We are privileged to bring out this commemorative volume on the life and work of Professor Yash Pal on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
Professor Yash Pal has been an iconic figure in India. He is a scientist, institution builder, educationist, communicator, - all rolled into one. It is not uncommon to find him engrossed in discussions either with school children, or with senior scientists. He is equally at home with both. To the young, however, he is a role model and a constant source of inspiration. He is a phenomenon.
Professor Yash Pal has been associated with Vigyan Prasar ever since its inception, and has been a guiding spirit in many of its activities and campaigns. In particular, I would like to mention his interest and involvement in the national campaigns built around the events of the Total Solar Eclipse of 1995 and the Venus Transit of 2004. On both the occasions, he was instrumental in bringing these events live on our television screens.
Most of the information and photographs in this volume are appearing for the first time, and bring forth the hitherto unknown facets of Professor Yash Pal's illustrious life and career. These memoirs have been lucidly penned down by Biman Basu in his own inimitable style, himself a well known author and a science communicator.
We are thankful to him for undertaking this challenging task and accomplishing it so exquisitely and expeditiously.
We do hope this commemorative volume would be successful in passing on the thrill and excitement of doing science that Professor Yash Pal himself has experienced, and inspiring the youth to take up a career in science.
Prof. Yash Pal embodies several personalities - scientist, manager, educator, and communicator - all rolled into one. There are few Indian scientists who have done so much in so many different fields, and have done it with such fervour. And at the age of eighty he still remains as active as ever, chairing expert committee meetings, answering children's questions, and doing a host of other things - all with equal ease.
Prof. Yash Pal spent almost 35 years doing research in Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, where his main areas of research were cosmic rays and high-energy physics. He also built up the Space Applications Centre at Ahmedabad and was the key person to plan and execute the yearlong Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) during 1975-76, and bring in a new dimension in educational communication in India. But not many are aware of the kind of obstacles he had to overcome both during his research years and in the execution of SITE. Often, the kind of solutions he found, the kind of innovations he had to make, and the kind of hard decisions he had to take to get things going appear incredible. They also bring out the true grit of a person with deep conviction who is never prepared to accept defeat.
As Chairman of the University Grants Commission he tried to bring about radical changes in the university education system. Although he was not quite successful in everything he tried he did succeed to bring about some new innovations in the shape of the Inter-
University Centres, Academic Staff colleges, and the Media Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET).
Later, he became popular as one who could explain science in layman's language. His regular appearance in the TV science programme 'Turning Point' to answer questions sent by viewers made him almost a public icon. He developed his own unique style of explaining science - not giving direct answers but making the viewers think and understand to get to the answers.
The material for this brief biographical sketch is mostly based on his own reminiscences recorded during several sittings with me. I am grateful to him for sparing his valuable time for the recordings and also for explaining many of the complex scientific experiments conducted at various times. But this is not a book of reminiscences; I have also drawn extensively from his speeches delivered at different forums and various other resources. The intention was to bring out his multifaceted personality as best as I could. I am also grateful to him for the priceless photographs he has made available from his personal collection for the book.
The common thread that runs through whatever Prof. Yash Pal has done in his long and productive life in science is the emphasis on innovation and independent thought, and the fact that often it is more important to invent a thing yourself than to procure it. Unfortunately, most of our researchers do not do much of these things nowadays. It is hoped this brief biographical account would inspire readers, especially the youngsters, to take a cue from his life and encourage them to take up any challenge in life.
**Content and Sample Pages**
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend