Dr B D Nagchaudhuri passes away

Renowned nuclear physicist Dr. Basanti Dulal Nagchaudhuri passed away on 25th June, 2006, at 3.00 a.m., following a cerebral stroke. His direct association with the ITC Sangeet Research Academy began in 1982 when he became Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and for a while a member of the Management Committee. One of the pioneers of nuclear and environmental sciences in India, he distinguished himself as an administrator and author, sharing his vast knowledge with academic communities all over the world.

Graduating from Benaras Hindu University, he completed his Masters’ from Allahabad University and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Subsequently he taught and was involved in research at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta University, and later became its Director. One of his path-breaking achievements at that time was to set up the country’s first cyclotron – an apparatus for accelerating charged atomic particles revolving in a magnetic field in an electrical field.

Thereafter he was involved in research at University of California, Berkeley and University of Illinois, Urbana III, where he went later as a visiting professor. Lincoln Lecturer, U.S.A. in 1966-67, he became a Member of the Planning Commission of India in 1970. From 1969-72 he was Chairman of the Cabinet Committee of Science & Technology, Government of India, and for a while during this period he had the dual responsibility of being the Scientific Adviser, Ministry of Defence, Government of India. That was when he initiated a high-secret feasibility study for building long-range ballistic missiles – a task which had been assigned by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In 1974 he became Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, making a valuable contribution during the University’s formative stage. A powerful science communicator, he edited the popular magazine ‘Science and Culture’ and had also been Chairman of the National Committee on Environmental Planning & Co-ordination, Govt. of India; Member, Senior Scientific Advisory Committee of United Nations Environmental Programmes; Chairman, Science & Technology Manpower Committee, Government of India; Member of the Board of Trustees, International Foundation for Science (Stockholm), Visiting Professor, University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana and Chairman, Research Advisory Council, National Physical Laboratory, Delhi.

An erudite, soft-spoken man with a wonderful sense of humour, he was a visionary who strived to ensure that there was a fruitful interaction between nuclear and environmental sciences. He is survived by his wife, son and his family. His wife, noted vocalist Shrimati Dipali Nag is presently the Adviser, Scientific Research Department, ITC Sangeet Research Academy.

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