Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Great Indian Scientist- Dr. Atma Ram

The Great Indigenous Scientist
Dr. Atma Ram

By Shri Durga Prasad Nautial


Translated in English and with many
New Additions By Air Commodore
( Retired ) R.K.Singhal )


First Chapter
Initial Life
Family Background

Atma Ram’s ancestors settled in Pilana [ District Bijnor ] in the year 1897. This small village is situated in between the towns of Chandpur and Haldor. Before coming to Pilana, the ancestors were living in Jogi Rampuri [district Bijnor ] which was about seven to eight kilometres North East of Najibabad. It was a large family. It was known as a family of Munshies and Patwaries

Atma Ram’s grand father Munshi Nadar Singh and uncle Munshi Jeeraj Singh [ known as Jiya Lal in the family ] came to Pilana later. Atma Ram’s father Munshi Bhagwan Das stayed on in Rampuri. He was two years elder to uncle and was running a small shop.
Before coming to Pilana , Munshi Nadar Singh used to teach children in the primary school at Phina in District Bijnor.
Once Munshi Nadar Singh’s wife fell seriously ill. He left for the village because of her sickness . He had to stay in the village for several days to look after his wife. . Despite treatment his wife breathed her last. He had to extend his stay in the village.. Those days Primary Schools were looked after by the District Board. He had sent his letter requesting for extension of leave to the District Board . This application ,however, did not reach the Board Office due to postal negligence.. His services were duly terminated by the Board because of absence without leave. When the grieving Munshiji went to Phina after a few days he was sorely disappointed to learn that he had been removed from the service. Despite all efforts he was not reinstated and he had to return to his village disheartened.

Those days Pandit Bhagwan Chandra was the Deputy Inspector of Schools. He was an honest man. Even while travelling on inspection duties he used to cook his own food and would not take food touched by any one else. He used to perform all his daily chores himself.. He used bullock cart for going on inspections of the primary schools. He would carry his rations with him. Being an honest and sincere officer he would never accept any gifts . Since Munshi Nadar Singh was an honest, simple and hard working person, he was liked by Pandit Bhagwan Chandra.

Munshi Nadar Singh met Pandit Bhagwan Chandra. But he also could not get him reinstated despite being very sympathetic due to some legalities. He told Munshi ji that while he could not send him to Phina, he could appoint him immediately as a teacher if he could start a primary school at Pilana itself.

What else could Munshi ji desire being without a job. He readily accepted Deputy Saheb’s offer to start a new school and returned to Pilana accompanied by his younger brother who was then only 16 to 17 years old. Till then he had not even passed the middle school examination. The loss of his job paved the way for his return to Pilana where he stayed all his life dedicated to the school he started.

Even today, the villagers of Pilana and nearby villages remember and revere Munshi ji as the father of village education. Due to his incessant efforts, the upper primary school eventually had a fine pacca building of its own . Munshi ji became its first Head Master. All the villagers of Pilana gave their whole hearted and un-stinted support in running the school and providing all essential necessities.

Munshi Nadar Singh was not only an expert teacher but had a great interest in gardening too. He used to keep the school in a neat and tip top condition . Whenever the Collector visited the school He always praised Munshi ji. Soon Nadar Singh’s fame came to the notice of the Collector of Bijnor. In those days English Collectors used to visit and inspect the school at least once a year. Munshi ji was always mentioned and commended as an ideal teacher. In 1911, on the occasion of the coronation of King George the Vth in Delhi, Munshi ji was awarded the coveted medal for his outstanding services as the best Primary School Teacher by the then Government of the Country.

Influence Of A Discipline Loving Father

Munshi Nadar singh’s eldest son Bhagwandas’s wife died soon after marriage after a brief illness. There was no issue. He married again in 1905. A child was borne but it expired within one or two days of its birth. His second child named Atma Ram was borne on 12th October,1908. Atma Ram was the eldest among all his brothers and sisters.

Munshi Nadar Singh apart from being a capable teacher was also an able Hakim. He was a famous Hakim of his area. While he had no formal qualification of a Hakim, his prescriptions had a miraculous curing power. He had a great understanding of diseases , medication and after care. His curative powers were so famous and wide spread that people from far off places used to come to him for treatment and medicines. He was thus engaged in alleviating suffering along with teaching..

Bhagwandas preferred opening a cloth shop instead of following the family tradition of teaching and Hakimi. He was a simple and straightforward man without an aptitude for business.. Hence he could not run his cloth business satisfactorily for long. Eventually he had to leave his business and became a Patwari. Even in this profession he was not fully satisfied. He only became a Patwari to earn a living. He always remained aloof from all disputes and quarrels. Whenever people came with their problems, he would try to sort them out through pursuation and negotiations . Failing which he would suggest arbitration by five noble people instead of further entangling them in lengthy and never ending court cases. Naturally such a selfless person, though being a Patwari, could barely support his family.

In those days Patwari used to be the real authority in matters of land and property. Patwaries and Kanungo’s held complete sway in the area over such matters. Yet Patwari Bhagwandas did not even own a house. Though a Patwari he never felt easy in the profession due to his honest and pious nature. Atma Ram describes his father in the following words.

“My father was a great disciplinarian . He was a very straightforward , honest and a serious
person. He was a man of few words. We used to consider him harsh in temperament and of hard demeanour but inside he possessed a very soft and warm and a loving heart. He was very optimistic and even in most difficult times he never lost his nerve and always remained calm. He held implicit faith in God. Whenever we spoiled something or suffered some loss due to our fault he would simply say that just forget what ever had happened and carry on with more determination. He had such firm faith in God that he would say that there may be some delay but eventually justice would be meted out Being a Patwari he had to deal with all kinds of disputes. He did not like their quarrels
and always advised them to patch up their differences instead of taking recourse to courts. While being honest, he was not considered worldly wise, he was a happy and satisfied man. He was an honest man and insisted on others being honest. He used to advise us that once you learn to speak truth you automatically become fearless and would attain peace, tranquillity and bliss. He would always tell us not to meddle in others affairs. This generally leads to unnecessary bitterness with out resolving any issue, as we are not the arbiters of every thing.
In 1930, railway service began between Chandpur and Najibabad. About a kilometre away from our village we had Sissola railway station. Trains used to stop there for a little while. There was no arrangement for drinking water at this station. Passengers suffered for lack of this facility specially during summers. I had come to the village after appearing in M.Sc. [Previous ] examination to spend the vacations. I visited the station once or twice. I saw passengers suffering due to nonavailability of drinking water. I thought of mitigating this ordeal and along with my brother began serving drinking water. Passengers were delighted and trains stopover was increased. There used to be four or five bogies in the train. Guards used to start the trains only after verifying from us that every passenger had his fill. When a guard learnt that I was an educated person, he was taken aback and was very appreciative. My father was delighted when he heard this. He understood that his children had compassion for others. Till the time I stayed in the village I would carry bucket and mug to the station twice a day for offering water to the thirsty .”


Being the eldest child., it was but natural to be bestowed with all love and affection by the family members. Yet Atma Ram was not spoiled, but he took all advantage . It was Munshi Bhagwandas’s desire that his children should be of good moral character and be fearless despite taking on any vocation in life. Keeping this in mind, he while bringing them up in strict discipline taught them religious scriptures like Ramcharit Manas and Mahabharat . Atma Ram at a tender age of eight or nine years remembered by heart several verses of Ramayan. His mother used to regularly read aloud the religious books Due to his participation in reciting the. verses of Ramayan with his mother, Atma Ram naturally learnt several of these verses by heart.

Father’s Acid Test

Atma Ram was immensely influenced and his whole life was affected by two events which occurred in the family during his childhood. They affected his child’s mind so much that all life long he was guided and encouraged by those happenings. These memorable events , Atma Ram describes in his own words as follows:-

“ My father used to run a cloth shop. It happened that he gave a lot of money on loan. Since he did not have business acumen, he could not recover the loans. The business miserably failed and he had to close the shop under adverse circumstances. He then had no option but to become a Patwari.

In those days during the British rule Patwari had lots of power and was a force to reckon with in the area ,unlike now. It is said that in a way Patwari used to be the arbiter of the land and properties in his domain. Father was a simple man. He was a Patwari in name only. He was an honest and a straightforward man. Hence ,despite his being a Patwari the family remained in pecuniary circumstances.

Once during summer, when I was sixteen or seventeen years old ,we were sleeping on cots in our courtyard At about nine or nine thirty in the night four or five landlords of the area came to our house. They had a land dispute with the farmers. They had brought money to bribe my father to speak in their favour in the court. He flatly refused to oblige. He told them that he would speak the truth in the court. He told them to take back the money as it would have bad influence on my children. The landlords beat a hasty retreat and were deeply annoyed with my father.
The matter was that there was a case in court about a land dispute between landlords and farmers. The outcome depended on the Patwari’s evidence. Father was mostly in favour of the farmers. In the court he gave evidence in farmers favour and they won the case. In defeat the landlords lost their equilibrium They remained aloof from father and became his enemy. But father remained firm in his convictions.

When those landlords had come to our house I was sleeping. I woke up when they entered the house and partly listened to the conversation. Next day I asked my mother as to why those people had come. My mother then told me in detail of last night’s happenings. My mother was very happy that day. My young mind was shaken up completely. I thought of my father totally casting off such great temptation with such ease and without caring a bit of the consequent enmity with the all powerful landlords. They in fact remained our enemies for ever thereafter. I thought that honesty and integrity must certainly be much greater than that temptation. Later when my uncle heard of this he was very pleased and touched the feet of his elder brother in reverence.

Today fifty seven years have passed since this event occurred, yet I distinctly remember the moments when in the conflict between honesty and greed, honesty won hands down without succumbing. This event influenced all my life Even today when I face a similar situation I remember that moment and act with determination and succeed in my efforts. The image formed on the young mind still remains fresh even today .”






Confrontation With Wolves

Atma Ram’s uncle loved him much. He desired that Atma Ram should become as fearless as the village lads engaged in grazing cattle. He therefore invariably took Atma Ram for walks with him. Describing his childhood Atma Ram spoke thus:-

“ Although I got all love and affection from my father, yet the affection I received from my uncle was none the less. During my childhood my uncle took me around places much more than my father ever did. We used to fear father’s strict discipline. Uncle was a care free man.

My uncle desired that any fear of any kind in my mind should be entirely eliminated so that I may become as fearless as the village lads who grazed the cattle. He would therefore invariably take me along with him. In those days there were no good roads and one had to cross the jungle to go from one village to another. Yet uncle would take me through the jungle when I was not even ten to eleven years old. Slowly I got used to accompanying my uncle in wading through the bare jungle paths

While walking with uncle I witnessed stray incidents of minor skirmishes and even saw wild wolves, but what I saw once at mid day in June when father and I were returning from a neighbouring village I shiver even while recollecting it today. We were just walking when all of a sudden father saw two wolves in the shrubs nearby. He cautioned me about the wolves. Then I saw a small boy of my age running towards us and eagerly asked us weather we had seen some wolves. Father told him yes , but what would he do. He replied with confidence and challenge that they had snatched away his sheep and he would get them back. Father told him he was mad and the wolves would tear him apart. The boy did not care and ran towards the shrub. Father was worried that the boy might get killed merely to save a sheep. We therefore followed the boy and saw the wolves in an opening nearby. Wolves are known for their ferocity and they are specially dangerous during hot weather. They are very cunning animals too.

The wolves on seeing the boy only with a small wooden staff only , instead of running away , just stayed put and faced the boy. But the boy who had crossed the limits of his anger charged at them regardless. Seeing danger to the boy’s life father ran to save him, leaving me behind. Before father could stop him the boy thrust his foot long staff into one of the wolf’s throat. The other wolf ran away seeing my father running towards him. This wolf perhaps had no idea of the courage of the boy otherwise they both would have torn him apart.

Father had a large and sturdy wooden staff with him. He hit the wolf with it on its head and instantly it fell dead. I was watching this scene quietly from a distance. It seemed to happen in a moment. The boy was also taken aback. He was very happy with the revenge he had taken

My father rebuked the boy for his foolhardiness in chasing the wolves single handed. The boy did not mind this as he had taken revenge on his enemy and killed it. “

Munshi Bhagwandas died in 1948 at the age of seventy years At that time Atma Ram was in England and was about to leave for America.

Despite being borne in a Munshi- Patwari family Atma Ram had actually seen and experienced stark poverty. Munshi Bhagwandas considered his job only as a means of livelihood. Due to his honesty, straightforwardness , regard and care for others , he lived an extremely simple life.. Atma Ram , not only during childhood but when in the University would send home part of his scholarship money for his brothers education. Simultaneously he was repaying the loan he had incurred for his education.

Dr. Neel Ratna Dhar, his teacher at the University of Allahabad writes about him as follows:-

“ Atma Ram received rupees hundred per month scholarship for doing D.Sc. Out of this he used to spend only rupee seven and the rest he would send home.”


Bitter Experience On Debts

Atma Ram had a bitter experience on loans taken from money lenders. In this context he mentioned an event that took place in his father’s life as follows :-

“ In 1930-31 the Delhi wholesaler from whom we used to procure cloth for our shop went into liquidation. He transferred all his loans to another party. This meant that in consideration of an agreed sum the other party would collect loan money from his erstwhile clients, It was indeed a sort of contract. Our shop also owed about rupees fifteen to sixteen hundred. As luck would have it , the people who were authorised to collect the money were our own distant relations. They came to us and demanded the return of the loan Since there was no written document father could have simply denied that he ever took the loan specially as the wholesaler had already gone into liquidation and there would have been no problem. But father readily accepted that he owed the money . Once father accepted the liability, they insisted that he should sign a proper document. They added that they knew that he was at that time not in a position to repay the amount. Since his son was studying in the University they would wait for the payment. They would simply keep the document as record and he could pay the amount as and when he was in a position to do so. Father being a simple hearted man was taken in by their sweet and guile talk and signed the document as they wished. After this in a way matter went out of his hands and in theirs and he became totally helpless .

They remained quiet for some time and on the expiry of the promised date in the document, they got it renewed from the father. Yet suddenly they began exerting all sorts of pressures on father for early payment In addition they also threatened him that they would file a case in the court. Father became very uneasy. He understood their cunningness. But was helpless as he did not have enough money to clear his debt.

They filed a case in the court. During the hearing in the court , father while accepting the debt stated that his son was studying in the University and once he got a job he would repay the amount at the earliest. The court paid no heed to his entreaties and the case was decided against him.
I was then studying in M.Sc.[ final]. Despite the decree of the court they could not collect the money as we did not have any with us. The case was put up in the Judge’s court at Moradabad . They reasoned that how could it be that a person who is living well, had cattle and was a Patwari and on top of it was educating his son in the University was not in a position to pay the debt. If he so wished he could easily repay. He just did not want to. The judge was a Muslim and very kind hearted man. On his asking, father stated that his son had taken a loan for his studies from a Society in Meerut and about his so called wealth , his house could be searched immediately while he was in the court and any thing recovered could be confiscated. Apart from this he could not offer any other proof of his intention.

I passed the M.Sc. Father specially went to the Judge at Moradabad and informed him that his son had passed and stood first in first class in the M.Sc. examination of the Allahabad University. The University of Allahabad was very prestigious and famous at that time and it was considered an honour to be studying there. Father told us on his return that the Judge was extremely pleased and while congratulating him said that he was a very honest man and God would always bless him.

I some times ponder what would have happened to our family had the Judge not given a year’s time for making payment Perhaps I might had to terminate my studies. But God came to our rescue at this critical juncture. He got this accomplished through a Muslim Judge who decided on human considerations. Hindus and even some of our relations behaved inhumanly. It appears that a moneylender is always interested in his money come what may to his debtor. He has no regard to human values and suffering.

A humanitarian is always a humanitarian. He does not belong to any particular religion or sect. He is not a Hindu, Muslim , Sikh or a Christian. That was the reason that the judge being a Muslim could feel the mental anguish of a Hindu. He understood the reality. I am always reminded of father’s saying that there may be delay in God’s actions but eventually justice prevails. I developed an unstinting faith in God then and it has strengthened over the time after several sweet and bitter experiences in life.”

School Education

Atma Ram in 1922 at the age of thirteen years passed the Vernacular Middle examination from Chandpur. Now the problem was what was to be done next. A thirteen year old boy could not take up Normal Training course as for it the minimum age requirement was eighteen years. After passing this course students were straight away appointed as teachers. Since we did not have either any land to till or any business ,I was sent to Bijnor to study in the High School there.

Atma Ram’s father’s eldest sister-Jai Devi- was living in Bijnor. She was a widow and childless. In may Atma Ram’s father took him to her with the expectation that she might agree to put him up with her. He did not want his son to be a burden on her but simply desired to be accommodated. She readily agreed to keep him. Atma Ram had never met her aunt before.

It was a mere coincidence that when they were in the house a person came to visit her. During the talks he mentioned that there was a teacher in Bijnor who could prepare the students for High School Examination in just two years. In those days middle pass students used to take five years to pass this examination. Both father and the son went to meet the teacher. Atma Ram spoke to me abut that days happenings thus :-

“ We both were walking towards the teacher’s abode after taking directions from the people. There was a Dharmashala [ Free Lodging ] just outside Bijnor. There were some ruins lying by its side. There was no sign of any school there. Despite our searching and inquiries, no one could lead us to him. When we were about to return disappointed we saw a person sitting on a dilapidated roof. We met him. He happened to be the teacher. He was a man of few words and asked us the reason of our coming
Father told him ,” My son has passed the middle examination and we have learnt that you prepare the boys for High School in two years.” He replied ,”Out of several students so far none has passed yet If your son is intelligent , you may take a chance. “ He then kept quiet. Father also did not utter a word. After some time teacher said , “School opens at seven o’clock. I shall take a fee of rupees two. If he wishes to join he should report next morning with the book ‘King Reader ‘. He should also bring a note book of white pages “
After the meeting we returned home. The matter ended as neither father nor me said any thing.
At night we were sleeping on cots placed side by side. When we woke up father asked me if I had thought over what teacher had said. In reply I said that I might pass the examination if not in two years then at most in three. Even then two years would be saved. At this decision was taken and next day I duly went to the teacher with fee.
After me three students also joined. One of them—Shiv Dayal Singh—was from our village and the other two—Anand Swaroop and Masood Ahmed—were from Bijnor. Master Saheb began teaching us with great enthusiasm

After a few days teacher asked the boys about the subjects they intended taking . Atma Ram and Shiv Dayal opted for Hindi and the other two for Urdu. At this teacher asked Atma Ram to show his Urdu writing as he would have read it in the middle school as third language . Atma Ram wrote down a few words. Teacher was pleased. He felt that he had found the best solution. He at once told Atma Ram to opt for Persian. At this Atma Ram was taken aback. He was being asked to learn Urdu, Persian and English , all new languages simultaneously besides other subjects. The boy who had studied Urdu up to fourth class only ,how could he think of taking Persian for High School. Any way decision was taken.

There was no question of doing Matriculation with Science. Couple of times I even thought of learning Sanskrit. But the local Panditji who used to teach Sanskrit dissuaded me altogether saying that in such a short period one could not even learn its grammar what to say of passing the examination with Sanskrit as a subject. This way the matter ended and I began learning Urdu and Persian.”

A problem arose after a year’s studies. All his three class mates left the school to join the High School. One got admission in eighth class and the others in seventh. When he returned to school after the summer vacations, his teacher told him that he could also join the High School like others. But Atma Ram refused his advice. The teacher could not possibly run the school with only one pupil, hence he proposed that he could teach him in early morning at six o’clock and after four in the afternoon. Simultaneously he would exempt his fees if he taught Hindi to his students.
Atma Ram accepted the proposal gladly as though God had bestowed him a gift. He simply wanted nothing else. He saved the fees and began teaching Hindi to Students for two hours daily.

He used to go to the school very early in the morning. During winters he had to use a lantern to find the path. After some time three more students joined the classes. They were all Muslims and
wished to study Persian. Thus all four were Persian students. Out of three there were two brothers, namely, Jegam Hussain and Kaim Hussain and the third one was Atiq Ahmed. Jegam Hussain appeared privately in High School examination at Banaras but could not clear it.

After completing the studies Jegam Hussain and Atma Ram went to Benaras to appear in the examination. Other two went to Aligarh and Punjab. They reached Banaras one month prior to the examination. They stayed in King Edward hostel. This belonged to teachers training college. Jegam Hussain could not pass the examination this time too. He failed in Persian only. Atma Ram passed in second division. Thus in 1924 he became a matriculate of Banaras Hindu University. He saved three years and passed metric in just fifteen years.

Atma Ram spoke to me thus :-

“ When some one informed Master Saheb about the result having been published in a Hindi news paper and his pupil from Pilana having passed the metric after studying for two years only at his school, he was overjoyed and thrilled . Now Master Saheb became talk of the town. His popularity increased several fold. The news was printed and posters were pasted on the walls all around.”


Reminiscences of Childhood Friends


Atma Ram’s childhood friend Shiv Dayal Pathak stated thus :-

“ Bhai [ Brother ] Atma Ramji is indeed my esteemed friend. Dr. Atma Ram characterises his name with his qualities. His whole life from the very beginning has been very noble , of much interest and of great utility. He was born in an ordinary Vaish family of village Pilana in the district of Bijnor. His grand father Munshi Nadar Singh ji along with his sons came to the village from somewhere else. Even today Munshi ji is known and revered as the father of education in Pilana and nearby villages. Due to his efforts Upper Primary school had a nice pacca building. He was the first Headmaster of the school. His father was a Patwari in the same village. Dr. Atma Ram too studied in this very school.
We three friends, Har Swaroop ji, Atma Ram ji and me after passing fourth class from this school took admission at Chandpur Middle School about six miles away. We stayed in the same room in the hostel. At night we used to study sitting on jute sacks by the light of an earthen lamp. Every Saturday we used to visit our village walking and would return on Mondays carrying our rations of flour and pulses with us. On our way back we would eat by the side of a well., talk and even quarrel but always go hand in hand to school.
During the walks we used to discuss what all we would do in future. Atma Ram
invariably said, “ Though I am from a vaish family yet I would like to discover something new connected with science instead of being a shopkeeper. “ God fulfilled his wishes.
Atma Ram was the most intelligent amongst us. He got scholarship from the government too. We all passed the Vernacular Final examination in 1922 with good grades. Atma Ram passed with distinction. Bhai Har Swaroop ji belonged to the land owning class and left for further studies. Atma Ram and me continued our association till we passed High School from Bijnor. We had the same routine of going to our village and returning every week end to Bijnor ,walking a distance of about sixteen miles In Chandpur we were known as ‘ tigadda’ [Threesome ] of Pilana.
Bhai Atma Ram ji is an Aryasamaji from the beginning. Our friend Bhai Har Swaroop ji believed in ghosts. We explained to him that ghosts did not exist. One day we locked him in the toilet and let him come out only when he promised never to mention ghosts I can only recollect this lone incidence of our playfulness during those days. Otherwise Atma Ram led a very simple life full of sincerity and determination, self sustaining, and had implicit faith in God. He was our leader not a political one but of truth, piousness, simplicity and honesty.
After Bijnor we parted ways. Atma Ram received higher education from Banaras and Allahabad Universities. He became a Director of an institute in Calcutta. Then he came to Delhi as Director General. He wrote me from Calcutta stating, “I am coming to Delhi and I wish to meet you “

I thought that Atma Ram ji would have forgotten his humble beginnings on achieving such high position . But when I met him after a gap of several years in Delhi, I found him the living idol of simplicity and brotherhood. He was my same old friend.
We continued exchanging letters I meet him whenever I go to Delhi. Our meetings are totally devoid of self seeking seen in relations these days. He wrote to me in one letter ,”I remember the childhood and student days when I receive your letter. I feel happy and get lost in sweet memories. Perhaps those very memories help in making us live longer and healthy .” This in essence is Atma Ram .”









Chapter Two

Higher Education And Entry Into Married Life

Dream Of Higher Education

When matriculation result came out, Atma Ram was in Bijnor. Pilana is about fifteen to sixteen miles away from Bijnor. Rejoicing he left for Pilana next day very early in the morning . He reached home walking in the afternoon .and broke the pleasant news to his father. He was extremely happy and blessed me by repeatedly patting me on my back.

Being encouraged by the success he seriously began thinking of studying further. There was a village near Pilana whose landlord’s son used to study in Banaras. His father used to visit the village quite often and occasionally spoke about that boy. Once on such an occasion he expressed his desire to study in Banaras.

On my enquiring , how was it , while he had no resources he could think of joining a college, he said :-
“ In fact I was much affected by my success. I was simply riding a horse in space. I was filled up with so much courage and determination that I could do any thing. Father also desired that his son should study at Banaras which was a prestigious centre of education and learning. But the question was of resources not of wishes. He sat down and remained quiet. The hurdle was our poor economic condition. Even in those cheaper days monthly expenses in Banaras used to be at least rupees thirty to thirty five per month. But father had limited resources and unlimited responsibilities

On sensing his sons acute desire of studying further, he went to the village Chaudhri and mentioned the problem. Till then he had no bitter experience of money lenders and it was quite possible that he had gone to him to borrow money. At this Chaudhri tauntingly said ,” O Bhagwan Das Ji , why you too are talking childishly. Oh brother ,have you heard the saying, when shoe was being fixed on the horse’s feet, the frog also raised its feet. “ Bhagwandas ji was deeply hurt at this insult but had to swallow it due to abject helplessness. He took it as a challenge and became determined to send his son to Banaras for studies come what may. One day all of a sudden he said to Atma Ram ,”You were talking about higher studies. Let us go and meet the boy you were mentioning .“ That boy lived about five miles away .Both went to him and returned after discussions.”

There is a saying that if there is a will there is a way. God transferred the staunch desire of Atma R am for higher studies in his father’s firm determination to send him to Banaras. Strong will prevailed over the obstacle of meagre resources.
Soon the auspicious day arrived. Father fulfilling the wishes of his son for higher studies succeeded in sending him to Banaras after all . Thus will power and firm determination finally prevailed over poor economic condition of the family.

Atma Ram reached Banaras. He neither had any acquaintances or relatives there. He knew that some boys of the neighbouring village were studying in Banaras Hindu University. According to his father’s wishes he went straight to them. They were living in a hostel. Hence his problem of lodging was solved easily.

The boys asked him the subjects he intended taking in Intermediate. He had never thought of this before. He was not in a position to decide. Three days passed in just considering the pros and cons and Atma Ram could not decide.

Those days offering Science subjects was not in vogue. Science teachers were in demand but were not easily available. Keeping this in mind and his need to finish the education early so as to enable him to seek a job his friends suggested that he should offer Science subjects. In a way—Shri Nanak Chand and Shri Ram Narain—decided the course of my further education. Thus Atma Ram’s study of Science began.

Atma Ram had never studied Science before. Those days it was not mandatory to study Science in School Leaving Examination for taking it up in Intermediate. Hence there was no problem on this count. Initially Atma Ram had some hesitation but the prospects of finding service early changed his indecisiveness into a firm resolve.

Those days getting admission in the University was not difficult. Only two certificates were required for admission—a certificate from the District Magistrate and the Matriculation certificate. Atma Ram duly filled the form and deposited the fee at the counter.. He became free of these worries.

After the admission , problem arose of finding a cheap place for living. It was not difficult to get a place in the hostel but with their meagre resources his family could not afford the hostel expenses. To solve this problem his uncle promised to give rupees ten per month for an year. Since the intention for studying was to get a small job after Intermediate for lessening fathers burden , he decided to share the room of his friends. The three boys belonged to comparatively well to do families and were dining in the hostel mess. In later life all these three qualified as lawyers and practised at Bijnor

Atma Ram’s financial position was different from his room mates. He used to give tutions to meet part of the expenses. His half fee was also waived. The fee was rupees six at the time. It was therefore not possible for him to eat in the hostel mess like other boys. Though the mess expenses were only rupees eight or nine , yet this was the only item where he could economise and balance his budget. He arranged a stove and charcoal ‘angheeti’ and began cooking his own meals. While it was much cheaper yet he did not get time for studies let alone for playing. Atma Ram used to cook in a corner of the room when others were elsewhere. He used to clean the utensils either at night or very early in the morning.


Miracle Of Half yearly Examination

Atma Ram had not passed metric by studying in a regular school. He had done it privately and with out Science subject.. Atma Ram could not fully comprehend the lectures given in fluent English by the Professors of Physics and Chemistry. Result was that he merely got ten to twelve percent marks in Physics and Chemistry while obtaining more then eighty percent in Mathematics. He consequently lost heart and felt that Science study was not a piece of cake and was beyond him.

Those days students were allowed to change their subjects after the half yearly examinations. He seriously began thinking of this option. He also had no option after obtaining such poor marks in the examination. He therefore thought of studying Persian which he had studied for his metric examination.

One day with a heavy heart he went to the office of the Head of Chemistry Department to hand over his application for change of subjects. Fortunately he happened to be in his office. Atma Ram had attached the mark sheet with the application so that seeing poor marks he would easily be permitted to change the subject. But the result was different. Seeing the application the Head called him in his office immediately.. Professor M.B.Rane was the Head of the Department. Generally in such matters permission was accorded as a routine. The moment Atma Ram entered his office , the tall , lean, sturdy and fair complexioned Professor asked him why there was such a large difference between Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry marks.

Atma Ram could only utter that he could not somehow understand the Science subjects. Prof. Rane had asked the question in English but Atma Ram had replied in Hindi. Prof. Rane was really surprised that a student who could do so well in mathematics had miserably failed in science subjects. He thought for a moment and then called for his colleague Prof. Phool Dev Sahai Verma. When Prof Verma arrived he had a word with him and then asked Atma Ram to go with him. He duly accompanied Prof Verma to his office. He thought that Prof. Verma would accept his application and he would forever get rid of the science subjects.

But that was not to be. On being asked by Prof Verma he told him his true problem that neither he could follow the lectures nor he had books. In reality he was pulling on by reading second year books of his friend. Prof. Verma was also teaching the first year students. Atma Ram saw a chemistry book written by famous Chemist Sir Henry Rasko lying on the table. He had the audacity to ask the Prof to borrow the book as he felt he was a very humane person full of compassion. He immediately gave the book and asked him to report to him after reading the book

While he had gone to get rid of science subjects , yet on the contrary he returned with added interest in the subjects. As per the instructions he began reading the book in right earnest and after a few days reported to Prof. Verma. He told Prof. Verma whatever he could understand. Prof. appeared satisfied and explained to Atma Ram the little intricacies of Chemistry. Since then he met Prof. Verma several times and soon he developed an immense liking for science. His failing will power suddenly strengthened. He then began taking help from his classmates This way his study of science continued with greater vigour. He passed Final Intermediate Examination in First Division with distinction in Chemistry surprising every one. On being asked how he felt when he was not able to comprehend science Atma Ram said :-

“ Whenever the science lecturers used the words ‘gram of water’ during lectures I used to wonder what sort of ‘ Pani ke chane ‘ were. In practicals I would just fill up some rubbish. I just could not understand gram of water as I could not see any grams in the laboratory. For fear of exhibiting my ignorance I did not clarify from my classmates. Shri K .N. Tiwari , the Physics Demonstrator used to rebuke me quite often for not doing any thing and keeping the notebook blank. This resulted in my losing self confidence .One day it so happened that Asst. Lecturer of Physics , Prof. Pratul Ghosh while demonstrating an experiment on heat weighed some thing on the balance and explained. Then I found out that gram was a measure of weight. I heartily laughed at my ignorance.”

By obtaining a first division in Intermediate , his prospects for further education improved tremendously. He had no difficulty in getting admission to B.Sc. course , which had started only that year , in D.A.V. College , Kanpur. Its Principal was Lala Diwan Chand . He got two scholarships –one of rupees ten and the other of fifteen per month. He took one or two tutions to meet the expenses of the first year which he easily completed

For study of science hard work was essential. He therefore decided not to do tutions in the final year. He took a loan from a Society in Meerut which used to give loans at an interest of rupees six percent per annum to poor students. He totally got engrossed in studies. Due to hard work and long study hours he could not sustain himself and became seriously ill. Thinking of the loss of a year he considered it advisable to appear in the examination. He could pass B.Sc. only in second division. He was much disheartened and dejected. Lala Diwan Chand also felt very sorry on learning this.

Atma Ram had to repay the loan to the Society. He had thought that he would easily get a first division. If he decided to study further, admission in M.Sc. would be easy. Otherwise he was bound to get a teacher’s post in a school or college. But a second division dashed all these hopes. He decided to do M.Sc. and got admission forms from the University of Allahabad . He duly applied for admission to both Physics and Chemistry courses. On not getting a response he proceeded to Allahabad via Kanpur. By chance at Kanpur station he met a student named Shri Jhamman Lal Sharma. He was doing M.Sc. in mathematics from Allahabad University. Atma Ram accompanied him to Allahabad and kept his baggage in his room.

Special Treatment By Prof. Neel Ratna Dhar

In those days at Allahabad University there were two world famous scientists namely Prof. Meghnad Saha and Prof. Neel Ratna Dhar. Lala Diwan Chand knew them personally. Atma Ram had taken letters of recommendation for both of them from him in order to enable him to get admission.

As he had done before for Intermediate , he went to the University’s fee counter to deposit fees so that he might be admitted . He got a shock when told that as his name was not in the list of selected candidates , he could not deposit fees. He was sorely disappointed and left the counter quietly.

The two letters he possessed for the two renowned Professors gave him some hope like proverbial support of a thin stem for a drowning man. Atma Ram met both of them individually. Both expressed their inability stating that in M.Sc. seats were limited and it was already too late.

His dreams of studying in Allahsbad were shattered. Since he had no other option but do M.Sc. or sit idly at home and be very miserable he decided to seek admission in Agra .

Atma Ram had heard quite a lot about Dr. Saha and Dr. Dhar but never had an occasion to listen to them. He had an intense desire to listen to their lectures. Dr.Dhar was considered a great speaker and a profound teacher. Even today at the ripe age of ninety years [ since dead ] Dr. Dhar speaks to large audiences with out a microphone and is heard with rapt attention. Atma Ram thought of listening to their lectures somehow before leaving Allahabad lest he lost the opportunity for ever.

He got an opportunity after all. Next day Dr, Dhar was to deliver a lecture at ten o’ clock. Atma Ram was about to fulfil his long cherished wish. He located the lecture room and went there.. He had thought of quietly entering the room and sit along with other students. But he could not muster enough courage. In the mean while Dr. Dhar entered the class room. When he could not think of any thing else he listened to the lecture standing beside the railing just out side the room. He could listen to Dr. Dhar quite distinctly.

Dr. Dhar had lectured on science of colloidal solutions in chemistry. Atma Ram not only listened to the lecture but took notes as well. He was very happy that day as his wish had been fulfilled. While he was thinking of listening to more such lectures yet he was also deeply aware of the stark reality of the dreams remaining unfulfilled as he had already been denied admission to M.Sc. course.

Till that day Atma Ram had not seen any teacher of Dr. Dhar’s calibre , ability and exceptional brilliance and authority on the subject. He was much influenced by the superb ability of Dr. Dhar in explaining complex topics in easy , lucid and simple way.. Though it was not possible to be his student but he had the satisfaction of listening to his lecture. For him this itself was a big thing. He wished he could be his student and thereby ensure a bright future.

In order to pay his respects Atma Ram went to meet Dr. Dhar at his Beli Road residence on a Sunday before leaving Allahabad . He still lives there. In a portion of the house he has established ‘ Sheela Dhar Institute of Soil Sciences ‘ in his wife’s memory at his own cost. At the age of ninety years he is its honorary Director , not in name only but in actual reality too. He directs the students the same way as he used to do earlier.. [ Dr. Dhar has since expired ]

Atma Ram reached his residence early in the morning. The door was closed . He did not dare knock at the door and whiled away the time hoping some one will open the door. In a little while Professor’s younger brother , Shri P. R . Dhar whose pet name was Chupin Babu , came out seeing me aimlessly moving about and asked me if I wished to meet Dr. Dhar. He replied in affirmative. Chupin Babu escorted him to his elder brother. Atma Ram was overjoyed seeing Dr. Dhar sitting on a wooden ‘takht’ wearing a vest and a dhoti.. He would not have recognised him had he not seen him before.

Dr Dhar recognised Atma Ram the moment he entered. He asked him to sit near him and regretted that he could not admit him.

Atma Ram told him that he had come to meet him to pay his respects before leaving Allahabad . He added with great care and submissiveness that he liked his yesterday’s lecture very much.

Prof thought that Atma Ram was only bluffing about the lecture just to please and impress him. In order to test Atma Ram , he asked him as he had heard the lecture what did he like most.

Atma Ram had heard the entire lecture and had no difficulty in summarising it. He began narrating the lecture. Atma Ram continued fluently in the vein of an expert in the subject. Prof. listened attentively and was very surprised. In his long brilliant teaching career he had never come across a student so promising and capable who could precisely summarise and narrate a whole period’s lecture even when he did not actually sit in the class. He asked Atma Ram how did he listen to the lecture when he was not in the class room. He told him that he had heard the lecture not in the class room but standing near the railing in the verandah. Dr. Dhar was really amazed and taken aback. He inquired as to when I was leaving. But before he could reply , Prof asked him to meet him in the laboratory before leaving. He then asked his younger brother to get some snacks for Atma Ram.

Atma Ram thought that some good would come out of this meeting as Dr. had offered sweets to him which he would not have been offering to all and sundry who visited him.

Next day Atma Ram went to meet Prof. Dhar in the laboratory. Prof. K.P.Chatterji known as Khetu Babu in the University was the Reader in his Department then. At that time Dr. Dhar was with him in the room.

Prof. Chatterji was a very humble and a thorough gentleman . Dr. Dhar discussed the issue of Atma Ram’s admission with Khetu Babu. The result was that he was provisionally admitted in M.Sc. Atma Ram ‘s joy had no bounds. Prof. Dhar gave a chit for the Registrar to him and he got the admission. Saint Tulsidas had written in Ramcharitmanas the following couplet :-

“ Tulsi jas bhavitvyata tesai mile sahay
Aap na ave tahi pe tahi tahan le jaye “

meaning—“ Tulsi says that he who deserves God helps him , if it does not come naturally God sends him where the help is available.”

