(I) An Introduction
India could justly feel proud for its unique contributions to science in the ancient past. However, successive foreign invasions and alien rule for centuries pushed science in the background and the country went through with what may be described as the dark age for science. Western science attracted Indian intelligentsia after the establishment of the western system of education and the universities; and despite many constraints, the country could produce giants like Prof. J.C. Bose, Prof. S.N. Bose, Prof. Meghnad Saha, Prof. C.V. Raman, Srinivasa Ramanujan and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray.
The 1st World War and the world-wide economic depression caused a setback to scientific research globally – much more so in India whose scientists found it difficult even to publish their research work since they had to be almost entirely dependent on foreign journals. The post World War India also saw the rise of the freedom movement which incidentally also drew attention to the numerous problems of the Indian people like poverty, hunger, diseases, recurrent floods, droughts, famines etc. Patriotic scientists felt deeply concerned with these.
Prof. M N Saha
It was in this background that the idea of establishing a forum for scientists, which would bring them together to discuss and find scientific solutions to the problems of the country, was mooted by Prof. Meghnad Saha, a great scientist, patriot and then Professor of Physics at Allahabad University in 1929. His views were published in December 1929 issue of the Allahabad University magazine in an article entitled ‘A Plea for an Academy of Sciences’.
Thus, the National Academy of Sciences, India (initially called “The Academy of Sciences of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh”) was founded in the year 1930, with the objectives to provide a national forum for the publication of research work carried out by Indian scientists and to provide opportunities for exchange of views among them. The Memorandum of Association was signed by seven distinguished and patriotic scientists namely Prof. Meghnad Saha, Prof. K.N. Bahl, Prof. D.R. Bhattacharya, Prof. P.C. MacMohan, Prof. A.C. Banerji, Prof. Ch. Wali Mohammad and Prof. N.R. Dhar. Of these, the Academy had the good fortune of having the continued association of Prof. N.R. Dhar until very lately when he expired on December 5, 1986 at the age of 96 years. Apart from being one of the founders of the Academy and taking continued interest in its welfare, Prof. Dhar also donated the piece of land on which the Academy building stands today.
The Rules and Regulations of the Academy were based on those of the Royal Society of England and the Asiatic Society of Bengal. These have since been revised and updated to meet the emerging challenges. Prof. Meghnad Saha was elected its first President. In the Inaugural address, Prof. Saha Said : “…..But the main function of the Academy should be towards cultural improvement by contribution to human knowledge”. Since then, the Academy has crossed many milestones, successfully serving the “Science & Society”. In its Silver Jubilee Session in 1955, Prof. Saha, further emphasized the role of the Academies in developing human scientific resources. Similarly, during the Golden Jubilee Session of the Academy in 1980, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, Prime Minster of India stressed that the need of hour was to ensure that science does not remain confined to laboratories. The address delivered by His Excellency Sri R. Venkataraman, President of India, during the Diamond Jubilee Session (1990-91) was a timely reminder of the vision of late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru to integrate science with the lives of the people; and the Academy left no stone unturned in pursuing its aim and objectives, which was appreciated by His Excellency Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India, in his address during the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the Academy in 2005. Dr. Kalam praised the role of the Academy in boosting the zeal of the budding scientists, who could do better in future with such support and endeavour.
The Academy undertakes several “science-society” programs under the guidance of its President (Prof. G. Padmanaban), Past Presidents and Fellows. As its Past Presidents, very distinguished scientists like Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, Prof. Manju Sharma, Prof. P.N. Tandon, Prof. S.K. Joshi, Prof. Jai Pal Mittal, Prof. V.P. Kamboj, Prof. Ashok Misra, Prof. Asis Datta, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Prof. Akhilesh K. Tyagi and Prof. Anil Kakodkar are keenly associated with the Academy and enormously contributing to its development. It is worth mentioning that a few other Past Presidents (unfortunately who are not with us now), as Prof. M.G.K. Menon, Dr. V.P. Sharma, Prof. A.K. Sharma, Dr. T.N. Khoshoo, Prof. U.S. Srivastava, Dr. A.P. Mitra and Dr. S.Z. Qasim also contributed a lot to the development of science in general and the Academy in particular, in the recent past.
The Academy while starting with 57 ordinary Members and 19 Fellows, has now 1820 Members and 1856 Fellows from all parts of the country; including 17 Honorary Fellows and 106 Foreign Fellows from various disciplines of Science and Technology. The Academy is financially supported by the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India; and it is also recognized as the Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation by the DSIR, Govt. of India.
NASI – envisions the cultivation and promotion of Science & Technology in all its branches through –
(a) promoting scientific and technological research related to the problems of societal welfare;
(b) publication of proceedings, journals, memoirs, transactions and other works as may be considered desirable;
(c) organising meetings and hold discussions on scientific and technological problems;
(d) undertaking, through properly constituted committees and bodies, the scientific work(s) of technological or public importance.
(e) co-operating with other organizations in India and abroad, having similar objects, and to appoint representatives of the Academy to act on national and international bodies;
(f) securing and managing funds and endowments for the promotion of science and technology;
(g) organising a Science Library;
(h) performing all other acts, matters and things that may assist in, conduce to, or be necessary for the fulfillment of the above mentioned aims and objects of the Academy;
(i) creating an adequate impact of the Academy all over the country, by opening Chapters of the Academy in other cities in the country, where reasonable number of Fellows and Members are available.
(I) Council 2020
- Prof. G. Padmanaban, PhD, DSc(hc), FNASc, FNA, FASc, FTWAS, Former Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012
- Prof. Anil Kakodkar, DSc(hc), FNASc, FASc, FNAE, FIE, Formerly Chairman, AEC & Secretary, DAE, GOI; Chairman, TIFAC & Member AEC, BARC, Trombay, Mumbai – 400085
- Prof. S.K. Joshi, DPhil, DSc(hc), FNASc, FNA, FASc, FTWAS, Mem.Russian Acad.Sc., Formerly Director General, CSIR & NASI Platinum Jubilee Chair Distinguished Professor; # 252, National Physical Laboratory, Dr. K.S. Krishnan Marg, New Delhi-110012
- Prof. Jaya S. Tyagi, NASI-Senior Scientist, Dept. of Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi – 110029
- Prof. Lal Chand Rai, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FNAAS, DAE Raja Ramanna Fellow & JC Bose National Fellow, CAS in Botany, Institute of Science, BHU, Varanasi – 221005
- Prof. U.C. Srivastava, Managing Editor- Proceeding of NASI, Formerly Professor of Department of Zoology, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj – 211002
- Prof. P.N. Rangarajan, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, FAMS, Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012
- Prof. Paramjit Khurana, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, FNAAS, FTWAS, JC Bose National Fellow, Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi – 110021
- Prof. Satya Deo, PhD(Arkansas, USA), FNASc, Formerly Vice Chancellor, APS University, Rewa, MP; Honorary Scientist, Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Chhatnag Road, Jhusi, Allahabad – 211019
- Prof. Talat Ahmad, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, JC Bose National Fellow, Vice-Chancellor, University of Kashmir, Hazratbal, Srinagar-190006
- Prof. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., FNASc, FNAE, Director, Indian Statistical Institute, 203, B.T. Road, Kolkata – 700108
- Dr. Suchitra Banerjee, PhD, FNASc, NASI-Senior Scientist, Plant Biotechnology Division, CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, PO – CIMAP, Lucknow – 226015
- Prof. Rakesh Bhatnagar, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, Vice Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi – 211005
- Dr. Swapan K. Ghosh, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, FTWAS, Distinguished Professor, UM-DAE Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences, Health Centre Building, University of Mumbai, Kalina Campus, Mumbai 400098
- Prof. Rama Govindarajan, PhD, FNASc, FASc, Professor, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru – 560089
- Dr. A.S. Kiran Kumar, FNASc, FNAE, FIETE, FAPAS, FIMS, FGSA, FISRS, Former Chairman, ISRO & Secretary, Department of Space; 485/1, Vyoma, 80 Ft. Road, R.T. Nagar, Bangalore – 560032
- Dr. Smita Dilip Mahale, Ph.D., FNASc, FNA, Scientist G & Director, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, Jehangir Merwanji Street, Parel, Mumbai – 400012
- Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Ph.D., DSc(hc), FNASc, FASc, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore – 560012
- Prof. Isan K. Patro, PhD, FNASc, FIAN, FCINP, Vice-Chancellor, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack – 753003
- Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, PhD, FNASc, FIEEE, FNA, FASc, FNAE, FIETE, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi – 110016
- Prof. Anil K. Singh, PhD, FNASc, FASc, Former Professor of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, Res: A-1603, Lake Primrose, Lake Homes, Powai, Mumbai-400076
- Prof. Sanjeev Sinha, MD(Medicine), FNASc, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi – 110029
- Prof. Umesh Vasudeo Waghmare, Ph.D.(Yale), FNASc, FNA, FASc, Professor, Theoretical Sciences Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Jakkur, Bangalore – 560064
DST Secretary’s Nominee –
Prof. Sibaji Raha, Ph.D., FNASc, Former Director, Bose Institute, P-1/12, CIT Scheme VII-M, Kolkata – 700054
(III) Activities of NASI (in a nutshell):
The Academy (NASI) organized various activities under the Presidentship of Professor G. Padmanaban, former Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, during the year 2019-20. The Past Presidents, namely Professor M.S. Swaminathan, Professor (Mrs.) Manju Sharma, Professor S.K. Joshi, Professor Ashok Misra, Professor Asis Datta, Dr V. P. Kamboj, Professor J.P. Mittal, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Professor Akhilesh K. Tyagi and Prof. Anil Kakodkar also took keen interest in the dissemination of science in general and the development of the Academy, in particular. The noteworthy accomplishments with the kind cooperation of its Fellows and Members, and major (financial) support of the DST, New Delhi, are as follows:
NASI published the Proceedings of NASI, Sec. A & B, each in IV parts and National Academy Science Letters in VI parts, in collaboration with the Springer Nature.
- National Academy Science Letters received Impact Factor (IF) as 0.331 in 2019 from Thomson Reuters; about 525 papers were received from thirty countries/regions.
- PNASI, Sec. A received Impact Factor (IF) as 0.681 in 2019 from Thomson Reuters; and about 385 papers were received from twenty five countries/regions.
- The PNASI, Sec. B received Cite Score as 0.62 in 2019 from Scopus; and about 425 papers were received from thirty seven countries/regions.
- Two special publications were released on 5th Oct. 2019 at New Delhi on the occasion of the “Closing Ceremony of the Anniversary Celebrations of ‘Ba & Bapu’ and Prof. Meghnad Saha”. These were the collection of the Lectures delivered (in the memory of these three great personalities of the world) by the distinguished persons in different parts of the country.
- An important Special Issue on ‘Mathematical Biology’ and a specific book on “Vector Biology and Control” are under process”.
Science Communication Activities
- The highlights of these activities were Children Science Meet, Summer & Winter Schools, Teachers’ Training Workshops, Scientific Writing Contest, Vigyan, Jal & Health Chaupals, Seminars, and celebration of the National Technology Day, the National Science Day, the National Constitution Day, the National Mathematics Day and the World Environment Day etc. The Academy also encouraged the teachers for out-of-the-class science activities by recognizing their talent and giving away NASI-Science Teacher’s Awards to them.
- NASI’s 21 Chapters spread across India, organized hundreds of science communication activities in and around their respective regions throughout the year. More than 50,000 students and teachers benefitted from these activities.
- A series of workshops on Scientific Paper Writing have been organized by the Academy (since 2012) to train the young researchers in the art and ethics of scientific writing. So far, 16 such workshops have been organized at BHU, Varanasi; SGPGI, Lucknow; NASI HQs, Allahabad; Udaipur; Mumbai; Dehradun; Pune, Amrawati, Nainital, Rishikesh, and Haryana; out of which 3 were organized during the year 2019-20.
Activities under Scheduled Tribe Sub-Plan Programmes
An innovative programme was launched two years back under this head for improving the socio-economic status of the Scheduled Tribes of about 21 regions of the country (details are available on www.nasi.nic.in), as for-
- Bioeconomy for the Scheduled Tribes: Emphasis has been given on Bioresources and biodiversity development, conservation and utilization, as well as on Value addition.
- S&T Interventions: For ensuring Safe Water and Sanitation, eradicating Malnutrition, Malaria and other communicable diseases, etc.
- Data accumulation, analysis and utilization: Specially on the vast knowledge bank of ethnic medical practices and ethos, as well as the wide spread biodiversity of the tribal areas.
S&T Entrepreneurship development
- Training programs for entrepreneurs – To inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in the youth and in line with the National Mission Programmes of Skill Development and Start Up India, NASI organised programmes with ‘Hands-on training’ at Lucknow and Mahendragarh this year. Young, potential candidates interested in entrepreneurship benefited from these programmes.
- Awareness and Training – on Nutrition, Safe drinking water, Health & hygiene etc. A mixed participation of rural and urban population was ensured. This was included in the spirit of “Swasth Bharat Mission”.
- Safe drinking water and pollution abatement – especially for the rural areas and municipal workers. This was included in the spirit of “Swachh Bharat Mission”. Vth Brain Storming on Safe Water & Sanitation was organised at MPCOST Bhopal in Sept. 2019; a large number of scientists, municipal workers, researchers and others attended the brainstorming sessions.
Sensitization Programmes for Women Researchers/Scientists
The Academy organized 31 workshops on Technological Empowerment of Women in different parts of the country during the last 5 years. More than 50,000 women scientists/researchers were sensitized under this programme. A Vision Document-Report on Women in Science in India was also released; and a Mega Event was held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi on the auspicious occasion of International Women’s Day, i.e. on March 8-9, 2018 with Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Minister for Science & Technology, Govt. of India, as the Chief Guest; and thousands of women scientists, teachers and researchers from all across the country. The event was addressed by world famous scientists as Prof. Anil Kakodkar, Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, father of Green Revolution in India, Prof. K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof. Manju Sharma (Convener), former Secretary to the Govt. of India, Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary to the Govt. of India, Department of Biotechnology, Dr Balram Bhargava, Secretary to the Govt. of India, Department of Health & Family Welfare, five foreign scientists from different countries and several others. The ‘Proceedings of the Mega-event including significant recommendations’ has also been published. Recently, other workshops with more than 350 women scientists were organized at AIIMS, Rishikesh and NASI, Prayagraj, respectively on May 25-26, 2018 and March 8-9, 2019.
Science Education Programmes in joint collaboration with National Science Academies
NASI, together with other two Science Academies – Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore jointly sponsors the Summer/Winter Research Fellowship under the joint Science Education Panel to provide opportunities to bright UG and PG students and teachers to usefully spend their summer/winter vacations.
Annual Session/Symposia/Seminars & Scientific Discussions
The 88th Annual Session of NASI and a Symposium on ‘Science, Technology and Ecosystem for Sustainable Rural Development’, were jointly organized by Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya Vishwavidyalaya (MGCGV) & Deendayal Research Institute (DRI), Chitrakoot, Satna, M. P. on Dec. 6-8, 2018, as a part of the celebration of 150th Birth Anniversary of ‘Ba & Bapu’ and 125th Birth Anniversary of Prof. Meghnad Saha. Recently on Dec. 21-23, 2019, 89th Annual Session of NASI and a Symposium on ‘Science and Technology based Entrepreneurship Development’, was held at NAARM, Hyderabad. More than 600 researchers and scientists participated in each of these events. Other seminars/symposia were also organised by NASI, as the Birth Centenary celebration of Prof. Vikram A. Sarabhai at I.I.Sc., Bangalore on 16th Nov. 2019, attended by Dr. K. Sivan, Chairman, Space Commission, India; and 4 former Chairmans of the Sace Commission, as well as several other distinguished scientists.
Fellowship / Membership
To recognize the outstanding scientific contributions of the scientists, the Academy awards every year the prestigious Fellowship/Membership to some of them. More than 100 scientists working in different areas of Science & Technology were selected from all across the country in the year 2019. It also awarded a few Foreign Fellowships to scientists who are working in different countries and have collaborated with scientists from India.
Library services were enriched through digitization of the library and subscribing more books. The library is connected to National Knowledge Network (NKN); Internet facility is being provided to the students and research scholars free of cost.
Recognition and Awards- The following awards were given in the year 2019:
- NASI-Reliance Industries Platinum Jubilee Awards for the Application Oriented Innovations covering both Physical and Biological Sciences to six distinguished scientists;
- NASI-Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Awards to about fifteen young scientists/researchers in the fields of Biological/Physical/ Chemical Sciences;
- 13th NASI Scopus Awards to 6 young scientists/researchers;
- NASI-Senior Scientist Platinum Jubilee Fellowships;
- Professor M. G. K. Menon Memorial Award (2019) was given to Hon’ble Prof. CNR Rao at I.I.Sc., Bangalore on 15th Nov. 2019.
- NASI – Swarna Jayanti Puruskars for Best Paper Presentation to four young scientists/researchers, in the 89th Annual Session;
- NASI – Springer Awards for Best Paper Presentation to two young scientists/researchers, in the 89th Annual Session (started in 2015 in collaboration with the Springer India Pvt. Ltd.);
- Memorial Lecture Awards to about 15 eminent scientists;
- NASI – Science and Maths Teacher Awards by NASI HQ & Chapters to many teachers.
Handing-over of Brahmaputra Gallery to the Govt. of Assam at Guwahati, Assam; and establishment of Cauvery Gallery at Mysuru
- Following the establishment of Ganga Gallery in the year 2011 at NASI Headquarters, Allahabad, the Academy established another river gallery on Brahmaputra River in Guwahati, Assam in 2015; which is now being handed over to the Govt. of Assam; but it will remain as the joint property of NASI and Assam Govt.
- The work on the third gallery on River Cauvery has also been completed at Mysuru, Karnataka with the major support from the Government of Karnataka.
Major and Unique National Facilities created:
The Ganga-gallery (IGNOU, New Delhi has included the gallery in its syllabus/projects; UP Tourism and Consortium of IITs have also included the gallery on their websites) and the Brahmaputra gallery have been dedicated to the nation; while the third on river Cauvery has also been established recently at Mysuru. The restoration of Baolies (step wells) is an important step for assuring safe water supply to the rural population of Bundelkhand. The library of the Academy is also serving our nation for more than 89 years.
Important collaborations (national and global) established:
a) The NASI together with other two Science Academies – Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore is jointly sponsoring the Summer Research Fellowship under the joint Science Education Panel
b) Continuing its established collaboration with the Reliance Industries, SCOPUS and Springer, for recognizing the talent in scientific research.
c) Also organized many science communication/ popularisation activities in collaboration with the Indian Universities/ IITs & other Institutes/CSIR Laboratories/DST Institutions/NCSM and other prestigious institutions.