topics
so varied that one's mind boggles'.
Raman made many major scientific discoveries
in acoustics, ultrasonic, optics, magnetism and crystal physics.
Raman's works on the musical drums of India was epoch-making and
it revealed the acoustical knowledge of the ancient Hindus. It
may be noted here that it was Pythagoras who first formulated
what makes a sound musical to the human ear.
On the occasion of awarding the Hughes Medal
of the Royal Society of London, Lord Rutherford (1871-1937) commented
on Raman's scientific achievements as follows: "Sir Venkata Raman
is one of the leading authorities in optics, in particular on
the phenomenon of the scattering of light. In this connexion,
about three years ago, he discovered that the light's colour could
be changed by scattering. This had been predicted some time before,
but inspite of search the change had not been found. The `Raman
effect' must rank among the best three or four discoveries in
experimental physics in the last decade; it has proved and will
prove (to be) an instrument of great power in the study of the
theory of solids. In addition to important contributions in many
fields of knowledge, he (Raman) has developed an active school
of research in physical sciences in the University of Calcutta".
Raman developed a vibrant and excellent school
of physics. He established the Indian Academy of Sciences Bangalore
(1934) and the Raman Research Institute (1948).
Raman deserves to be remembered not only for
his towering scientific accomplishment but also for his indomitable
will. Raman was a staunch patriot and he had great faith in India's
potential for progress. He excelled under the most adverse circumstances.
Raman was a great populariser of science. "He was perhaps the
greatest salesman science has ever had in this country", says
S. Ramaseshan, a pioneer of X-ray crystallography in India and
a nephew of Raman. During his popular science lectures (or `performances'
as Raman called them) Raman held his audience spellbound. His
lectures were always accompanied by lively demonstrations. Raman
had a deep sense of humour. According to Ramaseshan, the popular
science lectures of Raman were so gripping because, "He talked
only of those things about which he felt intensely or those things
which he understood well or wanted to understand better. He brought
out things in their simplest and their most basic elements. He
made his audiences feel that they had seen it all too." Raman
was a lecturer par excellence. Even his critics had to agree on
this point. Throughout his life Raman lectured. He lectured to
diverse audiences. However, he was at his best when he delivered
popular science lectures. Raman also gave radio talks. The texts
of his nineteen radio talks were brought out in a book form. The
book was titled The New Physics: Talks on Aspects of Sciences
and it was published by the Philosophical Library of New York.
The topics covered by Raman ranged from the microscopic world
of atoms to the universe itself. The quality of Raman's lectures
can be guessed from what Francis Low, a distinguished theoretical
physicist then working at the Institute for Advanced Studies,
Princeton, wrote in the introduction to this book : "Physics by
its very nature requires extreme specialization on the part of
its students. Its conclusions, which must eventually predict numbers
for the results of actual measurements, are best expressed in
mathematical formulae. This has the disadvantage of making the
subject well-nigh unintelligible to the layman. There are unfortunately
few teachers who are able to surmount this handicap. Professor
Raman has written a book which avoids this pitfall and thus should
give the lay reader an opportunity of penetrating at least part
of the way into the mysteries of this interesting and important
Raman believed in excellence per se. He never
compromised on quality and he firmly believed that if India was
to make any economic advance it could only be based on such excellence.
He had a great fascination for art and music. He was not confined
to a particular narrow speciality. He believed that `real fundamental
progress is always due to those who had ignored the boundaries
of science and who treated science as a whole.'
R. Chandrasekhar Iyer (Raman's Father)
Parvathi Ammal(Raman's mother)
Raman was a very simple man. He was also a supreme
egotist. But then in private conversation he often showed utmost
humility. He was a man of emotion. He never bothered to suppress
his feelings. He could get violently angry. He hurt many. He feared
no authority. On some occasions he publicly wept like a child.
Raman had "all-too-human" drawbacks in abundance. But then he
was an excellent physicist and totally devoted to the pursuit
C. V. Raman was born on 7 November 1888 in his
maternal grandfather's house, in a small village of Thiruvanaikaval
near Tiruchirapalli (Trichonopoly in those days), on the bank's
of Kaveri in Tamil Nadu. Raman's maternal grandfather Saptarshi
Sastri was a great Sanskrit scholar, who in his younger days travelled
on foot to distant Bengal (over 2000 km away) to learn navya nyaya
Raman's parents were R. Chandrasekhara Iyer and
Parvathi Ammal. Raman's father, who initially taught in a local
school for many years and later became a lecturer in mathematics
and physics in Mrs. A.V. Narasimha Rao College, Vishakapatnam
(then Vizagapatnam) in Andhra Pradesh. Raman passed his matriculation
examination at the age of 11 and he passed his F.A. examination
(equivalent to today's Intermediate) with a scholarship at 13.