This way Atma Ram’s wishes were fulfilled. The proverb ‘ where there is a will, there is a way ‘ came out true. A strong will makes its own path. The admission to M.Sc. changed his entire life. Whereas when with great disappointment he was about to leave Allahabad , God bestowed on him happiness to last all his life. Suddenly his lost confidence was not only restored but it increased several fold.

After getting admission he began living in the Hindu Hostel . While he got a loan from the Society it was not enough and he had to give some tutions. Due to paucity of funds he used to cook his own food. He studied hard as he was aware that with a second division he could not get a job. His labours bore fruit. He stood first class first in all M.Sc. courses of the University. Prof. Dhar was highly pleased with his stupendous success. He had all the reasons to be as his provisionally admitted student by standing first class first in the entire University had proved his ability of judging the students capability and calibre to the hilt. Recalling this event and his relations with Prof. Dhar Atma Ram said ::-

“ God’s ways are strange. I had gone to bid goodbye to Dr. Dhar but returned with his everlasting grace and patronage. I not only did M.Sc. from there but also D.Sc. Had I not had such a strong desire to listen to Dr. Dhar’s lecture that fateful day , I would have had no opportunity to study M.Sc. in the University of Allahabad

I used to live in Hindu Hostel. I cooked my own food. One evening Prof. Dhar visited the Hostel and came to my room. It was an extraordinarily momentous and memorable occasion for such a great and renowned Scientist like Prof. Dhar visiting the hostel room of an ordinary boy merely studying in Final Year M.Sc. I was busy cooking. With great love and affection he told me , “you are not going to do your cooking any more “. He looked round the room and said that he knew that I had to do the cooking due to paucity of funds and immediately took out from his purse two months mess charges and offered the money to me . I was simply overwhelmed with the kind gesture and just could not dare refuse the offer. Prof. sat down in my room for some time and saw some of the books. He went through some of my notes and left in a happy and satisfied mood. I was completely overwhelmed with his uncommon affection towards me . Even today after a lapse of more than half a century that moment is vividly and distinctly engraved in my mind.”



Marriage Proposals

Marriages took place at very tender ages those days. In keeping with the prevalent tradition marriage proposals came along for Atma Ram when he was merely ten or eleven years old. Those days an interesting procedure was followed in Uttar Pradesh villages for firming the future relationships. According to the custom a member of the bride’s family used to give a rupee to the prospective bridegroom on an auspicious day. In a way this was considered symbolic of an advance agreement on the future relationship and both the families abided by it.

Atma Ram’s father Munshi Bhagwandas ji believed in ‘ Arya Samaj ‘ values and was totally against dowry. After a few days girl’s parents inquired about the jewellery etc which they would like to give to the bride. Munshi ji neither believed in show nor had the money to buy jewellery and fine clothes. His economic condition was not good those days and he also did not believe in wasteful expenditures . He simply replied that he was investing in the education of his son and he would neither give any jewellery nor he desired any. If they so desired they could buy jewellery for their daughter. They were not impressed and married their daughter elsewhere..

Once a proposal came when he was studying in B.Sc. A highly placed official came to Pilana with the intention of seeking a match for her daughter. He was also an officer in Atma Ram’s uncle’s Office. He knew him well . During the conversation with his father and uncle he said that it was good that they were educating the boy but so far he had not studied much and just wait when he would provide highest education to his son . He would send the boy to England at his own cost . Munshi Bhagwandas ji did not relish this. He did not wish to be rude and curt to his guest . With folded hands he told him firmly that they were poor people and the boy was somehow studying by taking loans and giving tutions . It was a good thing that he would study further with his blessings .


When Atma Ram visited his village during the vacations , his father broached this subject with him. Atma Ram told him that as those people were not appreciative of our struggle and efforts it might not be conducive to have any relationship with them. They intended to purchase us by giving allurement of defraying the expenses of studies in England . His father was immensely pleased at this . His uncle felt uneasy as the concerned person was an officer in his office. Atma Ram had a great respect for his uncle. He therefore suggested a polite letter be sent to that person in order to gauge him mentioning that since they could not afford the expenses of Atma Ram’s studies , he could send the money direct to him at Kanpur . There was no response to this letter . The would be Father-in-law kept quiet and Uncle was very pleased that he was saved from possible embarrassment . There is a saying that the snake was killed while ‘lathi’ was saved .

Atma Ram’s sister used to live in Delhi . Once a girl [ Atma Ram’s wife to be ] came to stay with her for appearing in the Metric examination. Her mother had accompanied her. As usual when children are of marriageable age , parents look for suitable matches for them . The girl’s mother also raised the same topic with his sister . Some women from the neighbourhood happened to be sitting there and asked his sister to consider marrying her brother with the girl . Atma Ram used to visit his sister quite often . Neighbours had seen him .They knew about him too . His sister told them that Atma Ram was not ready for marriage. Any way this matter is generally discussed during summer vacations . The girl's mother said that she would also take a chance and go to her brother’s village in summer and requested her to be there too at that time .

Besides these several other marriage proposals were also received . But Atma Ram used to silence his mother by telling her that no girl liked him . When he turned twenty nine villagers began wondering what those people were up to and how much they would demand in dowry . When Atma Ram reached his village during summer vacations his future brother-in-law also dropped in as per the above mentioned plans . He was practising law at Bijnor . He also brought the girl with him .

They raised the issue of Atma Ram’s marriage with Lala Bhagwandas ji His father dissuaded them stating that since his economic condition was not good and the boy was studying by getting scholarships , he could not say any thing in the matter .

Though Atma Ram had explained his views regarding marriage but it was also an accepted fact that in such lively matters it was not a satisfactory way out . Somehow the matter got postponed .

During the summer of 1933 , Atma Ram’s sister and brother-in- law arrived in the village and raised the issue of marriage . At the time Atma Ram was getting a scholarship of rupees one hundred per month .Every one appreciated his practical view point on economic constraints and it was quite apparent that marriage might not be feasible under the circumstances . In the intervening period his mother during one of her visits to Bijnor had seen the girl there .

Lala Bhagwandas told the Vakil Saheb that in the village they all did their own work while in the town he had servants . Would his sister be able to lead such a life ? But he was willing to accept all the terms and conditions .He did not at all consider this an obstacle . He simply wanted an answer in the affirmative .

During this period Atma Ram went to meet his Aunt at Bijnor along with his brother-in-law .While Atma Ram stayed behind his brother-in-law went to meet Vakil Saheb . After sometime Vakil Saheb came to the house and took him along with him to his house . As usual the subject of marriage was broached again . Atma Ram reiterated his views and asked them to reconsider as his economic condition was not good . At this Vakil Saheb’s aunt [Tai ] stated that they had considered all that and were fully agreeable with his view that wedding would take place only when he got a job . He had thought that they would not accept the condition . But now he had no alternative but to accept .

Atma Ram later learnt that his elder sister had earlier convinced them that if a boy could get rupees hundred as mere scholarship would he not get a nice job . Then this scholarship had a big value . Sister’s argument was quite sound . His mother too was convinced . In the end they both convinced his father too .

The asked him if he was satisfied . Atma Ram replied in the affirmative and asked them to discuss the matter with his father . Tai ji said that as Banarasi [Vakil Saheb ] had already finalised this with his father it might not be necessary and asked that sweets be offered . Atma Ram did not like that but in no time the foundation stone of his married life was laid .

In those days as per the custom the boys and girls did not usually see each other before the wedding . Yet in educated families it was considered proper for boys and girls to meet sometimes to know each other better in order to make up their minds . Atma Ram indicated his desire to meet and talk to the girl but it was denied . Atma Ram could not comprehend as to why they had agreed to give their daughter in marriage in a family who did not even possess a pacca house . This indeed was a courageous act .

Atma Ram’s father-in-law was an Excise Inspector . His name was Babu Jwala Prasad After retirement he used to live at Allahabsad . He was not in favour of imparting higher education to girls . He had seven daughters . Eldest son was practising law . He was in favour of educating the girls . He felt that it would then be easier to find suitable matches for the girls .


Check and Mate On Marriage Conditions

In 1934 Atma Ram met his in-laws . During the talks they broached the subject of his marriage and reminding him of his promise insisted on an early wedding . He told them his service was a temporary one, just for three months . How could he depend on it and marry . At this they pointed out that more than one and a half years had elapsed since engagement and till the girl is married they would not be able to fulfill their other obligations .

Atma Ram was well aware of his in-laws problems . But he had his own compulsions about his sad economic condition . He frankly told them that while his laid down condition had been fulfilled he did not have any money for the wedding . They replied that while he could do whatever he considered proper ,wedding should take place at the earliest .

It was now impossible for him to disregard his in-law’s affectionate and loving insistence He found himself for a moment engulfed in a difficult situation. After some deep thinking he eventually concluded that wedding was the only way out for solving his in-law’s problem . Therefore after deliberating hard he told them that wedding could be performed immediately and his younger brother who was studying in Allahabad at the time and he would form the Wedding Party .

Atma Ram had offered the suggestion keeping in mind an action plan . Dr. Satya Prakash and Atma Ram were friends . Dr. Satya Prakash’s family belonged to ‘Arya Samaj ‘ His father Shri Ganga Prasad was the recipient of ‘ Mangala Prasad ‘ prestigious award of the Uttar Pradesh government . He was the Head Master of D.A.V.College Allahabad . His mother was the head of Arya Samaj . Atma Ram used to visit them quite often . They used to often discuss simple and austere weddings . Atma Ram was ever ready to experiment . He thought of applying the ideas in his own wedding . After thus apprising his in-laws he met Dr. Satya Prakash . At this he and all his family members were immensely pleased .

Atma Ram’s suggestion was very impractical . It was but natural that any one listening to it would have instantly reacted adversely . But his in-laws by this time had become quite familiar with his ideas and feelings . They therefore did not take it seriously . They could neither say yes nor no to his strange suggestion .

Atma Ram’s suggestion for such a wedding could not be acceptable to a very respectable , cultured and well to do family . Who so ever heard about it felt that weddings never took place that way .

When Babu Jwala Prasad ji came to the house , the women of the family told him about his suggestion . Atma Ram’s father-in-law used to call him D.Sc. Saheb . He told them that they were very na├»ve as D.Sc. Saheb must be joking . Weddings were not performed that way . But his eldest daughter explained to him that Atma Ram was sure of what he said and always carried it out . She suggested that he was right and under the circumstances there was no alternative but to accept the proposal . Babu Jwala Prasad did not know what to do . He simply said that when Atma Ram comes get this confirmed again .

Atma Ram’s eldest sister-in-law addressed him as ‘Lalla ‘. She was older to him by one year . She had great affection for him and would treat him as her son . Atma Ram was very close to her and would not hesitate to tell her anything . When this issue came up again he repeated the same suggestion and added that in the circumstances there was no other alternative . If they had any reservation the wedding could wait till his financial position improved

Thus they were placed in a great dilemma . However somehow they happily agreed to perform the wedding as he desired . Atma Ram could never imagine and believe that such a respectable family would ever agree for such a simple wedding so easily. But now to keep his promise he was left with no other alternative but to marry . Initially he felt that they were joking but when they seriously with pleasure accorded their accent he understood that they were caring for his feelings and were really ready for a simple wedding for his sake only . In essence this time too he got checked and mated in his pre-conditions for his marriage .

Wedding In Rupees Hundred Only

Atma Ram’s father lived in village along with his family . At Atma Ram’s bidding Babu Jwala Prasad went to his village Pilana and met his father .and described all what had happened and conveyed that Atma Ram desired that he and his brother should attend the wedding . After carefully listening Munshi Bhagwandas ji told his future relative that under the circumstances their suggestion was commendable and added that at least he was in favour of such an ideal wedding He then suggested that as Atma Ram and his brother were already in Allahabad., they would be their representative at the wedding . Since the wedding was being conducted in a very simple and austere way they would like to avoid the expenditure on their travel too . After the wedding they should come to the village .

He then gave a letter to him for delivering to his son and bade them farewell very happily .

At Allahabad Atma Ram had an intimate relationship not only with Dr. Satya Prakash but his family too . His mother considered Atma Ram as her son and he warmly reciprocated . Dr. Satya Prakash’s father , Pandit Ganga Prasad Upadhyaya was vateran Arya Samajist and Atma Ram too held those views dear . They held similar views on many things . The wedding was fixed for 26th December , 1934 . Dr. Satya Prakash performed the wedding rituals from groom’s side and his younger brother Bhai Shiv Prakash from the bride’s side . Almost all the Professors of Allahabad University constituted the wedding party . Dr. Dhar and Dr. Saha being away from Allahabad could not attend the wedding . Wedding was performed from Dr. Satya Prakash’s residence His mother arranged all the essential ingredients and other necessary things required for the wedding . The bridegroom was taken to the wedding in Prof. Khetu Babu’s car. On the insistence of his mother-in-law and despite his wishes he agreed for an accompanying band . Dr. Satya Prakash had convinced him that since they had agreed to all his wishes he should accept that one wish to please her The wedding was performed with Arya Samajic rites The ‘mandap’ was constructed according to Vedic rites and the wedding was solemnised with the recitation of Vedic hymns .

In 1976 , Dr Atma Ram had written an article in the monthly journal ‘Vigyan’ with the heading--- ‘Dada bhi and Purohit bhi’ { Both an older brother and a priest ] Below are some excerpts from his article which throw some light not only on his relations with Dr. Satya Prakash but also how the wedding was performed in just rupees hundred only :-

“ With Dada [ Dr. Satya Prakash ] so much closeness had developed that we would even discuss our family matters . Both were unmarred those days . Some people used to say that Dada would not marry His younger brother Shiv Prakash was already married and had children . I remember his son’s name was Vimal . Occasionally we discussed marriage . I said that I belonged to a poor family . My younger brothers were studying . When I got a mere scholarship , studies of my brothers were far more important than marriage . Marriages needed lot of money . The question of marriage did not arise till I earned enough money . I was against taking loans for the marriage . I was already engaged in May 1933 on the premise that wedding would be solemnised only when I got into service . I had got a teacher’s job in 1934 at Government College Ajmer for about four months . It ended in November . I returned to Allahabad to write my D.Sc thesis . My father-in-law Late Babu Jwala Prasad chose to live in Allahabad after his retirement from service mainly for the education of his daughters . My mother-in-law met me two or three times to remind me that one and a half years had elapsed and his condition of procuring a job had also been fulfilled even though it be for four months only To me when I was unemployed and without money marriage appeared absurd .

They approached Dada knowing that he could influence me . Dada was against wasteful expenditure in weddings . He was aware of my views and the problems of my wife’s family . My wife was the fifth among seven sisters . She had two younger sisters whose marriages were likely to be delayed. If I delayed mine . Those days there was no computer . Dada acted like one . Dada spoke to me and I told him with great authority that I was willing to get married if the wedding expenses were limited to rupees hundred only . Neither could I spend more nor would like to . Dada appreciated my views particularly the latter . He also did not want to spend more in his wedding too and my wedding could be like a ‘ Pilot Project ‘ if the idea succeeded . Dada got married to Dr. Ratna Kumari after about two months of my wedding . She later became the Principal of Arya Kanya Pathshala . When this suggestion was put up to my in-laws , obviously they took it as a joke . Seeing no other alternative they gave in . Then the question arose of how to solemnise wedding in rupees hundred only . My father was one step ahead of me in this regard His views were very modern and constructive though he did not know English . On my suggestion he wrote to me that there was no need of his or any other member of the family to be present at the wedding My younger brother Late Shri Lakshmi , who was then studying in I.S.C. in Irving Christian College and I should come to village after the wedding . 26th December , 1934 was fixed for the wedding . Every thing was arranged at Dada’s house . The wedding party of about thirty persons consisted of Head of the Chemistry Department Prof . K.P.Chatterji ,Dr. Satyeshwar Ghosh , Dr. Bhattacharya and some research students . Dr. Chatterji’s Ford Car was utilised for the groom . The party started from Dada’s residence .Dada also arranged for the band . Dr. Dhar was attending Science Congress away from Allahabad . Dada acted as ‘Purohit ‘ [ Pandit ] from groom’s side . His younger brother acted as purohit from the bride’s side Dada performed the rituals with great enthusiasm . Every one appreciated the wedding ceremonies . Dr Chatterji and Dr. Satyeshwar Ghosh while blessing the couple spoke a few words of appreciation . My father-in-law was highy pleased . He said that it would be wonderful if all weddings took place that way .He added that he thought it a joke only and a ploy to delay the marriage when D.Sc. Saheb [ He used to call me by this name even before I got the degree ] suggested wedding to be performed in rupees hundred only . I received at least some appreciation in the end .

This way dada became our’ Purohit ‘ . He acted with great feelings and reverence . This happened more than forty one years ago . Our married life has been very happy and peaceful . This in itself is the proof of Dada’s good ‘ purohitai ‘ . Dada could not get a pie in ‘ dakshina ‘. On the contrary he spent money . After all he was my Dada I had no elder brother . He was very happy with the wedding specially so as his Pilot Project was successful . Whenever Dada visits us this topic is always mentioned . We shall ever remain grateful to him .”






Third Chapter

Continuous Struggle For A Living


First in M.Sc.

Atma Ram’s father was generally against taking loans but not for good causes like studies . He had taken loan from a Society in Meerut for meeting expenses of his studies to some extent .

Those days science students used to get employed only in schools or colleges . Some used to appear in competitive examinations .There was hardly any opening in industry . After appearing in M.Sc. Final Atma Ram returned to his village .This was in 1931 .After some time results were announced . Atma Ram passed M.Sc. in first division . Family members were very pleased . But the exuberance began dwindling with passage of time as loan had to be returned to the Society . Even greater worry was to share the responsibilities with his father for running the household . That was possible only when he could secure a job . It is a fact that at that time it was more difficult to get an employment than now .

This happened in 1931 . Atma Ram mentioned how he got to know his result as follows :-

“ My father used to visit Bijnor once in a while for attending to some official business Pawary Post Office was about three miles away from our village , Pilana . Only one postman served several villages . Generally he used to give the letters to some boys or other inhabitants of the village for delivery . When it was time for the result to be announced I asked my father to find out the result as he was going to Bijnor . Result used to be announced through the Gazette . Those days Gazette used to be received by one or two offices only . On his request a person looked in the Gazette and heartily announced that his son had stood first in the entire University . He added that how it was that he did not know the result through letter as the Gazette had been received quite a few days back . Perhaps he wanted to avoid distributing sweets on the occasion .

On his return in the evening he told us about the result . After a day or two I also received a letter from a friend . This letter was duly received in time by the Pawari Post office but the postman sent it to us at his leisure . One can imagine how pathetic was our postal system even after completion of one third of the century . Today news is sometimes received in some of our distant villages even before it is received in towns .”


Empress Victoria Research Readership

Vacations ended . Atma Ram left for Allahabad in the hope of getting a research scholarship in the University . One could not get a job idling in the village where even news papers announcing vacancies were not available .

When Atma Ram reached Allahabad Prof. Dhar was away abroad . Atmaram desired to do D.Sc. under the supervision of Prof. Dhar . For that he would give some tutions . It might be mentioned that those days there were no such degrees as Ph.D. or D.Phil. It was essential to do three years research work for D.Sc. In those days University used to offer rupees hundred scholarships for research work either for two or three years . Since these scholarships were very few it was more difficult to get them than a service .

There were only two Empress Victoria Research Readerships . Luckily one more was added that year . For the three scholarships a condition was attached that the candidates should be well versed in Hindi and should write some articles on science in Hindi .

Dr. Meghnad Saha was the Head of the Physics Department then . Mathematics Department was Headed by Prof. S.C.Banerjee . When the issue of new scholarship was taken up in the University working committee meeting , Dr Banerjee raised an objection stating that so far the available scholarships had always been given to researchers in Physics and Chemistry only . Scholarship was never given for research in mathematics resulting in no useful research being undertaken and promising students were also not being attracted . His argument had lot of weight ,

Prof. Saha and Prof. Banerjee were also good friends . They used to respect each other’s views too .Dr. Dhar was not there at the time . Prof. K.P.Chatterjee was representing him . Dr. Saha believed in freedom of expression . He told Dr. Banerjee that when no good student was ever willing to stay on how could the scholarships be given in Mathematics . Dr. Chatterjee supported Dr. Saha .

Applications for ‘Empress Victoria Research Readership’ were taken up next . From the Chemistry Department Atma Ram’s name was recommended . A high second divisioner’s name was recommended by the Department of Mathematics . After due consideration the committee decided that Mathematics student’s name would also be given due weightage if he also knew Hindi . The final decision was left with the Vice Chancellor Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Ganga Nath Jha . Thus only two students remained in contention for the new found scholarship .

One day the Vice Chancellor called both the students for interview . When he enquired from the Mathematics student as to whether he knew Hindi he replied that while he did not know Hindi he knew Urdu . Those days ‘ Vigyan Parishad ‘ had commenced publication of a monthly journal ‘Vigyan ‘ in Hindi . Atma Ram occasionally used to contribute articles for this journal and by mere
coincidence when he reported for the interview the Vice Chancellor was reading an article in ‘ Vigyan ‘ authored by Atma Ram himself .

Atma Ram had passed vernacular Hindi Middle examination in 1922 He had carried with him the pass certificate of that course and showed it to him during the interview . He said that he was just reading his article and he knew Hindi very well .

The vernacular Hindi Middle certificate confirmed that he had actually written that article . There could be a doubt that he might have got the article published in his name written by someone else . It is rightly said that in ones life no action is worthless . The one we consider useless at the time turns out in future of great significance .



Provisional Teacher In Ajmer


The research scholarship was for three years only . Soon three years elapsed . During this period Atma Ram had fully concentrated on research work only . But after the cessation of the scholarship the question of seeking an employment again arose . During this period his younger brother was also staying with him . He was studying in Inter . The expenses of the brothers were met from the scholarship money . Atma Ram had also saved some money by economising on non essentials for such a time .

At that time Atma Ram received ‘ Lady Tata Memorial ‘ scholarship of rupees one hundred and fifty per month for one year . Those days chemists used to be employed in sugar industry . A few of his friends had also been employed and they also urged him to join the industry . He thus developed an inclination towards it as he too had to find a job . Yet his mind was set on research and not on sugar .
In the final year of his research he was introduced to a sugar specialist . He was writing a book on sugar technology . Atma Ram helped him in writing the book and in return also gained some knowledge . He was also promised that he would be employed as assistant chemist in December in the factory where he was joining as chief Chemist . Thus Atma Ram decided to become a Chemist . He was happy that he had almost secured a job along with the Tata scholarship .

In north India sugar industries start operating in December only . Therefore any employment before December was not possible . In the mean time he got a provisional service as Officiating Professor in government College Ajmer . He thought of working till November or December in the College and then join the sugar industry . Atma Ram discussed the idea with Prof. Dhar . Prof. told him that he would have to leave research work as he would not get any opportunity in his job as a Chemist . He had earlier tried unsuccessfully for a demonstrator ‘s job for him in his Department , Hence despite himself he was not in a position to stop him leaving the Tata scholarship and joining the Government College Ajmer at rupees two hundred per month wages .

Those days Prof. Seshadari was the Principal of Ajmer College . Before that he was the Head of the department of English in the University of Banaras . He knew Atma Ram a little bit . He was please d to learn that Atma Ram was an ex-student of Banaras His delight increased further on receiving a letter for him from Dr. Dhar .

When he was about to complete four months at the Ajmer College he received a letter from that person . While he had been appointed as Chief Chemist he indicated his inability to get him the Assistant’s job as promised earlier . Atma Ram’s hopes were dashed . Then he was really unemployed . He was simply left stranded because with the assurance of getting the job he had surrendered the ‘ Lady Tata Memorial ‘ scholarship . There was no question of its resumption midway . Seeing no possibility of an employment he went back to Allahabad to write his thesis .

Unpaid Apparentice

There was a sugar mill in Bijnor those days . He went to the management for seeking a suitable job . All his efforts were futile . Leave aside getting a job there was not even a ray of hope of getting it in future too . At a distance of about eight to nine Kilometres from Bijnor there was a Government experimental sugar factory . They were ascertaining whether Steam power was cheaper or Electric power .

That factory was part of the Ganges Hydroelectric scheme . It was called Dharm Nagri Factory Division It might be mentioned that the name Dharm Nagri was given by Raja Jwala Prasad [ Since expired ] in honour of his son Shri Dharm Vir Ji , the noted administrator and Governor Earlier it was called Mir Pur . and Raja Saheb was its Zamindar [Landlord ] .Raja Jwala Prasad was the first Indian Chief Engineer in Uttar Pradesh Government Shri B.K.agrawala was the manager of this factory. He was a very social, and idealistic gentleman . The factory was small and employed only about twenty or twenty five people . There was no scope for a job in the factory . On the advice of some persons Atma Ram met him along with his brother-in-law Vakil Saheb . While indicating his inability in giving a job he offered with some hesitation unpaid apparenticeship . He added that being a Government factory he had to obtain concurrence from the Government . Those days permission was accorded by Imperial Sugar Technologist stationed at Headquarters at Kanpur . Then Shri R.C.Shrivastav was holding that post . He was the younger brother of the famous industrialist Sir J.P.Shrivastav who later became the food member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council . He accorded his accent soon . This is merely to state that in those days a student who was on the verge of getting D.Sc. had to seek permission to get an unpaid apparenticeship in a very small factory .


While Atma Ram got an opportunity for learning but the problem was of his very existence without salary . After due consideration the problem was resolved . He would stay with his brother-in-law and impart tutions for a living .

Atma Ram used to cycle down eight to nine Kilometres to factory every day . The factory employs were wondering why he came to the factory regularly with out pay . Most of the Chemists in the factory were mere B.Sc. while some were diploma engineers . Since factory was small soon the word spread around that a prospective D.Sc. was working unpaid there . No one could fathom out the reason and none was impressed .

In the factory the person engaged as penman for crystal growing by boiling the cane juice was regarded in esteem . Though he was illiterate yet his value had increased due to his skills and long experience . Atma Ram spent time with him . He began observing his work sitting by his side . Seeing Atma Ram daily sitting by his side , one day he said to him , “ Babu Saheb , this is a dirty work and your clothes get dirty . All Babus sit in the laboratory and you should also sit there . What will you get here except spoiling your clothes .”

But Atma Ram had joined the factory to improve his knowledge and skills . He did not care if the clothes got spoiled . He replied , “ Brother , I like your work . Please tell me what you are doing and how you do it .” Generally the workers would not disclose their secret tricks and skills but the penman took a liking for his educated pupil and began explaining his work with love and affection . The Manager had left Atma Ram free to move about and sit any where in the factory .

Atma Ram began wondering what skills this worker possessed in him that every one respected him so much . He was an expert in growing sugar crystals and his skill was admired by one and all . Atma Ram saw that he would simply place a few drops of boiling sugarcane juice on a glass slide and facing the light would tell if the juice was ready for crystallisation . Atma Ram sitting by his side quickly learnt the secret of his skill . If the slide became translucent [ Dull ] then he would ask his assistants to add some syrup etc in the juice . Atma Ram had observed this carefully .

After a few days he told the penman that once he might be permitted to grow the crystals . He agreed instantly . Perhaps he cherished the idea that a highly educated man had become his pupil . He too in his behaviour with him had never showed off . Atma Ram did what he was told by the penman and learnt the art and skills of crystal growing . He took such a keen interest in it that occasionally he would spend the night in the factory .

That year winter was exceptionally cold in that area. Sugarcane crop was damaged due to frost . Red rot set in the sugarcanes . They smelled of vinegar and sugar yield was also much reduced . Mr. Agrawal told him that being a local he could help in procuring good sugarcanes from nearby villages which were not affected by frost . His efforts were fruitful and the factory could get sufficient good quality sugarcanes .

Normally the factory could be closed for a few days due to sugarcane shortage but Sir William Stemp who was then Chief Engineer ,U.P. had invited the then Governor of U.P. Sir Harry Heig for a visit to the factory . Needless to say that Shri Agrawal was much worried due to possible shortage of good quality sugarcanes . He was thus relieved

Sulphur- di- oxide was used for purifying cane sugar . While working Atma Ram concluded that by its use acidity was increased which led to the formation of excessive molasses . The frost damaged sugarcanes formed molasses still more . Being a researcher Atma Ram thought that if less acidic substance was used for purification perhaps molasses formation might be reduced and the sugar yield might increase . A replacement of the acid was needed . He recollected that in his village crushers were used for making gur and acid was not used to purify juice . Yet the juice was clean . He remembered that they mixed ‘Chuclai’ [ Like the tough exterior covering of ladies finger plant ]
in the juice for cleaning . This was easily available in the village and he got some collected . On his suggestion Shri Agrawal engaged a worker from the crushers . Very few in the factory knew about this development . The factory in reality became an experimental one . Atma Ram began comparing the juices produced by the two methods . The penman who did not know any thing about acidity tried to dissuade him saying that nothing ever changed in the factory routine . But when Atma Ram explained he accepted . The factory Engineer Shri Kehar Singh Bhal appreciated the idea of using chuclai in place of the acid .as it was already in use in cane crushers ..

The idea worked . The juice in which chuclai was used with less sulphur , purified better . The success was more than expected . Formation of molasses was less and sugar content increased . shri Agrawal was very pleased when Shri Bhan informed him . Later he told Atma Ram that while occasionally he travelled with him in his car to Bijnor he had never mentioned the experiment to him .

The penman publicised this in the factory . He commented that chemists in the laboratory knew less than Babu Saheb yet they were being paid and not he , but he took more interest in his work .

The matter was reported to higher ups . The manager patted him on the back and appreciated his work . From then on the old penman considered him an expert in the field .

Sir William Stemp and other senior Government officials used to inspect and visit the factory quite often as it was under Government supervision . Shri Agrawal held Atma Ram in high esteem . Once he introduced him to Sir Williams and informed him that though he was not being paid yet his contribution to the factory was great and he had improved the sugar production significantly .

After some time as season ended the factory operations came to a standstill . Every one was without a job . Hence his being absorbed there was out of the question .

After a few days Atma Ram was called for interview . Those days during summer Union Public Service Commission used to hold interviews in Shimla . Since he was out of job he wondered whether it was worthwhile to spend money to go to Shimla when the vacancies were only three . Anyway he did go to Shimla . Interviews were to take place in Kennedy House annexe . Atma Ram was in the first batch of about 15 candidates . Some candidates were Ph.D. from London . It was rumoured that out of about 700-800 candidates only about 40-50 were short listed and called for interview . Dr. M.N.Ghatak D.Sc. from Allahabad University was also a candidate . His interview was for the next day . Atma Ram could not believe that even he had come for the interview . Atma Ram got very disheartened . Reason was evident . Those days Muslims had thirty three percent reservation in all the posts . Hence only two vacancies were available . They could not select both the candidates from Allahabad University only . The candidates were from all over India . Dr. Ghatak , his senior was already a D.Sc. Probability of his selection was greater . While Atma Ram had submitted his thesis he was still to get the formal degree . Seeing the reality whatever tension he had about the interview vanished . He felt then that it was only a formality to appear for the interview .

Atma Ram was called for the interview . Initially formal questions were asked like his name , where he had come from and how he had come etc. etc. Rai Bahadur P.L.Dhavan member UPSC and Director of concerned department Mr. Broady were among the members of the selection board . Mr. Broady was in the board as an expert .

Dhavan Saheb in order to assess the mental balance asked me where he had come from , how he had come , if by rail by what class he travelled and how much was the fare . After that he asked a strange question , ‘ Had you travelled first class how much the fare would have been ! “

Atma Ram had already given up all hopes . He was perplexed by those strange questions . He did not know what to reply . He simply said , “ Sir , there seems to be some misunderstanding “
Mr. Dhavan asked , “ what ! “
Atma Ram said , “ Sir , I am called for the interview for the post of a Chemical Assistant in the Industrial Bureau not for any post in the Railways . “
As he said this every one had a hearty laugh . Atma Ram was shaken up . He felt that he had committed a mistake in showing his annoyance .
Dhavan Saheb ‘s face became red . He then spoke seriously , “ I know . “
Immediately the Chairman announced that the interview was over .

It may be mentioned that Atma Ram ji had told the author regarding the interview that he did know how he answered that way . In a similar situation now he would not give that answer .

Atma Ram began collecting his papers . The moment he was getting up Mr. Broady asked the Chairman if he too could ask some questions.
Chairman said , “ Yes , Yes “
Atma Ram just sat down .
Mr. Broady was a Scot and his English pronunciation was not very clear . He asked , “ Well , have you worked on photo chemical reactions 1 “
Atma Ram , “ Yes , Sir . “
Mr. Broady , “ What effect sunlight has on Sambhar salt ! “
He spoke Sambhar salt in such a way that Atma Ram got perplexed . He wondered whether he was saying Sambhar salt or somersault . Sambhar salt was being produced from Sambhar lake situated in Rajsthan . Somersault would mean changing positions and postures by man with out reason . After a while he replied , “ Sir , what exactly you mean -- Sambhar salt or somersault ! “
Chairman smiling said that it could be both .
Atma Ram , “Sir , sunlight would evaporate the water as steam from the salt solution of the lake and only salt crystals would remain . But somersault is related to the behaviour of men altering body postures for no possible reason . I do not know how sunlight would effect this as it pertains to the domain of medical sciences .”
At this every one had a hearty laugh .
Chairman , “ Interview is over “
This time interview was really over . Atma Ram collected his papers and returned with a heavy heart .
Atma Ram had reached Shimla a day before the interview He stayed in a small hotel . A girl of his village had been married to Shri Visheshwar Dayal Tyagi of the neighbouring village . Shri Tyagi was an Indian Audit and Accounts Officer and was then stationed at Shimla . His father-in-law had asked him to definitely meet Shri Tyagi and deliver to him his letter personally He went that very evening to meet Shri Tyagi . He was a very experienced and a social person . He gave Atma Ram some tips on the interview and advised him that if he did not know the answer to a question he should simply say so instead of bluffing just to impress the members .

Atma Ram became very sad after the interview . He went to meet Tyagi ji before leaving for his village . His office was not far away from Kennedy Annexe . Seeing Atma Ram’s sad face he asked with concern , “How was your interview ! “ Atma Ram told him that it was very bad and then narrated the whole episode . Tyagi ji was immensely pleased and told him not to unnecessarily worry and go home happy as he had done very well in the interview . He thought that Tyagi ji was only comforting him . He wondered if that interview could be judged good then what a bad interview would be . He returned home after bidding him goodbye .

When he returned home another interview call was awaiting him . In 1935 Uttar Pradesh Government had instituted a special scholarship for sending a candidate abroad for getting specialist training in Sugar technology . The call was for this interview . He had to go to Hercourt Butler Institute of Technology , Kanpur for the interview . In a portion of this Institute there was a Department for research in sugar technology . The department has since grown and has become famous as full fledged National Sugar Institute .

`There was only one scholarship . About twenty people were called for the interview . When about eight candidates were interviewed it was suddenly stopped . Rest of the candidates were simply kept waiting and none was called . Atma Ram was one of them . He kept sitting under a tree with a token in his hand . Those days it was the custom to give tokens to the candidates . After quite some time they began losing their patience and all decided to find out as to why they were not being called for the interview . They thought that perhaps the interviews would recommence after lunch . Seeing an office peon nearby they enquired from him . He informed that interviews were over long back and all the officers had left . He asked that if no one had taken their tokens back . All of them were stunned . They were well aware that out of about twenty candidates only one was to be selected and their chances were minimal yet they could not believe that candidates called officially would not only be not interviewed but ignored and sent back unceremoniously .

The candidates could not digest that . Suddenly they saw a clerk type person in the verandah . A candidate ran towards him and enquired about the interviews .By chance he happened to be concerned clerk . He confirmed the peon’s information . Every one then returned the tokens to him and departed . There was no point in staying there any more . Candidates felt utterly humiliated . There is a famous couplet :-

“ Nikalana khuld seadam ka sunate aaye hein
Bahut be abru hokar tere kuche se ham nikle ”

meaning - “ We had heard that Adam was banished from the garden but we have been thrown out of your place unceremoniously and humiliated .”

After twenty three years of this instance in 1958 Atma Ram had an occasion to visit the Hercourt Butler Technological Institute but for different reasons . Atma Ram was not a candidate for scholarship but was specially invited as the chief guest of the Institute . There was some function concerning sugar and Atma Ram was invited as chief guest Those days he was the Director of Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute , Jadavpur , Calcutta – a premier National laboratory .

During the course of the function Atma Ram recollected the sad episode of his interview . He thought of the strange ways of God’s functioning . The person who was sent off the Institute’s premises humiliated and unceremoniously with out interview was at that moment present there as their Chief Guest . He thanked God for His kind mercies .

While refreshments were being served after the function people surrounded him . Suddenly he sighted the person who had been selected in the interview . He was his senior by one year in the University . On seeing him he went to him and enquired , “ What are you doing here ! “

He replied , “ You have recognised me ! “

“ Why Not ! We were together in the same Department . “ so saying Atma Ram mentioned his name too to satisfy him .

Narrating this episode Atma Ram stated thus :- .

“ I got lost in thoughts after knowing about the gentleman . I thought of the disappointment I felt in not being called for the interview . I was very sad . But God had other better plans for him and did not want him to get entangled in that small job . Had I been selected that day I might have ended like that gentleman as Officiating Officer only . Man has a weakness of losing his balance of mind
on being unsuccessful . His mind gets in knots and for his failure he blames others or his bad luck .
But man gets disheartened unnecessarily . If persons believe sincerely and implicitly that God does every thing for their good they can face even the greatest calamities very easily” .

There was another interview call of a lecturer’s post in Balwant Rajput College , Agra . The college was starting a science course for Inter students . Atma Ram had four months teaching experience . He had taught in Ajmer . He also had a certificate from Prof. Seshadari . On that basis the management selected him . The salary was Rupees one hundred twenty only .

During the interview he was asked , “Since you are not likely to stay here ,if we increase the salary to rupees 150 , would you fill a bond for three years ? “ Atma Ram instead of filling the bond accepted the salary of rupees 120 only . New classes had to begin . There were holidays then . The management told him that he could join that very day if he wished so . He just wanted that as he was unemployed . He joined duty . At that time the principal of the college was Dr. R.K.Singh , who later became Vice Chancellor of Meerut University . It may be mentioned that during the tenure of Dr. Singh , Atma Ram was invited to deliver the convocation address of the Meerut University . Then Atma Ram was the Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

Atma Ram received a letter from his brother-in-law within six days of his arrival at Agra . He had written that Shri Dan Tyagi from Shimla had intimated that he was selected for the post . On learning that the Principal of the Balwant Rajput Inter College became quite sad . He was not paid any wages . Next day he returned to his village .


National Planning Committee

The famous Scientist Dr. Megh Nad Saha had studied in detail the Russian Planning Processes . He was in touch with several top ranking Russian Scientists . He used to admire American Scientists as much as Russian ones . But he was more influenced by the experiments conducted by the Russian scientists .He also used to meet Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose quite often . They would discuss important issues of the day . Once in 1937 he told him that Congress should take interest in National Planning . Subhash Babu treated Saha with respect and gave due importance to his suggestions He told Dr. Saha that such matters were of academic interest as they were fully engaged in freedom struggle and had no time for such things .

Dr. Saha called Atma Ram after his meeting with Subhash Babu . When he reached there he was in an angry mood . He said that our country’s educated people never understand any thing except ‘ Charkha’ and ‘ Khaddar ‘

Dr. B.N. Adarkar had authored a book , ‘ If War Comes ‘ Dr. Saha had written its preface . That was not a mere preface but an important document . During the conversation Atma Ram suggested that he might ask Subhash Babu what would happen , ‘ If Freedom Comes ‘
Atma Ram was in fact reading that book at that time otherwise he could not have suggested so . Atma Ram himself used to wear khadi and in a way they held dissimilar views . Dr. Saha kept quiet .

After a day or two Dr. Saha went to meet Subhash Babu . He took Atma Ram along with him .
That time too he raised the same question and asked him , ‘ What would he do if independence was granted next day ‘

Hearing this Subhash Babu jumped with joy . For him country’s independence was of supreme importance . He said that in independent Bharat nobody would ever remain hungry or with out clothes . Dr. Saha intervened and asked him , ‘How much cloth would be needed ! How much food would be required ! How many houses would be required to be built ! ‘ He thus put up a series of such questions to him .

Subhash Babu replied , “ We would have to look into them . “ Dr. Saha told him that he had come for that very purpose of National Planning . In this regard congress should state its policy explicitly and an outline directive be laid down .

An Introduction with Pandit Nehru

Subhash Babu was exceedingly impressed by Dr. Saha’s suggestion and gladly agreed to the formation of National Planning Committee .

Nehru ji was released from jail in 1945 . He sent a telegram to Dr. Saha from Allahabad that he would like to meet him before he left for a conference in Shimla to discuss some aspects pertaining to planning . Dr. Saha took his pupil Atma Ram to Allahabad along with him for the meeting with Pandit Nehru . By that time Atma Ram had returned to Calcutta from Delhi as Officer in-charge Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute .

Dr. Saha wile introducing him to Pandit Nehru said that Atma Ram was a student in Allahabad during the 1930 struggle . Presently he was working in the Government Test House . In spite of being in Government Service he wore khadi . His contribution in the report on fuel technology in the National Committee had been of great significance . Hearing this Nehru said with surprise that he was taking a great risk . Was he not concerned with his service . Dr. Atma Ram felt a bit awkward at this .

During 1945-46 on his visit to Calcutta Nehru ji stayed with the famous Doctor and congress leader Dr. Vidhan Chandra Roy . [Later after independence he became the Chief Minister of West Bengal ]
Dr. Saha invited them for lunch at his residence .

Dr. Saha introduced Atma Ram to many eminent Scientists present at the lunch . He met a few among them for the first time . When Atma Ram considering himself a junior scientist would stand behind , Dr. Saha would take him in front . It would not be out of place to mention that under the active guidance of a famous and eminent Scientist like Dr. Saha , Atma Ram’s scientific calibre blossomed and later he too made his place among the world renowned Scientists .





Fourth Chapter

Background to his entry in the scientific field

Establishment of Industrial Research Bureau

In 1934 Government of India established Industrial Intelligence and Research Bureau under the auspices of Indian Stores Department . Its function was to disburse technical information . In addition it had to assist local industrial units by giving suggestions after evaluating them . The Headquarters of the Bureau was located in Delhi where a Director and an asst Director were posted . Its one research unit , Government Test House was situated at Alipur , Calcutta . The word ‘Intelligence ‘ was removed quite some time back from the name of the Bureau and it was now called , ‘Industrial Research Bureau ‘ . Dr. Lal C.Burman was the Officer-in-Charge of its Research Group . He later became the founding Director and then Director General of the Indian Standards Institute .

Dr. Atma Ram was a Chemical Assistant in the Group and he was assigned the work on glass , sand , china glass , and liquid gold . The work included survey of raw materials for making glass and developing techniques for making decorative glass objects ,specially using china glass and liquid gold .These things were imported then . In addition the work included providing of guidance and help in fabrication of better glass melting furnaces to the glass industry . Bureau had limited resources by way of finances and infrastructure .

In1937 Uttar Pradesh Government established a post of a Glass Technologist . Dr. Andil was nominated to this post and was attached to the Banaras Hindu University’s Department of Glass Technology . This was the first glass technology department in the entire country . A ceramic department already existed in the University . Any way till then there were no signs for the establishment of a separate organisation for the research in glass .

Second World War and establishment of B.S I.R.

The Second world war began in 1939 . Some loyal bureaucrats suggested to close down Industrial Research Bureau . If at that time Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar happened not to be the Commerce Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council the suggestion would not only have been accepted but implemented too . Sir Ramaswami persuaded the Government to accept the formation of the Board of Scientific and Industrial Research . Thus in the beginning of 1940 B.S.I.R. came into existence and Sir Ramaswami was made its Chairman and Sir Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was designated as Director Scientific and Industrial Research .

Some well known Indian Scientists and representatives of the industry were made its members .Among them were Prof. Megh Nad Saha , Dr. J.C.Ghosh , Lala Shri Ram , and Ghan Shyam Das Birla . Thus for the first time scientists , industrialists , and bureaucrats worked together in an apex body of the Government . Several committees were formed to quickly identify the problem areas with the active cooperation of the Universities and specialists in their fields Glass and Refractories Committee was one of them .

Those days there were no effective Government Laboratories for Industrial Research in the country . The research work pertaining to the Directorate of Scientific and Industrial Research was at the time being undertaken in the premises of the Government Test House , Alipur , Calcutta by the laboratories established temporarily there . A division of Industrial Research Bureau which also existed there was subsequently taken over by the Board . Dr. Atma Ram narrates the goings on in the Bureau at the time as follows :-

“ Dr. Bhatnagar went to Calcutta in 1940 for initiating research work in the laboratory there . He changed the entire working of the Test House . Test House that did not have either any large laboratories or any modern sophisticated test equipment was suddenly altered both from the point of view of lay out and in its working . Then no body could waste time . There was no opportunity for making complaints or excuses either . Some place was quickly covered with ‘chhapar ‘ . Somehow laboratories were made workable . In no time the verandah’s were converted into offices . Several persons occupied the same room . Dr. Bhatnagar himself shared the room with Shri N.N.Sengupta Executive Head . In a way work was carried out quite informally . However in the Test House there was no Library and also no reference books . I used to visit the University Library and spent several hours there to gather information .

As a matter of fact life was infused in the Test House and it was buzzing with activity . Top Scientists Industrialists ,and high officials would come there in large numbers for discussions and meetings . Once during this period Mr. Broady also came . He was the member of the interview board which had selected me for the Assistant’s post . He told me that members of the Board at Shimla were highly impressed by me . I was really amazed on hearing this . I remembered the encouraging words spoken to me after the interview by Shri Visheshwar Dayal Dan Tyagi . Yet till today I have not been able to fathom out what exactly I said which impressed the Board so much .”

Air Foam Solution Made Him A Hero

Those days all the D.S.I.R. laboratories were engaged in war efforts in their own ways under the leadership of Lord Mountbatten against the Japanese in Burma and South East Asia . In 1941 Japanese had declared the war . Many places near Calcutta like Baj Baj[ on the banks of Hugli river ] where oil was stored in large quantities were in danger zone .They were within the striking range of the Japanese . The problem arose of indigenous production of air foam at the earliest . Dr. Bhatnagar was worried . The owners of the oil companies were worried more . For extinguishing the petrol fire the air foam solution used to be imported from England . This had somewhat slowed down . Dr. Bhatnagar assigned me the responsibility of developing indigenous air foam . In Atma Ram’s own words Dr. Bhatnagar said , “ This work has to be done by you only . If you succeed you would be riding on a flying horse. “

Dr. Atma Ram accepted the challenge and got busy . Where his colleagues were engaged in research on glass in nice environment , he was experimenting with dirty and foul smelling solutions filled in buckets in open fields . When wearing khaki shorts and unpressed shirts he used to experiment in open areas a crowd of amused onlookers used to watch him wondering what was happening . Then he appeared more a technician than a scientist . In the laboratory premises he would dig small holes and after filling petrol in them ignite a fire and then tried to extinguish it using his indigenous solutions . For his colleagues too it was a unique sight to watch .They used to often laugh at his strange ways . But one day his incessant efforts bore fruit and soon he succeeded in developing air foam using indigenously available materials only .

In August 1942 it was decided to hold a test demonstration of its adequacy at Baj Baj . Senior officials of the British oil companies reached Baj Baj .The test began in the presence of Mr. Garden Peez , the then Chief Inspector of Explosives . Dr. Atma Ram narrated this episode thus :-

“ Pits of about 30 feet were dug and petrol was filled in them . Petrol was then ignited . In one of the extinguishers air foam manufactured by a British company and imported was filled and in the other the solution prepared by us entirely indigenously . Dr. Bhatnagar spoke with some elation , “First you demonstrate extinguishing the fire with your imported solution .” Mr. Tommy who operated the extinguisher commented that how could an indigenous solution compete with an imported one . On hearing this Dr. Bhatnagar felt very hurt and insulted . But he remained steadfast on his instructions to try imported solution first . By chance that day the fire could be extinguished after a fairly long time . At one stage it appeared that the fire could not at all be extinguished . Then Dr. Bhatnagar asked Mr. Tommy to try our material . It took less than a minute to extinguish the fire with our material . Now Dr. Bhatnagar was immensely pleased and his joy knew no bounds . He ran round the pits like a child . He lifted me up saying , “ Oh ! My Boy .” Mr. Garden Peez also patted me on my back

That day was Saturday . Dr. Bhatnagar returned to Test House . He sent a telegram and a letter to Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar . He specially mentioned my name . Ramaswami too sent a telegram in reply. He specially wrote to thank Atma Ram on his behalf .”

Atma Ram all of a sudden became well known after this experiment . Though he was a mere Assistant yet this success made him a hero .

Dr. Atma Ram was a dynamic person . Atma Ram was a leader with his eyes fixed on result in the field of applied research . The problems were directly given by Dr. Bhatnagar himself . He would always check and enquire . This way he had infused the atmosphere and environment of a University in the government laboratory where the distinction between the Director and an Assistant totally disappeared . It had a great impact on the employees . At the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research , Dr. Atma Rm in his address expressed his tremendous appreciation of Dr. Bhatnagar in the following words :-

“ We are highly indebted to Dr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar . He was the founder of C.S.I.R. . I have worked under him in this organisation for fifteen years . He was both my guide and Director . Rajaji [ Chakravarti Rajgopalacharya ] used to call him a live wire . The National Physical Laboratory where we have gathered today has his indelible mark on its every brick . Sir C.V.Raman has rightly said that after independence the spread of science in the country was the joint legacy from Nehru - Bhatnagar combine . He regularly used to visit to satisfy himself on the progress of the construction activities . Not only this , many a times he even brought Pandit Nehru to see the progress himself . Dr. Bhatnagar’s name would always be synonymous with that of C.S.I..R. . “

Due to the spread of war specially in the eastern part of India in 1942 the D.S.I.R. laboratory was shifted to Delhi from Calcutta . Dr. Atma Ram came to Delhi from Calcutta . All the staff from Calcutta was accommodated in the newly built science laboratories of the University of Delhi . Those days there were very few science departments and the facilities were almost non existing . But due to the efforts of the then Vice Chancellor Sir Maurice Gweyer the facilities were being created fast . Due to non availability of enough gas supply clay ovens with coal tar or coal were being used Recollecting those days Atma Ram in his address on the occasion of the silver jubilee of C.S.I.R. stated thus :-

“ I remember during cold weather of February few of us during lunch break would fry ‘pakodas’ on the clay ovens . Often the pakodas were offered to Dr. Bhatnagar . He used to relish them . He was very fond of hot spiced food and ‘ chat ‘ and pickles were his weakness .”

The Birth Of C.S.I.R.


After working for about a year in the Test House it was felt that pace of progress in scientific research
in a Government Department could be accelerated only if the strings attached were loosened fully . Therefore a proposal was mooted to make the organisation autonomous but finances would still be the responsibility of the Government . It will have a Governing Body with members from scientific , industrial and bureaucratic communities . With this in mind Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar proposed in the then Legislative Council [ now Lok Sabha ] establishment of an ‘Industrial Research Fund ‘ with an initial grant of rupees ten lakhs . Thus the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was formally established on first April of 1942 . Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar became its founder President .


Arguments In Favour Of Research In Glass

Prof. Meghnad Saha was the editor of ‘ Science and Culture ‘ .In April 1941 he emphasised in an editorial urgent need for the creation of centres of learning for glass technology . At the same time an article on the status of ‘Indian Glass Industry ‘ was also published . The result was that the long standing demand for the establishment of a central laboratory for exclusive research in the glass field once again came into the lime light . He had written in the Editorial :-

“ If India desires that its glass industry should stand on its own legs then it should start a college for teaching and conducting research in glass technology keeping in mind the following aims :-
1. Imparting education in Glass Technology
2. Basic research and investigations to assist industry
3. Testing and standardisation of raw materials
4. Offering technical consultancy to Industry whenever and where ever needed “

“ Since the people manning the college have to remain in continuous touch with the glass industry it was essential that the college was located nearest to the place where there were maximum number of glass factories . The reason for the success of British glass industry is that its world famous glass Institution is located in Shaffield , the centre of its glass industry . For the industry the testing of the raw materials and finished goods and their standardisation was absolutely essential without which some draw backs would remain resulting in heavy losses

In the past when ever a proposal for the establishment of an institution or a department was mooted , paucity of trained manpower was always sighted . Ever one is aware how difficult it is to establish such institutions with the help of foreign experts . We feel that in future we would have to establish such institutions on our own strengths . If in England Turner and Padel [ Dr. Padel was the first research student in glass technology who worked under Prof Turner . He gets the maximum credit for the flourishing glass industry in England . ] , in America Washwern and Kepler in Germany started their career as plain scientists before establishing noted Glass and Ceramic Research Institutions in their countries , no doubt Indian Scientists would also succeed in their efforts to establish such institutions . We have now to give up our inferiority complex and develop awareness and confidence in the abilities of Indian scientists . In this country some people specially those holding high offices are enamoured of foreign experts . They think that like Alladin’s lamp foreign specialists would in no time establish glass industry just by wave of magic wand . But the experience of Indian Glass producers has not been particularly encouraging .”

Formation of a Committee for the Establishment of an Organisation for Research in Glass


Question of research in glass technology became live again and discussions were resumed . This resulted in B.S.I.R . Editor Prof. Meghnad Saha and Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar visiting Benaras Hindu University for exploring the possibilities of establishing a Glass Research Institute They submitted a report to B.S.I.R. The Board in 1942 constituted a committee on central Glass Research Institute under the chairmanship of Sir Shanti Swroop Bhatnagar . Among the members were Prof . Meghnad Saha , Prof. J.N.Mueherji , Prof. P.Ray , Shri I.D.Varshney and Dr. Nadel .

The first meeting of the committee took place in Lahore Forman Christian College on 27 th April , 1942 . In the meeting only the Chairman and two members namely Shri I.D.Varshney and Dr. A. Nadel were present .

The Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University , Sir Servopalli Radhakrishnan intimated Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar on 24th April , 1942 that if the government had taken a decision for encouraging research in glass technology and they are unable to find a suitable place then the glass technology department already existing in the University could be considered . Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya also wrote a letter on 6th May 1942 to Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar in the same context .


A Lucky Break


The Board of Scientific and Industrial Research at its meeting held on 1st July , 1942 discussed the committee’s report but the Board at its two consecutive meetings decided to postpone the matter for the time being . At last after a gap of about two years , on the recommendation of B.S.I.R. , the Governing Body of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research decided that the proposed ‘ Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute ‘ for research in glass technology should be as per the suggestions of the Indian Ceramic Society . A provisional Secretary should also be appointed to survey the raw materials required for the industry and to bring into light the problems of the industry associated with glass and silicate . A committee under the chairmanship of Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar was also constituted to guide the Secretary and for discussions .Its members were Prof Meghnad Saha , Prof J.N.Mukherji , Prof P.Ray , Carter Spears , Dr. Anadel , I.D.Varshney , Dr. M.D. Quareshi , and Prof K.S.Krishnan .

Atma Ram was liked both by Dr.Bhatnagar and Dr. Saha . He was appointed the Secretary of this committee on a pay scale of rupees 500 - 700 Dr.. Atma Ram said in this context :-

“ I commenced working as Secretary of the committee from 1st March ,1944 and continued my association with it for about twenty seven years directly and five years indirectly .

I was surprised that instead of feeling proud on my being selected by the apex committee of the most eminent Scientists of the country I felt hesitant in taking over the new assignment . I never had any association with glass . I had only a little experience when I had successfully fabricated china glass . But I had no experience of producing glass in a factory . I was not a specialist in silicate technology either . On my telling Dr Saha my misgivings he told me that the intention of the C.S.I.R. was to establish a research laboratory and not a glass factory . When I discussed the issue with Dr. Bhatnagar he also expressed the same views . I do not know if Dr. Saha had discussed this with Dr. Bhatnagar prior to my speaking to him . Or it could be that the saying that great men think alike was true .

Immediately on taking over the assignment I toured Calcutta , Bombay ,and Bahjoi [ Uttar Pradesh ] to learn and evaluate the industries problems and its needs . I also visited Jamshedpur based Tata Laboratories and the Departments of Glass Technology and Ceramics of Banaras Hindu University ..

I was surprised to observe the reaction of the industry . The reaction was natural and sympathetic . Shri I.D.Varshney who was the Bhishma Pitamah of glass industry and a member of the Committee and later became member of the Advisory Board came to receive me at the Bahjoi Railway Station . He showed him his sheet glass factory and discussed at length the problems of the industry .
In Calcutta I had the opportunity of meeting and discussing with two path finders of the pottery industry .—Shri Satya Sunder Dev and Shri M.G.Bhagat . I also had a meeting with Shri M.M.Sud of the enamel industry . I already knew him well .

In Bombay I met two path breakers of glass and pottery industries –Shri R.D.Chandorkar and Shri C.P.Saha . Chandorkar was indeed a store house of all the problems of the glass industry . He possessed a technical library of his own . He was a member of the advisory board of the Committee . Shri C.P.Saha was associated with the Eastern pottery industry . He provided me with very useful and excellent information on the problems which industry was facing . I prepared the report in about two and a half months .”

In short the report dealt with the status of the industry, its problems ,its contribution to the national development and called for the immediate establishment of a research institution on war footing . The report dealt with at length the status of glass industry in the developed countries . In addition the proposed institute’s role , functions , probable location , expenditure on staff , equipment and building was also elaborated in detail .

The report was widely circulated in the country and abroad too . Several glass specialists commented on the report . Among them two - one from Dr.John Mathai [ who later became India’s Finance Minister ] and the other from Prof . W.E.S.Turner [ who was the professor in Shafield -the Mecca of glass and enamel industry ] , were very significant . Prof Turner was internationally renowned and eminent glass specialist .

In 1935 a Tariff Board was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr.John Mathai with the object of safeguarding the interests of the glass industry . The gist of his report was that along with providing financial assistance , improvements in technology must also be ensured simultaneously . He also suggested formation of a separate department to ensure compliance . Later in 1938 on the recommendations of Dr. John Mathai , the U.P.Government did form a glass department but nothing worthwhile happened . Thus while glass Industry got the financial safeguards , the issue of technology improvement remained as it was .

Dr. Mathai had commented on the report as given below :-

“ I have read this report completely . I welcome this report . In 1935 when I was the Chairman of the Tariff Board I too had made such recommendations . But this report is in detail . This has dealt with at length with all possible aspects of the glass industry and critically analysed the need for a research laboratory in glass . Therefore why should we not give the responsibility of implementing the recommendations of the report to the author himself .”

Dr. John Mathai submitted the report with his comments to the concerned Honourable Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council .

Prof Turner had also commented similarly . Prof Turner was the pioneer and a reputed specialist in glass . Therefore his comments had tremendous value .


C.S.I.R. Decision

In 1944 a few months after the publication of the report a meeting of the sub -committee was held in Calcutta . Two resolutions were unanimously passed by the sub-committee . First was that a research laboratory should be established in Calcutta and second Dr. Atma Ram should be appointed its Officer-in-Charge .

The D.S.I.R.’s resolution of appointing Dr. Atma Ram as Officer-in-Charge of the proposed laboratory was passed unanimously . Prof Meghnad Saha while supporting the resolution had stated that the survey report would be an ideal for future surveys .

Atma Ram’s well compiled and informative report prepared with lot of labour bore fruit . Along with the laying of the foundation of a research laboratory as a centre of excellence in the field of glass technology Atma Ram’s future was ensured too . His problems of earning a living were permanently solved .

He felt a bit of hesitation when Dr. Bhatnagar informed him about his new appointment . However , how could he ignore the fond wishes of Dr. Saha and Dr. Bhatnagar whom he held in great affection . He accepted their proposal with humility . Atmaram was appointed the Officer-in-Charge of the proposed laboratory . His wages were kept at par with that of Assistant Director . Pay was fixed at rupees seven hundred and fifty . He then returned to Calcutta [ Jadavpur ] from Delhi in 1945 .

The decision to establish a Central Glass and Silicate Research Institute [ Later it was named ‘ Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute ‘ ] was hailed and welcomed by all concerned .






Fifth Chapter

Two Decades In Calcutta

Temporary Arrangements For The Office

Once the decision was taken to establish a research institute in Calcutta an immediate problem arose of finding a suitable place for it . This responsibility was also entrusted to Atma Ram . A scientific institution is generally located at a place where there is an atmosphere for research , intellectual activities and for exchange of scientific information and ideas . Since land was not available near the Test House at Alipur , two other locations were considered . One was in the Science College campus situated at upper Circular Road [Acharya Praphulla Chandra Road ] and the other was the Jadavpur College Of Engineering and Technology campus .

Science College was the centre of scientific activities . Bose Institute was adjacent to it . Its campus was the ideal choice . But the campus was already saturated with various departments and the establishment of the new institute would have had an adverse effect not only on the future growth of the College but would also have affected the functioning of the existing departments . In an industrial research institute for glass the smoke coming out of the furnaces and chimneys which would be an essential part of it ,would have polluted the entire atmosphere . Dr. B.C.Roy was the chairman of the Jadavpur College managing committee . Dr. Triguna Sen who later in 1967-69 became the Education Minister in the Central Government was its Principal . He was very keen to give the land adjacent to the college . But only about five Bighas of land could be made available there . Such a little piece of land was not sufficient even for the existing needs of the institution what to say of its future growth .

Dr. Atma Ram said in this context :-

“ Dr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar was very keen to establish the institute at the earliest . He therefore agreed to accept even five Bighas land . I objected to it . In fact I had asked for fifty Bighas of land , twenty for the Institute and thirty for its residential complex . Once he even brushed me aside on this issue . He had retorted , “ Would you eat the land ? “ . In the end we settled on twenty Bighas of land by procuring some nearby land . My demand was not excessive . Later when we required additional twenty Bighas of land we could not get more than ten Bighas of land anywhere in the city .Dr. Bhatnagar was a very large hearted person After some years he told me that if we had established the institute at that small piece of land it would have been a major mistake .”

The land by the side of the road had been given to the college by the Calcutta Corporation on hundred years lease . Somehow with considerable efforts he got the land transferred in the name of C.S.I.R. During early 1944 Atma Ram had to visit Calcutta several times just to secure the land for the institute .

When Dr. Atma Ram took over as Officer-in-Charge of the Institute in May 1945 the war in Europe was almost over . During the war the Government had acquired a very large number of houses in Calcutta . Therfore it was difficult to find residential accommodation . Dr. Meghnad Saha ‘s house was near the proposed site of the institute . Dr. Atma Ram stayed there . His advantages were doubled . He received the guidance of Dr. Saha on several occasions

Dr. Atma Ram described the happenings of that time as follows :-

“ Those days Jadavpur was an undeveloped suburb of Calcutta . It was under Talligunj Municipality . It was a muddy area and the land was full of mud at several places . The pits were full of dirty stagnant water . There was only one bus service to reach there each day and that too was rather uncertain . There was hardly any house except the College building on the main road . When we went to take possession of the land we saw a man carrying a dead snake coming towards us . The entire area was infested with snakes . Even after a decade when some of us were living in the campus , killing of snakes was a daily routine .”

For the office use a small wooden cubicle in the Chemical Engineering machine shop of the College was made available .Prof Saha’s laboratory was nearby . Atma Ram occasionally used to sit in a very small room there . It suited him as Dr. Saha’s steno was his part time steno too

Some time after the end of the war with the consent of transport department four small rooms in a building earlier occupied by the army were also made available . It had light, fans and telephone facilities . During the war time getting a telephone connection was like receiving a boon . Dr. Atma Ram worked from here for three long years . Those days among his collegues were scientists Y.P.Varshney , S.Das Gupta , A.K.Dastidar , S.C.Chakravarti , M.M.Gupta and D.N.Chatterji .



Laying of the Foundation Stone of C.G.C.R.I.

In 1943 the institute was called the Central Glass and Silicate Research Institute . In 1945 its name was changed to the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute .On 24thDecember, 1945 the president of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research , Sir Ardesher Dalal laid the foundation of the Institute .


First Foreign Tour


Near the end of the second world war when Germany was on the verge of defeat the Allied Forces stipulated some conditions for its surrender . Among them was the condition that Germany would have to disclose its progress in science and technology to the scientists of the Allied Nations . The British government permitted the Indian Government to depute some scientists to Germany . Then India was a colony of Britain . From India fifteen scientists accompanied the British Intelligence Objective Service party to Germany . Dr. Atma Ram was one of them .It was a golden opportunity for him to have a close look at the German glass and ceramic laboratories and factories . For the Indian scientists tours to Britain and Germany were combined .

In 1946 Atma Ram left on the foreign tour after handing over the charge of the laboratory to his colleague Shri Y.P.Varshney for the duration of his absence . Germany was then under the direct control of the Army . Dr. Atma Ram was made an Honarary Colonel and he had to be in uniform all the time . He narrated his experiences of his foreign tour in the following words :-

“ This was my first foreign tour . My entire education had been in India only . In the B.I.O.S. group we had another Indian , Shri M.G.Bhagat . Both of us sailed from London to Germany together . During this period we saw several factories . Many of them were in ruins due to incessant bombing . Some were out of operation due to lack of coal . Very few factories were actually operating .There I learnt a lot about the German production techniques and current technology I also went to see Scott and Johnson optical glass plant . There was hardly any functional Glass and Ceramic Research Laboratory in Germany . I could contact only very few German scientists .

But I was forced to interrupt my tour of Germany after about three months only . One September night near Frankfurt I got involved in a car accident . I had a miraculously narrow escape from certain death but I got seriously wounded . I lost the sight in my right eye permanently . I had to spend three and a half months in Frankfurt and London hospitals . I could leave the hospital in January 1947 only .

I made full use of my stay in London . I met the famous specialist Dr. English He was a very large hearted person and he gave me enough time .for discussions . In London I met the famous glass Technologist Prof W.E.S.turner . I was already in correspondence with him . My meeting with Prof Turner was very long and very useful . He introduced me to many eminent persons personally and suggested names of some others whom I should meet . I visited Shaffield many times and met Prof Moor who had taken over from Turner after his retirement . The Society of Glass Technology , Shaffield also invited me to one of their meetings . Taking advantage of this opportunity I met many glass specialists and they also showed me their laboratories . I also met the famous glass specialist D r. C.J.Pandel .During the first world war he had made effective contribution in the production of optical glass . He was the technical director in a large factory at St. Helins engaged in making bottles . I also visited his laboratory where I had the good fortune of meeting the President of the Society of glass Technology , Dr. Arnold Cousin .

In St. Helins I visited the sheet and plate glass factory of Pilkington Brothers . I saw both the factory and the laboratory . Till then I had never seen such a large and huge factory . I also met the Pilkington Brothers - Harry and Lawrence

India Supply Mission situated at Mt. Saint , London had provided me with all office facilities . The Mission had contacts with several industries and sellers of scientific instruments . Soon I began ordering instruments and equipment for the institute .”


Meeting With Rajaji

Several far reaching political and historical changes had taken place in India during the absence of Atma Ram abroad . The Viceroy Lord Wavell had invited Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to take over as the Vice President of the Executive Council . Rajaji [Chakravarti Rajgopalacharya ] was already appointed Hon’ble Member for Industries . Dr.Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar regularly reported the progress of the laboratories to Rajaji . Once when Dr. Bhatnagar was discussing the progress with Rajaji , he mentioned about Atma Ram being seriously wounded in a car accident and his undergoing three operations each in Frankfurt and London . Rajaji did not like the idea of forcing an injured and helpless person with one eye only to work in a foreign country . He told Dr. Bhatnagar that Dr. Atma Ram should immediately be called back and be given some light assignment and some one else be sent in his place .

Dr Atma Ram was about to leave for America from London , when he was asked to return home . In this context Atma Ram said :-

“ In June I was expected to leave for America but all plans went haywire .I had to return home . Suddenly communal riots erupted in Calcutta . Dr. Bhatnagar was a very sensitive man .He had personally come to the airport to receive me despite intense heat and blowing hot winds . Plane was late . He returned and then again came to the airport . Though we had differences of opinion occasionally yet he was very humane . He went to the aircraft straight . He did not stop even when the security personnel tried to restrain him . He never cared for obstacles .He embraced me on meeting me . Then he asked me to open my eye . He was very anxious to know about my welfare .On my telling him that because of heat it might not be advisable to remove the bandage he was a little disappointed . Dr, Bhatnagar had sent a cable to the Indian High Commissioner that Atma Ram be sent home instead of America . When I sent a cable that I desired to go to America he informed me that Rajaji wanted me back immediately.”


Next day Atma Ram went to meet Rajaji . He had never met rajaji before though he had heard his speeches , had read his articles and knew that he was a very sharp witted and a highly capable person .Atma Ram spoke about this meeting as follows :-

“ Rajaji asked me how I felt after the accident and how did I feel about the work now . I told Rajaji that if God desired me to achieve something in life then one eye would be good enough . He would provide me with enough strength in one eye to do his bidding . Otherwise if He did not wish me to do any thing even four eyes would have been meaningless . He was very happy listening to this and said ,” How I wish I had similar faith in god “ .He then asked me some questions about the procurement of instruments and equipment . He then wrote something on my file which was before him and after getting it sealed he gave it to me to be handed over to Dr Bhatnagar . Dr Bhatnagar was very anxiously waiting for me I began narrating to him in short my interview with Rajaji . During my narration he opened the file and began reading Rajaji’s orders . He had ordered that I should be sent to England immediately . He was exceedingly pleased with me . After a few days in Delhi I intimated Dr. Bhatnagar about the details of my visit to London .”


Dawn of Freedom

India gained independence on 15th August , 19447 . Entire country rejoiced with pleasure . Prof Saha unfurled the national flag on the half built Technology block .

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of the country . He was a great supporter of science . Dr. Bhatnagar successfully persuaded him to accept the chairmanship of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research . Thus the newly formed department of Scientific Research came directly under Pandit Nehru . This development had great effect on the impetus of progress in scientific research . Pandit Nehru got directly involved with the establishment of the National Laboratories . He wished to see all activities completed at the earliest . He was not interested in excuses for the delays but come what may the work must be completed in time . Dr. Bhatnagar used to obtain Pandit Nehru’s acceptance for minor or major works easily .

Within two and a half years of India’s independence the expansion of science and the swift way many National Laboratories were established Prof C.V.raman used to call the ‘ Nehru-Bhatnagar Effect ‘ In this respect C.S.I.R. alone was fortunate as all successive Prime Ministers accepted its Presidentship . It was but natural that it would have a positive effect on its progress . It is not to belittle the contributions made by its previous Presidents . All its ex-Presidents from its Founder Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar to A.R.Sarkar ,Sir Mohammed Azizul Haque , Sir Ardeshar Dalal ,and Rajaji took a deep personal interest in establishing the laboratories .

Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was the first Minister of Industries of independent India . Since Pandit Nehru was the President of the Council Dr. Mukherjee gladly accepted its Vice-Presidentship . Dr. Mukherjee used to visit Calcutta quite often . Once at an opportune moment Atma Ram invited him to visit his laboratory . During the inspection he saw some packing cases full of equipment lying in corridors and also scattered in jam packed rooms . On his asking the reason for the disorganisation Dr. Meghnad Saha explained that due to paucity of funds even construction work had to be stopped at times . Dr. Atma Ram requested the Hon’ble Minister for his personal attention in securing the funds for the Institute . His suggestion worked and in September 1948 permission was accorded to recommence construction activities .



Studies on American Progress

Dr. Atma Ram went abroad again in may 1948 . After spending a month in London to oversee the despatch of the equipment he had ordered during his earlier visit , he proceeded to America in June .

Sir B.Ramarao was the Indian ambassador in Washington and Shri R.K.Nehru was the minister .Dr. Atma Ram was already in correspondence with many scientists in America and he had sent the copies of his report to them .The introductory letter from Prof W.E.S.Turner was very handy in making contacts .Dr. E.U.Kendon , Director National Bureau of Standards , Washington was Dr. Saha’s friend . He had already introduced Atma Ram to him Atma Ram spent a lot of time here during his stay in America His practical experience gained here was of immense help in setting up his own laboratory later .

Since taking over as Officer-in-Charge of the Institute Atma Ram had many ideas in his mind specially that of developing optical glass . He was also aware that during the war the Indian Government had approached some British Glass companies for setting up facilities for the manufacture of optical glass . C.S.I.R. had also provided financial assistance to some research projects in this regard . But there was no tangible success . He also had information that during the first world war British and American Scientists were able to successfully produce optical glass with out external support . There was a small experimental optical glass factory adjacent to the National Bureau of Standards . Dr. Atma Ram was very keen to visit this factory . That factory was established by the United States Navy .
But its operation was under the auspices of the Bureau . Indian Ambassador got him special permission from the State Department for a visit to this factory .During his sojourn in America Dr. Atma Ram had met the Indian Ambassador and the Minister many times . Both of whom helped him fully by taking personal interest . In the Bureau’s factory very seldom special glasses were produced . Somehow finding time Atma Ram saw the entire process of making optical glass . In totality time spent by him in the Bureau proved of immense value .

Geo-physical laboratory was also located on the same road and very near to the National Bureau . There he met the glass specialist Dr. George W. Mure During the first world war Dr. Mure had significantly contributed to the development of the optical glass . Though in appearance the laboratory was a small one yet it was rich from academic point of view .. There every person had its own small laboratory . There were hardly any assistants . Even world famous scientists used to work themselves .

Dr. Atma Ram stayed in Pitsburg for some time . He got opportunity to see many places from here He visited Mellone Institute of Industrial Research Work on Applied Research was taken up for the first time in the country in this laboratory . Dr. Atma Ram saw in detail the practical application of research and the working of various equipment being used there . He also met Prof. Alexander Silverman Dr. Kawn Hangsun of Westing House Research Laboratory . Prof. Silverman had a good collection of coloured glass samples . Many of them he had himself developed in the laboratory .

On the invitation of Corning Glass Works Vice-President Dr. J.T. Livington , Atma Ram saw the manufacturing processes of ‘ Pyrex’ glass for full two days . There he met famous glass technologists Mr. Howard R. Lille , Dr. Delton , Dr. Neighberg , and Dr. Donald Stucky Dr. Stucky was the founder of the Ceramics Glass industry .

Columbus in the State of Ohio was a great centre of research in glass and ceramics Battily Institute which is famous for its pioneering efforts in popularising industrial research and influencing it most is also located there . Dr. Atma Ram met Dr. Salivan there and studied in depth the techniques and methodology of the application of research and the special instruments and equipment used for the purpose . There was an Experimental Engineering Station there as well . That was an unique organisation Here he obtained specialised knowledge of the manufacturing processes of the pottery industry . He also met Prof H.H.Blou of the glass technology department of Ohio University . The University was in the fore front of research in pottery

While in America Atma Ram tried his best to meet all persons connected with the development of optical glass . During the first world war American Scientists had succeeded in developing optical glass indigenously and independently of any outside help , even from its Allies . This knowledge and the experiences gained helped Atma Ram tremendously in his efforts on return to his home land . Dr. Atma Ram met Dr. John C. Hostester in St. Louis . Dr. Hostester informed him how he was able to produce optical glass by using a make shift equipment developed by him when the desired special equipment was not available . When Dr. Atma Ram developed the optical glass in his laboratory , he faced an identical problem . He too succeeded in producing optical glass using only indigenously
available equipment .

Dr. N.J.Cradle , Director of Chemical Physical Laboratory , University of Viena who was then in-charge of the Chemical Division of the famous Bosh and Lamb Optical Company , Rochester engaged in the production of optical glass and optical glass instruments , arranged Atma Ram’s visits to all the laboratories located in Rochester . He not only showed his research laboratory but also the factory producing optical glass . This was the second factory Dr. Atma Ram visited after seeing the small Bureau factory .

Atma Ram described his visits as follows :-

“ It was a pleasant surprise to me to see another glass factory while staying in the Bureau , learning in detail about the contributions of the various noted Scientists who perfected the technology of producing optical glass and getting the opportunity of observing the secret processes of optical glass production . The success of developing optical glass , whether an art or a technology , lies not in mixing and melting some secret materials but in the entire process including the smallest scientific details and strict enforcement of them all . I saw Eastman Kodak Company laboratories in Rochester . Some of the glass factories I saw included Libbe Wavens , Ford Glass Company and Wavens Illionois . There I met Dr. Donald E.Sharp and Arker Berks .”

Aims of The Research Institute

On 26thAugust ,1950 the then Chief Minister of west Bengal Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy formally inaugurated the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute . Thus Atma Ram’s dream of building the Institute was fulfilled . It was the culmination of his farsightedness and tremendous efforts that a glass research laboratory was established .

Not much time had elapsed since the country became independent . Almost all the items made either of glass or ceramic were still being imported . Even the china clay used in making good quality cups and plates was being imported from England . Dr. Atma Ram had himself prepared the aims to be achieved by the Institute . He had fixed the aims very carefully after studying the country’s requirements and the problems being faced by the industry . Hence taking into consideration the present and future requirements of the country and after detailed discussions with his colleagues he laid down the research programme of the Institute .as follows :-

[ 1 ] Improving the quality of glass and enamel ware being produced in the country . Inspection of the finished goods and removal of defects found in them . Inventing and fabricating simple testing techniques which the factories can easily adopt .
[ 2 ] To develop techniques for improving the quality of indigenously available raw materials for use by the glass and ceramic industry . To carry out research for the utilisation of these raw materials for new products .
[ 3 ] To use naturally found raw materials in our country as substitute to imported materials .To develop techniques for utilising waste materials for producing items of utility .
[ 4 ] To develop indigenous techniques for the manufacture of goods currently being imported .
[ 5 ] To develop production techniques for glass and ceramic items which may be of great importance and utility to our country .








Important Research Projects

Dr. Atma Ram was appointed Joint Director of the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute in May 1949 and with him Shri Y.P.Varshney as Assistant Director . In 1952 he became the Director of the Institute and remained on that post till August- September 1966 .

As Director he organised the research activities in such a way that infused confidence in the minds of the Industrialists and they gave him their unstinted support . The industries felt their interests would be safeguarded if they actively cooperated with the institute Initially when the Indian glass and ceramic industries were still under developed the Institute by starting two big projects was successful in garnering the support of the industry . The Institute conducted an intensive survey all over India of the raw materials used by the industry . This resulted in finding out many such materials which were still being imported . Thus the dependence of the industry on foreign materials ended . Under the second project the Institute undertook the responsibility of detailed examination of the products of the industry picked up randomly from the market . Dr. Atma Ram invited the representatives of the industry during such examinations . The industry got assistance in improving their products and Dr. Atma Ram learnt first hand the problems of the industry and their suggestions to solve them . By establishing excellent relations with the industry the Institute was able to turn the waste materials of the industry into new useful products and also could carry out improvements in the then prevailing techniques and technologies . In addition he was successful in finding out substitutes for the imported raw materials .

The industry benefitted much from Atma Ram’s research work . Its regard and respect for Atma Ram knew no bounds when he developed foam glass from glass scrap and mica bricks from scrap mica . In our country mica mining takes place extensively in Bihar , Madhya Pradesh and many other places and the same is exported to foreign countries .to meet their demands . In these mines while cutting the thick sheets of mica into usable sizes , a lot of waste in scrap form is produced . Those days near the mines and mica sheet cutting factories scrap mica was collected in huge heaps resembling small hills .These could be seen from a distance in Koderma , Girideeh and many other places in Bihar . It was a major problem to get rid of this waste Atma Ram took note of this problem and to utilise this waste material he began the production of mica bricks . Before moulding into bricks it was necessary to grind mica into a wet paste . He developed a suitable technology to achieve this . As a result of the research several new industries came up into existence and a new era began in the country in manufacturing products with mica and other heat resistance goods . The country got a new direction in this regard .


Principles of Red Glass

Dr. Atma Ram was well aware of the problems of bangles industry specially in Ferozabad , U.P The experts used gold to make red bangles . They were using Selenium for past many decades . Selenium
was not available in the country . They had to depend on import . The red colour could also be obtained by copper but quality was not all that good . The colour was not even . He took up the challenge and altogether changed the last fifty years thinking of the scientific community by a revolutionary finding about the colour of copper . He experimented not only in the laboratory but actually demonstrated to expert workers right in their own factory in Ferozabad .

Fundamental research is the backbone of applied research . Dr. Atma Ram using copper oxide created red coloured glass . Till then the scientists all over the world made mistakes in adopting old technology for producing red coloured glass based upon the old principle . He propounded an entirely new principle for creating red coloured glass from copper . He proved that in the glass the red colour of copper was due to the cuprous oxide colloidal particles and not because of the copper’s colloidal particles . Thus a substitution for Selenium was found . This saved precious foreign exchange . Today Selenium is available in the country .

Dr. Atma Ram’s interests lay not only in industrial research but he also laid stress on fundamental research for the progress of industries . This was the reason that he kept himself mostly engaged in fundamental research for application in industries . The international science community admired his fundamental research in copper and ruby coloured glasses . Scientists in other laboratories began research in this field and slowly the principles enunciated by him got more and more acceptance from the world community .

Under the leadership of Dr. Atma Ram the Institute did notable work .The Institute’s laboratory was adjudged the best . During this period he published about hundred technical research papers on physical chemistry and in the fields of glass and ceramics .More than two dozen patents were obtained mostly connected with glass and ceramics . Even today many of these patents are being used in the industries . Some of the important researches carried out under his direct guidance are mentioned below :-

Chemical porcelain , Red Glass without Selenium ,Vitreous Enamel without Borex , special refractories ,railway signal glasses of different colours , sun glasses , vitreous enamel for wires and registers , spark plugs for use in vehicles, porcelain teeth , mica based paints , mica heat insulating bricks from waste mica , reconstituted mica ,glass electrodes for pH meters , various colours used for decorating clay and glass articles , plaster of Paris for use in ceramic industry ,foam glass , glass containers for medicines ,milk, food etc , various types of clays for use in ceramic industry , glass sands and furnaces for the industry











Founder Of Optical Glass

Dr. Atma Ram’s greatest contribution is – Optical Glass . This notable achievement placed him among the prestigious category of top scientists not only in India but also in the entire world . He not only developed the technology of Optical glass entirely with indigenous resources but also established large scale production of the same .During his visit to America he had the opportunity of visiting the National Bureau of Standards , Washington . There he had seen some of the processes of making optical glass . Though he was not permitted to see the important and decisive processes yet because of his sharp memory he assimilated most of the valuable information . He had also visited several European Countries There too he had the opportunity of seeing many glass and ceramics factories . He learnt many new things and got fresh ideas .

Optical glass is of great importance to Defence Services where it has several applications . In the world America , Japan and about seven to eight countries in Europe had acquired this technology .Its production processes were kept so secret that even during the world war the Allied countries did not exchange any information in this regard .Indian Government wanted to be self sufficient in this field but despite an offer of rupees ten lakhs none of the manufacturer agreed to part with the technology . In desperation the Government asked the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute , Jadavpur to undertake the development of this technology . During this period the Government feeling the urgent need for optical glass entered into an agreement with Russia for the establishment of a unit for its manufacture at Durgapur . At the same time Atma Ram carried on with his research very quietly at his Institute .He had already established the needed infrastructure in the laboratory . He was successful in fabricating the accessories too With pride he declared that the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute in its small unit was capable of producing optical glass to meet the requirements of the entire country . Neither the Government nor the then Scientists of the country could easily believe this

.
One day Atma Ram ji went straight to the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and showed him the samples of the optical glass produced in the laboratory . He fully satisfied Pandit Nehru on this count . His greatest achievement lay in convincing the Nehru Government that topmost quality optical glass had already been produced in the laboratory’s small unit . Needless to say that there was no need now for importing foreign technology . Pandit Nehru took Atma Ram’s assertions quiet seriously and discussions were held at the highest levels between Russian and Indian Governments . This resulted in the cancellation of the proposed establishment of an optical glass unit at Durgapur by the Russians as there was no such need due to India developing its own technology . Since then the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute has been fulfilling the entire needs of the country both defence and civilian . Today the country is self reliant in glass technology . Developing and producing optical glass indigenously with out any external support was in itself a great achievement
Atma Ram was thus rated very highly both by the Government and the Scientists. By developing optical glass and making the country self reliant he established himself within the country as also outside . Britain’s Shaffield Glass Technology Society honoured him by electing him its Fellow . He was the only Asian scientist to be conferred with this honour .

In fact this development placed India among the category of the few nations which possessed this technology . No doubt this was the greatest achievement of Dr. Atma Ram . Without knowing the needs and applications of optical glass it is very difficult to discern its importance Therefore it would not be out of place to mention and describe in short this aspect . The man to improve his standard of life has duplicated nature in many ways using its resources in which optical glass is at the top . It has a history of deep appreciation and fame in its utility more than any other thing This unique item has become an imperative and essential part of the modern civilisation One wonders if this optical glass had not been produced what would have happened to the development of human civilisation . Man could not possibly have achieved so much .

By its use in telescopes the science has freed us from the shackles of blind faith and stubbornness of prevalent notions . It is because of the powerful telescopes that mankind has been able to fathom the secrets of the deep space of the universe several light years away . Every one is well aware of the progress made in science , life sciences and in industry by the use of microscopes . The life sciences would ever be grateful to and in debt of the optical glass for alleviating and minimising the suffering of mankind .Not only this but the fermentation industry would always be in debt of a small piece of this glass . Besides these the photography and cinematography would have remained unknown had the optical glass not been in existence . Even the growth of geological and physical sciences would have been stunted Thus the optical glass has provided to the mankind the special gift of sight to be able to see from microscopic to macro level physical world .

Most important utilisation of the optical glass is by the Defence Forces .It is used in the fabrication of various optical instruments , for example , in range finders , submarine periscopes , telescopes in use by the armed forces, gun sights, cameras etc Hence optical glass is called the ‘ Eye of the Army ‘ .

The then Central Industries Minister Shri Manu Bhai Shah while inaugurating the Development Committee stated :-

“ Development of optical glass was a challenge for the Scientists of the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute which they accepted with great courage . Many developed countries have congratulated us on this distinct achievement .”







In 1953 the Indian Government invited Prof. W.E.S.Turner of the Shaffield Glass Technology Society for a visit to India . He stayed almost for two months in India and spent most of his time in the Institute at Calcutta . On his return home he wrote an appreciative article on Dr Atma Ram in the Glass Technology journal in its April 1961 issue . The gist of the article is reproduced below :-

“ Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute under the able leadership of Dr. Atma Ram is functioning effectively for the past ten years .Among all the National Laboratories established by the Indian Government , this Institute has earned a special name for itself due to its quality and variety of research work .Successful production of optical glass is one such achievement . There was a time when the Government was convinced that optical glass could not be produced in the country without external help . The Government was discussing an agreement to this effect with the Russian Government . In 1958 when these discussions were still in progress the Institute Scientists under the able guidance of Dr. Atma Ram , achieved success in producing optical glass in the Institute . This made the Indian Government and even the Prime Minister extremely happy . Acknowledging this achievement of Dr. Atma Ram the Government honoured him with ‘ Padma Shri ‘ .This made the Institute famous . The Government asked the Institute to establish a factory to produce ten tons of six varieties of optical glass .

The high esteem in which Dr. Atma Ram and his Institute was held was clearly visible when the Prime Minister Pandit Jawahalal Nehru inaugurated the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the National Institute of Sciences . The National Institute established a commemorative medal in honour of its Past President Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar, Director General Council of scientific and Industrial Research , who with his untiring efforts established a series of National Laboratories including Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute , Calcutta . Dr. Atma Ram was honoured for his research work by being awarded in the presence of the Prime Minister with the first Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Gold Medal . He was the first recipient of this coveted Gold medal .

Glass Technologists the world over would be pleased to learn that in India their subject has got a place of honour and for this they would appreciate the work of Dr. Atma Ram . No doubt Dr. Atma Ram created with his tremendous enthusiasm and forward looking outlook an expert team of young aand capable research scientists .”


Dr. Atma Ram spoke thus on the importance of optical glass and how he succeeded in developing it indigenously in India ;-


“ Before the first world war [ 1914-18 ] Germany had the monopoly in the entire world for the production of optical glass instruments It used to export optical glass for military applications to various countries . Except Germany no other country had the wherewithal of making optical glass . Realising the significance and utility of the optical glass in military applications , Germany completely cut off all supplies of optical instruments to Allies during the war . Never before was the importance of optical glass as a strategic material realised more than during this critical period and its production received , necessarily , top priority .

In modern warfare optical glass instruments are essential for observation of the enemy positions and attacking them with guns and mortars with lethal accuracy .Among such instruments are -range finders , sub-marine periscopes , telescopes for Army and navy , binoculars , cameras , tank gun sights , aerial photography equipment etc .Only optical glass is used in their fabrication .

Optical glass is not only an essential requirement for military applications but also for all scientists, be they agriculturists , geologists , zoologists , chemists , physicists , doctors , engineers , or surgeons , the optical instruments are a must . The progress and achievements of modern science are to a large extent due to optical glass . Thus optical glass plays a very significant and an important role both in peace and war

By the time second world war broke out [1938 ] Allies countries specially America had succeeded in producing optical glass . In certain aspects they were even better than Germany . At this time Canada and Australia too succeeded in developing optical glass .

Though in India a few factories were established for the manufacture of small arms etc yet no one had ever thought of making optical glass . From the very beginning India was totally dependent on Britain for meeting its demand for optical glass . The importance of optical glass was realised during second world war when difficulties arose in transporting it from Britain to India . Then the Indian Government made a request to British Government to transfer the techniques of making optical glass to India . This had no effect . At the same time the Scientific and Industrial Research Council offered financial assistance and other inducements to several scientific institutions to take up the development of optical glass but no specific results were obtained . Optical glass became a cause of worry for the Indian Government . While it is a strategic material of great importance the demand of this special glass is very limited . The private companies were therefore not much interested in taking up its production . In 1947 , the Glass Panel appointed by the Indian Government in its report recommended that in view of the strategic importance of optical glass in military applications the Government should initiate action to develop it in the country .

I visited America in 1948. I roamed around the National Bureau of Standards in Washington .I keenly observed the glass making factory of the Bureau . On returning home I put up a proposal to the Government . I had stressed on the development and production of optical glass in view of its strategic importance . The Indian Government contacted the optical glass manufacturers all over the world specially Britain ,America , East and West Germany ,France and Japan for the transfer of its technology . Some of the countries sent their technical personnel for discussions in India but no satisfactory result accrued and the Indian Governments problem remained as it was unresolved . Even the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru felt that in view of the prevailing circumstances and to resolve the issue it would only be appropriate that The Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute be asked to take up the development of the optical glass In view of no practical solution coming up during the discussions with the foreign companies and to implement Pandit Nehru‘s ideas the Planning Commission in mid 1956 asked the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute to take up a project for the development of the optical glass .

During this period The Indian Government received the word from Russia of their willingness to set up a factory for the production of optical glass in India . But by this time we succeeded in developing optical glass in the laboratory . We informed the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Government of India . The proposed agreement with Russia was postponed . Thus India became self reliant in optical glass by 1958 . It joined the exclusive club of the seven or eight countries in the
world who had the technology of making optical glass .

The optical glass producing companies keep their technology secret . We faced this situation when despite all our efforts we were unable to import the necessary equipment . We could not even obtain their design .We commenced the work based on my observations at the Bureau of Standards in Washington . We fabricated the required equipment in the laboratory itself . We carried out improvements after improvements . Process was slow as we had to learn from our faults .

We developed the glass in the Institute . We sent the samples to the Physics Department of the University of Delhi ,National Physical Laboratory ,New Delhi, and the Defence Laboratory at Dehradun . All of them gave satisfactory reports and declared it of the highest quality The Defence Organisation at Dehradun which is the largest consumer of optical glass in the country rated the optical glass produced by us in our laboratory as ‘ A ‘ . Encouraged by the results obtained the Institute set up a small plant in the Institute itself. Thus the country became absolutely self sufficient in meeting its requirement of this strategically important material .

Optical Instruments Industry is a very important and essential component of the national industry . It meets the necessary requirements of the educational institutions , research laboratories , industrial organisations and Defence Services . Had this industry been dependent on imports from abroad it could not flourish to the extent desired . No doubt our scientific institutions would have experienced avoidable delays in obtaining their requirements from foreign countries . Today every one is well aware of the importance of this material .”


Inauguration of Scientific Journal

Dr. Meghnad Saha had a keen desire that the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute should commence publishing an applied science and technology journal which should be a pride for India for its excellence . Dr. Atma Ram was in complete agreement with the idea . For him it was like fulfilling the command of a teacher by his pupil .After deciding on the possible contents and framework of the proposed journal he discussed the issue with well known Scientists and Editors within and outside India .The main ones were - Dr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar and world famous glass technologist Prof. W.E.S.Turner Prof. Turner was publishing the ‘Transactions of the Society of Glass Technology ‘ from Shaffield University in Britain .He was the founder and Editor of this journal . After lot of deliberations and discussions it was decided to publish the Institute’s journal on quarterly basis . It should have articles on scientific and applied research being conducted in the Institute . It should also contain articles on glass and ceramics written by scholars in India or abroad which should be beneficial to our industry .

Dr.Ram Lakhan Thakur was appointed the Editor of the journal .He was assisted by Shri Satyendra Krishna Mukherjee and Shri Sudhindra Nath Saha Soon the journal came into limelight

In shaping of the journal Atma Ram’s foresight and vision played the major part . His advice was that every article which came for publication should be read very carefully and checked and rechecked so that unnecessary words and sentences be deleted . Keeping the ideas of the author intact the article should be moulded in such a way that it might be easy to read and interesting too . They should also obtain the concurrence of the author This way some money would be saved in publishing shorter articles . The money save could be well utilised for other development work .

Very shortly the C.G.C.R.I. Journal became well known in the world and was considered one of the top ranking journals in the field of Silicate Sciences The famous journal of the scientific world ‘Nature ‘commented on the journal : [11th December ,1954 pages 1086- 1087 ] ‘ The recent Journal of the C.G.C.R.I. is symbolic of India’s awakening ‘

Till the end of his life the journal remained very close to his heart and was always an apple of his eye .






Sixth Chapter

Returning again to Delhi

Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

The then Union Minister of Education Shri M.C.Chagla came to address the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute on 11thJuly , 1966 . In his long and interesting address while praising Dr. Atmaram to the hilt stated :

“ This is the only Institution which produces optical glass. There is no other organisation in the country which produces this . Dr. Atma Ram has presided over this laboratory for many years and presided over it with distinction .He has helped to build up this laboratory , he has helped to bring out young scientists , and we are all thankful to him for what he has done .

I have often said that the test of leadership lies in your bringing out young people , in instilling young people with a sense of dedication ,in inspiring young people to work and to do their best . If you have those qualities then you are a leader . Leadership does not mean you are acting like a lone wolf . you may be a great scientist ,you sit in a corner and do research with international fame and international laurels .That is not my definition of leadership . Leadership entails essentially that quality which creates other leaders . After all , we are here on the stage today and we are gone tomorrow . What will remain behind is how many people have been trained up to follow the instructions . Dr. Atma Ram can say that when I leave the laboratory , I can look round and feel proud that when I am not here there are lots of young people who will carry on the great work which has been done in this laboratory .
Now , I am going to snatch away Dr. Atma Ram from you very soon . I want all the C.S.I.R. Laboratories to have him .I like him to contribute to other laboratories the sense of leadership which he gave to this laboratory . I told him before that he should not be parochial when he becomes Director General . He should not reserve all the affection for this laboratory , though we are human beings and we always think of a place where we grew up ,where we worked for years and , therefore , I will turn a blind eye when Dr. Atma Ram shows a special partiality to this laboratory . But I know of Dr. Atma Ram’s sense of impartiality and objectivity , and I have no doubt that this laboratory will benefit as much from the fact of his being director General as it has benefitted from his being the Director .”

A few days after this indication from the Minister of Education , the Central Government of India in August , 1966 appointed Dr. Atma Ram , Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research .

His period as Director General of the Council of Scientific and industrial Research could be considered in many ways ‘tumultuous ‘ . He was not afraid of giving certain new orientations in the functioning of the organisation which he felt were necessary . In the process, he set in motion a certain amount of contentions and reactions for and against , in the scientific community , in the press , parliament and even at the political level . It should be said to his credit that he could face the resultant problems courageously and with determination . Although he could be considered as a member of the establishment , he did not hesitate to express independent views sometimes to the discomfiture of the establishment .He considered it as a basic privilege of a scientist to express objectively his views without the constraints of office .

He had the courage of his convictions to discus frankly , freely and fearlessly although some people felt he was creating controversies . His view was that leaders of science and technology in the country should discuss and debate , provoke and initiate such debates on major policy questions in the field of organisation and management of science and technology , the role of scientists in society in India , contents and policies of education , science and technology in the development process of the country , the rights and responsibilities of the scientists ,the need for a separate Technology Policy Statement , policies governing technology trades with other countries , etc . Many of his utterances were provocative leading to wide spread debates , discussions and sometimes adverse reactions and even personal accusations of Dr. Atma Ram by a few . But till the last days nothing deterred him from straightforward and forthright expression of his views . His personality and statements attracted not only the scientific community at large but also the media , particularly the newspapers ,both inside and outside the country ,as well as those who questioned his views . He welcomed such discussions and debates so long as they were healthy . He continued to be ebullient .

The scientific community by electing him President of two of its prestigious bodies supported and helped him in achieving his goals . In 1968 he was elected President of the Indian Science Congress . In 1969-70 he was elected President of the Indian National Science Academy . These two positions accorded him to a great extent the scientific freedom and the forum to state his views in public . He was also the President of the Society of Chemists and the Indian Ceramics Society .
Dr. Atma Ram was invited from time to time by several Indian Universities to be their Chief Guest and for delivering the Convocation Addresses and by scientific institutions to preside over or inaugurate functions . The Universities of Banaras , Saugar and Andhra honoured him with honorary doctorate degrees . These occasions also gave him opportunities to speak out his mind on many current issues .

In short he fought valiantly against a shower of adverse publicity and criticism and remained steadfast in pursuing his goals . Even in worst of circumstances he always remained cheerful and never lost heart . He replied to all his adversary ‘s baseless criticisms with good humour and convincing them moved on to his goal like a true ‘ Karm yogi ‘

Dr. Atma Ram was a principled man . Greatest of temptations and most powerful people could not dissuade him from his principles and ideals . In this context an example might suffice

It may not be known to many that an event occurred in his official career to show what a man of principle he was . In August 1966 when he was appointed as Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research , he was also made ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India . But due to some scheming bureaucrats behind the curtain intrigues the issue of necessary order was being unduly delayed . In the absence of such orders he refused to draw his salary for about ten months . In the end he won and proved that he would not budge from his principles and compromise come what may . He firmly believed that after accepting the Director General’s post if he was to compromise in any way not only he would be belittled but also in future too the prestige of the post would be severely affected resulting in the country’s Science and Technology taking a back seat and thus lose itself completely


A Memorable Meeting With Indira Gandhi


Dr. Atma Ram despite being part of the system he was a great proponent of the freedom of the scientists . Though holding a very senior position in the Government of India he was always sympathetic and well aware of the rights and responsibilities of the scientists and was an expert in bringing a happy balance between the two . About twenty to twenty one years ago in 1976 Dr. Atma Ram dictated to the author an interesting episode in his life which throws light on his qualities so vividly . In order to keep his style of talking ,choice of words and framing of sentences in tact , the same is reproduced below with hardly any changes :

“ In 1966 I was appointed the Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for a term of five years . Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the President of the Council .Chagla Saheb who was the then Education Minister was its Vice President .

The beginning was very auspicious . After about three months of my taking over , the meeting of the Governing Body of the Council was held on 19thNovember , 1966 . After taking over as the Prime Minister the day was Indiraji’s first birthday and as Director General it was also my first chance to take part in the meeting .

Though the date of the meeting , 19th November , was fixed after consultations with the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, but when I recollected that the day happened to be Prime Minister’s birthday , I felt that most likely being very busy with her birthday functions she might not be able to come to the meeting and if at all she came she might have to leave early after completing the formalities . A day before the meeting an indication of sorts from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat was received as to why not the meeting be postponed by a day . This could create lots of problems . All members from outside Delhi had already arrived . Even then I told them to check up with the Prime Minister and whatever she decided would be done . She decided that there would be no change in the date of the meeting and she would come to the meeting . Obviously I was very happy .


Meeting took place in the afternoon . When I was accompanying her to the meeting , she asked how the topic of postponing the meeting came up . When the meeting had been fixed there was no question of its postponement . I began the meeting by congratulating her on behalf of the Governing body on her birthday . The meeting started with an auspicious note and in good mood .

Most of the members thought that the Prime Minister would arrive in a hurry and leave the meeting in about twenty minutes after addressing it . But that day Indira ji proved all of them wrong . Even on her birthday she stayed on for two and a half hours and left early because of an important function . That day we specially discussed the functioning of the C.S.I.R. and its priorities , increasing its contacts with the Universities , on measures required to increase the cooperation of the industry with its projects and early utilisation of the results of successful research work . She took great interest in the proceedings and in between she made many suggestions . The meeting was conducted in a very encouraging atmosphere .

I remember that Shri Ashok Mehta who was Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission and was conducting the meeting after the prime minister left , congratulated me after the meeting . He told me that generally Prime Ministers attended the meetings for just half to three quarters of an hour but you kept her engaged for full two and a half hours . I felt satisfied and very happy . At all the subsequent meetings the Prime Minister always set for two to three hours This is the proof of her keen interest in science .

Two days before the meeting I had gone to meet the Prime Minister . I had made a short brief of the main points and submitted all the papers to her . She clarified some points . I got the impression from my first contact with her that she listens to others very carefully and seriously . Like other leaders who simply say ‘ Yes . I have heard . All right . All right ‘ she does not use that terminology This gimmickry was not in her nature . During my tenure of five years , I got many opportunities to come in contact with her . I met her several times and every time my impressions were firmed up and besides that she does not stall the issues like many other leaders .

That day during the Governing Body meeting the way Indira ji spoke I felt that she had gone through my papers very carefully . I thought that the Prime Minister of such a great country who would be busy listening to the sufferings and woes of crores of people and who must be surrounded by several national and international problems would hardly find time to even go through the papers cursorily . My impression was totally wrong and from experience I learnt that she reads all the papers very carefully .

I observed one special trait in her that she does not like long speeches and long drawn discussions . She also does not like unnecessary introductory flowery words while presenting any matter just for the sake of formality . Once during a meeting of the Governing Body of the Council a member who liked speaking began talking on an early item of the agenda and kept on speaking . Every one listened to him helplessly . In fact they were simply waiting for him to finish . I was seated next to the Prime Minister . On observing her reactions I felt that she too was fed up with the speech .

Being the Director General I was taking up items for the discussions serially as per the agenda
. For quite some time Indira ji listened to the gentleman and when her patience gave way , she very courteously told the member ,” Do you know how many items Dr. Atma Ram has already got through ?” That gentleman was taken aback and being talkative said in defence , “ I desired to comment on third or fourth item of the agenda .” Even before he could complete his sentence Indira ji intervened , “ That item is long over .”

On hearing this all those present smiled . He felt ashamed to his chagrin . Seeing the Prime Minister laughing rest of the members roared with laughter . When the laughter was over Prime Minister asked the member , “Did you wish to say some thing special on that item ? “ She also apprised him with the decision already taken on the item . The gentleman said , “ I wished to say the same thing “ Every one again laughed .

The Governing Body meetings of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research were regarded with highest importance . It consisted of twenty to twenty two members . Prime Minister herself presided over the meetings . There were four to five ministers of cabinet rank , eminent scientists , industrialists , bureaucrats as its members . I distinctly remember that day in the meeting Morarji Bhai Desai and Shri Faquruddin Ali Ahmed were present . Being the Presiding officer she could have easily interrupted the member but the humorous way she gave the hint to the member to stop became a sweet warning to such talkative members and the atmosphere at the meeting remained full of laughter and humour and none felt hurt .

It is generally seen that highly placed persons due to heavy workload and busy schedules often attend the meetings for the sake of formality but leave only after a few minutes . But in my personal experience of five years except for the first meeting when she had to leave after two and a half hours but just half an hour before the close due to some urgent work , Indira ji never left the Governing Body meetings mid way before close . Once the meeting carried on for more than three hours but the Prime Minister set all through and actively participated in the discussions . In between she kept on jotting down something . Prime Minister while listening carefully notes down whatever she considered important . She than follows it up by giving instructions to concerned officials . She has a business like approach .”




Upheaval from the Indian Science Congress


In January , 1968 55th session of the Indian Science Congress was held at Varanasi Prime Minister Shri Mati Indira Gandhi inaugurated the session . Dr. Atma Ram was the President of the Science Congress . Some people who had even remotely nothing to do with science created an uproar on what he had said concerning science in his Presidential address . Most of the scientists in the country welcomed his address . Some scientific journals published excerpts of his address and specially his views on the need for a Technology Policy Statement in their special editions . Some eminent foreign scientists specially Lord Blacket quoted him at many places Editors appreciated him in their editorials . Some persons accused him of saying and doing just the opposite of what the Prime Minister says . Some Members of the Parliament raised the issue even in the Parliament . Some people demanded that he be dismissed from the service . When some representatives of the people in the Parliament raised the issue, Prime Minister in her reply defended Dr. Atma Ram in Rajya Sabha on 22nd August , 1968 as follows :-

“ Director General [ Dr. Atma Ram ] is a very eminent scientist . We know that that there is a difference of opinion among people – ‘ On what we should pay special attention ‘ . I do not understand that it is appropriate to say that whatever I have said about the policies of the Government he { Dr. Atma Ram ] had totally opposed them . He rightly lays stress on applied science . The Government has to see another aspect too . We are in agreement with the Director General on his views about laying stress on applied science but the progress in science is also very important to the country .”

In this context during some discussions Dr. Atma Ram while expressing his gratefulness to Shrimati Indira Gandhi said :

“ Prime minister’s support of my views in the Parliament is a matter of great importance to me . I was sad with this baseless accusation . Did I do something stealthily ? Did I conspire against her ? It was an open Presidential address where thousands of foreign and Indian scientists were present The Prime Minister herself had inaugurated the Science Congress . After the inauguration ceremony at lunch she congratulated me before every one and appreciated my address . I could never imagine even in my wildest dreams of opposing the President of the Council while holding the post of its Director General .”

After the Prime Minister’s support this controversy became weak but did not end completely . After a few days two Members of the Parliament –Arjun Arora and Mushir Ahmed Khan distributed a pamphlet on C.S.I.R. ‘s working . Through the medium of this book Director General Dr. Atma Ram was accused of spreading nepotism , showing favouritism and partiality , unnecessarily troubling the Directors of National Laboratories , transferring the responsibilities of the Council to other organisations etc In the conclusion it was written that a fool proof evidence existed to prove that the present Director General was not at all sympathetic to the interests of the C.S.I.R. . Because of his policies and actions there was complete chaos in the organisation and it was not functioning properly . Therefore if the organisation had to be saved then it was essential that the present Director General was immediately changed . Not only this but all those who were encouraging the policies of harming and disintegration of the organisation should also be removed . This was the only way to save the organisation . By removing such persons not only C.S.I.R. would be benefitted but it would also be very beneficial to the progress of science in this country . In this context Dr. Atma Ram later said :

“ Those Members of the Parliament placed that pamphlet on the floor of the house but it did not carry any weight and the matter was simply talked out . After a few days the uproar faded out on its own . I learnt from this episode that The Prime Minister listened to every one but took her own decisions .Once she made up her mind she remained firm . She never changed her decisions just because some persons made a hue and cry This wonderful trait has played an important part in her momentous .achievements .”




Closeness With Three Prime Ministers

The author once during his talks with Dr. Atma Ram told him that he had the good fortune of being close to not one but three Prime Ministers . He with a mixture of pride and humility narrated an incidence to confirm this :

“ Why me only , all the Prime Ministers had shown special consideration for Science . Those days there used to be a Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet . Cabinet Secretary was its Chairman . Dr. D.S.Joshi was the Cabinet Secretary then . The members of this committee were all scientists . I too was a member . One day I just asked Dr. Joshi that we were advisors all right but what happens to our advice and how it was implemented etc . Cabinet Secretary perhaps raised this matter with the Prime Minister . This resulted in fixing up a meeting of this Committee with the Cabinet Ministers . It was in December 1967 . The meeting took place in a room of the parliament .The Prime Minister herself was present . If I remember correct the meeting was attended by Sardar Swarn Singh , Shri Jagjivan Ram , Dr. S. Chenna Reddy , Dr. Triguna Sen , Shri Ashok Mehta , Dr. Ram Subhag Singh , and Dr. Karn Singh . At the meeting the Scientists raised some issues specially –they do not get enough funds for their needs from the Finance Ministry and what ever is given it is not on time , expenditure on science should be at least three percent of the G.N.P. , it is not proper that selection of Scientists be done by the Union Public Service Commission etc . As per the seating arrangements at the meeting four or five Scientists were stressing on these points . Then my turn came to speak . I kept silent .Prime Minister asked me to say something . I submitted that Scientists have had their innings now the Ministers should tell what this Committee should do . Indira ji smiled on hearing the word ‘innings ‘ and repeated that I should give my views . I had to obey her . Whatever I spoke in nutshell it is— It is very difficult to say how much a country should spend on science . America certainly spends three percent of her G.N.P. on Research and Development .It is a rich country and can spend as it likes . Whatever is being spent on Science is because Science and Technology help in the economic development of the country . If our intention is to encourage scientific research for the country’s economic development and social well being then the research programmes should be cast accordingly . There is no relationship between economic development and the percentage of G.N.P. spending . Britain spends about 2.5 percent . Japan and Germany do not spend even 1.5 percent . But there is no comparison between the economic development of Britain and Japan and Germany . The question should not be on the percentage spending on science but how the huge funds made available to science despite being a poor country , were being utilised . The problem of paucity of funds would always remain . These figures would not solve the problem . Secondly whatever research programmes we make those should be directly related to the needs of the people . It is essential that the people in general should be benefitted . In other words scientific achievements should be related to the needs of the people and not to the fashion . There is fashion in science . By following the fashion we may perhaps not be able to develop economically . One should not forget that scientific research has become very expensive now . We should stress more on ‘ felt needs ‘ The question is of felt needs and not of felt fashion . If science helps in the economic development of the country , the Government would certainly spend more on science .If the country does not have enough money where would be our science and our scientists .

Since lot of time had already been spent I asked for forgiveness for taking time . Later four or five ministers spoke . They all confirmed the role of science in the economic development .

The Prime Minister was quite pleased with the deliberations at the meeting . While opening up her mind she stated that the our Science and Technological Research should be related to the country’s problems and the goal should be its economic development . She confirmed my views that there was no relationship between G.N.P. and expenditure on science and specially mentioned the stress given on applied research in developed countries . I did not know at that time that the Prime Minister never cared much about G.N.P. I only learnt it later .

Many ministers congratulated me that day on my clearing the issues very explicitly. Dr. Ram Subhag Singh embraced me after the meeting and said , “ Dr. Saheb you said what I had in mind and that too so clearly and firmly .”

I shall only say that from the times of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Lal Bahadur Shastry , Indira ji and Morarji Desai , the science budget was never reduced in any way despite poor state of the country’s economy. Budget allocations were increased every year . For the science and the scientists this is a matter of much importance and every scientist should be grateful to the Prime Ministers . “

Dr. Atma Ram always laid stress on the application of science for the economic progress of a developing country like India He expressed his views at a number of occasions both at national and international forums . Whenever he got the authority and opportunity to implement his views , he did whatever he considered in the country’s interests with out fear or any hesitation . He was of the view that for the nation’s economic development science should be utilised to the full . The common man’s basic needs for bread , clothing and housing should be given the highest priority and science should be geared to this end . This was his pet subject and till the end of his life he kept on propounding his views and philosophy ..

As the Director General of C.S.I.R. he laboured hard to give directions to set economic goals in the development of science and technology . He took initiative in directing the national laboratories to come forward and take the lead in solving the pressing problems of the society effectively . It was rather unfortunate that persons misunderstood his efforts and even accused him of despotism . For example many believed that he had taken initiative in removing some national laboratories and organisations from the ambit of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. But the fact is that even before he became Director General recommendations had already been made to transfer some national laboratories including the three which were transferred during his tenure . When he was asked to give his views , he had opposed the idea . But at the same time he said that those organisations who had opted to move out of the C.S.I.R. should be removed . This decision was taken by someone else but Atma Ram got the bad name . It was his magnanimity that he never felt any need to issue clarification .

He had very cordial relations with all the three Prime Ministers from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru , Smt. Indira Gandhi to Shri Morarji Desai with whom he had the opportunity to work . Every one supported him .Every one appreciated him after evaluating his work thoroughly . They believed in his honesty and integrity . Not only this , whenever he was wrongly accused they defended and supported him .In august 1971 just before he relinquished the office of the Director General the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi while addressing the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research committee meeting praised Dr. Atma Ram and thereby stopped all his opponents it their tracks . She said :

“ Dr. Atma Ram has brought laurels to the country by his valuable research work in the field of applied sciences all through his long scientific career in the service of science . He developed and produced optical glass of great strategic value at a time when only very few nations possessed the know how . Dr. Atma Ram has always laid stress on the use of science and technology for the economic development of the country . Therefore his second great contribution is giving economic direction to the policies of C.S.I.R ”



Silver Jubilee of C.S.I.R.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research completed 25 years in 1967 . At that time the country was in the grip of a severe famine and was passing through a difficult time . The entire Government was deeply engrossed in tackling this gigantic problem . Therefore the Council’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated in August 1968 . The main function was held in the auditorium of the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi on 10thAugust 1968 .The function was organised under the direction of the Director General Dr. Atma Ram .

