The Academy

(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 and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray.

 

Founder President Prof. M N Saha

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.

 

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 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 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. A.K. Sharma, Prof. Asis Datta and Dr. K. Kasturirangan 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), as Prof. M.G.K. Menon, Dr. V.P. 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 1730 Members and 1759 Fellows from all parts of the country; including 20 Honorary Fellows and 100 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.

 (II)      Council 2017

President

1.     Prof. Anil Kakodkar, D.Sc.(h.c.), FNASc, FASc, FNAE, FIE, Formerly Chairman, AEC & Secretary, DAE, GOI; DAE Homi Bhabha Chair Professor & Member AEC, BARC, Trombay, Mumbai – 400085

Past Presidents

2.     Prof. Akhilesh K. Tyagi, PhD, FNASc, FASc, FNA, FNAAS, FTWAS, Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi - 110021

3.     Prof. Asis Datta, Ph.D., D.Sc., FNASc, FASc, FNA, FTWAS, NASI-Platinum Jubilee Chair Distinguished Professor; Formerly Vice-Chancellor, JNU & Founder Director, National Institute of Plant Genome Research, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg,  New Delhi – 110067.

Vice-Presidents

4.     Prof. Rohini Madhusudan Godbole, Ph.D.(SUNY), D.Lit., FNASc, FASc, FNA, FTWAS, Professor, Centre for High Energy Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore - 560012

5.     Prof. Pramod Tandon, PhD, FNASc, FBS, Formerly Vice-Chancellor, NEHU, Shillong; Chief Executive Officer, Biotech Park, Sector G, Kursi Road, Jankipuram, Lucknow – 226021

Treasurer

6.     Prof. Balakrishnan Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., FNASc, Professor-H, Harish Chandra Research Institute, Chhatnag Road, Jhunsi, Allahabad – 211019

Foreign Secretary

7.     Prof. Pramod Kumar Garg,  MBBS, MD, DM, FNASc, FAMS, Professor, Department of Gastroenterology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110029

General Secretaries

8.     Prof. (Mrs.) Veena Tandon, PhD, FNASc, FZSI, FHSI, Formerly Professor, Department of Zoology, NEHU, Shillong; NASI-Senior Scientist, Biotech Park, Sector G, Kursi Road, Jankipuram, Lucknow - 226021

9.     Prof.  Umesh Chandra Srivastava, D.Phil., Doctor of Neurophysiology (Pisa), FNASc, FIAN, Emeritus Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Allahabad, Allahabad - 211002  

Members

10.   Prof. Madhoolika Agrawal, Ph.D., FNASc, FNAAS, Professor, Department of Botany, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi - 221005

11.   Prof. Jayesh Ramesh Bellare, Ph.D., FNASc, Institute Chair Professor, Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai- 400076

12.   Prof. K.V.R. Chary, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FAPASc, Senior Professor (I), JC Bose Fellow (DST, GOI), Department of Chemical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha Road, Colaba, Mumbai – 400005

13.   Prof. Alok Dhawan, PhD, FNASc, FST, FAEB, FINS, FAScAW, Director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Post Box No. 80, M.G. Marg, Lucknow - 226001

14.   Dr. Sugeerappa Laxmanappa Hoti, Ph.D., FNASc, FISP,  Scientist G & Director-in-Charge,  Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR),  Nehru Nagar(Opp.KLE Hospital),  Belagavi – 590010

15.   Dr. Hemanta Kumar Majumder, PhD, FNASc, FASc, FNA, FAScT(WB), DAE-Raja Ramanna Fellow, Scientist G, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, 4 Raja S.C. Mullick Road, Kolkata - 700032

16.   Prof. Jayant Moreshwar Modak, Ph.D., FNASc, FNAE, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012

17.   Dr. Sankar Kumar Pal, PhD (Cal.& Lond.), DIC, FNASc, FASc, FNA, FNAE, FIEEE, FTWAS, FIAPR, FIFSA, Raja Ramanna Fellow, Distinguished  Scientist & Former Director, Indian Statistical Institute, 203, B.T.  Road, Kolkata -700108

