Establishment of Hindu College (school section to begin with) by Raja Ram Mohan Rai in Calcutta in 1817 marks the beginning of secular English education in India. The College was taken over by the then government in 1854 and renamed Presidency College. Calcutta University was set up in 1857 as a merely examining body. Sixty years later (in 1917), its legendary Vice Chancellor (VC) Justice Sir Asutosh Mukherjee (1864-1924) could succeed in nucleating the University Departments for post graduate teaching and research, concurrent with the assumption of Palit Professorship by Sir C V Raman at Indian Association of Cultivation of Science (IACS), and induction of University toppers, like, Meghnad Saha, Satyan Bose, S K Mitra, S K Banerjee, J C Ghosh and J N Mukherjee in the newly created University College of Science as research and teaching faculty. This success spurred its replication in other Universities of India. As we mark the completion of the centenary of Science departments in India, I shall share a comprehension connecting the following dots :
(i) Addition of Punjab to British administered territories (1849) to extend their domain over the entire Indian sub-continent, (ii) commencement of regulation of school education (1854-56), (iii) nucleation of three affiliating Universities at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay (1857), (iv) permitting creation of a constituent college of Calcutta University at Lahore and establishing Muir Central College at Allahabad (1869), which progressed to become (People’s) University of Panjab in 1882 and University of Allahabad in 1887, respectively ; (v) promulgation of Indian Universities Act, 1904 for the then five Universities, encouraging college teachers to take study leave, providing grants to Universities to invite faculty from abroad (a la contemporary GIAN scheme) and enticing Universities to appoint Professors along with Lecturers to kick start their research agenda (alas, sans any financial support), (vi) partnership between Ms Annie Besant and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya to get promulgated BHU Act (1915) and have its its foundation stone laid (1916), (vii) establishment of University of Mysore (1916), Osmania (1918) and AMU (1920); (viii) Sir B N Seal (1864-1938), a contemporary of Sir Asutosh Mukherjee, as the first King George-V Chair Professor of Philosphy (1913-21) at Calcutta University, and as VC, University of Mysore (1921-29); (ix) movement of Dr. S Radhakrishnan from Madras Presidency College (1909-18) to University of Mysore (1918-21) to University of Calcutta (1921-28) to Oxford University (1929) to Andhra University (as VC from 1931-36) to BHU (as VC from 1939-48); (x) Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) as Research Professor at BHU (1921-24), as first Director, University Chemical Laboratories, Lahore (1925-39), his movement from Lahore to Calcutta to aid the creation and registration of CSIR as a Society (1942), his appointment as the first Indian to be Secretary, Higher Education (1947) and the first Chairman, UGC (1953); (xi) initiation of TIFR by Dr. Homi Bhabha (1945), formation of Committee for Atomic Research in CSIR (1945), creation of Atomic Energy Commission (1948); (xii) initiation of Annual Indian Science Congress by Asutosh Mukherjee (1914), establishment of Science Academies by Meghnad Saha at Allahabad (1930) & by C V Raman at Bangalore (1934) and creation of National Institute of Sciences (at Calcutta in 1934), which transforms as INSA; (xiii) initiation of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) by P C Mahalanobis & his colleagues at Calcutta (1932); (xiv) contributions of Dr. J N Mukherjee and Dr. B P Pal, to IARI, and (xv) movement of Dr J C Ghosh, Director, IISc. Bangalore to IIT-Kharagpur as its first Director (1953).
About the speaker: Prof. Arun Kumar Grover, assumed responsibility as the 12th Vice Chancellor of Panjab University (PU) in 2012 and completed his two three years terms in 2018. He served at the prestigious Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai for over four decades rising to the rank of Senior Professor. He superannuated from TIFR on December 31, 2016. TIFR had assigned him the responsibility of commemorating the Birth Centenary of Dr. Homi Bhabha from 2008-11.The Alumni Association of TIFR awarded him its Excellence award in 2018.
He is an experimental physicist who has published over two hundred research papers in broad areas of magnetism and superconductivity and he has to his credit a US Patent. He was awarded the first BRUKER Young Scientist Award for NMR applications in Physical Sciences in 1982. In recognition of his research in superconductivity, Dr. Grover was awarded Research Award for Foreign Specialists by Science and Technology Agency of Government of Japan in 1991. He received Homi Bhabha Science and Technology Award of BARC in 1995, MRSI Medal in 1996, elected Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences (1997) and National Academy of Sciences of India (1997). He served as the Convener of Homi Bhabha Birth Centenary Commemoration Committee from 2008-11 and Vice President of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2016-18). He is currently the Chairperson of Research Council of National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, Member, Governing Council of CSIR and Member, Board of Governors, Panjab Engineering College (Deemed to be University), Chandigarh.
His current responsibility at PEC, Chandigarh envisages development of entrepreneurial activities, mentoring of Faculty for enhanced R&D activities, inter-disciplinary research and industrial consultancy.