During the celebrations among those who addressed the audience apart from the President Dr. Zakir Hussain , Prime inister Shrimati Indira Gandhi , Education Minister , Dr. Triguna Sen were Director General of UNESCO Rene Maheu and Founder President of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Dr. Ramaswami Mudaliar . On Dr. Atma Ram’s personal invitation two ex- Directors General Prof. M.S. Thacker and Dr. S. Hussain Zaheer were also present . Dr. Atma Ram formally welcomed all the special invitees and expressed his gratefulness towards them .

Two years had elapsed since Dr. Atma Ram took over as Director General . He was being commented upon and criticised for his style of functioning and the way of running the Council. Director General was even accused of despotism and spreading nepotism . Dr. Atma Ram got a small opportunity to answer his critics . Taking advantage of it he in his address referred to the allegations made against the Council and in a straight forward manner rebutted all of them saying :

“ I feel it is natural that there will be expressions of different types of opinions about large organisations such as the C.S.I.R.. There will be arguments and criticisms . But science progresses on criticism and discussion . From them better ideas and measures flow . We are thankful to all those who are giving thought to the C.S.I.R. and offering us advice . As a person who has spent nearly 25 years in C.S.I.R. , I feel gratified with what has been achieved by my colleagues . At times , expressions to the contrary are made by some people . It depends how a person looks at things . Take , for instance , a tumbler with some water in it . Somebody may say it is half full , while the other may say it is half empty . It depends on the way a person looks at things .”

For giving adequate importance to the young scientists he said :

“ The Council entrusted to me the task of establishing the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute in Calcutta , and gave me an independent charge of this project . This opportunity was a turning point in my career . I have worked under the leadership of Dr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar . He was the Director and I was a mere Research Assistant . The atmosphere he had created was so informal and friendly that we had no occasion to bother who the Director was and who the Asst. Director . Yes , there was discipline all round Today , we talk of freedom and of the need ‘to break hierarchy ‘ , but how much do we think of these noble ideas in relation to the scientists on the bench –the working scientist ? Those were the days when the greater concern was to have more of science than to have talks on the organisation of science . In all our discussions on the organisational aspects of science , the point of view of the research man at the bench is sadly neglected . All other points of view are amply and vociferously put forward , particularly the view of the man at the top . Let us not neglect him in our anxiety about organisational aspects . CSIR. has become a big organisation . Many of our laboratories are much bigger than the entire laboratory of the DSIR of those days . An organisational pattern , howsoever elegant , that neglects the working scientist can not become effective . We should take care that we do not become victims of this error . Let us do more science .”

On this occasion Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar offered his humble congratulations to the scientists who were with the CSIR from the date of its inception as follows ;-

“ One of them is here in the capacity of the Director General of the CSIR at present . It was my pleasure to welcome Dr. Atma Ram in those days in 1942 , when he joined one of the laboratories from the Alipur Test House . The progress that he has made in the ceramic and glass industry is a model of its kind . He is an indication of what Indian science unhelped by any extraneous influence , not copying even the invention of others , could do in the industry .”



Chairman of the National Committee on Science and Technology

In 1977 Janata Party formed the Government at the Centre . Morarji Desai was unanimously elected as Prime Minister . Dr. Atma Ram had old contacts with Morarji Desai . Both were well acquainted with each other’s views and philosophy . Dr. Atma Ram when he was Director of the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute , Calcutta had met Morarji Desai the then Cabinet Minister of Industries and Commerce in 1958-59 for the first time in connection with a meeting . Morarji Bhai later became the Minister of Finance and subsequently Deputy Prime Minister . He was also a member of the Governing Body of the CSIR . At that time Dr. Atma Ram was the Director General of the Council . Even when he was not the Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Atma Ram maintained close contacts with him . The basis of the closeness and intimacy was the firm belief of both of them in Gandhi ji’s principles of truth and non-violence . Both believed in purity of means in achieving goals .

When Dr. Atma Ram was appointed the first Chairman of the newly created National Committee on Science and Technology in June 1977 he told the author :

“ I meet Morarji Bhai quite often . Mostly we meet early morning at seven o’ clock . He gets up early in the morning and so do I . I always write beforehand whatever I wish to talk to him .He does not like doing things in a hurry . Many times he asked me , “ Tell me what have you brought in the envelope ? “ He likes my habit of taking things written down .

When he became the Prime Minister , then one day Dr. Ramchandran who was Secretary , Department of Science and Technology came to me and told me that the Prime Minister desired me to take over the Chairmanship of the National Committee on Science and Technology . He requested me to meet him . When I met Morarji Bhai I told him why was he making retired horses run . He replied that my age was not more than his . I became speechless then . So I accepted his offer . He remembered me was enough indication of his confidence in me .”

In this position , he had the national responsibility of overseeing the total science and technology effort in the country . As Chairman of N.C.S.T. , he was Principal Advisor to the Prime minister and the Union Cabinet on Science and Technology and , therefore , as soon as the Government at the Centre fell , he submitted his resignation without any loss of time in order that the new Prime Minister may have the opportunity to review such appointments . He considered that this was a matter of principle and he should set up a healthy precedence .

The three most important questions dealt with by the N.C.S.T. under his guidance were :-

[a] science and Technology education must get a fair of the brightest young .
[b] The need to substantially augment the resources of the Universities for research and development .
[c] Preparation of the draft of the Technology Policy Statement for the Government’s consideration .

On 29th September ,1977 in the presence of Prime Minister Morarji Bhai Desai , while delivering the Chairman’s address of the N.C.S.T. he said :-


“ We have to re-examine what the nation expects from science and scientists , how we can obtain adequate returns from the vast infrastructure that has been built up at a great cost and how we can ensure that the fruits of development become available to the masses .

Tackling poverty and unemployment , should get top priority . Both of them are massively present in the rural areas .Promotion of rural industries suggests itself as one of the solutions .
Gandhi ji , the most practical of our economists , was in favour of village and cottage industries which could cater to the needs of both the rural and urban areas . He brought about a radical change in the pattern of consumption and in the style of living . He advocated the use of khadi and hand made products . He made Swadeshi not only a weapon in the political struggle , but also an effective tool for the reconstruction of our villages . He achieved a considerable measure of success . After independence however , the pattern of consumption has changed . The spirit of Swadeshi has suffered an eclipse .Foreign products have again become status symbols . Most of the needs of even our rural areas have now to be met by products of urban origin . This trend has to be countered . The viability of industries , especially in the rural areas , depends largely on the prevailing pattern of consumption .”

Dr. Atma Ram , even after ceasing his connection with the Government , continued to take active interest in the field of science and technology as an adviser to the scientific foundations and industrial groups for the establishment of their corporate R & D and also in matters of science and policies .On the request of noted industrialist Shri K.N.Modi he accepted to be the adviser-director of the Modi Industries and remained with the group till his death . Till the day of his demise his interest in science and technology was spirited and lively .


Honoured by Anuvrata Award


The honour Dr. Atma Ram valued a great deal was the recognition by the ‘ Anuvrata Movement ‘of the Jaya Tulsi Foundation . His distinguished and long service to the cause of ethical principles and moral and human values and character building were recognised in a function of the above foundation in October 1981 and he was given a cash award of rupees one lakh . Dr. Atma Ram’s steadfastness to principles is amply borne out by the fact that he at once contributed the award back to the Anuvrata Movement to be used for the good cause they were working for .

The Vice-President of the Anuvrata Committee Shri Budh Mal Shamsukha commented that Dr. Atma Ram’s simple gesture proved his dedication to uphold moral values and ethics in society . He tells about his meeting with Atma Ram ji :

“ I met him informally perhaps in 1974-75 .I went to his residence in military barracks of Central Vista Hostel , Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road as working Vice- President of the Anuvrata Samiti . Dr. Saheb was not well those days .He was suffering from herpes . We began discussing the causes and remedies of such serious afflictions . Skin diseases are caused by disorders in the blood and are cured by purifying it . Dr. Atma Ram explained in detail how and why the blood defects occur . In fact in such a way that an independent article could be written on the subject . He had already tried natural therapy .He was a proponent of Naturopathy . His arguments were based on knowledge and facts and not on blind faith . Suddenly the discussions took a turn and were centred on what awareness was and what was its form . I felt that awareness might be considered a kind of the atomic process . Did the chemical reactions always taking place in the atoms convert in to a sort of life- awareness ? I remember very distinctly every word of Dr. Atma Ram . He said ,” Atom has power It has movement too . But it does not have intelligence or awareness . Till date all the researches in the atomic and sub-atomic field have not proved any signs of the existence of awareness in atoms .” We were aware of our ignorance of atomic science and his understanding of the subject . We were facing a philosopher scientist and there was no possibility of taking the arguments further .

Whenever I had gone to him , I have returned after learning something new from him . He was a simple man always at peace with himself and would sort out a problem in very few words . His clarity of thought and philosophy of life were always inspiring to others .”

When Anuvrata award was announced his immediate reaction was :

“ Till now I have not been able to understand on what basis Jaya Tulsi Foundation has bestowed this award on me . Like many others I too had gone to attend the function of hundreth death anniversary of Shri Acharya . There only Acharya Shri Tulsi made this announcement I was amazed .”

While expressing gratefulness on receiving the award he said :

“ I am aware of my weaknesses . You have given the award , I consider it as your benevolence . Today the saying ‘ There are many who are adopt in giving advice to others ‘ is being proved true Merely giving a slogan is not enough . One has to learn controling himself first before disciplining others . ‘ nij par shasan phir anushasan ‘ is to be imbibed in your mind and is to be implicitly followed for others to see . This is the only way of ending the social tensions and ills in the society . “

It is difficult to say when and how Dr. Atma Ram got involved in the Anuvrata Movement . But for some years he was fully involved in it . His eldest daughter Shrimati Snehlata Singhal has narrated a few of her recollections which bring out facts so far unknown even to the author She said :-

“ I do not remember exactly when he was influenced by the ‘ Anuvrata Movement ‘ but soon he took an active part in all their activities and attended their meetings regularly . He was twice elected chairman of Anuvrata committee . He was extremely close to Acharya Shri Tulsi and he would visit him very often in Rajsthan where Acharya used to live , for discussions on innumerable topics . He remembered to the minutest detail every moment he spent with Shri Tulsi and would fondly narrate to us all what happened on returning home . He took part in the Anuvrata Movement only after being influenced by it . He believed that cult of lip service and hollow show had spread its web all around so much that man has to make efforts to save himself . Till one acts truthfully he will not get complete success . He who does not lead a truthful and an ideal life , he is not fit in any way to get any recognition from any where . A man does not become great merely because he is a well known leader , a big businessman or even a rich person . These should not be the criteria for judging them for honours . Even in Anuvrata movement whenever he came across such persons he opposed them very strongly . He never hesitated in expressing his views before any one . He totally disliked criticising a person in his absence , so to say behind his back . He would say that if one did not like something then it should be his duty to speak out his mind frankly, clearly and forthrightly before every one and never behind a person’s back .

Pitaji received the first Anuvrata award of the Jaya Tulsi Foundation .I would like to say something about it as this aspect of his life is known to only two or three persons besides me . On 18thOctober 1981 at Delhi Ramlila grounds the Foundation had arranged a momentous and huge function where Acharya Shri Tulsi , head of the Anuvrata Movement , was also present . Many national leaders , Cabinet Ministers , and well known Indians were also present . At home we also knew that Pitaji too had gone to attend the function . He returned from there by about one o’ clock and came straight to my residence – Central Vista Hostel . I noticed that he was bare footed . All of a sudden I said that now you have really become a Jain Muni as you do not even have a chappal in your feet .Laughing he said that some where in the crowd he lost his shoes and could not trace them . Then he began talking about the function and said that he was very pleased as in the day’s proceedings , discussions took place on the burning issues of our country . The congregation took the pledge of not taking any dowry , not resorting to adulteration and for the removal of un-touchability etc . It was a unique meeting of its kind . Perhaps it was another step forward in the nation’s progress .

It was past one o ‘clock and the time for lunch . I insisted that he should leave after having lunch . He told me that he should leave as my mother would be waiting for him . But when my son Anuj told him that he would inform Amma on phone that she should not wait for Nana ji as he would have lunch here , he stayed on . Within a few minutes , Pita ji’s driver Shri Dharma Chand ji came inside the house and called me outside . He enquired from me , “ Bahen ji , has Bare Saheb told you that he had received something at the function .? I had heard his name being mentioned and thereafter there was lot of clapping . Please tell me what exactly he has got .” I told Shri Dharma Chand Ji , “ He has only lost his shoes at the function . This is what he has got . Rest I do not know . “ Then entering the room I asked Pita ji , “ Dharma Chand Ji is saying that you got something at the function . Did you get something there ?” He replied in a very calm voice with a little usual smile on his lips , “ Yes . Today Acharya Shri Tulsi suddenly announced at the function that Jay Tulsi Foundation ‘s first Anuvrata award is being given to the present Chairman of the Anuvrata Samiti and famous scientist Dr. Atma Ram .” Hearing this announcement he was puzzled and surprised that for such a great honour how Acharya Shri and the Foundation had selected him . Then he took out a paper from the pocket of his kurta on which was a note written by Acharya Shri himself and said , “ These words written by him are invaluable to me . This is my greatest possession in life .” When we read the amount of money written on it our joy knew no bounds that it was such a big award . Pita ji then told us that he had given the entire amount there itself for use in Anuvrata programmes .Within minutes several respectable persons announced their donations too at the spot . We then rang up Amma ji and conveyed the happy news . In our home and in the neighbourhood too every one rejoiced . In a short while we began receiving phone calls , congratulatory telegrams and messages . If at that time Dharma Chand Ji had not broken the news then perhaps we too would have learnt the news like others on Akashvani news bulletins , T.V. News or on receiving a congratulatory phone call . Once I mentioned this episode to Shri Sethia ji of Anuvrata Movement . He told me that at that time he and Dr. Saheb were sitting very close to each other .This conversation took place after the sad demise of my respected Pita ji . During this period Shri Sethia ji came to our place several times and conveyed the condolences of the entire Anuvrata family . I repeat Sethia ji’s own words , “ I too had no inkling whatsoever that the award would be announced today and that the honour was to be bestowed on Dr. Saheb . The moment Acharya Shri Tulsi announced the Anuvrata Award huge congregation of people assembled at Ramlila grounds clapped incessantly welcoming him . The whole atmosphere reverberated with the welcoming sound of their clapping Every one insisted that Dr Saheb should come to the dais . There was no expression of joy on Dr. Saheb’s face and also the prestigious award did not affect him a bit . As usual he greeted every one with humility from there itself and said , “ Mein aik itna chota insan va itna bara samman . Kaise apne ko uske yogya kar sakunga , samajh mein nahi aa raha hei “ [ I am such a small man and being given such great honour . How would I make myself capable of it , I do not understand ] . So saying the very next second he gave away to Anuvrata itself the whole amount of award of rupees one lakh . True Karma yogi of Geeta was indeed only Dr. Saheb because in such a great function , suddenly being honoured by such a great award there was no reaction on his face even for a split second . “ This is one such event that except for my husband and my son no one knows . Later I told my mother . It was my good fortune that I got the news earlier than any one else in my family did . I firmly believe that all those who were near to him or had spent even a few moments in his company would have certainly felt , experienced and seen his simplicity , truthfulness , ethical principles ,moral and human values , besides a pure and kind hearted demeanor .

If it is true that there is life after death and I ever wish to ask God anything for myself then it would be that whenever I am reborn I should have the good fortune of being his daughter and be in his lap till eternity . “

Dr. Atma Ram Memorial Lecture


Dr. Atma Ram had very close associations since his university days with Vigyan Parishad Allahabad . He was a life member of the Parishad and its well wisher . He began writing on science with an article published in its monthly journal ‘ vigyan ‘ . It may be mentioned that he got the best scholarship of the University because of this article . All his life he considered himself indebted to ‘ Vigyan ‘ .To pay back his debt he helped the Parishad with all his might .He made his greatest contribution in keeping the Parishad alive and functioning by arranging funds for it from the Government and other resources . After his death in order to pay homage to his memory Parishad brought out a special edition of its journal ‘ Vigyan ‘ in March 1984 , calling it Dr. Atma Ram Memorial Edition .

After the death of Atma Ram ji , his family donated enough money to the Parishad so that with the interest accruing on it , an annual lecture in his memory could be arranged at any scientific centre of the country . The first such lecture was given by Swami [ Dr. ] Satya Prakash Saraswati in the auditorium of the National Physical Laboratory , New Delhi . The lecture was arranged by the then Director of the Laboratory , Dr. Shri Krishna Joshi .

Swami [ Dr. ] Satya Prakash Saraswati in his long address touched upon the qualities and life of Dr. Atma Ram in a very vivid and heart rending way . A few excerpts from his address are given below :-

“ There are several reasons for Dr. Atma Ram’s success in life . Three difficult phases in his life , namely , hopelessness , poverty , and failures, kept edging him forward with determination . In the midst of all these short comings the destiny slowly pushed him forward step by step till it placed him at the place which was pre-destined for him . Amidst an inappropriate and even hostile environment , a few opportunities came along his way , which helped him move forward to his destiny with courage

Atma Ram had to struggle hard against poverty and the problems created because of it for a very long time in his early life . This incessant struggle could have broken anybody’s back , as per a Hindi saying , but on every such occasion it so happened that he got the inherent courage to move forward regardless. It could also happen that today no one bothered about him as he could have left schooling after passing middle examination , he could have given up studies in science for his inter examination in desperation , or after retirement as a chemist in a sugar factory he would be leading an ordinary life unknown , unheard of , unnoticed and unsung . But it appears that some force was pushing him at his back , urging him on , and he moved forward tearing away the crowd . You may say it was destiny playing its role as it was pre-destined .

At the commencement of my lecture I had compared myself with Atma Ram . My father was also from a poor family . He was a self made man . I grew up during the period of my father’s poverty , but I never had to struggle myself . I was brought up by my father in Prayag . But Atma Ram was not brought up this way by any of his family member , yet he reached heights in his career . This was the greatness of his character . His continuous advance in life was not due to destiny but due to his strong will , determination and character . I shall say that whatever situations Atma Ram faced , he accepted them , and did whatever he considered fit and proper with out any hesitation . He then considered them as past and over and never bothered about the future . He accepted his present fully and devoted his full attention to make a success of it . If in a sugar factory he went to an ordinary worker and learnt from him standing beside him with humility , how he worked , what he had in mind , how he solved his problems , and the techniques and skills applied by him –he considered him as his teacher at that time . Not only he would try to understand the worker’s small problems in detail but would discuss with him as though it was indeed his own problem .

This trait of Atma Ram grew up with him all through his life . If you do not take it a miss I would say that at that moment the ordinary worker of the factory appeared to Atma Ram just like Meghnad Saha or Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar . When a person like Dr. Saha , who was a great Indian scientist , spoke to Dr. Atma Ram on country’s future plans , he felt that Atma Ram was his own colleague who was discussing the issues with him at the same depth and level as he wished . In Atma Rams way of participation in discussions there was no place for formalities . He was straight forward . Bhatnagar too had the same kind of experience with him . When the country faced the problem of producing optical glass indigenously , Atma Ram took it as his own problem and began working on it scientifically He worked day and night and achieved success . Jawaharlal ji was thinking of solving the problem with the assistance of Russians , but for Atma Ram it was our own problem to be solved indigenously . He believed in efforts and never ever left any problem to itself .

Even in his University days he believed in self efforts in solving ones problems . If any cook or a vendor complained of a problem in his chullah or bhatti , Atma Ram would instantly go to him considering it his own problem and sort it out . It appeared that Atma Ram was for the people and had emerged for their sake from amongst them only . All his life he considered himself a man of the masses . He could weave cotton daries and woolen carpets .He could grind grains . There was hardly any thing which he could not do or did with out pleasure

Such was the character and personality of Atma Ram . When his abilities were recognised in the scientific field , he occupied all those positions which generally most persons crave for . But he had only one aim . He desired to improve the lot of the teeming masses of our country, who were poor , illiterate , who only knew their simple dialects and nothing more by judicious use of science and technology as Europeans had done for theirs .

Ordinary man in Europe is aware that he also had a hand in the spread of science in the world The people in Europe are very well familiar with modern science . It is in their blood . In order to cultivate this awareness and familiarity with modern science in our masses , Atma Ram had entrusted me with the task of compiling Hindi edition of the ‘ wealth of India ‘ . How I wish this was published during his life time . For Atma Ram there was no consideration of politics or otherwise in popularising science in Hindi , it was just to make available knowledge of science to the ordinary persons . It may be clearly understood that there is no other alternative to raise the awareness of our people . If the common people are not able to comprehend scientific reasoning and ideas , they can not be freed from the shackles of blind faith and traditions . Even Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati for this reason welcomed spread of science in the country . In the present age there is only one way to eradicate poverty and blind faith And that is peoples staunch faith in science and scientific techniques , together with honesty , hard work and feeling of national brotherhood . Dr. Atma Ram all his life time worked towards these cherished values and ideals .”



The End of the Humane Scientist

Dr. Atma Ram contracted a bronchial problem , asthma and urticaria from which he frequently suffered. . Because of this allergy , he had to avoid antibiotics and other modern remedies and substitute them with homeopathic treatment whenever he fell ill His long stay in Calcutta helped him to acquire a certain amount of mastery in homeopathic medicine and practice .He became extra cautious about his food and living habits ; he was a strict vegetarian , non-smoker and teetotaller , because of this regimen he was some what withdrawn in his social habits .

Asthma usually troubles more in winter . In the last week of January , 1983 he suffered an acute attack of asthma . He could breathe with difficulty . He felt that he must visit a hospital as the homeopathic medicines appeared ineffective to control breathing . He was immediately admitted to the Holy Family Hospital near his residence in Maharani Bagh . He was not used to allopathic medicines yet he willingly accepted the medication . The family was worried about some adverse reaction of the strong medicines . His desire to live was very strong and he faced the disease with courage . It appeared that he had overcome the problem and his condition improved . He remained satisfied and contented at the hospital . He never complained of pain or need for any thing . He always remained calm and poised . But suddenly on 5thFebruary, 1983 his condition began deteriorating . Specialists were called to check him . It seemed that he suffered a fatal stroke . Though he could not talk or see , yet when the family members asked him to move his eye lids he did . His brain was functioning normally . There was no visible pain either in his eyes or face . He was very calm and composed . His face was as usual bright . Ultimately , he succumbed to bronchial infection . One can fight disease valiantly but can not overcome death .On 6th February , 1983 at about 13.30.hours in the afternoon he departed peacefully from this world . His face was so peaceful and bright that his family felt that perhaps Doctors had made an error in declaring him dead .

With his sad demise we lost a great protagonist of science writing in Hindi . Several industries in the country lost their true adviser . Science and technology suffered an irreparable loss . The young Scientists lost their staunch supporter .

Dr. Satya Prakash Saraswati , his great friend and like an older brother to him , while expressing his condolences on learning about his sudden demise said :-

“ He was an old asthma patient . Perhaps he could not bear Delhi’s cold this time .He has gone leaving us behind . Saying even a few words on the death of a younger person is really a curse of the old age .”

Dr. Sant Prasad Tandon who lived with him at Allahabad for many years and was his friend till the last wrote ;-

“ Dr. Atma Ram’s life is an inspirational one for all of us . In his death I have been separated by my older brother The country has lost a great Scientist . “

The well known Scientist Dr. Ajit Ram Verma while payiny tribute to him said ;-

“ ‘A strong column of science ‘ and a great Scientist of our Generation ‘ has left us .”

The famous Gandhian and writer Shri Yash Pal Jain wrote on the front page of All India Anuvrata Samiti while paying tribute to Atma Ram as follows :-

“ A staunch follower of Anuvrata Movement , a Scientist of International repute , and a follower of moral values and ethics Dr. Atma Ram would so suddenly leave us , we could not imagine even in our dreams . He has left .The field of science has suffered a lot ,but even greater loss is in the domain of humanity . It is but natural that we feel sorrow at his death , yet there is no reason for despondency as he has left an unlimited storehouse of wisdom through his actions and writings ,”

Dr. Dharma Vira , his friend and a well known administrator , while paying condolences said :-

“ It is easy to become a Scientist or a great administrator , but extremely difficult to become a good human being . And this difficulty was embodied to the brim in Dr. Atma Ram .”


Seventh Chapter

Atma Ram As He Was

Simple Life But High Thinking

Dr. Atma Ram was of medium built . Complexion was slightly dark and body was normal . He liked simplicity . He dressed simply but it was always neat , well pressed and looked elegant on him . All through out his approach was to establish a fair balance between urban and rural way of life . This could be seen even in his clothing . Initially he wore coat , pant and tie . But later he wore close collared Jodhpuri coat and matching pant or full sleeved bush shirt and pant . He always wore Gandhi Topi with Indian dresses .Therefore many were deceived in taking him as a villager . He liked wearing khadi kurta and dhoti at home . He wore spectacles all the time .By looking at his eyes it was difficult to ascertain which one was sightless . He had a sharp vision .He took time in accepting something . It was perhaps due to his scientific approach . He would decide on a matter after fully satisfying himself thoroughly .He woud express anger on some bitter experience but would laugh hilariously whenever an ammusing incident cropped up during discussions . He had no artificiality in him .

Atma Ram was a simple hearted person .Even his staunch opponents appreciated his simplicity and humility . He was a very practical person . He knew very well how to deal with younger, older and same age people . A distinguishing aspect of his character was that he not only extended but continued maintaining friendship in all situations .

His life was simple and devoid of any show . He spoke little . He felt uneasy seeing wasteful expenditure . He was very careful and cautious in avoiding such a waste . We observed that whenever he left a room even for a few minutes he would never forget switching the fan off. He used to wear dhoties . Whenever the dhoties were worn out he would get made handkerchiefs out of them . When the collars of the shirt were worn out he would get them reversed and wear them under the coat in winters . This does not mean that he was a miser . No one knows how many institutions received financial aid from him personally and how many needy people were relieved from their financial troubles . He used to substantially help in the marriages of daughters of needy persons .

He had implicit faith in truth and non-violence . Despite being born in a vaish family he did not like accumulating wealth . He was a sort of a socialist . He was a true Gandhian . His views on wealth and social and moral values were very explicit and logical . He believed that the minimum monetary and other essential facilities should be available to every one so that they may be able to live easily and without misery . During talks he would repeat a couplet of Kabir which implies :

“ Sai itna deejea , jaye kutumb samaye ,
mein bhi bhuka na rahun , sadhu na bhuka jaye”

meaning--‘ Oh God give me just enough to support the family so that I may not remain hungry and also any saint who visits me ‘

He believed that if we understand and follow this couplet , the country would entirely change for the better . No one in our country would remain hungry or naked .

In the context of country wide debates on poverty , unemployment and the ever increasing cost of day to day living , his views were very moderate and progressive and a socialistic thinking was obvious . He would say , “ See, how lucky we are that we are following vocations of our own liking . The country is struggling with dreaded unemployment . We have lots of facilities . Just compare with the life in a village . In a villager’s life there is nothing else but scarcities only . Hundreds of millions of people live there . By observing a little frugality , we can better the lot of our society and the nation .”

Atma Ram was a strict vegetarian . He did not take eggs . He never smoked . He also did not have a special liking for tea either . He did not suffer from temptations . Once during talks in this context he said :-

“ I remember that Pitaji often brought tea from Bijnor . We used to prepare tea mixed with tulsi leaves . Those days Tea Board was propagating the use of tea and it was served at road crossings free We used to drink sugared water called ‘sharbat ‘ at home during summers . I began taking tea regularly in Calcutta . But even now I have no special craving for tea . I do not take coffee . I take cow’s milk whenever available .”

He suffered from asthma .He would medicate himself by studying homeopathy . He told in this context :

“ I am not against any system of medicine . While in Allopathy the disease is apparently cured but its after effects on the body are not good . After studying homeopathy myself , I tried these medicines on children with good effect . I took Aurvedic medicines too many times but to no effect . I got seriously ill in Calcutta once . I was under the treatment of vaid Kaviraj Sharma ji But my lungs were cleared only by Homeopathy . That medicine was -‘Brayonia ‘ . I took this medicine myself .without any consultation from any one . I felt dryness in the chest and the phlegm would not come out . I always keep 15-20 medicines with me . I consider antibiotics as a ‘ Brahmastra ‘ and should be used sparingly .
I always took cold water bath even in winters . But after my accident in Germany doctors gave me penicillin in very strong doses . It had adverse effect on me . I felt chilly while taking bath even in hot summers . Due to this I take hot water bath what to say of winters even in summers too . I felt breathlessness too . I had doubts in my mind that it was all due to penicillin . Even on my return to homeland the Doctors continued giving heavy doses of penicillin . In 1946 penicillin had just been introduced . I felt quite uneasy . In 1953 , Sir Alexander Flemming who discovered penicillin and who was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize with another Scientist had come to attend the Science Congress in Calcutta . I asked Flemming whether there was any antidote for after effects of penicillin . He asked me as to who was suffering . When I told him that I had penicillin injections consecutively for three weeks , he said , “ Is it not enough that you are alive ? After so much of penicillin the cold resistance of the body would be reduced to minimum .Do not take penicillin now .” On my telling him that since I was alive , what should I do . He replied , “ Here people take penicillin even in ordinary cough and cold . This causes harm instead any relief . These Doctors are harming the patients . Antibiotics should be taken only when necessary .”

While assessing the entire life of Dr. Atma Ram we conclude that he found , developed and cherished the values of life and its ideals the “Sanskars ‘in his home and family environment and they only became stronger with his struggles in his life . He had to continually face from his early life several adverse circumstances and disappointments in life . But whatsoever the situations and difficulties were he surmounted them with courage and fortitude and carried on regardless like a born victor . In his own words :-

“In my life there were several incidents when I had to face failures . But later when due to those very failures I got tremendous successes my views on failures completely changed . I regarded them as stepping stones to success . Now with my long experience I am of firm belief that success is hidden behind every failure .”

Dr. Atma Ram was deeply aware of all what was happening around him . He had an uncanny ability to gauge things correctly . In his day to day living and in his eating habits one could discern the mixture of urban and rural environment . If on looking at him he appeared to be a simple villager , he during talks gave the impression as though he had all his education abroad . Just coming into his contact one could not remain unaffected by his intellect and wisdom .

From the beginning Goddess of Learning ‘ Saraswati ‘ bestowed her bounty on him . Like wise later in his life Goddess of Wealth ‘ Lakshmi ‘ followed suit . Perhaps right from childhood till he got into service the total neglect shown by Goddess Lakshmi induced her to make suitable amends in his later life and bestowed full affection on him He never craved for wealth . He was fully satisfied with whatever he earned honestly through his hard labour . This he considered a boon of his life . He would usually say that we should be satisfied with what we have as there were crores of people who did not have enough to lead an honourable existence .

There will be no exaggeration if we said that Dr. Atma Ram got what he desired , got the position he wanted and did what he wished to . In this he was sometimes helped by favourable circumstances and at other times he was able to alter the course of events under adverse circumstances in his favour . Whatever be the case he reached the heights one by one with his strong will power . Because of his pious nature , hard work and transparent honesty he got all whatever was his due . For such great persons it has been said that they get what they deserve .

Dr. Atma Ram was a man of few words , ate little and spent less on himself . We find a glimpse of these wonderful characteristics in what Smt Uma Gupta , his niece, has written about him :

“ During Janata Rule , when uncle was the Chairman of National Committee on Science and Technology he was residing in a bungalow facing Krishi Bhawan . One day we were talking while sitting in the lawn . Suddenly his hand touched the collar of his shirt and with a little surprise he told his wife , “ The collar of this shirt has frayed . Please repair it early otherwise it would get worst . “ My aunt expressing unwillingness said , “ After all this 20 year old shirt would last how long more ? “ The uncle then after making some calculations confirmed that in fact he got that shirt stitched 20 years back when he went abroad . Then said , “I have to retire it now “ .

Uncle was not fond of clothes . He would never discard old clothes till they were worn out . My aunt without telling him used to give his clothes to the needy . During my social work she also gave me clothes for distributing among the poor on several occasions .

He was cautious about his food . While the dining table was full of eatables , he would select only a few items according to their usefulness and his needs . He ate very little .

Uncle’s life was always within limits . Occasionally to stress this he would say , “The man remains happy till he lives within limits . The moment he breaks out and asks for ‘more ‘and ‘more ‘ he loses his composure and contented life altogether

He would then explain with an example , “ See, in a human being’s body in a very compact and little space such a great length of intestines is accommodated and they function effectively . While this so small a tongue when leaves the limits even a little , one knows how much one has to endure . If in greed you eat more you suffer , just like you suffer when you speak more . Therefore every one must remain within limits . Contentment in life is very important .”

Smt. Sita Devi wife of Dr. Atma Ram while describing their happy married life stated :-

“ We were married in December 1934 . After the wedding we went to our village [ Pilana ] . But we did not stay their long . We have so far lived together for about 45 to 46 years . What to say and what to leave I do not know ..

He gets up very early in the morning . He regularly goes for a walk . He does exercises for some time . He is very punctual . He desires that every one in the family should do like wise but he has never forced his will on others .

He likes simple food , with less chillies and spices . He does not like food having lots of oil or ghee . Leave aside meat and fish , he does not take even eggs . He has never touched liquor . He has never smoked . He is a pure vegetarian . He drinks only milk and tea . Occasionally he takes coffee. But he is not accustomed to it . He never forces his wishes and habits on any one . He never stops any one from eating and drinking . He leaves eating and drinking on ones choice .He is not strict on such matters .

He is of Aryasamajic views . He has never visited temples .But he has never stopped me from going there . He is not , unlike his father, staunchly against idol worshipping . Every Sunday we perform ‘ Hawan ‘ at home .We have married our daughters with Aryasamajic rites .

He never takes decisions concerning the family with out consulting me . He asks my opinions only on family affairs but he never discusses office affairs at home .He is very serious and remains so busy that he has no time to speak about his problems if any . I never feel he is ever under stress as he never shows it . As a human being , he must be facing some problems sometimes

He is fond of classical music . Earlier he played sitar . He used to sing as well . He played tabala too . He plays harmonium . At Jadavpur , Calcutta , he had engaged a master to teach me music at home .

By nature he is peaceful . He seldom gets annoyed and that too for a short while and then quickly composes himself . We both have understood each other . Hence there is no quarrel or any unpleasantness between us He has always cared for my happiness . When the children pass with good percentages , he feels very happy . There is a great commonality between both of us . We both are very contented persons . We are not very greedy either . Our children listen to us and do what we say . They give us all the respect .Therefore our household runs very smoothly . This is a matter of great solace to us .

He is always worried about our country . He is not bothered about clothes . He is not fond of cinema either . Yes, he likes halwa and khichri . He likes khichri so much that if he had his way he would declare it ‘ National Food ‘

He likes every thing in place properly . He does not like untidiness and things scattered all over in the house .

He is busy day and night . Whatever he does, he does it with full concentration . At the same time he looks after his family too . He also helps his children in studies .

He is a old asthma patient . He medicates himself He contracted this disease in Calcutta . His father too suffered from asthma . He controls the disease by self discipline . In winters he suffers the most .

He never kept money for himself. Whatever he earned he always gave it to me . He believes that ladies spend the money wisely . Hence the household is totally run by me . He has full faith in me . Even marriages have been managed by me .

I have taught him the art of selecting saries . His choice is very good too . When he goes outside he thinks of his children too . He always brings sandesh from Calcutta . Once he brought even sweet curd from Calcutta .

He is fond of studies and moving about . He has been overseas in connection with office work . I have never accompanied him on official tours . We have otherwise gone around a lot during holidays .

We are living happily .We are contented persons .We are used to living with restraint and within limits . We sleep at night at ten o’ clock .”

A glimpse of Dr. Atma Ram’s plain and simple life is seen in his nephew Sarvesh Kumar’s writing :

“ Often we have observed scar marks on his feet . He used to tell us that these were his greatest legacy .Man moves with his legs. If he has painful boils in his legs he develops a kind of relationship with others’ pain . He would quote , “ Jinke per na phati bivai , vah kya jane peer parai “ meaning , those who do not suffer from chaffed feet would not understand other’s pain

Therefore he always considered his duty to lead a simple life and help others with out any expectations in return . Sometimes we children felt uncomfortable with his simplicity .Whenever he visited his paternal village , he would sit on the ground along with others at the railway station or in the village . Though every one was anxious to provide a chair for him , yet he would say , “ This earth has given me life . Only this is true rest is all false “

One day it so happened that his grand daughter , Archna , who was studying in class two of the Modern School on returning from school told him ,” Nana ji , Today there is some big function in our school . “ Perhaps uncle was invited to preside over the function . He asked Guria [Archna] ,“ Would you take me to your school ?” The child remained quiet .She was perplexed . She did not want to take him but at the same time could not refuse either . She thought for a while and said , “Nana ji I could have taken you but in our school poor persons are not allowed .” Uncle then asked her , “ Who else would you take?” She replied ,“I shall take Dharm Chand Ji [ Driver ] . He has good clothes -suit and cap . You do not have good clothes .“


Transparent Honesty


His elder son-in-law, Air Commodore [ Retd } Ravendra Kumar Singhal narrated an incident which throws light on his stark honesty :-

“ Usually family members who spend most of the time together know each other extremely well as every matter is open and nothing is hidden from them. Generally persons know about each other’s weaknesses and lasting impressions are created .Good qualities are usually overlooked . It always surprised and amazed me that after so long an association with both Amma ji and Pita ji I could not fathom out any short coming , howsoever small, in them . I would also take them for granted . Like me they too had full faith in me . Once when he was Director General CSIR , he asked me to purchase a steel almirah for home . I went to a shop-cum-factory and placed an order . I also gave an advance . The almirah was duly delivered and I paid the balance amount to the person who carted it I did not bother about obtaining receipt as I thought it was not needed A few days later , Pita ji asked me about the receipt . He told me to obtain it . He cautioned that when people are working in the Government it should be considered mandatory that we have proper receipt for any costly item we procure Otherwise we open ourselves to criticism and suspicion . I promptly got the receipt and made it a habit for future . A file is full of them .”