In 1903 Raman joined the Presidency College in Chennai (then Madras)
from where he passed the B.A. (1904) and M.A. (1907) examinations.
He stood first both in B.A. and M.A. examinations and won all
the prizes available. To get some idea we quote here Raman himself.
Raman and S Chandrasekhar. Lalitha Chandrasekhar is partly
Raman wrote :
" I finished my school and college career and my university examination
at the age of eighteen. In this short span of years had been compressed
the study of four languages and of a great variety of diverse
subjects, in several cases up to the highest university standards.
A list of all the volumes I had to study would be terrifying length.
Did these books influence me? Yes, in the narrow sense of making
me tolerably familiar with subjects of so diverse as Ancient Greek
and Roman History, Modern Indian and European History, Formal
Logic, Economics, Monetary Theory and Public Finance, the late
Sanskrit writers and minor English authors, to say nothing of
physiography, chemistry and dozen branches of Pure and Applied
Mathematics, and of Experimental and Theoretical Physics. But
out of this welter of subjects and books, can I pick out anything
really to mould my mental and spiritual outlook and determine
my chosen path in life? Yes I can and I shall mention three books.
A purposeful life needs an axis or hinge to which
it is firmly fixed and yet around which it can freely revolve.
As I see it, this axis or hinge has been, in my own case, strongly
enough, not the love of science, not even the love of Nature but
a certain abstract idealism or belief in the value of the human
spirit and the virtue of human endeavour and achievement. The
nearest point to which I can trace this source of idealism in
my recollection of reading Edwin Arnold's great book, The Light
of Asia. I remember being powerfully moved by the story of Siddhartah's
great renunciation, of his search for truth and of his final enlightenment.
The next set of books that I have to mention
is one of the most remarkable works of all time, namely, The Elements
of Euclid. Familiarity with some parts of Euclid and a certain
dislike of its formalism have dethroned this great work from the
apparently unassailable position which it occupied in the esteem
of the learned world for an almost incredibly long period of time.
Indeed, my own early reactions to the compulsory study of Euclid
were anything but favourable… Not until many years later however,
did I fully appreciate the central position of Geometry in relation
to all natural knowledge. I can illustrate this relationship by
a thousand examples but will content myself with remarking that
every mineral found in Nature, every crystal made by man, every
leaf, flower or fruit that we see growing, every living thing
from the smallest to the largest that walks on earth, flies in
the air or swims in the water or lives deep down on the ocean
floor, speaks aloud of the fundamental role of geometry in Nature.
The pages of Euclid are like the opening bars of the music of the
Grand Opera of Nature's great drama. So to say, they lift the veil
and show to our vision a glimpse of a vast world of natural knowledge
Of all the great names in the world of learning
that have come down to us from the remote past, that of Archimedes,
by common consent, occupies the foremost place. Speaking of the
modern world, the supremost figure in my judgment is that of Hermann
von Helmholtz. In the range and depth of his knowledge, in the
clearness and profundity of his scientific vision, he easily transcended
all other names I could mention, even including Isaac Newton.
Rightly he has been described as the intellectual colossus of
the nineteenth century. It was my great good fortune, while I
was still a student at College, to have possessed a copy of an
English translation of his great work The Sensations of Tone.
As is well-known, this was one of Helmholtz's masterpieces. It
treats the subjects of music and musical instruments not only
with profound knowledge and insight, but also with extreme clarity
of language and expression." While Raman was a student, he independently
undertook original investigations in acoustics and optics. Raman
was the first student of the Madras Presidency College to get
a research paper published, that too in a prestigious international
journal. His first paper on 'unsymmetrical diffraction bands due
to a rectangular aperture' was published in the Philosophical
Magazine (London) in November 1906. This was the result of Raman's
measuring the angles of a prism using an ordinary spectrometer
in his college. This was followed by a note in the same journal
on a new experimental method of measuring surface tension. Lord
Rayleigh (1842-1919) took note of the papers published by Raman
as a student. Rayleigh was an outstanding mathematical physicist
and a good experimenter, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for the
discovery of argon. Raman and Rayleigh exchanged some correspondence.
It is interesting to note that Lord Rayleigh addressed Raman as
Raman showing diamonds to J.D.Bernal
Raman and R.A.Millikan
Though Raman proved his brilliance in scientific
investigations but as were the norms of those days he was not
encouraged to take up science as a career. At the instance of
his father Raman took the Financial Civil Service (FCS) examination.
He stood first in the examination and in the middle of 1907 Raman
proceeded to Kolkata (then Calcutta) to join the Indian Finance
Department as Assistant Accountant General. He was then 18½ years
old. His starting salary was Rs. 400 per month, a fabulous sum
in those days. At that point of time perhaps nobody would have
even dreamt that Raman would again venture into the pursuits of
science. Raman's prospects in the Government service were too
lucrative. And during those days opportunities for doing research
were rare. But then one day while going to office Raman saw a
signboard with the words "Indian Association for the Cultivation
of Science" written on it. The address was 210, Bowbazar Street.
On his way back he came to the Association where he first met
an individual named Ashutosh Dey (Ashu Babu) who was to be Raman's
assistant for 25 years. Ashu Babu took Raman to the Honorary Secretary
of the Association, Amrit Lal Sircar, who was overjoyed when he
came to know about Raman's intention -- to do research at the
Association's laboratory. Amrit Lal had reason to be overjoyed
because it was his father Mahendra Lal Sircar (1833-1904), a man
of vision, who established the Association in 1876. This Association
happened to be the first institute to be established in India
solely for carrying out scientific investigations.
Mahendra Lal Sircar
Mahendra Lal Sircar, who took the MD degree in
1863, was appointed a Fellow of the Calcutta University in 1870
and Sheriff of Calcutta in 1887. He was also a member of the Bengal
Legislative Council from 1887 to 1893 and was associated with
many learned societies of Kolkata. Mahendra Lal was a staunch
patriot and his interest ranged beyond medicine. Being a visionary
he had visualised that many problems faced by the country could
only be solved by the application of modern science. Mahendra
Lal had shown a great foresight by realising that 'science would
never strike a deep root in this country through the process of
its introduction in the educational curriculum alone.' To realise
his dreams Mahendra Lal founded the Association. Mahendra Lal
stated the objective of the Association as follows: "The object
of the Association is to enable the Natives of India to Cultivate
Science in all its departments with a view to its advancement
by original research and (as it will necessarily follow) with
a view to its varied applications to arts and comforts of life."
At the beginning the major activity of the Association was to
organise popular science lectures by well-known scholars and scientists.
The Association had built a Laboratory in 1891 with the generous
donation by the Maharaja of Vizianagram. However, during Mahendra
Lal's lifetime nobody came forward to do research under the aegis
of the Association. Mahendra Lal was dismayed by the apathy of
Indians towards the cultivation of science. A few weeks before
his death Mahendra Lal had stated his wish in the following words
: "Younger men must come and step into my place and make this
into a great institution." So when Amrit Lal Sircar saw Raman,
perhaps he felt that he (Raman) would realise his father's dream.
And as we know today Raman indeed realised Mahendra Lal Sircar's
It was not an easy task. Till 1917 Raman continued
his research at the Association in his spare time. Doing research
in his spare time and that too with very limited facilities Raman
could publish his research findings in leading international journals
like Nature, The Philosophical Magazine and Physics Review. During
this period he published 30 original research papers. His research
carried during this period mainly centred on areas of vibrations
and acoustics. He studied a number of musical instruments viz.,
ectara, violin, tambura, veena, mridangam, tabla etc. He published
a monograph on his extensive studies on the violin. The monograph
was titled 'On the Mechanical Theory of Vibrations of Musical
Instruments of the Violin Family with Experimental Verifications
of the Results Part- I'. During this period Ashu Babu, who never
entered the portals of a university, was his only collaborator.
This did not prevent Ashu Babu from becoming a joint author in
many papers that Raman published. Even Ashu Babu was the sole
author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society
of London. It was in 1919 Raman took research students for the
Amrit Lal Sircar
There was an interruption to Raman's work at
the Association. He was transferred to Rangoon (1909) and Nagpur
(1910). However, Raman's research work was not completely stopped.
At both places he converted his home into a laboratory and continued
his work. He came back to Calcutta in 1911.
In 1917 Raman was invited by Asutosh Mookerjee
(1864-1924), to be a professor in the newly established Science
College. Mookerjee, who was a judge of the Calcutta High Court
for twenty years, was a great educationist and jurist of his time.
On being appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University
he not only started a post-graduate department for various disciplines
of science but he also persuaded people to create endowment Professorships.
Raman was offered the Palit Professorship in Physics. The salary
for the professorship was about half the amount that Raman was
getting in the Finance Department. Moreover, Raman was successful
as a Finance Officer. In fact the Finance Department was reluctant
to let him go. Thus the Member (Finance) of the Viceroy's Council
wrote : "We find Vankataraman is most useful in the Finance Department
being, in fact, one of our best men". However, Raman happily accepted
the offer. He joined the Calcutta University as Palit Professor
in July 1917. That Asutosh Mookerjee was touched by Raman's total
devotion to science is obvious from his following remarks: "For
the Chair of Physics created by Sir Taraknath Palit, we have been
fortunate enough to secure the services of Mr. Chandrasekhara
Venkata Raman, who has greatly distinguished himself and acquired
a European fame by his brilliant research in the domain of Physical
Science, assiduously carried on under the most adverse circumstances
amidst the distraction of pressing official duties. I rejoice
to think that many of these valuable researches have been carried
on in the laboratory of the Indian Association for the Cultivation
of Science, founded by our late illustrious colleague, Dr. Mahandra
Lal Sircar, who devoted a lifetime to the foundation of an institution
for the cultivation and advancement of science in this country.
I should fail in my duty if I were to restrain myself in my expression
of genuine admiration I feel for the courage and spirit of self-sacrifice
with which Mr. Raman had decided to exchange a lucrative official
appointment with attractive prospects, for a University Professorship,
which, I regret to say, does not carry even liberal emoluments.
This one instance encourages me to entertain the hope that there
will be no lack of seeker after truth in the Temple of Knowledge
which it is our ambition to erect."
Asutosh Mookerjee had to change the provision
of the endowment before appointing Raman. Because one of the requirements,
for appointment to the Palit Chair was to have been trained abroad.
But Raman refused to go abroad to be 'trained'. The terms of Raman's
appointment as the Palit Professor did not entail any teaching
responsibilities. His duties were :
- to devote himself to original research in his subject to
extend the bounds of knowledge
- to stimulate and guide research by students; and
- to supervise the laboratory in the College of Science.
Though he was free from teaching responsibility
but Raman, being a born-teacher, could not be away from the class
room. He took a prominent part in MSc teaching. Here we quote
L.A. Ramdas, one of his students : "Prof. Raman took `Electricity
and Magnetism' in the year 1920-21 and `Physical optics' in 1921-22.
Both sets of MSc students felt that they were indeed listening
to a type of inspired teaching to which was brought all the original
flavours and excitement of the past…. We shared with him much
of excitement and superb thrill that Banjamin Franklin, Oersted,
Arago, Gauss, Faraday, Maxwell, Hertz, Lord Kelvin and many others
must have felt while they were making their actual discoveries…
Often he used to take the entire forenoon, for 2 and sometimes
even 3 hours - such was his tremendous love of teaching….And after
each lecture we used spontaneously to look up original papers
and treatises like Maxwell's Electricity and Magnetism, J.J. Thomson's
Conduction of Electricity, Faraday's Experimental Researches,
Lord Raylegh's and Kelvin's Collected Papers, and so farther".
Even after joining the Calcutta University Raman
was allowed to continue his work at the Association's Laboratories.
In fact the Association became the research arm of the University.
Following the death of Amrit Lal Sircar in 1919 Raman was elected
as Honorary Secretary of the Association, the post he held till
1933, when he left Kolkata. It was not that Raman was very willing
to leave Kolkata. His exit was the result of the clash between
him and Meghnad Saha, another great personality of Indian Science.
Raman was voted out of the Honorary Secretaryship of the Association.
It was certainly a moment of bitter humiliation for Raman and
it was more so because he had himalayan ego. And so he decided
to take up the pending invitation from the Indian Institute of
Science (IISc), Bangalore, to become its Director. He was the
first Indian to become its Director. Raman succeeded Sir Martin
Forster, FRS. He served IISc both as its Director (1933-1937)
and head of the Physics Department (1933-1948).
Science College Calcutta
When Raman joined IISc its academic accomplishments
were not very high. Its funding position was much better than
Calcutta University where Raman was working. Raman brought out
the following changes:
- A new physics department came into existence
- Some of the existing departments were reorganised
- Steps were initiated to establish a central workshop for
fabricating precision instruments.
- The surroundings were improved by planting beautiful flowering
For achieving academic excellence he himself
gathered a team of talented students and started doing high quality
research in many fields of physics. Raman also wanted to initiate
basic research in fields like quantum mechanics, crystal chemistry
and vitamins and enzyme chemistry by recruiting outstanding faculty.
At that point of time many reputed scientists were forced to leave
Germany because of Hitler's racist policy. Raman wanted to bring
some of these scientists to IISc. Raman had many names on his
list, both foreign and Indian'. However, he was only successful
in bringing Max Born, that too for a short time.
Niels Bohr and Raman
The Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore
Some of the Raman's moves were opposed by the
existing staff. In fact Raman's moves to reorganize some of the
existing departments and the Institute's workshops led to the
resignation of two professors -- the Professor of Chemistry (Prof.