18.   Prof. A.S. Raghavendra, PhD, FNASc, FASc, FNA, FNAAS, FTWAS, Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad - 500046

19.   Dr. Chandrima Shaha, PhD, FNASc,  FASc, FNA, Professor of Eminence and former Director, National Institute of Immunology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi - 110067

20.   Dr. Amit Prakash Sharma, PhD (Northwestern, USA), FNASc, FASc, FNA, FTWAS, Group Leader & Staff Scientist, Structural & Computational Biology Group, Interna­tional Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi – 110067

21.   Prof. L.S. Shashidhara, Ph.D. (Cambridge,UK), FNASc, FASc, FNA, Professor & Coordinator (Biology), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, 900, NCL Innovation Park, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pune – 411008

22.   Prof. Sampat Kumar Tandon, PhD, FNASc, FASc, FNA, FGS, FTWAS, Sir JC Bose Chair Professor, IISER Bhopal, Bhopal Bypass Road, Bhauri, Bhopal – 462066

23.   Prof. Anil Kumar Tyagi, Ph.D., FNASc, FASc, FNA, Vice-Chancellor, GGS Indraprastha University, Sector 16C, Dwarka, New Delhi - 110078

DST Secretary’s Nominee –

Prof. Sibaji Raha, Ph.D., FNASc, Director, Bose Institute, P-1/12, CIT Scheme VII-M, Kolkata – 700054

(II)     Activities of NASI (in a nutshell):

Being the oldest science Academy of this country, NASI has carved a niche in science popularization and promotional activities. In the recent past the Academy performed in an outstanding way by accomplishing the following major tasks successfully, with the active support of its Fellows/Members; and financial support of the DST, New Delhi

Publications

Apart from regular publications (Proceedings of NASI, Sec. A & B, each in IV parts & Science Letters in VI parts), in collaboration with the Springer, the Academy published two books on Light to celebrate the International Year of Light; and another on Dengue (in Hindi) of about 400 pages. The 9 volumes published on the History of Science in India were distributed to the concerned govt. and non-govt. agencies for dissemination of knowledge. The reviews published in the Proceedings and Science Letters of the Academy covered the most discussed areas of research from Nanotechnology to Biotechnology; and Material Science to Transformational Technologies. The Academy also published a book on “Communicable and Non-communicable Diseases” (Edited by Prof. V.P. Sharma and Prof. Asis Datta); and a Monograph (by Prof P.N. Tandon, world famous medical scientist) having fascinating account of his tryst with bio-medical research. Another very important publication was the “Festschrift” - dedicated to Prof. M.G.K. Menon – a legendary scientist of India. The NASI-Senior Scientists, Ganga researchers and others associated with the Academy published several research publications in high impact factor journals of world repute. 

Science Communication Activities

·         The highlights of activities were Children Science Meet, Summer & Winter Schools, Vocational Training Programmes, Teachers Workshops, Scientific Writing Contest, Vigyan, Jal & Health Chaupals, Seminars, National Technology Day, National Mathematics Day, National Science Day and 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 18 Chapters organized hundreds of science communication activities, in and around their region throughout the year, the details of which have already been published in the Annual Report of NASI. More than 10,000 students and teachers were benefitted from these activities.

·         Not only that, a series of workshops on Scientific Paper Writing was organized by the Academy to train the young researchers for expressing their views and research findings in an appropriate manner. So far, 12 such workshops have been organized at BHU, Varanasi; SGPGI, Lucknow; NASI, Allahabad; Udaipur; Mumbai; Dehradun, Pune and Amravati; out of which 2 were organized in the year 2016-17.

·         Another important awareness programme (2 in 2016-17) for the Army personnel was also organized.

·         The awareness programmes were also organized in the SAGY village near Varanasi; and exhibitions were show-cased in such villages for motivating the rural youth for self employment.

Science Education Programmes in joint collaboration of other National Science Academies

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 to provide opportunities to bright under and post-graduate students and teachers to usefully spend their summer/winter vacations.