Possessed a Perfect Memory


Dr. Atma Ram was gifted with a razor sharp memory . He remembered not only big events but also small matters in great detail .He remembered the birthdays of all family members He would repeat words of others exactly as spoken . When I asked for his family tree , he described in detail all the names with birthdays right from old people to the present as a computer displays information at the push of a button .

When he was Director of Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute , Jadavpur, Calcutta , his colleague , Shri Davendra Singh narrated an incident :-

“ I had the opportunity to serve under Dr. Atma Ram for about thirteen years . I was highly impressed by his wonderful memory .

It happened in 1934 .Prof. Turner , an old and famous scientist of England in the field of glass technology had come to Calcutta . The scientists of Calcutta had arranged a scientific meeting in the Institute’s premises Due to Professor’s popularity, some news papers insisted that a copy of Prof. Turner’s address be provided to them that same night so that they might publish it in their next day’s special supplement Hence a tape recorder was arranged .so that his entire talk could be transcribed .

The meeting finished in time .Prof. Turner had spoken for about 40 to 50 minutes. When the tape recorder was played, to every one’s surprise , due to some fault, it had not recorded any thing When Dr. Saheb learnt about it , despite a tiring and hectic day , he dictated to me Prof. Turner’s talk just from memory . We could send a copy of the same to the news papers that same night .

Next day when the tape recorder was set right , we heard Prof Turner’s taped address .We were all surprised and taken aback after comparing it with what Dr. Saheb had dictated . It was identical word to word and in correct serial order . The only difference was that it did not contain the paragraphs in which Prof Turner had praised him immensely. “


Very Particular About Time

Dr. Atma Ram was always punctual . He always reached in time whenever invited to functions , seminars , formal gatherings and meetings . He considered not going better than going late to a function . He once mentioned about an incidence in his life :-

“ I was invited to a function as Chief Guest . I reached the venue of the function at the exact time mentioned in the card . Workers were busy spreading duries etc. All the chairs were lying empty . The dais had a vacant look . The electric fittings were lying in disorder I felt that I was late because of faulty watch . I asked the workers there whether the function was over . One of them smilingly told that the function had not even commenced . That day I returned without disclosing my identity . If I had identified myself the organisers would have been embarrassed . I went there again after an hour . Even then there were very few people . The invited guests had just began arriving . I simply set at the back . When an acquaintance saw me , he took me from there .”

It was in Atma Ram’s nature that whenever he went to a function he would sit in the third row If the organisers sighted him and they felt proper , they would respectfully take him to the first row . Otherwise he would remain seated there through out the proceedings . Jesus Christ had said , “ When you get an invitation , sit behind on the last seat , so that the host may request you to come forward . This way you will be honoured in the presence of all the invitees . He who considers himself big would be made smaller and he who considers himself small would be made bigger .” It is difficult to state whether Atma Ram ji had known about Jesus’s advice , but with his habit of sitting in the third row it appears that he had imbibed his advice in his life . That is why he got so much respect and honour in his life time which perhaps no other scientist ever got .

He had great regard and implicit faith in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru . He had made his life’s principle what Nehru had said many years back – “ Do your work in time . I am not interested in excuses for delays but only in work done . “ Due to his efforts and inspiring leadership , Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute , Calcutta, was declared the best laboratory among all the National Laboratories .

He was such a captain of his team , who worked himself and at the same time used all the abilities of his team mates to full advantage . His approach in adhering to time was a factor in his achieving success beyond expectations . While he was not in favour of time frames for research work but he insisted on experimental work being done in time .


Tremendous Self Confidence


Dr. Atma Ram received three things as a legacy from his father – Discipline ,Honesty and Self Confidence . His father had only these things and nothing else to will to his son . The seeds of these traits were sown in very early days of his childhood . As he grew up these three qualities took deep roots in him due to his innumerable struggles in life and by the time he reached maturity these became part of his nature . Even in most adverse and most favourable circumstances he never dithered on these . Needless to say that due to implicit adherence to these principles he became such a great scientist and achieved successes one after the other . These were the pillars of his strength which brought honours and laurels to him at home and abroad .

One can clearly discern his great courage and extraordinary self-confidence in the description he gave of the tragic car accident in which he lost the sight of his right eye permanently :

“ It happened in September 1946 . Those days I was in Germany collecting information on glass and enamel ware technology . One night we were returning after visiting the Spark Plugs Factory of Bauch and Company . Shri M.G.Bhagat was also with me . Shri Bhagat was the Managing Director of Calcutta based Bengal Potteries . When our car’s tyre was punctured , Shri Bhagat left by another car . For me another car was arranged from Frankfurt . By this time it was eleven o’ clock at night Our car collided with a truck . I became unconscious after the accident .One glass piece had entered my cheek which was taken out after the operation . One glass piece pierced my eye lens . Next day when I regained consciousness I found myself in a hospital in Frankfurt .

Those days Germany was being governed by the Military . The Doctor who was treating me was originally from Lithuvania but became an American citizen . His name was Tibsus . We were in military dress . We also had one badge indicating that we were civilians . He told me that my left eye was all right but a glass piece had entered in the lens of my right eye and it had lost its sight . His endeavour would now be to save the other eye .

I told him , “ In our mythology God is called an engineer [ Vishvakarma ] . If God desires me to do something great it can be done by one eye otherwise even four eyes are meaningless “

He was amazed listening to this . Now onwards he became my friend . He did one by one three operations . Yet there was redness in the eye . He thought there could be an infection . It would go off slowly by itself . I was given penicillin for three weeks . Disappointed he took me to England . there was one more operation . Operation was conducted by Surgeon P.G.Doyan . There surgeons do not like to be referred as Doctors . They are addressed as surgeons only . Doyan was really a very capable surgeon . I did not feel that operation had been done . When Dr. Tibsus told Doyan about my Vishvakarma talk he told me , “ You are a philosopher .” I had gone to Germany for four months . The accident happened just after two months .

In Frankfurt Dr. Tibsus had cautioned me that I could be blinded as sympathetic opthalmia could take place in which the good eye follows the other in sympathy . But I did not lose heart . I thought why should I worry for the future now . If it has to happen it will happen . God came to my rescue and the Doctor’s doubts were proved wrong . My left eye was saved .

Sometimes on such occasions your inner strength gives you courage . Self confidence generates itself . I told my acquaintances and friends not to inform or write any thing about my accident to my family . When I am in a position to write I shall convey to them myself .

When Dr. Bhatnagar received the cable his worry was obvious . At that time Prof. Saha was sitting by his side . Both were stunned . Both of them went to my house in Kamala Nagar . My brother had gone to Bijnor . So they told my wife . But the cable was sent to Dr. Bhatnagar after considerable time had lapsed.. Hence my hand written letter too reached home within a few days . I had written that I suffered only a minor injury . There was nothing to worry . “

Emerson has said , “ Self confidence is the first secret of success .” Atma Ram had plenty of it infused in him .

Atma Ram ji was a very sentimental person , though outwardly he appeared serious . He had lot of humour in him .He loved an atmosphere of laughter and hilarity . He loved in particular talking to children in their own way . He liked conversation on current topics . He suffered from an old asthma . Occasionally it troubled him much . But he never let others know of his suffering . He would keep himself busy days at a stretch . But one aspect of his life , that of complete self confidence, reflects in his entire personality . The moment one came in contact with him and began talking , one could immediately feel the self confidence oozing out of him . It is the true sign of a man of truth and non-violence .

In 1970 while addressing the convocation of the Lucknow University he said , “ The roots of our work lie in our own courage and confidence . The confidence has to be in oneself and in the immediate environment . Our national problems would be solved quickly and successfully if we make a joint effort .There is no need to be despondent . I have firm belief what the famous scientist Lord Kelvin said , “When you are in the midst of a difficult problem think that you are just on the verge of success. “ Ability and courage are truly tested in times of great difficulties only . Our country is famous for its various struggles . The need is only of clarity in thinking and to move forward with courage , honesty and conviction . “

Bhagwat Geeta’s Shri Krishna was Atma Ram’s ideal . Work is worship was his motto of life . He used to say Geeta was the true companion of man . Never despair if you face problems in a your work or you are not able to complete it .You do not know what God has chosen for you for your good No effort is ever wasted if the work is performed with true zeal . Man always gets what he deserves as per his good or bad deeds .

His friend and class mate of Allahabad Universities days , Dr. Sant Prasad Tandon says :-

“ Dr. Atma Ram from the very beginning had lot of confidence in him . Some research students decided to meet once a week where each one in turn would speak on his subject . We had two distinct reasons to start this . Firstly , we shall have practice for lecturing as our uneasiness and shyness would disappear . Secondly we shall know what exactly others were doing and we would benefit by exchange of ideas . Mostly it was observed that the research students feel uneasy in speaking before others . I was also very shy and hesitant . But Dr. Atma Ram would deliver his lecture with confidence and with out any hesitation . He began his practice of delivering lectures from there only His stupendous success in the scientific field was to a great measure due to his confidence in himself

If Atma Ram had humility and simplicity in him , he also had lot of self respect in him . I still remember a small incident which happened in 1933. Shri K. Venkatgiri had come from Bangalore to our laboratory to do research in the field of organic chemistry under Prof Dhar . Once Shri Giri , Dr. Atma Ram and I along with two other research scholars were discussing some topic . Giri uttered the word ‘ idiot ‘. Dr. Atma Ram felt that this was meant for him Immediately in anger he rebuked him . Giri perhaps did not mean it , yet he immediately apologised . Such incidents did occur sometimes when some persons in the presence of Dr. Atma Ram maliciously criticised his teacher Dr. Dhar or his own work . On such occasions he would with out fear show his opposition in very strong words . He was a staunch nationalist . Whenever some one spoke in bad terms about any national leader , he would oppose them and give a spirited reply . “


Dignified Civil and Straightforward

Dr. Atma Ram was an effective orator . He had equal command on English and Hindi . He stayed in Calcutta for more than two decades . He had family relations with Prof Meghnad Saha . Due to this closeness he became very fluent in Bangla . He delivered innumerable lectures in Hindi and English from 1952 till 1982 . In these lectures one easily discerns his knowledge and wisdom as well as his command on the languages .

Once he told about his lecture delivered by him in Bangla :

“ This happened when I was in CSIR. I was invited to speak by Bengal Science Congress . I was told that it would be ideal if I spoke in Bangala . Though while at Calcutta I had learnt a little Bangla , yet I was very hesitant in delivering a lecture in it . But Dr. Bose encouraged me and asked me to speak in Bangla . Any way I did go and spoke in Bangla only . That day Akashwani Calcutta broadcast my lecture delivered in Bangla . When I listened to it I was very surprised how could I deliver a very effective lecture on scientific research in Bangla , a language which was not my mother tongue . Not only Dr. Bose but several Bangla literary writers too, much appreciated my lecture . “

Not only in English but also in Hindi too he delivered lectures very fluently and in near literary language . He would explain the dull and serious subject like science by giving examples from daily life resulting in very eager audience response . They remained spellbound .. Though his voice was not very strong yet it had an attraction of its own . He would occasionally become sentimental while talking but it was to stress a point .It was his speciality to bring in a sprinkle of wit and humour during his speeches to entertain the audience .

His most of the lectures have been in English . Because of his being a great proponent of Hindi , he would speak in Hindi whenever he delivered convocation addresses in Hindi speaking areas . On a perusal of his Hindi lectures one easily observes his exceptional command on Hindi . He even delivered lectures in Hindi twice during the deliberations of Indian Science Congress . His lecture was always full of serious thoughts and was interesting too . He had an exceptional gift of expounding the subject matter . Once he mentioned about his Hindi lectures :

“ During the Indian Science Congress deliberations in Roorkee , I was invited to speak on optical glass . I prepared my lecture in Hindi . Dr. Satya Prakash told me that he would not tell any one before hand that the lecture was in Hindi . The hall was full of audience . I began speaking in Hindi Leave aside others , even the scientists from South India occupying the front seats listened attentively with out moving from their seats . Even at Banaras I had delivered my Presidential Address at the Indian Science Congress in Hindi . “

Atma Ram ji as he was an expert in making optical glass , he was equally adopt in explaining difficult and serious scientific topics in a lucid and simple language . One felt a sort of sublime happiness listening to him . He had the capacity to cast a spell and completely engross his audience . He would read out his written lectures on formal occasions . One easily discerns his writing capability and deep knowledge of his subject . But when he deviated from the written piece and spoke very fluently and with ease he really amazed every one . It appeared as though the words just flow from his tongue with out any effort on his part . He had a wonderful way of speaking . When he spoke in Hindi on scientific subjects , he always used simple ordinarily spoken common Hindi words . He never used flowery Hindi words or lengthy and difficult sentences .

He wrote several articles which were published in many internationally known English journals In Hindi journals and magazines too his articles were published . He began writing in 1931 by contributing articles to Hindi monthly journal ‘ Vigyan ‘ published from Allahabad . Till a few years before his death he always helped and supported this journal . He contributed more than two dozen articles to ‘ Vigyan ‘

He published more than hundred research papers on Physics , Chemistry , glass and ceramics . He was fond of literature . His book in Hindi - History of Chemical Sciences - is its example . He liked children specially . He used to write for ‘Saptahic Hindustan ‘ . He also wrote for two other Hindi well known magazines -‘Nandan ‘ and ‘Parag ‘ His book ‘ Ozone ki Chatri ‘ was very popular among children . He desired that effective and useful books on scientific subjects be written for children of our country . Towards this end he made various efforts after his retirement from service .

Dr. Atma Ram was famous in scientific circles for his straightforward approach . He was absolutely fearless in expounding his thoughts . He never hesitated in speaking out his mind at appropriate moments without any regard to bitterness it might create in the minds of some . He described an incidence in this regard which confirms this :-

“ In 1962 after the Chinese invasion of our country , a large meeting was called in Vigyan Bhawan which was addressed by our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru . At the meeting among those participating were the then Central Minister of Science and Culture Prof Humayun Kabir , Central Ministers Krishnamachari , Yashwant Rao Chauhan , the three Chiefs of the Armed Forces , senior civilian officers and noted scientists . Among the scientists were Prof Satyen Bose , Prof D.M.Bose , Dr. Homi Bhabha , Dr. D.S.Kothari , Dr. Bhagwantam etc. All the Directors of country’s laboratories several University Professors were also present . The topic of discussion was the contribution made by the scientific institutions for the country’s defence forces . The discussions were very strong . One speaker said that after two Nobel Prizes we have not got any . I could not digest the reference to Nobel Prize . I told the audience some thing like this . Had we got a few more Nobel Prizes , would it had helped in throwing away the Chinese from our soil . Some in the gathering did not like it , some showed annoyance , while others simply smiled . Prof Satyen Bose who was sitting next to me patted me on the back . “

Whenever he arrived at a decision after careful thinking , he would stick to it . In 1968 while delivering his presidential address at the Indian Science Congress at Varanasi , he had appealed for the preparation of a Technology Policy Statement to be issued by the Government . From then on he continued saying so . Some people got the wrong impression that he was fighting only for the import of technology . Not only this some quarters thought that he was in favour developed nations . Some people imagining such things about him behaved very badly with him but he remained firm in his views . When in 1977 he became Chairman of the National Committee on Science and Technology , he brought together all the scientists who held similar views for drafting a Technology Policy Statement . He could not complete this mission during his tenure as he submitted his resignation when Morarji Desai Government resigned . In course of time it was completed by other members in the form of an outline of technology policy . When the policy was announced he became very happy . He said that if not in 1968 at least now the technology policy has been established .

His ideas and statements were so distinct that one could not attribute any other meaning to it . He neither liked buttering any one nor accepted such behaviour from others . He learnt being straightforward from his teacher, respected Dr. Meghnad Saha . The fearlessness and honesty needed for being straightforward , he got it as a legacy from his father . He paid much importance to the means used for achieving a set goal . Due to this his quality of straightforwardness grew with him to great heights . It became a part of his life . Like others he too had a fair share of dealing with dubious people of shady character . But due to his clean image he always finally prevailed on them . He had infinite capacity to suffer fools .

Atma Ram’s behaviour was always civil , balanced and dignified , whether he was taking part in formal official / scientific gatherings or sitting informally with his friends and relatives . Dr. Iqbal’s couplet fits him very well :

“ Narma dame guftgu garm dame guftgu ,
Rasm ho ya basm ho pak dilo pak baz “
---meaning -‘ If your way of talking is civil and dignified and whatever you are saying has strength then it does not matter whether it is a simple gathering or a battle field .’


The Steadfast Man Of Geeta

Atma Ram was truly Geeta’s steadfast man . He took happiness and sorrow , profit and loss , success and failures in the same stride and continued with his work He considered Geeta as ones true companion and a path finder . He believed in Geeta’s saying that one only has a right to work and not to its fruit . He implicitly followed this dictum . He was a man of principles . He was honest too . He was not adamant . He would listen to others logical arguments carefully and then make up his mind .

Hindi poets Kabir Das , Surdas , Tulsi Das and Nirala and poetess saint Mira Bai had particular influence on him . He was influenced most by poet Rabindra Nath Tagore He considered Poet Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore as his mentor . While in Calcutta he read Rabindra Nath’s writings in Bangla . Atma Ram ji used to say that Rabindra literature has brought out the true meaning of life in clear , precise and explicit words . He liked his saying that ‘ man is above all ‘ . He did not distinguish between man and man . In his way of thinking there was no difference between an ordinary factory worker and an officer . He treated both equally and with regard .

He did not at all like famous Hindi playwrite Kali Das . He explained his reasons in a logical way thus :

“ Kali Das perhaps never thought of the ill effects his characterisation of Shankutala in his play
would have on the society . By such descriptive characterisation he has lowered the image of women in society . On one side he extols the virtue of women’s purity and on the other describes Shankutala’s intense love to a total stranger . I could not understand what exactly Kali Das was conveying through this contradiction . The poet has not at all bothered about the feelings his dual characterisation of Shankutala would generate about women in the minds of the people in general . “

Dr. Atma Ram had implicit faith in God . He was a very sentimental man He felt great pity and became uneasy seeing poor and helpless people . The reason being the stark poverty he faced during his childhood . Pardon was therefore his answer to their wrong doings . Due to constant struggles and labours he put in , he led a difficult life . But facing the challenges he moulded his life to suit the existing circumstances . The ‘sanskars ‘ [ the principles of living ] he got as a legacy from his poor but disciplined family helped him in becoming an honest and fearless person .

He use to say :

“ We should remain happy in whatever condition we are because we can not change the circumstances by brooding over and being unhappy . Then why at all worry and trouble yourself . When I was without employment , had I been brooding , instead of solving the problem I would have spoiled my health It is written in Ishopanishad – ‘ He who uses beyond his needs , is a thief . He who eats alone sins . ‘ If even one percent people follow this dictum , the society would have no problems . “

Atma Ram ji followed the above dictum with all his conscience , words and deeds in his every day life . He used to care even for small little things Once I went to him to present a calendar of Hindustan Times Publication Group . I had gone at noon . After accepting the calendar he said , “ You, just came to give the calendar?”

After three or four days when I met him again he said ,” Oh brother , though I accepted the calendar you gave me the other day , but please take it back as we have plenty of them already . “

I took back the calendar accepting his wish . This way he respected my feelings and also kept his conscience clear in following the teachings of Ishopanishad .

Dr. Atma Ram used to say that it was easy to speak truth but it requires a little courage . There is one great advantage of speaking the truth is that one need not remember unnecessary things .

He was a very contented person . Even after retirement his articles were often published in newspapers and periodicals . He was duly sent the remuneration for them . He would return the cheques . Once to satisfy my curiosity he said ,” According to rules we should fill up every small amount we receive in our Income Tax returns . If by oversight I leave some amount it would be a dishonesty . Therefore In order to avoid this problem I do not accept any remuneration . God has given me enough for a living .”

Dr. Atma Ram did not believe in fate . He firmly believed in deeds and adherence to hard work . Hence whatever he did in his life it was always with full conscience and determination . Whatever he decided to do , he did that with all his might without caring for the result and continued doing it . This was the secret of his success . Dr. Iqbal wrote a couplet :about such persons :

“ khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdir se pahale ,
khuda bande se yah puche bata teri raza kya hei .”
Meaning---“ Raise yourself to such great heights that when God is about to write your fate He may be compelled to ask you what exactly you want ”

At Allahabad University he had received research scholarship for three years . After working for one and a half years outcome was not quite satisfactory . Prof. Ghosh also in disappointment began advising him to select some other new problem but he did not lose heart . In the end he was successful in finding a solution of the problem . In his words :

“ I was allotted the research work for three years on the effect of sun light on chemical reactions in plants underthe guidance of Prof Dhar . After working for about one and a half years no tangible results were obtained . Prof Satyeshwar Ghosh who was my well wisher told me one day ,’ Brother , you are not obtaining results . Your scholarship would also end after three years . You would not get a degree . What would you do then . “ I told him , “ If I have not been able to get results even in one and a half years , what can I get on a new problem in another one and a half years . “ I continued on the same problem . In the end I got success on this very topic . And the success was such that every one was surprised . “

Atma Ram ji never dithered even in greatest difficulties . Though outwardly he appeared to be of hard demeanor , yet he was a very soft hearted man . He had such a heart that would melt on seeing other’s sorrow . He even cried . If he was hard on discipline , he was equally receptive to human suffering .


Science and Sprituality

On the demise of Dr. Atma Ram while condoling his death , famous Hindi literature Jenendra Kumar said :

“ Those who tread the path of science and sprituality simultaneously become Rishies . Dr. Atma Ram was in fact a Rishi in the garb of a scientist’s life he led .”

Muni Shri Rakesh Kumar while expressing sorrow on his death said :

“ Science is that which teaches us to lead our lives in a proper way . Non-violence is a science which makes us understand life itself . Dr. Atma Ram’s life was a happy balance between science and sprituality , which in fact is the essence of Anuvrata Philosophy . He led a life where objectivity and spirituality were balanced . Even being such a great scientist , he did not have any ego . If one leads a simple life he can have a balanced mix of science and sprituality .”

Atma Ram ji was as great a spiritual soul as much a scientist . One hardly comes across such a pleasant mixture of science and spirituality . In 1968 while delivering his Presidential Address at the Indian Science Congress at Varanasi he said :

“ Acharya Vinobha Bhave has said that in modern world science and sprituality have replaced politics and religion . This is of great importance to us . Pandit Nehru also understood its great value to our society . If we understand religion as engulfed in tradition , blind faith and things like that , then we must strive to hard to eradicate such notions . In human life a small measure of sprituality is essential . Science has as yet not produced a medicine which can induce good qualities in human beings . Nor has it produced an antidote to remove his hard heartedness . Without a scientific environment religion would remain rooted in blind faiths . Without spirituality science can become dangerous .”

On 13.4.1971 while delivering the convocation address of Gurukul Maha-Vidyalaya , Jwalapur , he said :

“ In the present century of Science and Technology mere discussions and discourses on our religious books are not enough . Along with mental and physical exercises we have to cater to our daily bread and also to many other facilities too . Today it is not possible to live on science alone .Here , I would like to clarify that religion and science are neither in competition nor opposed to each other . “

While exhorting the youth to adopt more practical viewpoint of life he said :

“ In today’s circumstances it is even more necessary than before to adopt a more practical viewpoint . We are passing through a phase of turmoil in the economic, political and social fields . The new generation has no set standards or any other measure to discipline and control their thoughts and deeds . This directionless condition is quite dangerous .

Under such circumstances our teachers and path finders have a greater responsibility now as never before . But no one can stay long on the crossing of uncertainty . Therefore it appears necessary that the new generation thinks for itself the path it has to follow .This path is of deeds , hard labour and dedication . One has to see all the problems of life in a scientific way . One has to test every thing , search the truth with tests and experiments and without prejudging adopt truth where ever one finds it This is your path for your good . Come on , let us all together take to the path of science and wisdom which leads to happiness and prosperity .”


Capable Administrator and Skilful Organiser


Dr. Atma Ram was a straightforward , sweet tongued , clear headed and a far sighted scientist and an able administrator . Impartiality , civility , achieving set goals and dedication to work were the distinct specialities of Dr. Atma Ram’s character . This is the reason that he was as great a scientist as he was an able administrator , discipline loving and skilful organiser

Dr. Atma Ram had a rare combination of scientific and administrative acumen . He would say that a good administrator must know when to say ‘No ‘ With his helpful and friendly attitude towards his colleagues and subordinates he was able to win their confidence .

Once a laboratory assistant received one hundred rupees less than his salary in his pay packet .His entreaties had no effect on the pay disbursing officer . With tears in his eyes he straight away went to the Director Dr. Atma Ram and narrated the matter to him . He immediately called the officer and told him to pay the balance amount to the worker before cease work as in his opinion no worker who had received his full salary would ever dare to approach the Director with such a complaint .

That man was paid his dues . On investigation it was found that some persons had knowingly done the mischief . The culprits were duly punished .

Shri Virendra Kumar Pande , an officer in the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute , Calcutta , narrated an incidence which shows his skill and ability in administration :

“ Due to the head of department being on leave I was acting in his place . A worker disobeyed the Foreman . The matter came to me . I tried to persuade and handle the worker but he remained adamant . He rejected my orders too . In order to maintain discipline in the Department I had to report against him . The matter was investigated . The report was ambiguous . But Dr Atma Ram punished him . After one year he sent his file to me directly . On my recommendation the worker’s position was restored .”

Dr. Atma Ram really liked discipline . He was moved by listening to his subordinate’s real problems and difficulties . But he never hesitated in taking strong measures to maintain discipline in the organisation . In this way he distinguished people from the needs of discipline

His way of talking was very elegant . He would choose his words carefully and sentences were well crafted . His appearance was of a villager and his behaviour was full of humility . He was always respectful to others . He would tolerate people to the extent they did not cast aspersions on him . This is the reason that whatever work he was assigned , he did it with ability and expertise . Whatever position he got he brought laurels to it . He never accepted being a convenient tool of his superiors and remaining a Departmental Head for names sake just to carry on in service without any aim .

Dr. Atma Ram was an organiser of great ability and skill . He was well aware of his rights and duties as a leader . He knew how to work and also how to get work done . He remained Director of the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute for more than two decades . Dozens of research works were carried out under his leadership . He always treated his subordinates like friends . He considered every one lowly to the highest as his colleague . He would get angry on faults but only for a short while . He looked after and took personal interest in his workers problems as though he was head of the family . He always celebrated Holi , Depawali and other functions in their company . If he did not notice a person at such gatherings , next day he would inquire from him , “ Hello ,why you did not come for Holi ? Is every thing all right at home ?” This friendly approach and humility even those who did not agree with him, appreciated much .

He was an able administrator . He never used or misused his powers for his personal petty gains . He formed teams with fixed and lofty aims and then gave them guidance to achieve their goals . He never created his own coterie . Regarding scientific community , he spoke at the Indian Science Congress , Varanasi ,in 1968 as follows ;-

“ The Young Scientific Community should be careful of the lures of the Organisation . They should not get involved in unnecessary discussions and cheap slogans . There is no substitute for hard labour and dedication We should cultivate the habit of hard work . In my understanding for a good and happy life for the young generation and to meet their lofty aspirations this is the only correct way.”

For the role of administrators in the scientific field , his thinking was clear and explicit :

“ Generally it is accepted that Scientists and Administrators do not have any feeling for each other’s views . Our country’s administrative system was established by a foreign Government . There have been many changes in the set up but the old roots are still very deep . It would take time to change it and a little bit of upheaval is likely . In my view the system as such does not exert much but the Officer does have a say . Those who are intent to do something , no one can stop . Therefore I pay special attention that really capable and suitable persons go in for administration . The Administrator’s behaviour and his way of functioning can not be altered merely by administrative rules and regulations . Wrong things can be shown legally right in an inefficient administrative set up . In incapable hands even a right thing can go wrong . With changing times Technocrats would mostly replace the common administrators . Therefore it is essential to put in a new system and establish new relationships .”
















Chapter Eighth

Life And Views

Faith In Aryasamaj Ideology

Atma Ram ji was a staunch follower of the founder of aryasamaj , Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati . His ancestors too were aryasamaji . He was much influenced by the aryasamajic views of his father . Even in his adolescent days he had made himself quite familiar with aryasamajic ideology . In a way this ideology which he got in legacy got into him and with the passage of time the seeded ideas turned into a full grown tree and he became a staunch believer of aryasamaj . For more than 40 years he implicitly followed this revolutionary ideology after scientifically testing and examining it and did not believe in superstitions and was totally against social evils which some how got rooted in the society .

He had accepted and adopted the aryasamajic ideology and followed it with all his mind , speech and deeds . Every week he would perform ‘Hawan ‘ at home . His own wedding and those of his two daughters were all performed by aryasamajic rites . Though he was a staunch aryasamaji , yet he never imposed his will on others . His wife believed in idol worship and she remained entirely free to go to temples for worship . Religious tolerance was a part and way of his life . He did not act obstinately in any field of life . Due to this quality , after his death people called him ‘ maha-manav ‘ --a great human being .

On 13.4.1971 , during his convocation address in Gurkul Maha-vidyalaya , Jwalapur , [Haridwar ] he mentioned about his association with aryasamaj :

“ I am an applied scientist whose major part of his life has been spent in testing sand and clay and making or watching glass wares being made . Such a man would naturally appear a stranger in this place of cultural and literary pilgrimage . I am grateful to the Head of this Organisation for the honour he has given me but I do not deserve it . I was eager to come here , as since childhood I have been an admirer of Swami Dayanand and of aryasamaj founded by him . My family too has been fully associated with the aryasamajic cultural and ideological programmes . I, myself while being in scientific field , have always supported the aryasamaj’s reformist view point . District Bijnor where I was born , at one time was the centre of several movements initiated by aryasamaj . It has given the nation many reformists , speakers , journalists, and men of literature .Even Lala Aman Singh , who donated his entire property for establishing Gurukal Kangri belonged to Bijnor .

An earliest organiser of Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s established Gurukal Maha-vidyalaya , Jwalapur , Shri Padma Singh Sharma was also an inhabitant of Bijnor . Besides them several nice persons of Uttar Pradesh have helped the institution with all their might . I remember that Pandit Nehru visited the Maha-vidyalaya during its Golden Jubilee celebrations . Dr. Rajendra Prasad too had delivered its convocation address .”

Dr. Atma Ram not only followed the ideals and principles of aryasamaj but adopted them in practice too . For Example he was in favour of widow marriages . He proved it by marrying the widow of his younger brother Lakshmi . He mentioned about this topic :

“ My younger brother Lakshmi died within a few years of his marriage . I explained and suggested
to his father-in-law and other relations to marry his daughter without caring for the society
norms . Those people married their daughter with courage on my bidding . The villagers opposed my views tooth and nail . The threatened me and my family with dire consequences . But I kept quiet knowing full well that time is a great leveller and every thing quietens by itself . So far as community was concerned , I simply ignored it . For some time my action remained an issue but with the passage of time some people married their widowed daughters siting our case as an ideal . In fact every one understands the problems connected with widow marriages and are for it , yet they lack courage to take an initiative .”

The year 1983 was the death centenary year of Maharshi Dayanand . On that occasion Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati was assigned the responsibility of publishing a treatise on the life and teachings of Maharshi Dayand by a philanthropic organisation of Prayag . Dr. Atma Ram sent an article with the title ‘ Maharshi Dayanand ‘ True Scientist ‘ at his request . This was perhaps the last article he wrote . The treatise was published during Diwali in November . He died in February . He could not see his article in print . His article is a testimony of his implicit faith in aryasamaj and the reverence and respect he had for Swami Dayanand . In sum total the article shows the scientific view point and approach of Maharshi Dayanand . Some excerpts of the article are given below :

“ As you are aware Swami Dayanand before becoming a Swami was called Mool Shankar . An event now famous , that took place in his childhood shook his mind and set him thinking which later changed the course of society . Swami ji’s father was a great Pandit . It was ‘Shiv Ratri ‘ that day . Being tired after a day’s fast every one slept except child Mool Shankar perhaps to watch as to when Shivji eats the food kept for him as an offering - ‘Bhog ‘ . But what the child saw was that a rat came and climbed over the idol and jumped from it straight on to the ladoos and began eating them . Shankar Bhagwan did neither stop the rat from climbing over him nor from eating the sweets . Mool Shankar was surprised to observe that the God we all pray to did not have strength in Him even to stop a rat climbing on Him . The questions that arose in his mind sowed the seeds which in time changed the course of his life altogether .

He did not accept as truth just because some old persons said so or was written in some religious book . Truth is that which can establish itself as true . To know what is truth and its search became his life’s goal .Therefore when he accepted ‘sanyas ‘ and became Swami Dayanand , he named his book ‘Satyarth Prakash ‘ .In its foreword Swami ji has himself written , “ My main aim of writing this book is to bring into light the true meaning of truth . To exactly say what is true is true and what is false is false is to bring into light the true meaning of truth . “ He wrote further , “To say , write and accept whatever a thing really is , in exactly the same way , is truth . “

Whatever Socraties and Gallelio suffered for upholding the truth , Swamiji also suffered no less . He had to leave his home and break away all relations with his family . When Swamiji began exposing all kinds of hypocrisy and bigotry in the society , the die-hards troubled him in every possible way and in the end he was murdered by stealthily administering poison to him .

Socraties had to swallow poison . His only guilt was that he opposed and exposed unfounded beliefs and faiths . Gallelio was put behind bars because he dared say that it was the earth which moved round the son and not the other way round . What was Swamiji’s fault except that though he was born in Aryavarta country , he exposed the bigotry, hypocrisy and blind adherence of the people to false beliefs and values . What is the aim of science and what it strives for except –search for truth . What science values – not to believe anything but the truth even if it is told by your parents , teacher , official or a priest . A person is a true scientist only if in his search for truth he never wavers .

One having a degree in science and working in a laboratory is not alone a scientist . This is the age of science but scientific temper is weakening . In the name of science people claim achievements and print them too and on being caught instead of accepting their faults begin accusing the persons who exposed them . This is not science but misuse of it . In reality science is search of truth . The moment child Mool Shankar thought of the question of strength in the idol or just peoples blind faith in it , the seed of search for truth was sown in his mind . He went everywhere in search of truth . He read lots of religious books . He roamed about in search of a real teacher . Moving about he reached Mathura and became a disciple of Swami Nirjanand . Though a blind since birth he had a great knowledge of ‘ Veds ‘ He taught Dayanand all the knowledge he possessed , and in return as ‘guru-dakshina’ [ compensation for the teacher for his efforts ] he asked him to be an exponent and spread the basic
concepts and knowledge contained in our ancient Veds

The duty of a true scientist is that whatever facts he finds , he should state them without fear or hesitation . He should not compromise with truth . When Swamiji began spreading the knowledge of Veds he observed that the society was ridden with various kinds of wrong doings . People were in the clutches of superstitions . He took the cudgels and began eradicating the menace with application of truth . He started with Hinduism first . The way Swamiji disproved all the superstitions one by one shows his scientific approach superbly .

To mention an instance the priests of Somnath Temple had sustained the myth by purposely fooling the susceptible people that the main idol ‘Shiv -Ling ‘ was resting above the ground in mid air . Swamiji informed the people that the priests had cunningly made use of magnets to keep the idol above ground in space . In another case a rumour was afloat purposely that in a certain big temple the height of Shiv-Ling increases during the worship . Swamiji exposed this myth too by a scientific explanation . He told the people that it was all false . There was darkness even in the day time in that temple . When a stream of water was poured over the idol during worship the reflection of the flame from the earthen lamp gave such an impression . The stone idol remained the same without any change . The priests were minting money by deceiving susceptible people .

In another instance a rumour was purposely spread that an idol of Kaliakant in South India was still smoking ‘Hukka ‘ . Swamiji has written about it , “ False . False . It is all hollow show , because the mouth of the idol would be hollow . They must have inserted a tube from behind the Idol and beyond the wall where someone hidden must be inhaling the Hooka and through another tube the smoke must be reaching the idol ‘s nose to give such an impression .

These are only some samples . ‘Satyarth Prakash ‘ is full of such instances . In order to dispel the darkness spread by superstitions , Swamiji has used the torch of science . He has thoroughly exposed the bigotry and hypocrisy of all religions . Like a scientist Swamiji without differentiating between himself and others tried to remove oddities in all the religions . Though Swamiji had not studied in a science college or learnt science under the guidance of any scientist , or not undertaken research in a laboratory , yet I consider him as great a scientist as Gallelio . Needless to say that Swamiji had an abundance of scientific acumen in him .

The greatest thing is that even today the views of Swamiji are very relevant . At that time we were under a foreign rule . Then due to its fear we kept on sliding into the mire of various gods and goddesses and superstitions . But we still have the same situation . If Swamiji was alive today he would have been amazed to observe that where ever you look you find a man wrapped in ashes posing as God and saying , “ I am God , worship me “ . Some where some one is producing ash from no where or some one is teaching his disciples to lift in the air negating gravity . Not only in India but in foreign lands too people claim to twist spoons with pure mental concentration . Some one tells you what is happening in the other room with out seeing . The world is yet again in the clutches of and mad about ‘Tantra-mantra’, ‘ tabeez ‘, ghosts , the markings on the palm , stars and planets movement and omens .

It is the call of time that the superstitions rampant deep in the society should be rooted out from the base and the message of Swamiji be spread to completely eradicate the menace from the society . His this one achievement is in no way less than those of Einstine , Gallelio and Newton . It has an element of science in it He is just considered a religious path finder and a social reformer . His ideas and views were based on scientific principles . Time has come to take out and save the country from the deep abyss of superstition it has fallen prey to like Swamiji and other great souls of the past did . Even in aryasamaj there should be improvement and scrutiny . While we had to expose the false notions cunningly being perpetuated by self seekers for their benefit , we ourselves have fallen prey to factionalism and coteries for petty gains at the expense of the society . In aryasamaj people are fighting for positions . Did Swamiji found Aryasamaj for the followers to fight and use force just to secure a coveted position in the organisation by hook or crook .

