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, Srinivasa Ramanujan 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 in 1929 by Prof. Meghnad Saha, a great scientist, patriot and then Professor of Physics at Allahabad University. 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. 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, Dr. S.Z. Qasim and Prof. S.K. Joshi, 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 also recognized as the Professional Body of the DST and SIRO of the DSIR, Ministry of Science & Technology, 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 2021

 President

1.     Prof. Ajoy Kumar Ghatak, PhD(Cornell), FNASc, Formerly Professor of Physics at IIT Delhi; Res. D-42, Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016

Past Presidents

2.     Prof. G. Padmanaban, PhD, DSc(hc), FNASc, FNA, FASc, FTWAS, Former Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012

3.     Prof. Ved Prakash Kamboj, PhD, DSc, FNASc, FNA, Mem NYASc, Formerly Director, CDRI, Lucknow; Chairman, Board of Directors, Biotech Consortium India Ltd., New Delhi; Res. C-1111, Indira Nagar, Lucknow - 226016;

 Vice-Presidents

4.     Prof. Anurag Sharma, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, FNAE, Professor, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi - 110016;

5.     Dr. Saroj Kanta Barik, PhD, FNASc, FNAAS, Director, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Rana Pratap Marg, Lucknow - 226001

Treasurer

6.     Prof. U.C. Srivastava, D.Phil., Doctor of Neurophysiology (Pisa), FNASc, FIAN, Formerly Emeritus Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj – 211002

Foreign Secretary

7.     Dr. Amit Prakash Sharma, PhD(Northwestern, USA), FNASc, FNA, FASc, FTWAS, Director, ICMR-National Institute of Malaria Research, Sector 8, Dwarka, New Delhi - 110077

General Secretaries

8.     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

9.     Prof. Satya Deo, PhD(Arkansas, USA), FNASc, Formerly Vice Chancellor, APS University, Rewa, MP; Honorary Scientist, Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Chhatnag Road, Jhusi, Prayagraj - 211019

Members

10.  Prof. Talat Ahmad, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, JC Bose National Fellow, Vice-Chancellor, University of Kashmir, Hazratbal, Srinagar-190006

11Prof. Rakesh Bhatnagar, PhD, FNASc, FNA, FASc, Vice Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi – 221005

12.  Prof. Rama Govindarajan, PhD, FNASc, FASc, Professor, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru – 560089

13.  Prof. Ravindra Shripad Kulkarni, PhD, FNASc, Bhaskaracharya Pratishthan, 56/14, Erandavane, Damle Path, Off Law College Road, Pune - 411004

14.  Prof. Bhaskaran Pillai Mohan Kumar, PhD, FNASc, FNAAS, FNIE, FAS, Vice-Chancellor, Arunachal University of Studies (AUS), NH-52, Knowledge City, Namsai, AP - 792103

15.  Dr. Ajay Kumar Parida, PhD, FNASc, Director, Institute of Life Sciences (DBT, GOI), NALCO Square, Chandrasekarpur, Bhubaneswar-751023

16.  Prof. Isan K. Patro, PhD, FNASc, FIAN, FCINP, Formerly Vice-Chancellor, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack – 753003

17.  Prof. Prasun Kumar Roy, MBBS, PhD, FNASc, Professor, Computational Neuroscience & Neuroimaging Lab, School of Biomed. Engg., IIT (BHU), Varanasi – 221005

18.  Prof. Anil K. Singh, PhD, FNASc, FASc, Former Professor of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai.

19.  Prof. Sanjeev Sinha, MD(Medicine), FNASc, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi – 110029

20.  Dr. Renu Swarup, PhD, FNASc, Secretary to the Govt. of India, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, Block 2, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110003

21.  Dr. Prabodh Kumar Trivedi, PhD, FNASc, FMASc, FNAAS, Director, CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow -226015

22.  Prof. Hriday Narain Verma, PhD, FNASc, FBS, FPSI, FISEB, Vice-Chancellor, Jaipur National University, Jagatpura, Jaipur – 302017

23.  Dr. Sandeep Verma, PhD(Illinois), FNASc, FNA, FASc, FRSC, Secretary, Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), New Delhi; JC Bose National Fellow, 5 & 5A, Lower Ground Floor, Vasant Square Mall, Sector-B, Pocket-5, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi - 110070;

and a Nominee of the Secretary, DST, GoI

 

(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 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:

 

Publications

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 book on “Vector Biology and Control” was also published in 2020.

 

Science Education/Communication Activities:

NASI-HQ and it’s 22 Chapters spread across India, are organising several science education/communication activities (presently on WEB) in and around their respective regions. More than two dozen Institutes/Laboratories/Educational Institutions (as IITs, NCSM, Medical Colleges, Universities, CBSE, DNA Clubs etc.) are associated with NASI in organising these programmes. It is expected that more than one lac students and teachers would be benefitted from these activities/webinars focused on ‘Poshan (Nutrition)’, COVID Appropriate behaviour, Entrepreneurship development for Atmanirbhar Bharat (in consonance with the recent national programmes announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India), and so.

 

Activities under Joint Women Panel of three National Science Academies:

NASI is heading this joint panel of three National Science Academies under the leadership of Prof. Manju Sharma, Past President, NASI & former Secretary to the GoI. A Mega Event (graced by the Hon’ble Minister for Sc. & Tech., GoI; Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST; Prof. M S Swaminathan, Prof. Anil Kakodkar and about 1000 women scientists) was organised in 2018 after successfully organising several programmes in about 17 states of our country for the welfare of women scientists and the rural women by the scientific intervention. The programme is going on with full vigour and hopefully 3-4 national workshops will be organised in the year 2021.

 

Research Projects being undertaken by the NASI-Chairs & Senior Scientists:

NASI has undertaken several important research works/projects led by its Distinguished Chairs and the Senior/Hony. Scientists (as Prof. G. Padmanaban, former Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Prof. V. M. Katoch, former DG, ICMR; Prof. Ashok Misra, former Director, IIT Bombay, Prof. Amit Ghosh, former Director, CSIR-IMTECH; Prof. Satya Deo, former Vice-Chancellor & Emeritus Scientist, HRI, and many others), aimed towards the development of science in general and the society, in particular. Due to their noteworthy contributions, the NASI has been recognised as SIRO by the DSIR, Ministry of Science & Technology, GoI. The detailed reports have been sent to the DST (as a part of the Annual Reports of NASI); and also available on the website of NASI- www.nasi.nic.in

 

Activities under Scheduled Tribe Sub-Plan Programmes:

A Mega Event on the ‘Science & Technology Intervention for the Tribal Welfare’ was held at ILS, Bhubaneswar on Feb. 24-25, 2020, in which about 300 participants attended from all across the country representing 22 Tribal Welfare Centres established by NASI. The programme is still going on; which would be beneficial for more than 10,000 tribes.

Annual Session/Symposia/Seminars & Scientific Discussions

The 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 Chairmen of the Sace Commission, as well as several other distinguished scientists. The 90th Annual Session of the NASI, was organised on WEB (due to COVID-19 pandemic), on Feb. 25-27, 2021, which was attended by more than 300 dignitaries and the participants; a symposium on ‘Towards a New Healthcare regime for the Nation’, was also held during the session. Several scientific papers were presented in the session.   

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 2020. It also awarded a few Foreign Fellowships to scientists who are working in different countries and have collaborated with scientists from India.

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.

Recognition and Awards-   The following awards were given in the year 2020:

·         NASI-Reliance Industries Platinum Jubilee Awards for the Application Oriented Innovations covering both Physical and Biological Sciences to five distinguished scientists;

·         NASI-Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Awards to about twenty young scientists/researchers in the fields of Biological/Physical/ Chemical Sciences;

·         NASI-Senior Scientist Platinum Jubilee Fellowships;

·         Professor M. G. K. Menon Memorial Award (2020)

·         NASI – Swarna Jayanti Puruskars for Best Paper Presentation to four young scientists/researchers, in the 90th Annual Session;

·         Memorial Lecture Awards to about 15 eminent scientists;

·         NASI – Science and Maths Teacher Awards by NASI HQ & Chapters to many teachers.

 

Major and Unique National Facilities serving the nation:

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 created by NASI to make the people aware about the conservation of the rivers & our natural resources, have been dedicated to the nation, and serving the society; while the third on river Cauvery has also been established recently at Mysuru. The library of the Academy is also serving our nation for more than 90 years; it is connected with the National Knowledge Network (NKN).