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Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Biography

Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Biography

శాంతి స్వరూప్ భట్నాగర్ జీవిత చరిత్ర

Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar (21 February 1894 – 1 January 1955) was an Indian colloid chemist, academic and scientific administrator. The first director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), he is revered as the "father of research laboratories" in India.He was also the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (India) (UGC).

Early life

Bhatnagar was born in the Bhera, Punjab region of British India, in a Hindu kayastha family. His father, Parmeshwari Sahai Bhatnagar, died when he was eight months old, and he spent his childhood in the house of his maternal grandfather, an engineer, who helped him develop a liking for science and engineering. He enjoyed building mechanical toys, electronic batteries, and string telephones. From his maternal family he also inherited a gift of poetry.He completed his elementary education from the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic High School, Sikandrabad (Bulandshahr). In 1911 he joined the newly established Dayal Singh College, Lahore, where he became an active member of the Saraswati Stage Society and earned a good reputation as an actor. Bhatnagar passed the Intermediate Examination of the Punjab University in 1913 in first class and joined the Forman Christian College,where he obtained a BSc in physics in 1916, and a MSc in chemistry in 1919.

Education and early research

Bhatnagar was awarded a scholarship by the Dayal Singh College Trust to study abroad, and he left for America via England. The Trustee permitted him to join the University College London under chemistry professor Frederick G. Donnan. He earned his Doctorate in Science in 1921. While in London, he was supported by the British Department of Scientific and Industrial Research with a fellowship of £250 a year. In August 1921, he returned to India and immediately joined the newly established Banaras Hindu University (BHU) as a professor of chemistry, where he remained for three years. He then moved to Lahore as a Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of University Chemical Laboratories of the University of the Punjab. This portion of his career was the most active period of his life in original scientific work. His research interests included emulsions, colloids, and industrial chemistry, but his fundamental contributions were in the field of magneto-chemistry, the use of magnetism for the study of chemical reactions. In 1928 he and K.N. Mathur jointly developed the Bhatnagar-Mathur Magnetic Interference Balance, which was one of the most sensitive instruments at the time for measuring magnetic properties. 

Professional career

His major innovation was an improvement of the procedure for drilling crude oil. The Attock Oil Company at Rawalpindi (representative of Messers Steel Brothers & Co London) had confronted a peculiar problem, wherein the mud used for the drilling operation was hardened upon contact with saline water, thereby clogging the drill holes. Bhatnagar realised that this problem could be solved by colloidal chemistry. He added an Indian gum, which had the remarkable property of lowering the viscosity of the mud suspension and of increasing at the same time its stability against the flocculating action of electrolytes. M/s Steel Brothers was so pleased that they offered Bhatnagar a sum of Rs. 1,50,000/- for research work on any subject related to petroleum. The company placed the fund through the university and it was used to establish the Department of Petroleum Research under the guidance of Bhatnagar. Investigations carried out under this collaborative scheme included deodorization of waxes, increasing flame height of kerosene and utilization of waste products in the vegetable oil and mineral oil industries.

After India acquired independence, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was set up under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhatnagar, who became its first director-general. He is credited with establishing laboratories like the Central Food Processing Technological Institute, Mysore, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, the National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur, the Central Fuel Institute, Dhanbad among others, and became known as the “The Father of Research Laboratories”.

The CSIR, to honour his memory, established the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for eminent scientists.

He died of a heart attack on 1 January 1955, at the age of 60.

Honours and recognition

Batnagar Award

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Avada is one of the best in the field of Indian science, which gives every year recognition for the services provided by scientists in the fields of science and technology.

He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 1954. 

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