This stage of downfall is because we have given up the scientific approach which Swamiji expounded . Swamiji never considered himself above criticism . In the foreword of Satyath Prakash he has written that , “ In this book if I have made some mistakes due to forgetfulness or have crept during its editing and publication will accordingly be corrected as per the truth after due consideration if pointed out . And if anyone due to being partial criticises any views or suggests modifications for ulterior motives would not be paid any attention . Yes , if some one in sympathy with the humanity and for its sake suggests some thing it would be included in the book after ascertaining the truth . “

Today how many Swamies are there who after reaching the top would present themselves to scrutiny by others this way and jeopardise their positions . A true scientist is one who is ever ready to be tested any time by any one . We will imbibe in ourselves temper of science talked about very much these days by this way only . Simply by opening laboratories , giving grants , and increasing the number of scientists , we can not create an atmosphere and environment for the growth of temper of science . The beginning has to be made from top and by himself first , and never by imparting advice to others .”.


A Patriotic Scientist

Dr. Atma Ram possessed an extraordinary will power . His fearlessness and conviction in his views was another facet of his personality . If he considered any thing in the interest of the society at large , he would without any soft wrappings state them clearly and distinctly with all his might . He never bothered if some one accepted it or rejected it . Another facet of his character was that he always stood by whatever he said . Whatever be the temptation , it could not dissuade him from his path . If once after due deliberations he decided on a matter he would firmly stick to it and act accordingly .

When he was successful in developing optical glass at Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute , Jadavpur , Calcutta , then the well known Industrialist Lala Shri Ram offered to establish an optical glass factory . “ You may keep as many shares of it as you please . You will be the head of it .” Lala Shri Ram was at that time Chairman of the Working Committee of the Institute . He was also a founder member of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and a member of its Governing Body . On hearing this Atma Ram was not pleased and an intense anger showed on his face . Any body else would have jumped with joy and grabbed this golden opportunity , but not Atma Ram . He very humbly refused to accept the offer and frankly said :

“ My aim is to do research and not make money . To do this would be like deceiving my profession . And I shall never under any circumstances betray my profession . “

Dr. Atma Ram was a true patriot . He never complained about what he did not get from the society or from his country but was grateful for all he got . He always felt indebted to the country and society . This way only a dedicated and a nationalist scientist can think . Therefore he neither let himself be sold nor sold his Institute either . If he had accepted the tempting proposal , in one stroke his poverty ridden family would have become rich and security of future generations would have been ensured too. But simultaneously this is equally true that he would have missed all honour and esteem he received in his life time in the country and abroad . He would also not be a famous personality either .

Twenty six years after this incident in1978 Dr. Atma Ram was invited by the Delhi based Shri Ram Institute of Industrial Research to deliver their fourteenth Founder Memorial Lecture .It is not difficult to understand that if he had accepted Lalaji’s proposal though he could be counted among the rich , he would have certainly been deprived from the honour and respect he received from the family members of Late Lala Shri Ram .

Dr. Atma Ram was an only scientist whose feet were on the soil of Indian villages but his mind was always on the horizons of knowledge in the world . He was a true Indian from his heart and soul . Therefore if one desires to honour a scientist and address him as Scientist of the Nation then Dr Atma Ram would indeed be the man . No doubt he was not only a distinguished personality but an Institution in himself , who enhanced many times the value of any position he held . He had reached such great heights that the positions and honours did no more matter .Hence he was always a source of inspiration to young scientists specially the ones with national feelings . Any nation could take pride in such a patriotic scientist .

Every one is familiar with Kakori Conspiracy Case . During the British rule in India ,at Kakori railway station near Lucknow a treasury chest was looted . The accused patriots who were involved in the incident were sentenced to death . During investigations of the incidence it was discovered that the room in the hostel of University of Allahabad where the conspiracy was hatched belonged to Atma Ram . The police and the administration during investigations interrogated Atma Ram and tempted him that if he disclosed the whereabouts of accused persons he and his family would be suitably rewarded by the British Government . But he never wavered . He was then threatened that he could be hanged. His reply was ,’ Only this is acceptable “ . But he was released due to lack of evidence .




Protagonist Of Applied Science

Dr. Atma Ram made effective contributions in the field of application of science . His view was :

“ It is essential that we clearly distinguish between science and technology , which linked together have caused confusion .. Science produced knowledge , technology helps produce wealth . Science is universal , technology is virtually a private property . It is technology backed by strong science which can help us produce the material advantage we want
No one can deny that science and technology are not only necessary but essential for the growth of agriculture, industry and health care . In short one can say that science helps in raising the standards of life . The man in all his existence so far had never had so much knowledge and technology that is available today for his benefit . That is why science has so much relevance today .The entire responsibility of uplifting the living conditions of the masses is on the Indian scientists . We have to ascertain how close we are to our society and common people and our work is how much relevant to the hopes and aspirations of our society .
Among the essential pre-requisites for the development of our society , science and technology are an important ingredient . We can not at the same time ignore other equally important ingredients of development . A true scientist should be humble . The applied science is still in nascent stage of its growth . Perhaps as it grows we would increase our understanding of man and society .”

In his address delivered during the Focal Theme discussions , Indian science Congress Association , on January 3 , 1979 at Hyderabad , Dr. Atma Ram said :

“ He quoted the Prime Minister’s comments in the context of UN commission on Science and Technology for Development ‘ The pursuit of science and technology in our context must aim at making the country self-reliant and must assist in solving the pressing problems of providing basic minimum needs of the rural masses and the weaker sections of the society . Towards this objective , it should be our endeavour to create an infrastructure of applied science and technology , and a national climate for the effective utilisation of our scientific and technical abilities . ‘

Whenever we speak of science and technology , we only think of research and development . We do not consider that a vast amount of knowledge is readily available which if effectively used can solve many existing problems of the mass of population which was the aim of the Science Policy Resolution , and to which Government is giving priority to . Take for instance the cause of night blindness which is known to be amenable to Vitamin A treatment . Why does it continue to plague us ?”

He spent his whole life in expounding his views so that science could become beneficial to the poor masses . In the course of his talks he said things which some scientists did not like . Some misunderstood him .For example , when he said that in National Laboratories basic fundamental research should not be undertaken . The scientists thought that he was against basic research . But the facts were otherwise . He was never against basic research . But he believed that it was in the domain of the Universities . National Laboratories were not in competition with University Laboratories . National Laboratories should win the confidence of the industry . He believed that a common man appreciates science when it does some good to him . For centuries crores of our people have suffered badly under foreign rule . Now when we are free , they rightly demand that their basic needs of bread , clothing and housing should be fulfilled entirely .

In his address on 29th September 1977 , at the meeting of National Committee on Science and Technology , in the context of improving the village life , said :

“ Why should science and technology in India be geared to rural needs and relevance ?
The answer is simple .Three fourths of Indian people live in villages . A good many people in rural areas live below the subsistence level . They have lived in poverty and backwardness through centuries . But they are not unaware of what good life is . Above all , they are not unaware of the fact that good life is possible for them too . In fact , they believe that they have suffered far too long in the wallows of poverty and backwardness and it is time now for them to ask for a better life . We can not bypass or ignore their expectations and aspirations for a better and happier life . Science and technology are the tools which can improve their life and bring them fruits of their toil in the form of perceptible material benefits .

While we are talking about the rural people , there is , yet another segment of Indian population which has received even scanter attention . They are perhaps the most neglected and forsaken people in the country . I am now referring to Adivasis and hill tribes who perhaps are at the lowest rung of economic order of our country . Our attention now must be riveted towards the rural people , the Adivasis and the hill tribes . Science and technology should not end up with their benefits to a small section of the population in the urban areas . Our efforts should be to make science and technology percolate even to the farthest hill regions of the country and also to those traditionally Adivasis areas which have not yet been touched by the faintest ripples of modernity .

The actual performance of industries in rural areas will depend upon the mastery of the production apparatus and techniques by the worker . Generally this involves the adoption of simple technologies , machines and tools , and the assimilation of simple science . Lost in the glamour of big science , which even affluent countries in the west are finding it increasingly difficult to finance , we have paid little attention to the need of science and technology in the rural areas .

For ending unemployment in the rural ,Aadivasi and hill areas , it should be our endeavour to take stock of the locally available resources . So far , most of the agricultural resources have been put to one or two main uses such as food and fibres . A good many agricultural crops can yield a host of chemicals . Cottage industries can be built around such resources as hide and skins , crops such as oil seeds and bamboo .There is a lot of scope for poultry and bee-keeping in rural , hill and Adivasi areas . What is required is the fabrication and distribution of inexpensive outfits for the spread of poultry and bee-keeping in these backward regions .

Paper making is another village industry , which has not only a very good employment potential but a ready market in the country . One often hears of shortage of paper in the country . Out of a total annual production of about 800.000 tonnes of paper , the proportion of hand made paper is only about 0.5 % . Why can not we think of producing more hand made paper ? Hand-made paper is cheaper than mill-made paper .

One of the persistent maladies of the rural life in India has been the lack of sanitation , which in a nut-shell is the problem of disposal of wastes . Science and technology has to find a simple , inexpensive and workable device for waste disposal in our villages . Rural sanitation will eliminate most of the tropical diseases found in our country and lessen the burden on the Government for financing huge measures to control or cure diseases .

The application of rural science and technology for rural development is far from simple . Our talented scientists have to start thinking in terms of science, and specially applied science , which could make some tangible impact on the daily life of the people in the villages More and more of young engineers and technologists , who can identify themselves with the masses , must be encouraged to work in the area of rural development on worthwhile programmes . Concerted efforts have to be made to increase the competence and contribution of the technicians , craftsmen , and skilled workers in the rural areas , without which no major impact is likely to endure . Understanding , initiative , and standards of performance have to be promoted all round .”

Dr. Atma Ram’s view was that in the field of applied science , services of only top calibre scientists should be utilised . He was not against University degrees , but he was of the view that with regard to economic development , it was necessary that undue importance be not given to the degrees and the students be encouraged to take up technical education from the secondary school stage itself . In 1971 , while delivering convocation address of Gujrat Vidyapeeth , Ahmedabad he said :


“ It is a matter of concern that on one side we have unemployment and on the other there is paucity of skilled technicians in our factories . Why is it so ? The main reason is that our system of education gives stress on degrees and not on skills and abilities . An impression has been created that without a University degree there is no salvation . The economic progress of Punjab , Haryana and Gujrat has not been due to University degrees , but due to skills of its workers . We have given some unnecessary importance to our Universities . Hence every student wishes to study in a University . There is an impression specially in Universities to put fundamental research on a higher pedestal and applied research rather lowly . The need is to create skills and abilities to put into use and utilise the store of abundant knowledge lying with us . Is showing the path of utilisation of knowledge , is not creating knowledge itself . I would like to emphasise that if for fundamental research we require scientists of a high calibre , we also require the same calibre for applied science too . If our students by their abilities , skills and capabilities do not become useful and creative then the Universities degrees are meaningless . The education should be for uplifting and becoming useful rather than just for degree ‘s sake .

For economic progress it is necessary that undue emphasis is not given to degrees and the students are encouraged to opt for technical education right from secondary school stage In a developing country like ours importance should be given to a person who can develop an equipment by using tit bits of iron and steel , rather than to a student who can only understand the writings of Kalidas and Shakespeare .Before you misunderstand me , I only mean that while we may have the ability to take pleasure in the writings of Kalidas and Shakespeare , we must have the skills too to earn our daily bread . Till we learn various types of skills , we can not make effective use of our natural resources , and our nation would continue to remain poor .

I fee that in our strategy for development, human resources development occupies a pivotal place . Whether minerals would remain underground or would be mined and used for the manufacture of useful materials , whether steel would remain in ingots or will be transformed into machines that produce useful goods ; whether oil will remain hidden or will provide the means of power and locomotion ; whether waterfalls will remain beauty spots or will also be a source of electricity ; whether rivers will be only carriers of water to the sea or will be a source of food and crops , entirely depend on the ability of the people to harness physical resources to their betterment . Human resources and physical resources are evenly important. However , there are instances of countries which have made remarkable progress through the capabilities of their people in spite of inadequate physical resources . Instances are also not wanting to show that lack of ability and wisdom on the part of the people could keep a country , otherwise richly endowed by nature , backward .”

Regarding import of technology for economic development , his views were very explicit :

“ Unnecessary myths should not be created . You give a problem today and begin asking tomorrow if any result has been obtained . All the countries of the world borrow some technologies from one another . If one says that he would not borrow any thing from outside and develop all technologies by himself , he would not be right .Should we wait for years before we develop all the technologies ourselves ? People now do not like waiting even for two days . Every villager wants drinking water , full wholesome food to eat , cheap clothing and a house to live in . Our country has entered the atomic age and space age . This indeed is a matter of pride . We are also on the threshold of oceanic age But common people are asking when do we achieve ‘ bread and water’ age .

To fulfil this aim we must take whatever assistance we can get from our scientists . Simultaneously we should keep our windows open for foreign technology . We should get better technology where ever available -North or South , East or West . Who is not borrowing ? Russia borrows lots of technologies from abroad . China is borrowing technology from Western countries . Even America , which has every kind of technology , spends about 30-40 crores of Dollars on borrowing technology from other countries . We complain after spending only 600 crore rupees on borrowing technology that why do we have to import technology . While other countries , despite spending thousands crores of rupees continue importing better technologies than theirs , where ever available . Whatever America spends on royalties , it earns more on royalties on its patents . But Japan does not receive even 20 % of what it spends on royalties . There is a continuing race for purchase of technology in Japan . Their expert teams roam about the world in search of suitable technologies .

I may also mention that technologies are not transferred free . They are not donated . They have to be purchased .Hhalf of the applied research work in the world is not even published in scientific journals . Most of the technology is in the hands of multinationals . We shall have to borrow technology from them . Yes , there may be some defence related technologies , which may not be available even at a price . We shall have to continue supporting and encouraging indigenous effort in that direction . Our laboratories have trained people in large numbers and these people are being used to improve the industries . Yet there is need for better understanding between National laboratories and the Industry . Though I did not want to mention by name the Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute as I was associated with it for several years , yet as an example even today the Institute has close relations with glass industry and you can measure its contribution by the progress of the glass and ceramic industry in the country .

Such technology has been well utilised in our country . Due to the efforts of agricultural scientists the country is self sufficient in food grains . The seeds of dwarf variety of Mexican wheat were brought . Ways and means were found to sow them . Then the seeds were modified to suit our environment . If we depended solely on our own efforts and did not import quality seeds , would we have alleviated shortage of food grains in the country so early . The work of our agricultural scientists is really commendable . This method should also be adopted in rest of the research fields .

I am not in favour of making out a list of areas where technology may be imported and another where it should not be permitted. There are no such areas . Every day new techniques are being developed . There is no harm in understanding and adopting these new techniques to our needs and requirements . Recently in Japan a new technique has been found which would substantially save on power in producing cement . If we say that we have the technology for producing cement as we are doing it here , it is not required to be included in the list . Why should be denied this fuel saving technique . Science says so . We progress that way . Those who tread the path of rigidity do not progress .”

The famous British Scientist Lord Blackett considered Dr. Atma Ram unparalleled in relating science with economic progress and he used to quote him quite often in his learned lectures . On the sudden demise in a rail accident of well known aryasamajic leader and Member of Parliament , Shri Prakash Vir Shastry , Dr. Atma Ram in an article published in the Weekly Hindustan dated 18 th December 1977 with the title ‘We have seen few such people ‘. In this obituary Dr. Atma Ram mentioned his associations with Lord Blackett .

An excerpt from the article is reproduced below which distinctly shows the unique relationship he had with this famous British Scientist :

“ This happened about seven or eight years back .A delegation of our Members of Parliament visited British Parliament on their invitation . Praksh Vir Ji was also its member . On receiving the invitation he came to me and said , “ I have to visit United Kingdom with the delegation . I wish to meet some British Scientists .” Occasionally he used to speak on science topics in Parliament . I was quite familiar with his speeches . I informed him that their Royal Society was a world famous body and it was like our National Science Academy . I also added that it was more than three hundred years old and was famous in its field . If you visit them you can meet famous scientists . I informed him that at present Lord Blackett was its President .He should meet him . I also gave him an introductory letter for Lord Blackett Shastry ji went to Britain . He met Lord Blackett . From there he sent me a short letter describing his meeting with Lord Blackett . On his return , he told me that he was highly impressed with Lord Blackett more than any other scientist . I was pleasantly surprised on learning from him that Lord Blackett quoted me quite often .He told me that Lord Blackett was in favour of Dr. Atma Ram’s views and then asked him , “ Tell me how much support you give as Member to Dr. Atma Ram in the Parliament ?” After some time when Lord Blackett visited India on our Government’s invitation , I met him along with Shasrty ji . I felt after the meeting that Lord Blackett was equally impressed by my views and the decency of Shri Shastry ji .”



Strong Supporter Of Skilled Persons

Dr. Atma Ram believed that human resources could not be developed by education alone though education was essential to it . For nations all round progress it was necessary to impart professional education and training for producing scientists , technicians , engineers , workers , organisers , administrators and other professional and non-professional people . In 1968 in his Presidential address at the meeting of Indian Science Congress Association , at Varanasi , he said :

“ I would like to draw your attention about our continually ignoring the role of our technicians . Now the industrial production is getting more and more technology oriented . Therefore we need skilled technicians to operate machines , to repair them , to test the raw materials and final product , to fabricate new machines and produce new items . During production , handling of all these technical and complex processes , we would need highly skilled technicians . Technicians face a social problem too . The society does not give them due recognition and importance which is their due . In our country’s social and economic progress technicians contribution is no less than others .”

He used to say that a degree holder engineer can be unemployed but a skilled worker can never be without a job . By citing an example of his nephew he said :

“ He had passed metric in third division . What job could he get ? Either a peon or a clerk at maximum . I got him placed in a factory . He learnt fabrication of furnaces there . Today he is in great demand as a furnace specialist . He is an expert in his field . So far as education is concerned , for making furnaces metric is more than enough .”

He used to say that where ever we enter into agreements for the transfer of technology with foreign countries , the participating persons are invariably technicians . The progress of western countries is also due to the esteem in which the society holds their technicians . Their pay structure is decent and they are given an honoured place in the society . In our country this stage has yet to come .

On 14 th February , 1970 while delivering convocation address of Lucknow University , he had very categorically stated that the country can flourish if we give due importance to our technicians . We reproduce some excerpts from his lecture titled—‘ In support of Productivity ‘

“ The very name Lucknow suggests the picture of a city of old splendour , culture and connected with many other things which make life happier . Lucknow has been a centre of good living . You can ask me how an applied scientist like me , who has spent a large portion of his life in testing sand and clay and watching or making glass wares , would know about the life for which Lucknow is famous . I would only say that in this age of progressive science and miraculous technology , who would remain untouched in imagining the possibilities of wonderful things happening in life Science and technology are continuously making our lives better , longer and happier . This is the age of science and technology . Therefore it is but proper that we pause and think about the opportunities and challenges , which our young boys and girls are facing today . In this context I am reminded of a Urdu couplet I read during childhood :

‘ Gaya daur hukumat ka bas hikmat ki hai bari ,
jahan mein chahar su ilmo alam ki hai amaldari.’

When a young scientist comes out of the University with a degree , he discovers that with whatever he has learnt he is fit enough for working only in the laboratories of the universities , colleges and else where . He feels hesitant and deficient to join an industry. This is because as a student he was never exposed to the needs of the industry . As for the industries , they too hesitate to take them as they feel they may not be able to work effectively in the factory . This is a difficult situation where problem of coordination between educational system and the manpower requirement is distinctly visible .

In our universities and other educational institutions there are limited positions for the scientists . About twelve thousand science students pass out every year from more than seventy universities . They can not expect that all of them would be absorbed in these universities . It is therefore imperative to find ways and means for providing gainful employment to these degree holders in science . It is necessary to develop a programme in this direction very carefully . It should be ascertained , how many persons should be educated , in which specific fields and up to what levels . The best course perhaps would be that there should be a position for every educated person , and for every position there should be an educated person . We have to make our planned programme very practical and it should be flexible enough to be changed according to needs and requirements . It seems to be a problem , a seemingly paradoxical situation , that we have unemployment and underemployment of scientists and engineers , but at the same time there is a shortage of skilled persons possessing critical skills essential for economic growth .

Reasons for this are many . We must appreciate the difference between degree and skill . It is not necessary that with degree you also get skills and equally degree is also not necessary to acquire skills For production skills are necessary and not degrees . Today the nation needs more production . Therefore we need skilled workers and not only educated people . Skilled workers have comparatively much less problems of unemployment . Today our educational system does not cater to this demand . More students pass out from universities than the gainful employment opportunities in the country . Also the wages are not same in all cases . The Government and other employers have the responsibility to alleviate this short coming . But our social value system also gives rise to and aggravates this imbalance .

I have said many times that the solution for the country’s economic , social and political problems is to accelerate economic progress . By fast economic progress we can fulfill the aspirations of the common man for a better living . In to days system which is based on science and technology , for nation’s economic growth , we require lots of skilled persons who are efficient in various technological fields and also those who can effectively manage modern industries . Our universities are presently degree oriented while the need of the hour is for a large number of skilled personnel . I feel that in our educational system stress should equally be given both on degrees and skills . If our educational system is not ready for such a change , I do not see any other way of alleviating the unemployment problem of our educated young persons , and the uproar resulting from it . If we delay the matters any further it would not be in country’s interest .

In a developing country like ours , we need many technicians and the demand would only grow . The productivity in our industry is increasingly depending on the application of science . The industries require exceptional competence and capability from the persons who would operate , maintain and repair their modern expensive machines , design and fabricate new ones , and develop new products . For these highly skilled works ,we require young people with sound technical knowledge and a practical outlook . It is a matter of concern that we have not paid much attention to producing such technicians . We should see to it that the segment of those students who would not much benefit from the study of science , are sent for studies for becoming medium or higher grade technicians . In these efforts the society also must help , as they contribute a lot to economic progress of the country .

How to teach these skills ? How to motivate people ? Who should undertake this work ? In my opinion universities can not ignore taking interest in such basic issues . Please excuse me if I suggest something . These days for the topics selected for the award of Doctorate , stress is given on acquiring new knowledge . Would it not be proper if we include such problems which may be of use to the society . In our educational system it should be ensured that commercial inventions are also accepted for the award of degrees . It would then be possible to utilise the research work for solving industries problems . Is use of knowledge not gaining knowledge itself . How to involve our young boys and girls in industrial productivity . One solution could be to make it compulsory for every student to spend 3-6 months either in an industry or in an agricultural environment . This would inculcate in the students an awareness in their outlook bring closeness between universities , industry and agriculture .”



Follower Of Gandhian Philosophy

Dr. Atma Ram was a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi . Gandhiji was an exceptional social reformer . He remained linked to Politics all his life . Atma Ram ji was a scientist and in his capacity as a scientific official , he came in close contact with the politicians till his end . Even then he did not actively join politics . Gandhiji was a strict follower of truth and non-violence and he implicitly believed in God . He believed that truth is God and God is truth . Atma Ramji was also a follower of truth and non-violence and he too intensely believed in God .

He , during his younger days , had several opportunities to meet Gandhiji along with his teacher Prof . Megh Nad Saha . During these meetings he was fortunate to discuss various topics with him . On one such occasion Gandhiji told him :

“ Science is for searching out the truth . In fact why only science every facet of human life has one aim—honour the truth . Yes, there can be different ways . Normally it does happen . But the basic issue is not of ways and means but of intention . As I have said , every one’s intention is –truth .”

Though the two followed different vocations yet their philosophy of life , thinking , living ,and way of working , explicitly displayed tremendous similarity . Both of them till the end struggled for the upliftment of the masses . Both of them laid particular stress on the correct , proper and pious means to achieve their goals . Both of them gave maximum importance in their lives to truth and non-violence . This Gandhian Scientist had said ,” For science truth is supreme .”

Dr. Atma Ram was an absolute Gandhian in his mind , words and deeds . He all his life followed Gandhian ideology and through the medium of science worked for the welfare of the masses . He used to wear khadi as well as mill made cloth . There was a lot of difference between their ages . Since the assassination of Gandhiji science has advanced a lot in every sphere of life . It is quite possible that if Gandhiji was alive today he might have used polyester khadi Gandhiji had given up wearing cap early in life . Atma Ramji began wearing Gandhi cap early in his life and continued wearing it till the end of his life . Perhaps he was the only well known scientist in the country who wore Gandhi cap . This Gandhian scientist was recognised by his spotlessly white cap . It seems as if Gandhiji had told him to wear white cap to commemorate his memory and to carry on with his scientific work , as he was his true follower and led a life of truth .

Dr. Atma Ram used to quote Gandhiji in his lectures quite often . During his address to Science Congress he had said :

“ Our civilisation is very old and therefore we are immersed in our traditions . We have to solve our problems very carefully . Ganghi ji used to say that for the poor God comes in the form of bread . Before we expect our countrymen to give up superstitions and follow scientific perceptions , we should introspect how far we have provided them with the life’s barest necessities of food , clothing and housing . In short -economic security .”

He felt great anguish that we have discarded all the principles of Mahatma Gandhi who brought freedom to us from the shackles of slavery , immediately after gaining independence . His ideals are for mere formality now . In 1971 while delivering convocation address of Gujrat Vidyapeeth , Ahmedabad , he said with an anguished heart :

“ He [ Gandhiji ] was of the view that man should be a good human being . If man is right , society will itself become right . It is said that today his cherished ideals and principles are being ignored . I would however like to stress that his outlook was very practical . He always said that we would progress not by more production but production by more and more people .

We made Father of the Nation , Mahatma . { ‘Mahan Atma ‘-- a great Soul } We felt that we have completed our duty towards him . We raise the slogan- ‘ Mahatma Gandhi Kee Jai ‘ but do not follow his ideals . These are mere formalities now . Please excuse my saying this . It is a great betrayal of Mahatma Gandhi , who made us capable of being free , and towards us too . His principles were not like the Hindi saying- -‘ Elephant’s teeth are for show and not for eating ’ His principles were very practical and could be put to practice . His way of working was to analyse the situation and problems and then find a solution . This way he was a true scientist of social -science . Science is a process . One does not become a true scientist by merely working in a laboratory or obtaining a degree .

Gandhiji placed before the nation the outline of applied economics . Today when we have the problem of feeding , clothing and housing fifty five crore people , the value of his economic programme increases many fold .

In Delhi we have Mahatma Gandhi Marg . Road signs indicate that . Why only Delhi , every town has a Gandhi Marg . But there are hardly any who tread his path . Just a few days back , we celebrated Gandhi Centenary with great pomp and show and spent crores of rupees . We held several functions which were attended by thousands of persons from abroad and our people too visited foreign countries in this context . If these had any effect , I do not know . But I am of the firm view that had Gandhiji been alive today he would never have permitted this expenditure . He would have told to spend that money either on Harijan welfare or some other welfare schemes of the country .”

Dr. Atma Ram was greatly influenced by Gandhiji as a person and by his actions . He sincerely believed that a great democratic country like India , can achieve progress only by following the path shown by Gandhiji . Why an independent India could not mould itself to Gandhiji’s ideals . He answers this question thus :

“ In the history of India’s freedom movement , one name which is mentioned with greatest respect is was far sighted enough to focus on issues necessary for attaining freedom and for its progress. On basic education , housing , industry , use of swadeshi things [ produced in the country ] , untouchability and leprocy a deadly disease , Gandhiji gave the nation a new meaning .

Science also did not remain uninfluenced by Gandhiji’s views on use and adoption of swadeshi things and seeking economic progress of the country only with indigenous resources . Slowly along with the studies of fundamental science there was some progress in applied science and technology . A few universities started studies in certain fields of technology like silicates , leather , oil and fat etc . Research work began in applied science too . But the large scale of this activity was visible only after independence when sudden progress was made

To day the basic aim of progress in science is to provide to mankind physical means so that they may live a happy and disease free life . The lack of economic resources is at the very root of misery in the world . The expectancy of life in developing countries is still higher than that of developed countries . They are healthier and abler . Gandhiji also had a vision of such an India . But his path of alleviating poverty from the country was different . He desired Indian industry to grow but within the village and home level only . He believed that with the increase in big mills and factories the problem of unemployment would increase further . His interest in mills and factories perhaps arose due to their being very few of them in our country , forcing us to send our raw materials like cotton and minerals to Manchester and Buckingham mills of England and iron ore to factories in Shaffield . The finished goods produced there were sold in Indian markets at prohibitive prices . Gandhiji believed that what a mill with very few hands produces , if produced in small quantities by several people individually , that of the Father of the Nation , Mahatma Gandhi . During the days of freedom struggle Gandhiji would provide employment to people in large numbers . But to day the conditions are very different The greatest effect of science and technology has been on instrumentation . Several new factories have been established utilising new processes and instruments . I understand that we can utilise these techniques in small industries too . There is an example of Japan with us . Assembling transistor radios is a home industry there . Lakhs of people earn their living from it . We too can follow this in India . With very little technical knowledge , common man can make this a profession . But all this is possible by a substantial progress in science .

What I understand of Gandhiji’s concept of swadeshi is the utilisation of indigenously available minerals , medicinal plants and other natural resources for the country’s progress . It is true that we can not compete with the developed country’s technologies and we have taken advantage in many fields of the technologies provided by them , yet it is not proper to remain in a borrowing situation all the time . To day in our country there is no dearth of scientific talent . The fact is that we are providing this talent to an extent to developed countries . Then why should we not use this talent to modify the technologies to suit our requirement . Why should we not develop techniques which may be cheaper and lasting utilising our own natural resources . The country’s National Laboratories are engaged in these activities along with fundamental scientific research . In this direction one can think of research in making coal which is not usable in the industry useful , infant food , production of medicines , new varieties of steel , new varieties of glass and optical glass , make better kinds of leather etc .”

Dr. Atma Ram was an admirer of Gandhiji’s views of giving importance to labour . He too desired that with the scientific research we should provide employment to maximum number of people . Only then it can be beneficial to the masses . This way he had logically rebutted the arguments being propagated against Gandhiji . He had implicit faith in Gandhiji ‘s truth and non-violence . Below we reproduce some excerpts from his convocation address to Gujrat Vidyapeeth , Ahmedabad . :

“ Gandhiji in his ashram-cum-laboratory distributed work to every one . It was compulsory for every one to work , because if one person remained idle another would have to perform twice his allotted work . He said that physical labour generates self respect and one continues having faith in his own efforts .

Gandhiji was not in favour of traditional education . He believed that in India the education should be intimately related to common man’s living environment .His views on basic education and dignity of labour have much relevance even to day . We have not only ignored but discarded these views altogether .

It is quite often said that Gandhiji was anti-science , anti - technology , viewed science with suspicion and considered machines as devils . I thought about this many times but I could not discern any substance . I would rather say to the extent that such persons have neither understood Gandhiji nor science in correct perspective . Gandhiji expounded the cause of truth and non-violence .Man has invented computer to aid the brain He would have no dealings where there was an iota of untruth and violence .

Truth is the back bone of science . Search of truth is its aim . Even if lakhs of people accept a hypothesis and one lone person in the world presents a fact disproving it , then that hypothesis can no longer hold . This is a way to truth . That is why science is called universal as only truth can be universal . Science is only science and does not change with specific areas or countries . There are no such things as German science , English science , American science , Russian science or Indian science . In the pursuit of truth scientists had to suffer enormously , were even subjected to physical torture , but they never dissuaded or even hesitated in expounding the truth . You are all aware of tortures Gallelio suffered . A scientist may behave in areas not connected with science in any way , in an untruth manner . But in scientific matters untruth just can not work , truth prevails ultimately exposing the falsehood . I would only say about the different behaviour of scientists in science and non - science matters , what I said two years before at a meeting in Vidyapeeth on the occasion of Gandhiji’s centenary celebrations when this question arose , ‘ science is universal and not the scientists ‘ .It is but proper that scientists should be universal –true in all aspects of life . Gandhiji was such a scientist . I would call him an ideal scientist . Opposing untouchability is scientific , and a social duty . Zoological science has proved that all homosapiens every where and of any caste , creed or country are same in every way and have no difference . Please tell me if Gandhiji was not a scientist ? He gave such a wonderful ‘mantra ‘ of truth and non-violence to social sciences , with truth he created a programme for the eradication of untouchability from the society , and ensured that what he said he followed .

Gandhiji always stressed on keeping to the minimum ones personal needs . It is a great scientific fact that nature is also that way and is very thrifty. Man has invented computer to aid his brain . If a computer is invented to replace the brain it would occupy an enormous space . The nature has produced the computer to fit in the head in so small a space . Nature accomplishes every thing in an extremely diminutive way . Gandhiji’a laboratory was nature with all its life . He used to experiment on himself first and then after due deliberations he would place his findings before the public . There was never any difference between his thoughts and deeds . That is why Einstein said at his death that the coming generations would not believe that at any time such a person moved about on this earth in flesh and blood . He rightly said so . Even being in political field he , he was a wonderfully great person . Since we could not understand his measure , we turned him into a god-man , so that if some one queried we may get away by telling that he was a god-man .

To day due to science man has achieved tremendous abilities . So much that he can feed , clothe , and provide decent house to each and every person on this earth , yet a majority of people remain hungry and naked . Because man can control the nature but not himself . We bother how the man would walk on moon but do not care if he is walking well on earth . Man would control himself on understanding his duties properly and by correcting himself . This comes by discipline and Gandhiji always stressed on it . Therefore he laid equal stress on the sanctity of means and goals . Sanctity is deteriorating these days resulting in all round tensions and corruption .

A question always crops up in my mind that despite so many great and idealistic men being born here , the country remained backward . We showed the path to the world but got strayed ourselves . Either we do not see the path or we have knowingly left it . We simply paid homage but forgot the path indicated by our great men or remembered them as we do our dead during ‘shradh ‘ Our character has gone down . Just on a call of Gandhi entire nation stood by him . On his bidding people threw away and burnt like in Holi all their foreign clothes howsoever expensive . But today we seem to be once again running after foreign clothes and fashion . In 1929-30 Gandhiji asked for an amount of more than rupees two crores for the poor He travelled round the country and in no time he collected more than he asked for . Was it all show ? Where is that feeling now ? Why it is no more ? After acquiring power , where did we lose truth and non-violence . Did it die with Gandhiji ? To day we do hear that he desired so , his path and policies were so , yet no one follows them in life .The disappearance of the people’s nature of sacrifice and following the true path of Gandhiji is not in national interest under any circumstances . It is essential to rekindle and keep alive the peoples faith and following in Gandhian ideals . Today the adage is ‘Ulta chor kotwal ko dante ‘ . It is not the age of truth but of seeking power . Gandhiji always followed the path of truth and yet he held the greatest power one could ever imagine . Even ministers touched his feet . The day , the Viceroy of India set cross legged in Gandhiji’s hut in Bhangi Colony , was a red letter day for this country . That was the time when people stood by him united on just a command from him . Where has that spirit gone now .”


Stress On Application Of Science

Dr. Atma Ram was of the firm view that science should be applied for the economic development of the nation and to solve the basic needs of the people , ie , food , clothing and housing . He expounded these views on several occasions in both national and international forums . He had full faith in Indian scientific talent He was not against fundamental research . But at the same time he did not like laboratories only producing research papers while the country’s problems remained as they were . He was much anguished by the fact that a nation which had one third of the science educated persons in the world , that country is still compelled to stay below poverty line .

It pained him too that our scientists were running after international recognition , while for a poor and developing country like ours we needed competence in application of science and not recognition in fundamental science . In March , 1974 , delivering the convocation address of the Harcourt Butler Institute , Kanpur , he said :

“ Our most of the engineering and technology institutes because of running after international recognition have remained aloof and almost isolated from the main stream of basic problems of technology transfer . Crores of rupees were spent on the import of equipment and machinery for the industries which came into being with external support . All these goods were the result of the efforts of foreign engineers and technicians . By importing ready made parts , there is not much scope left for indigenous research and development unless it is related to local environment . It is seldom so as the detailed designs of machines and technology are kept secret . In such an environment the research work on the adoption of technology is almost nil . In this context the achievement of a Japanese factory is very significant . This factory imported technology and some machinery from a British company . After working for some time they were able to export better technology and machinery to that very British company . Who did that ? Japanese technicians . As compared to this what do we see here –just because of a compressor failure , the factory built with a capital of few crores of rupees because of its forced closure , was losing rupees four lakhs per day . It is up to you to decide whether we need competence in application of science or recognition in fundamental research .”

He was of the of the firm view that research and development should be intimately related . It is therefore imperative that the industry establish their own laboratories . They should leave their dependence on the Government . This would lead to a quicker development . In 1968 in his Presidential address at the 55th Indian Science Congress Association meeting said :

“ The industries should have their own laboratories . Our research and development should be intimately connected so that economic growth is faster . The President of Royal Society , Prof. P.M.S. Blackett , said in his recent Nehru Memorial Lecture , ‘ To day the poverty is so much and solutions being very difficult for the complex problems of rapidly increasing population , it may be necessary to stop all other works to achieve economic progress. Only economic progress is not every thing but under the prevailing circumstances for India it is every thing . ‘ I am in agreement with this view . In this context the test for research and development is to what extent it is being used . To utilise the research work , particularly when research and development take place in different organisations , the industries find it difficult and several problems arise . It is better if the industries have their own laboratories .”

Dr Atma Ram considered nationalism and science complementary to each other and not adversaries . His views were explicit on this :

“ Science is universal and therefore it belongs to all mankind . When the knowledge of science is utilised for industrial production it is called technology . Technology comes out of science . It is not necessary that it be universal like science . It is essential for individual countries and societies to select and develop technologies to suit their natural , economic , human resources , local situations and keeping in mind their immediate needs . If a country like India with its limited resources copies the rich developed countries , ignoring its own resources and aims , I doubt if it can succeed in its efforts . A great British Scientist Rutherford once said , ‘ Since we do not have money like Americans , we shall have to use our brains .’ We Indians are in a more difficult situation , we shall have to take recourse to our brains all the more .”