Watson) and the Professor of Electrical Engineering (Prof. Modawalla).
Raman's act of reapportioning the Institute's budget to aid the
newly established physics department invited charges of embezzlement.
He was accused of patronizing the physics department at the cost
of other departments. His attempt to keep Max Born in the institute
was also not liked by many. As time passed Raman found himself
increasingly in isolation. Seeing the growing turmoil in the campus,
the Council, the body charged with overseeing the management of
the Institute, recommended to the Visitor (then Viceroy of British
India) in July 1935 to appoint a Review Committee to review the
Institute's affairs. The Committee, the appointment of which was
formarlly announced on January 19, 1936, consisted of Sir James
Irvin, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of St. Endrews University,
Dr. A . H. Mackenzie, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Osmania University
and Dr. S.S. Bhatnagar, then Professor of Chemistry at the Punjab
University at Lahore. Irvin was to head the Committee. The Committee
in its Report to the Viceroy submitted in May 1936 more or less
reaffimed the accusations made against Raman. The Report stated
: "Making full allowance for possible exaggeration, we greatly
fear that there is much truth in these allegations. The resignations
of Professor Watson and Professor Modawalla can now be readily
understood". According to the Irvin Committee Report, Raman was
guilty not only of administrative irregularities, but of financial
lapses as well. The Committee branded Raman inimical to applied
science. Besides castigating Raman, the Committee also proposed
measures to curtail the powers of the Director. For example the
Committee suggested that the budget be processed "through no fewer
than four bodies in succession before it is finally sanctioned."
Raman's warning that "it would place insuperable obstacles in
the path of progressive administration such as is essential for
success of a scientific institution" went unheeded. The Council
endorsed the Report of Irvin Committee and the friction between
the management of the Institute and Raman continued to grow. Finally
the situation became such that there was no alternative for Raman
other than to resign the Directorship of the Institute. In fact
he was asked to resign or face action. However, he remained in
IISc as Professor of Physics. Raman retired as Professor from
the Institute in 1948.
Raman and Rajendra Prasad
After retirement from the Institute he concentrated
his attention in building an institute of his own - the Raman
Research Institute (RRI). Even before his retirement Raman had
started to build an institute where he could retire and enjoy
science. To quote Raman : "You know, I was to retire at 60. So
two years before my retirement I started building this institute
so that on the day I retired I took my bag and walked right into
this institute. I can not remain idle for a single day". Raman
had to gather money for building the Institute. Raman had lost
most of his life's savings including his Nobel Prize money in
an investment. The Institute was built on a ten acre plot of land
gifted by the Maharajah of Mysore way back in 1934 the land of
given to the Indian Academy of Sciences, and for its related activities.
Raman traveled extensively for raising donation for constructing
the building for housing the institute. When Raman moved to the
institute the facilities were far from complete. Raman was opposed
to the idea of taking grants from the government for running the
institute. To earn money for the institute he started a few chemical
industries (in association with one of his former students). The
dividends from these industries were sufficient to support the
institute to start with. He gifted away most of his personal properties
to the Academy for the benefit of the institute, as also the Lenin
Peace Prize money. A museum was built to house Raman's collection
of crystals, gems, minerals, rock specimens, shells, stuffed birds,
butterflies and so on. Raman had fascination for colours and so
he collected everything that had colours.
Raman with Jawaharlal Nehru
The Indian Academy of Sciences Bangalore, which
now publishes some of the best science journals in the country,
was established by Raman. The Academy was formed on April 27,
1934. It was registered in Bangalore under the Societies Registration
Act. Besides Raman, there were 160 Foundation Fellows. The inaugural
meeting of the Academy was held in the campus of Indian Institute
of Science in August 1934. The best scientists from all over India
were elected to the Raman's Academy. Commenting on the composition
of the Academy Raman, in his address at the first annual meeting,
observed : "Our list of Fellows is also representative of all
parts of India. Bombay heads the list with 38 Fellows closely
followed by Madras Presidency with 35, and Mysore State with 33
. Other provinces are also well represented. We have 21 Fellows
in the United Provinces, 13 from Punjab, 11 from Bengal, 8 from
Central Provinces; Bihar, Orissa, Hyderabad, Travancore and Burma
are also represented in our list."
The objectives of the Academy were:
i) to hold meetings for discussing the results of research;
ii) to hold symposia on special subjects and
iii) to publish the proceedings.
