Padma Awardees in Science & Engineering

Dr S S Verma
The Padma Awards in three categories- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri are among the highest civilian awards of India and are announced every year on the occasion of India’s Republic Day to the people who have made exceptional and distinguished contributions in their respective fields and are conferred every year by the President of India at ceremonial functions held at Rashtrapati Bhawan between March and April. The awards are conferred in various fields such as art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.For the year 2023, the President has approved conferment of 106 Padma Awards including 3 duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one) and the list comprises 6 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 91 Padma Shri Awards. Nineteen of the awardees are women and the list also includes 2 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 7 Posthumous awardees.Though, recognition in every field is equally important but in the times of “Make in India” progressing towards self-reliant India, recognition in the field of science and engineering becomes more important from the scientific and engineering community point of view. Therefore, this article brings out the facts about those personalities who have been recognized by the government to be awarded Padma Awards-2023 (Padma Vibhushan-1, Padma Bhushan-1 and Padma Shri-8)from India & abroad in the field of science & engineering with an aim to motivate the readers to think and move forward in their career with an aim to emulate these personalities.
Padma Vibhushan Awardee
Srinivas Varadhan (USA):
Sathamangalam Ranga Iyengar Srinivasa Varadhan FRS (born 2 January 1940) is an Indian American mathematician, widely recognized as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century. He is known for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular for creating a unified theory of large deviations. He is regarded and revered as one of the fundamental contributors to the theory of diffusion processes with an orientation towards the refinement and further development of Itô’s stochastic calculus. In the year 2007, he became the first Asian to win the Abel Prize.Srinivasa was borninto a Hindu Tamil Brahmin Iyengar family in Chennai (then Madras). Varadhan received his undergraduate degree in 1959 from Presidency College, and Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, Bengal. In 1953, his family migrated to Kolkata. He then went back to Chennai for college in 1958. In 1960, he went to Kolkata for college. He grew up in Chennai and Kolkata. After college, he went back to Chennai. He was one of the “famous four” (the others being R Ranga Rao, K R Parthasarathy, and Veeravalli S Varadarajan) in ISI during 1956-1963. He received his doctorate from ISI in 1963 under C R Rao, who arranged for Andrey Kolmogorov to be present at Varadhan’s thesis defence.Since 1963, he has worked at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, where he was at first a postdoctoral fellow (1963-66), strongly recommended by Monroe D Donsker.
Varadhan’s awards and honours include the National Medal of Science (2010) from President Barack Obama, “the highest honour bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers and inventors”. He also received the Birkhoff Prize (1994), the Margaret and Herman Sokol Award of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, New York University (1995), and the Leroy P Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research (1996) from the American Mathematical Society, awarded for his work with Daniel W Stroock on diffusion processes. He was awarded the Abel Prize in 2007 for his work on large deviations with Monroe D Donsker. In 2008, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan. He also has two honorary degrees from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris (2003) and from Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, India (2004).Varadhan is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1995), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (2009). There are many more achievements to his credit.
Padma Bhushan Awardee
Deepak Dhar (Maharashtra):
Deepak was born on 30 October 1951 at Pratapgarh, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and graduated in science from the University of Allahabad in 1970 before earning a master’s degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 1972. Moving to the US, he enrolled for his doctoral studies under the guidance of Jon Mathews at California Institute of Technology. During his doctoral days at Caltech, Dhar held two institutional fellowships; E. P. Anthony fellowship (1972-73) and R. P. Feynman fellowship (1974-76). After securing a PhD in 1978, returned to India to start his career as a research fellow at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) the same year. He received the Young Scientist Medal of the Indian National Science Academy in 1983. International Centre for Theoretical Physics selected him for the 1993 J. Robert Schrieffer Prize. INSA honored Dhar again in 2001 with the Satyendranath Bose Medal and he received the TWAS Prize of The World Academy of Sciences in 2002.After two years of research, Dhar became a full-time fellow in 1980 and served in that position until 1986 when he was promoted as a reader. Before his superannuation from regular service, Dhar held various positions at TIFR such as that of an associate professor (1991) and professor grades from G to J (1995-2008). In between, he had a one-year sabbatical at the University of Paris as a visiting scientist during 1984-85) and a month-long stint at Isaac Newton Institute in May 2006 as a Rothschild Professor. His list of achievements is also long to be narrated here.
Padma Shri Awardees
Khadar Valli Dudekula (Karnataka):
He was born in a humble background in Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh. He pursued his BSc (Education) and MSc (Education) from Regional College of Education, Mysuru before earning a PhD in Steroids from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. He had a comfortable US job that he left to return to India and make it healthy. Dr Valli is the scientist who made the world realize the importance of food grains. He has numerous researches to his name and has worked extensively for revival of grains over 20years. As per The Better India, Dr Valli woke up to the problem of diet-related consequences in society around 1986-87 when he came across the case of a girl who had started menstruating at 6 years of age. Shocked by this, he decided to return to his country in 1997 and settled in Mysuru to work towards a healthy society rather than in a foreign nation. More than two decades since he launched his mission, India’s ‘Millet Man’ Dr Khadar Valli Dudekula was recognised by the government of India with the civilian honour Padma Shri.
Modadugu Vijay Gupta (Telangana)
Dr. Modadugu Vijay Gupta is an Indian biologist and fisheries scientist. Born on 17 August 1939, Modadugu hails from Bapatla in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. Till his recent retirement, Dr. Modadugu served as the Assistant Director General at WorldFish, an international fisheries research institute under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) based at Penang in Malaysia. He was awarded the World Food Prize in 2005, for development and dissemination of low-cost techniques for freshwater fish farming (using tilapia species) by the rural poor. He is considered a pioneer in the blue revolution of Southeast Asia. In 2015, was selected for the first Sunhak Peace Prize, in recognition of his creating an aquaculture system for the poor, rural populations in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.
Ganesh Nagappa Krishnarajanagara (Andhar Pradesh)
He is the Director of The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) campus in Tirupati. The coveted award comes to Prof. K.N. Ganesh in recognition of his rich contribution to the field of science education, research and institution building, as the founding Director of IISER Pune as well as IISER Tirupati. A fellow of all three science academies of India and also a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences, he has more than 170 publications in international journals and two patents to his credit. He has guided 45 PhD students. Given his experience in mentoring and shaping up IISER Pune, Prof. Ganesh was chosen to lead IISER Tirupati as its founder Director, where he assumed office on 1 November 2017.
Arvind Kumar (Uttar Pradesh)
Shri Arvind Kumar is the Director General of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). Before joining STPI, he was working in Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) since 2004. As advisor in TRAI, he was responsible for formulating policies on broadband, data security & privacy issues, manufacturing, DTH, IPTV, TV broadcasting and OTT, after having worked since 1997 in the Indian Government run premier technology centre, C-DoT, in various capacities.He also has worked with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as Rapporteur on the issues related to Migration to Next Generation Network (NGN) including OTT, cloud computing, security and privacy related issues. Shri Kumar holds an MTech degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT, BHU), Varanasi.
Prof. (Dr.) Mahendra Pal (Gujarat)
Born on 10th April, 1946 is an internationally renowned scientist and a well known distinguished academician, has 530 publications and 8 books. Prof. Pal guided over 67 students at DVM, MVSc, MSc and Ph.D. level in India and Ethiopia. He is credited to develop Sunflower seed agar (Pal’s medium) medium, APRM medium, PHOL stain and Narayan stain for the study of fungi. Prof. Pal elucidated for the first time the role of Cryptococcus neoformans in the mastitis of goat and buffalo, Fusarium solani in corneal ulcer of buffalo, Aspergillus fumigatus in rhinitis of camel and mule, Trichophyton verrucosum in dermatitis of deer, Candida tropicalis in human lung empyema, and Nocardia asteroides in keratitis of cattle. He has established for the first time the prevalence of Cryptococcus neoformans in the environment of New Zealand, Nepal, and Djibouti. He has reported the first isolation of Candida albicans from mastitic milk , and Trichophyton verrucosum in dermatitis of camel in Ethiopia. Prof. Pal has launched the Ph.D.programme for the first time in Veterinary Public Health at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and also at College of Veterinary Science, Anand, Gujarat, India. His biography is published in World’s Who and Who. Prof. Pal is the recipient of “Distinguished Teacher Award”, “Jawaharlal Nehru Award”, and ” Life Time Achievement Award. Prof. Pal is the First Indian Veterinarian who worked as “JSPS Visiting Scientist” at University of Tokyo, Japan. Many more achievements are also to his credit.
Bakshi Ram (Haryana)
Gurugram-based agro scientist Dr Bakshi is best known for developing sugarcane variety CO-0238, which occupies over 70 per cent of the sugarcane area in Northern India. Retired as Coimbatore ICAR Sugarcane Breeding Institute Director, Dr Bakshi currently works as a consultant in various sugar mills and also works for cane farmers’ welfare.
Ms. Sujatha Ramdorai (Canada)
Born in 1962 is an algebraic number theorist known for her work on Iwasawa theory. She is a professor of mathematics and Canada Research Chair at University of British Columbia, Canada. She was previously a professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. She completed her B.Sc. in 1982 at St. Joseph’s college, Bangalore and then got her M.Sc. through correspondence from Annamalai University in 1985. After that she went for PhD at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and was awarded her PhD under supervision of Raman Parimala in 1992. Ramdorai became the first Indian to win the prestigious ICTP Ramanujan Prize in 2006. She was also awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, the highest honour in scientific fields by the Indian Government in 2004. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Krieger-Nelson Prize for her exceptional contributions to mathematics research.
Abbareddy Nageswara Rao (Andhra Pradesh)
Born 1954 is an Indian botanist and at was the Director, Centre for Orchid Gene Conservation of Eastern Himalayan Region, Hengbung, Manipur, India. Has done the groundbreaking work on orchids and discovered 33 new orchid species – the highest by any scientist in independent India.
Of these new species, 28 were found from Arunachal, two from Meghalaya, two from Manipur and one from Uttarakhand. Two orchid species have been named after him – Dendrobium nageswarayanum, which was discovered by Krishna Chowlu from Arunachal Pradesh and Tropidia hegderaoii by Sarat Misra from Tamil Nadu. He is also part of the team that developed five new orchid hybrids from Arunachal Pradesh.
(The author is Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.-Sangrur)