Annual Session/Symposia/Seminars & Scientific Discussions

The Academy after organizing a symposium on “Desert Science- Opportunities and Challenges” at Jai Narayan Vyas University, Jodhpur, Rajasthan on December 4 - 6, 2014, during its 84th Annual Session, also took up the issue of climate change to other parts of the country by organizing the Brainstorming Sessions on Safe Water & Sanitation (in Allahabad & Delhi), Climate change (inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister at Jammu); and several other sensitization programmes on Nutrition & Health; Environment, Pollution & Conservation issues etc. A Symposium on Marine & Fresh Water Ecosystems, was also organized at Bhubaneswar during the 85th Annual Session of NASI on Dec. 6-8, 2015 to discuss several related aspects as well as the climate change impact on our ecosystem. In the end of the year 2016 (Dec. 2-4), the Academy organized 86th Annual Session and Symposium on “Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship for Human Welfare in The Himalayan Region” at Dehradun.

Fellowship/Membership

To recognize the outstanding scientific contributions of the scientists, the Academy awarded the prestigious Fellowship/Membership to the scientists (about more than 100 scientists) working in different areas of science & technology, selected from all across the country in the year 2016. It also awarded a few Foreign Fellowships to the scientists working in different countries in collaboration with the scientists in India.

Singhania Library

Library services were enriched through digitization of the library, subscribing more books and by providing facilities of storage, reading room and citation etc. Internet facility for educational purpose is also being provided to the students free-of-cost. The library has been connected to National Knowledge Network (NKN).

Recognition and Awards

·        NASI-Reliance Industries Platinum Jubilee Awards (2016) for the Application Oriented Innovations covering both Physical and Biological Sciences.

·        NASI-Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Awards (2016) in the fields of Biological/Physical/ Chemical Sciences; & 10th NASI Scopus Awards (2015-16).

·         NASI-Senior Scientist Platinum Jubilee Fellowships (2017)- Awarded.

·        Prof. M.G.K. Menon Lecture Award (instituted in 2015); given to Prof Govind Swarup, a world famous scientist (in 2015); and Prof. P.N. Tandon, world famous medical scientist (in 2016).

·         NASI – Swarna Jayanti Puruskars (2016) for Best Paper Presentation in the Annual Session.

·         NASI – Springer Awards (2016) for Best Paper Presentation in the Annual Session (started from the year 2015, in collaboration with the Springer India Pvt. Ltd.).

·         Memorial Lecture Awards to the eminent scientists (2016). 

·         NASI – Science and Maths Teacher Awards (2016) by NASI HQ and some of its Chapters in their respective region.

Establishment of Brahmaputra Gallery at Guwahati, Assam; and another at Mysore on Cauvery

After the establishment of Ganga-gallery at Allahabad, the Academy established another river-gallery on Brahmaputra river at Assam. Both these galleries were established in collaboration with the National Council of Science Museum, Kolkata. The work on third gallery (on river Cauvery) has been started at Mysore, Karnataka with the financial support of the Govt. of Karnataka.

Sensitization Programmes for Women Researchers/Scientists.

The Academy organized four workshops on Technological Empowerment of Women at different centres of the country in the year 2016-17. About 2500 women scientists/researchers were sensitized under this programme; and the booklet published with pragmatic solutions to the problems of women scientists/researchers, were distributed among the teachers and students. Also, collaborations were established with ICAR, ICMR and other institutions for developing some mechanisms to reduce the problem of malnutrition and drudgery of farm/rural women; a Vision Document on women scientists in India was published in collaboration with other two National Science Academies of India.

Rejuvenation of Baolies (Step wells) in Bundelkhand area

Under the safe water programme, the Academy restored 5 wells at Bundelkhand area to assure the availability of safe water to the local tribals and have-nots of the area. Also connected to MPCOST with this programme for community schemes. Soon, these baolies are to be dedicated to the nation.

Local Chapters

The 18 Chapters of the Academy have undertaken a hundreds of science communication/education activities for the furtherance of the Academy’s objectives. Detailed reports of the Chapters have been included in the Annual Report of the Academy.