Unlike in other countries India has three Science
Academies. Raman formed the Academy on his own. The need for an
Academy was first highlighted by Raman in his editorial in Current
Science published in May 1933. Raman wrote : "The conviction that
research is civilization and determines the economic, social and
political development of a nation has not yet been unreservedly
accepted as part of the administrative policy of India, and we
are disposed to ascribe the tardy and perhaps unwilling recognition
of this fundamental fact to the absence of an all-India scientific
organisation whose function would be to concentrate enlightened
public opinion on the doctrine that science is material and spiritual
wealth….. It seems to us that early establishment of a National
Academy of Science would secure closer and better organised co-operation
of activities among all research institutes in India and exercise
through its official journal a wider influence for the consolidation
and promotion of the best interests of science." Raman further
wrote : "While the foundation of the scientific reputation of
a country is established by the quality of work produced in its
institutions the superstructure is reared by the national journals
which proclaim their best achievements to the rest of the world".
After writing the editorial Raman circulated a questionnaire among
the Indian scientists to ascertain their views. The idea of an
Academy proposed by Raman was discussed in the 1934 Session of
Indian Science Congress presided over by M.N. Saha, who supported
the idea and proposed Royal Society of London as a model. After
discussing the matter in a General Committee, it was referred
to an Academic Committee consisting of 25 members including Raman.
However, when the Academic Committee could not take a quick decision
Raman resigned from the Committee and formed an Academy on his
Krishnraja Wodeyar the Maharaja of Mysore
The National Institute of Sciences came into
existence on January 3, 1935. Its inaugural meeting was held in
Calcutta on January 7, 1935. It functioned in Calcutta till 1946
when it moved to New Delhi. Its name was changed to Indian National
Science Academy in 1970. The idea behind establishing the National
Institute of Sciences was not just to form just another Academy
but to form a co-coordinating body. Thus in its inaugural meeting,
Lewis L. Fermor, the first President of the National Institute
of Sciences said :
"During the past year the word Academy has been
much before us… It seems desirable, therefore, that we should
first enquire what the word Academy means. It will surprise most
of you to learn that the first Academy was a pleasure garden in
Athens which is supposed to have belonged to an ancient Attic
hero named Academus ….In this garden the Greek philosopher Plato
taught for nearly 50 years; and the Academy thus started lasted
from the days of Plato to those of Cicero, that is, for over 300
years…. While Academies, if we go to the original meaning, must,
therefore, function locally or regionally in the most important
portion of their activities, they can also legitimately make a
wider appeal… When in 1933 the proposal was mooted to found an
Indian Academy of Sciences, some of us overlooked the fact that
there were already two such academies in existence -- one called
the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the other of the United Provinces
Academy of Sciences. The proposal, therefore, to found a third
Indian Academy…logically meant either the creation of a fresh
garden in another part of India, or of a body to co-ordinate the
already existing gardens. Our friends in Bangalore knew all the
time that they needed a Society of Academy status with its headquarters
in Bangalore. Had they boldly said so at the beginning, the confusion
that has arisen in scientific circles during the past year would
have been avoided, because it is obviously correct that southern
India should have its own philosopher's garden. However, Bangalore
did not do this …Object as we may to the manner in which our Bangalore
friends cut adrift…we… welcome the Indian Academy of Sciences
found at Bangalore….But we still need a co-ordination body and
that is why it is necessary to found the National Institute".
The National Institute of Sciences had 125 Foundation Fellows
Raman with some of his associates
Sitting (left to right) : V.S. Tamma, S.K. Banerji,
C.V. Raman, N.K. Sur and N.K. Sethi. Standing (left
to right) : K. Seshagiri Rao, Bidhubhushan Roy, Lala
Govardhan Lal Dutta, Durgadas Banerjee, Y. Venkatramayya,
Panchanan Das and Ashutosh Dey. Squatting on the lawn
(left to right) L.A. Ramdas and Sunderaraman
Raman with some of his associates
Sitting (left to right) : A.S. Ganesan, L.A. Ramdas,
K.S. Krishnan, C.V. Raman, K.R. Ramanathan, S. Venkateswaran,
S.S. Moorthy Rao. Standing (left to right) : C. Ramaswamy,
S. Bhagavantam, S. Paramasivan, Sreenivasa Rao, N.S.
Nagendranath, R. Ananthakrishnan and C.S. Venkateswaran
The United Provinces Academy
of Sciences was founded at Allahabad in 1930. It has now been
renamed National Academy of Sciences Allahabad.
The journal Current Science, the most visible
journal of the Indian Academy of Science Banglore was launched
even before the formation of the Academy. It was founded as a
result of resolution passed at a special meeting held during the
Session of the Indian Science Congress in Bangalore in 1931. The
Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences also started in
1934. Its objective was `to provide all scientific men with an
opportunity of obtaining at least a general idea of what is being
done in India in fields of knowledge other than their own specialty.
However, as the amount of published matter grew rapidly the Proceedings
was separated into a number of theme journals - viz., Proceedings
- Chemical Sciences, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Mathematical
Sciences, Animal Sciences, Plant Sciences and Engineering Sciences
(later renamed as Sadhana). The other journals published by the
Academy are : Pramanan-Journal of Physics, Bulletin of Materials
Science, Journal of Biosciences, Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics,
Journal of Genetics and Resonance : Journal of Science Education.
It may be noted here that the Journal of Genetics was founded
by William Bateson in 1910 in England. Subsequently the journal
was brought to India by J.B.S Haldane. However, the journal ceased
its publication in 1977. Later it was revived by the Academy.
Raman with Wolfgang Pauli
Raman and Werner Heisenberg(right)
The Academy has instituted a prestigious Raman
Professorship. It has started a scheme of Young Associateship
to provide opportunity for outstanding young scientists to be
associated with the Fellows of the Academy. Since the days of
Raman, the Academy continues to sponsor symposia and discussions.
Raman was of the view that science alone could solve India's problems.
He said: "There is only one solution for India's economic problems
and that is science and more science." But then Raman insisted
that India should not be dependent on others for ideas. India
is capable of tackling her own problems. He said: "In the past,
India had shown her greatness in the fields of scholarship, philosophy
and science but today, we are helplessly dependent on Western
countries for knowledge of science. India should not be a camp-follower
but a leader in science. It is no use getting our ideas from the
west. We have to think out our problems and find the solutions
Raman with Zakir Hussain
However, Indians need to be convinced of their
strength. While once addressing young people Raman said : "I would
like to tell the young men and women before me not to lose hope
and courage. Success can only come to you by courageous devotion
to the task lying in front of you and there is nothing worth in
this world that can come without the sweat of our brow. I can
assert without fear of contradiction that the quality of the Indian
mind is equal to the quality of any Teutonic, Nordic or Anglo-saxon
mind. What we lack is perhaps courage, what we lack is perhaps
driving force which takes one anywhere. We have, I think, developed
an inferiority complex. I think what is needed in India today
is the destruction of that defeatist spirit. We need a spirit
of victory, a spirit that would carry us to our rightful place
under the sun, a spirit which will recognize that we, as inheritors
of a proud civilization, are entitled to a rightful place on this
planet. If that indomitable spirit were to arise, nothing can
hold us from achieving our rightful destiny."
He believed that the future of any country rests
with its accumulated knowledge and younger generation. He observed:
"If you ask me what is the greatest industry of a Nation--the
key industry--I have no hesitation in saying that it is the production
and diffusion of knowledge...There is no nobler work for a man
or an institution than to bring up a young generation in health
and strength and in the vigour of intellectual and physical activity."
Raman with Mahatma Gandhi and Mahadeo Desai
Loksundari with Kasturba Gandhi
Raman had a holistic view of science. He thought
nature is the best teacher. He said: "What is science in the last
analysis but the study and the love of nature, displayed not in
the form of abstract worship but in the practical form of seeking
to understand nature?" Further he said: "One aspect of Indian
culture was its profound understanding of Nature. Much of India's
philosophy related itself to the understanding of the rationale
and the meaning of the phenomena of Nature." Raman had displayed
great faith in Mahatma Gandhi's ideas. He remarked: "Each textbook
must contain as frontispiece a portrait of Gandhiji and there
must be lessons containing the sermons of Gandhiji from Sabarmati
to Birla House. This would be the best and the most potent way
of offering homage to the memory of the world's greatest man and
the Father of the Indian Nation, and is better than building memorials
and erecting statues." Further he said: "His (Gandhiji's) teachings
stressed the supreme virtue of the human spirit, utterly indestructible
and unconquerable. India can never hope to find a place in the
sun, unless it upholds the value of the human spirit." In the
honour of Gandhiji he instituted the Gandhi Memorial Lecture in
the Raman Research Institute. Till his death Raman never failed
to deliver this lecture. Raman's wife Lokasundari was well-known
to Kasturba Gandhi.
Raman strongly espoused the cause of women. He
once said: "I have a feeling that if the women of India take to
science and interest themselves in the progress and advance of
science as well, they will achieve what even men have failed to
do. Women have one quality--the quality of devotion. It is one
of the most important passports to success in science. Let us
therefore not imagine that intellect is a sole prerogative of
males only in science."
Raman and AH Compton(centre)
The tree planted on the site at the campus of Raman
Research Institue where Raman was cremated
Raman had displayed his
great leadership in institution building and training students.
Raman made both the Indian Association for the Cultivation of
Science and the Physics Department of the Calcutta University
vibrant and excellent centres of learning. His reputation attracted
students from all corners of the country. Raman was among the
founders of the Indian Science Congress, which was established
in 1914 and served as its Secretary for several years and also
became its President. He established the Indian Journal of Physics.
During his stay for over fifteen years in the Indian Institute
of Science, Bangalore, he established an excellent school of Physics
and trained a band of first-rate physicists. As mentioned earlier
in 1934 Raman established the Indian Academy of Science. Raman
was elected Founder President of the Academy and remained so till
He wanted that the scientists should not be concerned
with their own research alone, they should also try to develop
the scientific institutions, the edifice on which the superstructure
of science can be built. He remarked: "While the foundation of
the scientific reputation of a country is established by the quality
of work produced in its institutions, the superstructure is reared
by the national journals which proclaim their best achievements
to the rest of the world. Manifestly the edifice of science in
India is incomplete...It is true that the spirit of science and
its service are international, but is it not also true that every
nation has its own Academies, learned societies, magazines and
journals? India will have to organize and develop her national
scientific institutions before she can enter into the comity of
He emphasised the importance of strengthening
our universities. He said: "Let us try to make our universities
the best--we should not be satisfied with anything less than the
best. What will be the result? Instead of a great many of our
young men going out of the country, they will remain here and
strive to advance our reputation and that will make us strive
for more and more good things."
C V Raman with Hideki Yukawa
Raman was elected as a Fellow of the Royal
Society of London in 1924 in recognition of his outstanding researches
in physical optics, molecular diffraction of light, X-ray scattering
by liquids and a molecular anisotropy. It may be noted that Raman
had resigned the Fellowship of the Royal Society. He was conferred
a Knighthood by the British Government in 1929. He received the
Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930. The Government of India awarded
him the title of "Bharat Ratna" in 1954. The erstwhile Soviet
Union honoured him with the International Lenin Prize in 1957.
Some of the other awards/honours, received by Raman were: Mattencci
Medal of the `Societe Italiana della Scienzia of Rome (1928);
Hughes Medal of the Royal Society of London (1930) and Franklin
Model of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia (1941).
Raman loved children and he derived immense pleasure
in showing them his museum and the laboratories of the Raman Research
Institute. He believed that "The true wealth of a Nation consists
not in the stored-up gold in its coffers and banks, not in the
factories, but in the intellectual and physical strength of its
men, women and children."
Towards the end of his life Raman chose to make
himself a recluse. He not only built high walls around the Raman
Research Institute but also put up a prominent signboard announcing
that visitors were not welcome. He was not at all happy the way
the Government was trying to build up science and technology in
the country. "To Raman, scientific activity was the fulfillment
of an inner need. His approach to science was one of passion,
curiosity and simplicity. It was an attempt to understand. To
him science was based on independent thought. Combined with hard
work, science was a personal endeavour, an aesthetic pursuit and
above all a joyous experience." Raman believed that science can
be promoted only by doing it. He did not see any role for professional
organizers of science. "For such people" Raman thought "The So-called
organization of science becomes more important than science itself
or its values".
Raman died on November 21, 1970. As per his desire
he was cremated in the gardens of his institute.
- G. Venkataraman. Journey Into Light : Life and Science of
Raman. Indian Academy of Science : Bangalore, 1988. (Subsequently
reprinted by Penguin Books India : New Delhi, 1994.
- C.V. Raman : A Pictorial Biography. Complied by S. Ramaseshan
and C. Ramachandra Rao, Indian Academy of Sciences : Banglore,
- S.N. Sen. Prof. C.V. Raman : Scientific Work at Calcutta.
Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science : Kolkata,
- Jegadish Mehra. Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman, In the Dictionay
of Scientific Biography, Charles Coulson Gillispie, Ed. Charles
Scribner's Sons : New York, 1975, Vol. 11, pp 264-267.
- Nobel Lectures (Physics) 1922-1941. Elsevier Publishing Company
: New York 1965, pp 263-277.
- Sir C.V. Raman. The New Physics : Talks on the Aspects of
Science. Philosophical Library : New York, 1951.
- James H. Hibben. The Raman Effect and Its Chemical Applications.
Reinhold Publishing Company : New York 1939.
- Anthony T. Tu. Raman Spectroscopy in Biology. John Wiley
& Sons : New York, 1982.
- A Century. Indian Association for the cultivation of Science
: Kolkata, 1976.
- Subodh Mahanti. Kariamanikkam Srinivasa Krishnan. Dream-2047,
January 2002 New Delhi. Some of the photograph reproduce in
the article are taken from the publication listed at 1 and 9.