His views on import of technology were very clear and explicit . He felt that we should import technology where ever available for our economic growth . He said that in to days world no country can claim complete technological independence . We should develop technological competence . The need is to modify foreign technology to suit our conditions and needs . At Varanasi Science Congress he clearly stated :

“ Foreign collaboration and import of ‘ know-how ‘ is another subject on which strong views are often expressed . Whatever may be the views of scientists and technologists ,let us not make any mistake about the general psychology influencing the policy of foreign collaboration and technical ‘ know-how ‘ . Since 1947 , our country has registered a fairly good economic growth . By and large , the growth is based on foreign collaborations and imported ‘ know- how ‘

The government has adopted a fairly liberal policy towards foreign investment and remittance and repatriation by foreign investors . There is a feeling that foreign collaboration has been permitted even where ‘ know- how ‘ was available in the country . Some say that laboratory scale operations are mistaken for technical ‘ know-how ‘ An investor invests for profit . Altruistic motives play little part in this matter . Unless we are able to give the investor the whole ‘package offer ‘ consisting of technical and economic ‘know- how ‘ , plant and machinery , managerial and marketing techniques , technical ‘ know- how ‘ alone will not interest him . The research scientist can not offer the whole gamut of expertise and ‘ know - how ‘ to make an industrial enterprise . No where it is so . Lack of appreciation of the role of research scientist can cause much wastage of time , effort and unnecessary recrimination .

Industrialisation in the modern sense has brought with it new techniques of management of high sophistication . Such responsibilities as the following , which now devolve upon large industrial management , were mostly unknown before : I. choice of product ; 2. Design of operation for production ; 3. Securing and using the necessary materials , machines , power and labour ; 4. Merchandising and marketing of the products ; 5. Financing the operations ; 6. Building and maintaining a large network of functional set up . All this requires management skills with quite involved and complex procedures . If we are to be in the forefront in the industrial and commercial world , trade with other countries and keep our balance of payment position sound , we need all these skills . An institutional structure for fostering such activities and working in close integration with research institutions is the crying need of the hour .

There is also the psychological aspect of the wide spread feeling prevailing in the country that any thing foreign is superior to any thing Indian , which pervades even our intellectual life . It is also discernible in our science and technology . In industry , nothing ensures the success of a product better than a foreign name tagged to it or its association with a foreign firm .Gone are the days of swadeshi spirit . It may need a Gandhi to propagate a new wave of confidence in our efforts and in our achievements .

While we should develop confidence in our own efforts , we should not in the name of ‘ swadeshi ‘ re-invent what is known , unless we are denied the technology available abroad . When technology can be purchased from others with out compromising national interests and crippling local efforts , we need not take a doctrinaire view of things . It may be asked if technology can be purchased from others where do the Indian scientists come in ? It is well known , that even where technology may be available from outside , large amount of work has to be done to adapt it to local needs and conditions . Therefore , in developing countries high priority must be given to adaptation work . Technological independence , though a desirable goal ,is not easy of achievement . Not even the USA , which is perhaps the only country which has a positive balance of technological payment , is technologically independent .She pays about 70 million dollars per year to others . We should develop technological competence rather than strive after technological independence .”

He made distinct difference between science and technology . Science indicates a thing can happen , technology makes it happen . Technology turns scientific ideas into saleable hardware . He laid stress on the development of indigenous technology to build our own equipment to suit our needs . We may even begin with very small equipment .He also stressed on experimentation in science studies . His views expressed at the above referred Science Congress are :

“ For centuries , technology and science remained and developed independently of each other . Technology , known as industrial arts , was essentially empirical and provided little interest to the intellectual class who generally looked down upon it . As an off shoot of organised human thought science appealed to the intellectual classes and remained their preserve and pastime . It was only about the middle of the nineteenth century that science and technology came closer to each other and it was realised that each stimulated the growth of other . With the progress of organised knowledge in many areas , science and technology have lost much of their distinctiveness . Technology is now much more science based than ever before .

As to day’s science may lead to tomorrow’s technology , we must promote and sustain science in all its aspects . Those with vocation for pure science must be able to pursue it To apply science , one must first know it . Hence , pursuit of pure science must be encouraged in all its varied branches . But in doing so , the highest international standards must be observed . It is essential to have healthy growth of basic science , research should be conducted at the very frontiers of knowledge . For this reason the universities which are the principal centres of basic work must be strengthened . One of our primary aims in this regard should be the development of what I would term as ‘ scientific capabilities ’.

In passing , I wish to mention that the experimental aspect is not sufficiently emphasised in our science teaching . Cultivation of experimental ability need not solely depend upon sophisticated equipment or ready made apparatus . Improvisation is what should be encouraged ; it is this which leads to innovation and often to discoveries . In any case , it develops skills and machine sense . This will also help in orienting our education to production .”

Dr. Atma Ram , when he was Director General of CSIR , was invited to address a meeting at Bombay . There an industrialist , who was earlier a member of the Planning Commission , complained that he was not getting any assistance from the laboratories , and the technology had to be imported . Dr. Atma Ram shot back , startling the member , saying :

“ Do you expect that the laboratories do research , design pilot plants , and after fabricating the complete plant commence production ? Do you enter into agreements for foreign technologies , with the laboratories ? These are all done with industries and factories who had established production after fabricating pilot plants . “

Dr. Atma Ram while being a protagonist of indigenous technology , supported import of essential technology for gaining time . Speaking as Chairman , NCST , in 1977 , he reiterated his arguments and stated :

“ Modernisation of existing technology , development of new ones , and acquisition from outside , are three important facets of the growth of technology in any country . During the last couple of decades , self- reliance has been the basic tenet of our policy . It appears , however , that the development of modern industries in the country has progressed mostly on the borrowed technology . To what extent have we succeeded in modernising the technology of the established industries in the country through indigenous efforts ? How much new technology has been developed in the country and to what extent they have been used ? What are the impediments in the full utilisation of indigenous developments ? To what extent have the borrowed technologies been assimilated or improved upon ? What is the mechanism for involving our scientific institutions in the choice of technology , and in the best utilisation of the acquired ones ? What system do we have to keep track of technological developments in areas in which we are interested , to assist in making the best possible choice for acquisition .

Indigenous R & D , and import of technology , are not mutually exclusive . They are complimentary . We need far more intensive efforts in R & D in areas in which technology is borrowed so as to adopt , modify , and improve with the least possible delay . It is not the acquiring of the technology which is bad as such , but the way we have done it that has done us harm .We almost isolate and insulate ourselves , and in the process become dependent , and even subservient , on the technology donor . Borrowing must not end in perpetual bondage .

Japan , USSR , and even China are buying technology in a big way . The most important thing is in the choice of suitable technology , and in its acquisition on the most profitable terms . We are not a technologically illiterate nation . Our experts can be depended upon to make the best available choice , and build upon it ., provided they are suitably utilised. There need be no question of ideology in the acquisition of technology -from East or West , right or left .

The prestige and profitability attached to a variety of good products with the stamp ‘ Made In India ‘ should be more important to us than the credit of ‘ Invented in India ‘ on a few . Prosperity comes from production ,not merely from discovery or invention .The emphasis should be on self- reliance in manufacture , in economy , and in competitiveness . , but not necessarily in working out every process and product ourselves as some seem to imply when they talk of self-reliance . Every suitable technology available in the country must be preferred and utilised . National interest should not be compromised , even in cases where technology has to be borrowed , in the event of its not being available in the country . One simple criterion should be leave out what we can afford to do with out , as in the case of many consumer products .

Measures for minimising the baneful influence of restrictive privileges like trade marks and proprietary names , which have hampered the normal development of R & D , and its utilisation , have to be given careful consideration .

Tooth pastes , soft drinks , cosmetics and other articles of the have been very much in the news recently . Who will accept today that Indian Scientists can not work out formula of these articles of every day consumption ? As a matter of fact , there can be any number of variations . But they have little chance of survival in the market in competing with well established internationally known brands . This again is a problem of love for swadeshi .”




Inspired Young Scientists

Dr. Atma Ram was a great human being . He was one of the very few scientists in the world who made effective contribution for the welfare of the masses . Scientists specially young ones looked up to him for inspiration .During talks he would say :

“ We should perform our duties . This would inspire others . One should have faith in the power of the masses which threw away the shackles of slavery suffered under decades of powerful British Rule . Be optimistic . Never be pessimist . Pessimism is a dreadful disease . This is infectious and makes the nation weak too . The growth of science is essential for bringing all round progress in the country . He quoted Pandit Nehru on his unflinching faith in science in an article in ‘New Scientist’ on page 15 in its 16 th December 1965 issue :

“ It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty , of insanitation and illiteracy , of superstition and deadening custom and tradition , of vast resources running to waste , of a rich country inhabited by starving people ----Who indeed could afford to ignore science today ? At every turn we have to seek its aid .----The future belongs to science and to those who make friends with science .”

The scientists should therefore be aware of their responsibilities . On them to a large extent depends the future of the nation . They should fulfil their duties and the aspirations of the people . They must remember whatever they are spending in laboratories and else where , the right on it is of every individual in the country . They should keep an account of each paisa .”

He was of the firm view that every one and specially the young scientists should be given full freedom and opportunities to blossom . They should be encouraged and inspired from time to time . At the same time he desired that all intellectuals should speak out their mind fearlessly . They should not toe the line of the Government merely for petty gains and short term benefits . They should not butter the politicians as well . He cautioned :

“ History is a witness that the intellectual elite not based on birth , social position , or financial means but on performance and merit have made the democracy work and sustained it. therefore the emergence of this kind of elite is essential . Such people in whichever era they lived left behind an imprint of their personality in the pages of history . In such persons one aspect is clearly discernible , that of their intellect and idealism . Nehru was a great intellectual . He liked keeping company with intellectuals . But he could not suffer fools .

Now the intellectual integrity is becoming as scarce as the natural ‘ heerak mani ‘ Often our meritorious people of the elite class seek the company of persons in power . By their backing they can be made members of delegations , or they can be appointed members of important committees or members of commissions . This way they ignore their intellectual abilities . For the elite it is a matter of concern that they are flowing with the time leaving behind their natural freedom of speech and action . These developments are rather unfortunate .”

Shri R.K.Gupta writes in ‘Vigyan ‘ journal of March 1984 :

“ In the course of scientific and technical work , he used to call meetings of concerned groups where even the youngest were asked to put forth their views and observations , for he firmly believed in encouraging all to develop their faculties . Many useful observations thus came from younger brains and these were given due recognition .

He was one of the first to stop the addition of his name as one of the authors in the paper published by his scientific staff , even though guidance was always there .

He used to tell us ,” Take your own time in thinking about your problem , but once you have decided , go ahead and act .”

He left his imprint where ever and in any capacity he worked . His good advice and intelligent and well reasoned path indications were the topic of discussions every where . Scientists felt honoured to work under his guidance .

Shri Virendra Kumar Pande , a scientist who worked with Dr. Atma Ram at CGCRI, Jadavpur, Calcutta , mentions his experiences :

“ Dr. Atma Ram took lot of interest in the Institute . He adopted a very practical way of encouraging his colleagues . During the early phase of development of optical glass , he would work along with his colleagues for hours at a time . Many a day he spent the whole night in the factory . It so happened in 1962 , that some faults were noticed in the furnace used for melting the optical glass . Immediately Dr. Atma Ram moved his office in the department where the furnace was being fabricated . He moved back his office to original place only after success was achieved . If in the institute in any department anything was developed or any equipment arrived from outside , he would personally come to see. He was the pillar of our institute .

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre desired us to develop transparent anti-radiation glass window , so as to save valuable foreign exchange . On a personal request of Late Dr. Homi J. Bhabha , Dr. Atma Ram took it as a challenge to develop this glass . As a supporter of swadeshi techniques he desired that the equipment for melting the glass be fabricated in house . The responsibility for development of glass was allotted to optical department and that of fabricating the equipment to engineering department . In the whole process the equipment played the major part . After lot of discussions , it was decided to make two types of equipment. One for a smaller slab of glass and another for a bigger one . When I was experimenting with the equipment about 450 Kg of red molten glass at a temperature of about 1000 degree centigrade fell over the sand kept below . A major accident was averted Dr. Atma Ram got the news .

Next day when I was thinking standing on that spot , Dr. Atma Ram suddenly turned up . Immediately with annoyance he shouted at me , “ Are you an Engineer ? Some one could have died today . You do not understand any thing . “ With great fear I told him , “ I made it as I was told . I am sorry this has happened . But if you let me make it my way I may try . I am confident that the new equipment would work .” He looked at me sharply and said , “ All right “ With the cooperation of my colleagues , and with God’s grace , the furnace for melting the glass and other equipment was fabricated . By 1964-65 we smelled success. The Institute produced rupees 11 lakhs worth of anti-radiation glass slab .

We were successful in melting , rubbing , scrubbing and polishing anti-radiation glass slabs measuring 1000 x 800 x 125 Cm . Dr. Atma Ram never failed to show with pride this successful achievement to all the important guests who visited the Institute . Sometimes while introducing me he would say ,“ this young engineer has fabricated it .” I felt tremendously happy . Due to his efforts we were able to indigenously develop the process of making optical glass and also we made all the connected machinery within the country . He was a source of inspiration to all of us .”

Shri R.K.Gupta of CGCRI mentions :

“ I have been singularly lucky to receive his wise counsel for 31 years . In fact I can say with pride that I owe my professional existence as a working glass technologist to him alone . Besides technology , he gave us a lot more to learn. The simple , almost austere , but well regulated life could be an ideal to follow in the present day world which is full of tensions and tribulations . His humane approach to problems of life , his subtle sense of humour , his way of dealing with people , his dislike towards artificiality and ostentation , all are worthy of emulation for all times to come .

He was a true guardian of scientists and was a great protagonist of their complete freedom in scientific endeavours . He spoke on this topic in his Presidential address at Varanasi Indian Science Congress :

“ Often , the question of autonomy in scientific institutions is raised . The stress has generally been for autonomy for spending . But , I would prefer to emphasise intellectual autonomy , and it is autonomy that I would like scientists to be assured of .Through out my career starting as a Research Assistant , I have not had any interference in the operational freedom to handle scientific problems as I would like to . This is what I would consider intellectual autonomy . Autonomy particularly in mission-oriented institutes has to be viewed in the context of the objectives of the institutes and the country’s needs . It also does not mean that he is free from accountability for the financial and other resources placed at his disposal . On the contrary , scientists should be paradigms of discipline and accountability . Administrative rules , regulations and procedures are man made and can be changed ; genuine difficulties in the way of pursuit of scientific research should be removed . So long as finances are derived from public funds , the scientist is as responsible as any one else spending public funds to account for them .

The problem of autonomy has a twin brother , ie , hierarchy . Here again , I think , there is considerable misunderstanding . Science recognises no intellectual hierarchy Where ever it exists it must be completely inhumed . But in a research laboratory where a few hundred scientists make the staff , there will be a sort of disorder if all of them begin to feel that they are not answerable to any one . In such a situation , indiscipline and irresponsibility would breed . Have we taken care that this does not arise ?

Learned societies and professional bodies should provide leadership in the scientific community and create and mould public opinion by example and precept . With such a lead, possibilities of unhealthy tendencies in the body politic of Indian science can be curbed or at least contained .With diversification and growth of Indian scientific institutions , there is a growing number of young man and women engaged in scientific careers They are easily susceptible to influence due partly to economic reasons and partly to lack of proper understanding and appreciation of the true role of science . They are likely to become easy victims of shibboleths and slogans and their careeristic attitude may some times lead them into wrong thinking and action . The spectacle of a large body of such talented people adrift should be matter of concern .I appeal to the learned societies to give serious consideration to this problem . Societies should provide leadership to the large body of impressionable young minds .

The Government has a vital stake in this matter . It should encourage scientific societies and consult them in matters of moment .The Government Of India has long been thinking of setting up a single national academy of science in the country . I might mention that as early as 1945 , the Government had declared the National Institute of Sciences of India as the premier scientific society in the country . There are well organised professional societies in most branches of science and technology whom the Government should call for advice . What is needed is for the Government to cultivate the habit of consulting such societies .”


Old Versus Youth and Creativity


On a related topic of linking creativity with age , He says :

“ In absolute terms , creativity has little to do with age . Relatively speaking , however , at young age , the propensity to discovery is sharper . This is a statistical statement . Because the young mind is not loaded with knowledge and its sense of wonder is still keen , it proceeds unfettered with preconceived ideas . It is able to hazard hypotheses which may seem too bizarre to minds saddled heavily with preconceptions . Such strides of the young mind sometimes make significant discoveries . When a young scientist makes a significant discovery , he becomes a celebrity and and has to give of his time receiving awards , addressing meetings ,discussing in committees and so on . Circumstances tear him away from creative scientific work . He may yet obtain plenty of equipment and money , acquire status and security , but he does not have the time or the moorings for creative work any more . May be , in this manner , we might have lost quiet a few who might have blossomed to distinction .

The essentially statistical theory of creativity and age is often strained to extreme lengths . The theory bears relevance to discoveries and may , therefore , be applicable to pure sciences . It is not of much value in the application of knowledge as in technology , engineering , industry , agriculture and medicine . In these spheres accumulated knowledge and experience weigh much . Competence is and should be the only test in any area of human endeavour

While every one should warmly endorse the view that young should be encouraged , the temptation to make another generalisation should be resisted . If one studies the lives of eminent Indian men of science , who may now be put in the category of the old , one will notice that most of them achieved distinction when they were young . One might recall that during early days heads of several National Laboratories were appointed in their thirties and forties . Old order changing and yielding place to new is but a natural process . The process thus goes on and will continue to operate for all times to come . Does this process which is obvious and inevitable really need a push ? Although it is often said that the young are exploited by the old ,I have yet to come across a single case of any body being penalised for this . Specific cases of exploitation should be identified and the wrong doer dealt with . It is most important to remember that in our enthusiasm to encourage the talented , we should not support mediocrity in the name of young .”

Problems Of Brain Drain

Our scientists are highly talented and have a demand outside . Most of the scientists desire to settle abroad for various reasons . Some want these scientists to remain in the country for patriotic reasons even if there are no suitable positions for them here . Others desire that we should provide all the facilities and privileges that these scientists get abroad so that they may return . Dr. Atma Ram’s views are very balanced in this regard :

“ The problem of brain drain is not peculiar to India . No country in the world except perhaps the United States is free from it . In the so called ‘brain drain ‘ , the track seems to be towards United States . To some extent , the other developed countries in Europe serve as an interface between the developing countries of Asia and Africa and the United States ; but the ultimate receiver is the United States .

I would like to deal mainly with two facets of the problem . The first is the fact of migration . Since the last world war , the mobility of scientists and other skilled persons has considerably increased throughout the world . Apart from the fact that the language of science and technology is universal , the increasing use of English as the common medium of communication among scientists and technologists has made mobility easier . Skills always ask for opportunities and the United States provides to day those opportunities which give satisfaction both ephemeral and real . It is difficult to stem the flow of scientists , but we should take more steps to lessen the number to ensure that it does not work to our disadvantage . But for the measures taken in this country to induce scientists to return or stay at home the outflow of the scientific talent in India would have been much greater .

The second aspect of this problem is what precisely can be done to get he foreign based Indian scientists and other qualified persons back to our country . Here again , we tend to become emotional and subjective in our approach and even forget those who are already in the country . Are we doing enough to recognise and satisfy the competent and the good who have chosen to stay home ? A general call for the return of scientists abroad is no remedy . The Scientists’ pool , the creation of supernumerary posts in Government establishments and other palliatives barely touch the fringe of the problem . Unless the growth of our economy is such that it can absorb them fruitfully , the return of a large number of skilled and qualified men and women will only add to the prevalent atmosphere of frustration and resentment in our intellectual life . Those who can be absorbed in growing economy should be encouraged to come back . They would find satisfaction for themselves and give satisfaction to the nation . Any other step unrelated to the needs of the country would not help .It may only worsen a problem already bad enough . Ultimately , the real solution lies in the economic growth of the country , on the basis of which the industry would develop and wealth produced . This in turn would sustain the creation and growth of social institutions and generate multifarious other activities needing the services of qualified men of various types . The point becomes clearer by the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide employment even to engineering graduates . With the relatively weak economic growth compared to our progress in education , the exodus of scientifically and technically qualified young persons may increase .Most of them are patriots , but we can not expect them to live by patriotism alone .”


Education as an Instrument of Change in a Democracy

Dr Atma Ram considered education as a means to develop human resources so as to valorise physical resources –the two integrals to progress . Having chosen a democratic way of life , we have also to consider the place of education in a democratic society . Dr. Atma Ram at the convocation address delivered on 17 th February, 1968 at Banaras Hindu University , Varanasi said :

“ The education system of a country symbolises to a large extent the attitudes and values of the people of the country . The tremendous changes taking place in society , new knowledge and growth of science and technology deeply affect the educational system . More than any thing else , science and technology are major components affecting rapid changes in education . Education itself is a primary instrument of change which could be deliberately wielded . In a world where changes are taking place at a staggering rate , education also must change equally fast , if not faster . As a matter of fact , the spirit of education in a country should be such as to be ahead of social and economic transformation which may be taking place ; it should be the very harbinger of change . We have seen within our life time that the education has been used as a deliberate means of carrying out changes necessary for the implementation of a new ideology or a new social or political system . Lately , the importance of education as an instrument of change has been realised in almost all countries of the world .

In Asia , Africa and Latin America , leaders as well as the people have realised the importance of education as the primary means of modernisation , by which they can improve their standards of living and catch up with the advanced countries .

The question that comes to one’s mind is , what use have we made of education as a means of change in our own country ? Almost 50 % of our population consists of youth below the age of twenty . Our population is increasing by over 10 million per year , that is to say , 10 million more children . to be educated . One can appreciate the magnitude of the educational problem if one realises that more than half of our population should be in schools , colleges and training institutions We have had 20 years to plan and act as an independent people . The question is to what extent have we been able to use education as an instrument of change to instil in our youth the change we desire ? Not being an educationist myself and not in any way connected with political decision making , I am unable to answer the question . But if one goes by the results , the tensions and the disturbances one witnesses at present in our country , there is no gainsaying to fact that our ability to use education as an instrument of change would not be favourably commented upon . No doubt we have done well in widening the base of our educational system , in increasing literacy , in establishing new educational courses and in training large number of our young men and women in skills and capabilities which did not exist before . Nevertheless the problem of using education as an instrument of change to attain the desired.” pattern of social order , national cohesion and a purposively oriented people with definite objectives yet remains .”


Education For Economic Growth

In the above referred address Dr. Atma Ram continues :

“ Unlike general education , which could form part of a social welfare plan , education for economic growth should be part and parcel of an economic plan . Financial capital and human capital are equally important and should keep abreast of each other for full national development Financial capital alone will only result in consumption . A harmonious and balanced mix of both is essential for economic growth of a nation Accelerated development as against historical development can take place only on the basis of a deliberate policy of formation of financial capital as well as human capital I would consider that raising financial capital is relatively easier . We can raise a loan in a matter of a few months . A factory can be built in two or three years . But it takes twenty years to make a child an engineer who can run a factory . Should all the effort and expenditure be allowed to go to waste at the end ?

The other aspect is again a problem for educational planners . Scientific and technical education has to be planned in conjunction with the economic plan and be integrated into it . Otherwise it will produce the sad spectacle of a large number of scientific and technical men educated at considerable cost without gainful employment . There is an urgent need for our educational system and industrial programme to develop a symbiotic existence , one drawing sustenance from the other . At present the link between the two is hardly discernible .”



Education For New Responsibilities


Dr Atma Ram felt that the future of our society lay in technological development . While delivering convocation address at Rajasthan University on January 11, 1970 he expressed the views :

“ From a primitive , rural society , we are gradually transforming ourselves into a technical society in which scientists and engineers have an important role to play . Our engineering or science education was mainly based on premises which are becoming increasingly out of tune . The future of engineering education and even science education would have to be based on anticipation of the trends in science and technology –say 20 or 25 years from now .

When an engineer is employed today , he practices what he learnt several years back . Similarly , today’s education will have to be geared so as to be useful for 10 or 20 years ahead . Perhaps , one could do extrapolations for the future on the basis of experience during the last 25 years and forecast what is likely to happen during the next 25 years ; but it may not be so simple as that . Some extrapolation may be useful but a lot more forecasting will have to be done on the basis of trends in science which , with technology becoming increasingly science based , determine the growth of technology of the future .One can then think of and make necessary shifts in engineering education and for that matter in science education . Science and technology have their impact on society and they are shaping social changes . The very changes which take place in society react on the education system . Therefore , to forecast the future , we have to examine how science and technology will be shaping then and how the society would react . These are problems which have no easy solutions . These can not be left solely in the hands of older generation as they remain attached to their past experience . The new generation can be very effective . The youth should place their view points in a constructive way , then only they can effectively participate in their future .

The universities would also get an opportunity to play an effective role as the science and technology would be need based in future . Those universities which would like to remain in the forefront of the social transformation , would have to adopt progressive views on science and technology . They will have to make continuous changes in their educational systems and the laboratory facilities . They should also give their unbiased and independent views to the Government and administrators . In not too distant a future , like other developed countries , in India too there would be close coordination between Government , industry and the Universities. The universities should be prepared for this . For this to succeed it is imperative to keep in mind the ideas and aspirations of the student community “


Staunch Supporter Of Hindi For Use In Science


Atma Ram ji began contributing articles in Hindi for publication in Vigyan Parishad’s main journal ‘Vigyan ‘ when he was engaged in research work at University of Allahabad . Due to this he had got ‘ Empress of India Research scholarship’ for three years . His first article was published in Vigyan in 1931 . From then onwards he continued writing articles for this journal till death . He wrote about two dozen articles on various topics for this journal . Till 1933 he was a regular contributor but when he left Allahabad the regularity was broken . He lived in Calcutta for more than two decades . There English and Bangala were the main spoken languages . He , despite wishes , could not do much for Hindi .

Though the Government had accepted in principal to a maximum use of Hindi in its working , but in reality nothing concrete was done . No senior Government official bothered to take any initiative in this regard . Dr. Atma Ram on taking over as Director General took on the responsibility of propagating the use of Hindi in right earnest , to give a boost to the Government policy in this matter . He decided to get the voluminous CSIR English publication , ‘Wealth Of India ‘ translated in Hindi . He assigned the responsibility of editing of its Hindi version to a staunch Hindi protagonist and scientist Swami Dr. Satya Prakash Saraswati . He worked very earnestly and in a very short time he got prepared the first volume of ‘Bharat Ki Sampada ‘ in Hindi

This is a great and a wonderful contribution of Dr. Atma Ram in the field of Hindi scientific literature . The book was in ten volumes . During his life time only six volumes could be published . He desired that the knowledge about science and technology should be decimated so as to reach the poorest of the poor in our country . Therefore the cost of each volume was kept to the barest minimum . The then Prime Minister of the country Srimati Indira Gandhi while dedicating the first Hindi volume of ‘Bharat Ki Sampada ‘ to the Nation said :

“ India has an enormous amount of wealth both below and above its soil .We all are owners of this wealth .It is our duty to properly safeguard and utilise it . It is necessary that we should be aware of it and have the ability to utilise it for making the country stronger . The ideal way of bringing it to the notice of the common man and disseminating the knowledge , is to present it in the language they understand . The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has done a commendable job in bringing out the Hindi version of the English publication ‘ Wealth Of India’ . Through this publication , the common man as well as intellectual class will learn about the wealth our country possesses both underneath and above its soil . I am certain that the first volume of this publication will be welcomed by all and when all the other volumes are published they would prove to be of immense value .”

Dr. Atma Ram spoke about the publication of ‘Bharat ki Sampada ‘ ;

“ CSIR has been publishing ‘ Wealth of India ‘ in English in many volumes . When I was the Director General of the CSIR , I felt that if we have to pass on the information about our raw materials to common man , which should be our aim , then these volumes should be published in Hindi and other Indian languages . But who could take on this great responsibility ? For me to under take this work was rather difficult .Dr. Satya Prakash [ Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati ] was the Chairman of the working committee of ‘Vigyan Pragati ‘ [ Progress in Science ] –a CSIR monthly publication . He is also my close friend . He had recently retired as Head of the Department of Chemistry , University of Allahabad . Who does not know of his immense contribution to Hindi scientific literature ? Even after retirement he was engaged like a true ‘karma yogi ‘ in the development of Hindi scientific literature . When ever he visited Delhi he would occasionally stay with us . I asked him for his help in undertaking this stupendous task . I was much relieved when he accepted my request . You may say that I was completely assured . Once he decides to do a job , you can consider it done .

After considerable problems the publication of ‘Bharat Ki Sampada ‘ began . It was a matter of coincident that I received a few copies of the first volume of the publication just three days before my retirement . I immediately decided to get the inauguration of the publication done by the hands of the Prime Minister and asked for a suitable time from her Private Secretary . Prime Minister was aware that I was retiring in a few days and could have stalled the matter . Despite having a very busy schedule , she accepted my request and gave the time early next morning at her residence . On 19 August 1971 , I along with my two colleagues , Shri A. Krishnamurthy , Chief Edidtor of the Publication and Dr. Shiv Gopal Misra , who was looking after its work in the council , met the Prime Minister and submitted to her a few copies of ‘Bharat Ki Sampada ‘ With much warmth and feelings she did the formal inauguration and signed in Hindi on three copies .

For some time the Prime Minister cursorily went through the publication and in between made some queries abut Hindi translation of some technical terms . Then smilingly she told me ,” You got this work done very fast . Just a few days back you had mentioned about commencing it “

I submitted that the entire credit goes to Dr. Satya Prakash ji , who took on this great responsibility after retirement , and has completed the first volume after working on it incessantly . He has taken ‘Sanyas ‘ .

Prime Minister smiled and said , “ How good it would have been if people took ‘sanyas’ after retirement and worked like this ?

I retired from CSIR after two days “

Dr. Atma Ram felt distressed that despite gaining freedom from the Englishmen , we could not remove the shackles of slavery of the English language . The result is where hundreds of engineers are in the queue for jobs , yet there is acute shortage of skilled workers . He said :

“ If we had not depended on English alone , we would not have produced engineers and scientists who were of no use to the country . By accepting the slavery of this international language we have only produced engineering and science graduates who are completely cut off from the national problems and the main stream . Which ever books they read , they contain references to the work being done in the laboratories of London , New York , Berlin and Paris but there is no mention of research work being carried out inside India .”

He desired that students should learn science in their mother tongue . He was of a firm view that by studying in their mother tongue they can later become better scientists . He felt anguished that Hindi was being purposely denied by a possible conspiracy , the right to become a language of science by giving illogical arguments in favour of English . At a seminar organised by the Bhartiya Sahitya Parishad and Indian Science Writers Association he expressed his views as follows :

“ I firmly believe that till their is awareness in the common man about science , our country can not derive full advantage from science . And this knowledge is not possible through any other medium except one’s own mother tongue . You can have my full support and cooperation for doing any thing in this direction for science .”

In this context he said :


“ When ever we talk of science , it is stated that without English nothing can be done . Due to this we are sadly witnessing the spectacle of plight of science in India for the past 25 years . What a great disservice we have done to Indian science . Our science is not reaching the common man . It is all due to the anglicised people who have reserved the science and technology for themselves in a way . No one who writes , speaks and reads in Hindi has any access to them .”

In May 1969 , while inaugurating the Viswesaria Industrial and Technological Museum at Bangalore he appealed for disseminating science to millions of our country men and stated :

“ For a developing country like India , we have to take science to ever person living in small streets and localities , the house wives working in kitchens , the farmers working in fields and to the workers in factories . And this can be possible through the medium of their mother tongue only .”

On 29th September , 1978 , while inaugurating the All India Science Seminar under the auspices of Uttar Pradesh Hindi Association at Allahabad , Dr. Atma Ram , strongly advocated the teaching of science through the medium of mother tongue only . He stressed that only through the medium of one’s mother tongue can we bring self sufficiency in technological field in our country . Some excerpts are cited below :

“ All are saying so and for a considerable time too that science and other subjects should be taught in mother tongue. The question is how do we do so ? Science is needed for the country’s development . Its contribution is absolutely essential . When we talk of progress of science , the problem immediately arises of science education . In the end all these problems get stuck on the issue of medium of education .

I have had some experience of the problems which come in the way of learning science through a medium other than mother tongue . This happened more than fifty years back . I passed matriculation examination after studying privately with Urdu and Persian and learning English for about two years after passing middle examination in Hindi . I then offered science in Intermediate with a view to get a teaching job easily after doing B.Sc.as there was a paucity of science teachers then . But I got very disheartened when in the half yearly examination I got less than ten marks each in Physics and Chemistry while I got very high marks in Mathematics . When I went for permission to change my subjects to arts side , the Head of the Chemistry Department , Prof Rane , was not convinced . I told him that I do not understand English . I have not studied English in a regular school . I know not why he placed me under Prof. Phool Dev Sahai Verma . Once he taught me the basics of chemistry in Hindi , I
proceeded along . If I had not received Prof. Verma’s guidance , I would have studied either mathematics or Persian .

Because I have myself gone through the hurdles , I can visualise and understand the agony of children who have to study science in English when neither it is their mother tongue nor it is spoken at home . As I have just mentioned , we have been saying that science should be taught in mother tongue , then what is the stumbling block ? What is the problem ? Till when we would deny our new generations to understand the true intricacies of science “


Need For Scientific Public Opinion

Dr. Atma Ram stressed on the need for generating Scientific Public Opinion in our country . In his Prof S. Bhagwantam Sixtieth Birthday Commemoration lecture delivered at Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences , Hyderabad on october 13, 1971 , he touched on this topic . Some excerpts from it are reproduced below :

“ One thing comes back again and again to my mind , namely, the need for scientific public opinion . Unless the scientific community in India consisting of scientists who are actually engaged in research activities , in our universities , in the research laboratories ,quasi-Governmental , Governmental or otherwise , are aware of the problems and create a sound public opinion in which the leadership , political or scientific , acts in line with such opinion , I do not see the possibility of right decisions being taken . For instance there is a climate of public opinion among the scientists of our country , I can not for a moment imagine the political leadership taking the decision on some of the subjects on their own . Public opinion should be such as not to leave room for taking arbitrary decisions at a political level . I wonder if I have been able to impress upon you the necessity , nay the imperativeness , for building a healthy scientific public opinion in the country Unfortunately we do not have journals as effective as ‘nature ‘which reflects scientific public opinion in United Kingdom or ‘science ‘ in USA . Some of our journals have been making commendable efforts inthis direction but their impact is not much . Our scientific societies are still to become effective forums . The power and patronage of the Government and Government Institutions are such that even senior scientists , barring some exceptions , hesitate to voice independent scientific opinion. I do appreciate the difficulties of individuals to do this but the Societies as a whole should voice independent scientific opinion on matters of moment relating to science . The need today is greater than even before for well informed , unbiased scientific opinion in India .

Who is to be approached for scientific advice ? Obviously , science academies , engineering academies , or institutions and other professional societies . It is from them that the Government can have the voice of the scientific and technological community in the country “




Scientists and the Politician


Some excerpts from Dr Atma Ram’s address on the subject, published on page 131 in The Selected Works of Atma Ram by CSIR New Delhi , with a foreword by the then Director General Dr. A.P.Mitra are reproduced below :

“ The scientists cultivated relations with the politicians for the support of science –a very natural thing . The politicians supported science mainly in the expectation of the power that science would give them . This is also natural . The intermingling was expected to bring science to bear on politics which Nehru had very much desired . What we have actually got is politics in science.

How to introduce scientific thinking and consideration into political system which for obvious reasons is not well acquainted with science and technology is a very ticklish problem ; yet the proper handling of it will largely determine the success of national development in this age of science . Science is based on facts , however , unpalatable . That is the temper of science , the scientific approach . A practical politician bases his thinking on public desires and may not always be able to understand the difference between the achievable and the promised .

By the very nature of the difference in approach each one places a restraint on the other and operates under constraint . The one whose promises are in line with public desires or talks things which are popular , becomes more easily acceptable than the one clinging to facts which may run counter to public desires . The crisis in Indian science today is actually a crisis of quality . A man of quality is not necessarily a man good at approaching . And that is what the average politician does not like to do . Pandit Nehru is reported to have said something like this : ‘ In the race for favour , the sycophants rush to the front , if you want to have the able and the gifted , you better find them .’

In a country which is wedded to ‘ Garibi Hatao ‘ [ Eradicate poverty ] what should be the role of scientists and the politicians ?What should be the function of scientists and technologists in a developing country like India ? In my opinion , scientists and technologists should help in solving the vital problem of a country , namely ., how to put to maximum advantage the limited resources of the country within the shortest possible time for the benefit of the people , for ensuring that every man in the country gets his essential needs like food , clothing and shelter . If we fail to be of help in this task , I am afraid , we would be weakening our claim for public support for our activities . It is then the common man will appreciate the contribution of science and not all the sermons .

The politicians’ role should be that of an enlightened supporter of science , ensuring adequate means to keep science -the powerful tool of development - in proper trim , and applying the lever of power to create conditions in which innovation will thrive , and the fruit of science and technology would be made available to the masses .”

Some Important Viewpoints of Dr. Atma Ram

Shri K.G.Krishnamurthy prepared a biosketch Of Dr Atma Ram which was published in Indian National Science Academy journal , and with their permission CSIR published in their ‘selected Works of Dr. Atma Ram ‘ Some excerpts are reproduced below . It may be mentioned that Dr. K.G. Krisnanurthy was Secretary, CSIR when Dr. Atma Ram was its Director General . He was very close to Dr Atma Ram and remained his friend life long . He was highly regarded and respected by Dr. Atma Ram . He was in fact a family member . If there was any one who could write about Dr. Atma Ram , giving him full justice, then it was only he . His biosketch has been used in this book at several places . We owe him gratefulness and thanks for sincerely projecting Atma Ram as he saw him to the public at large . Some excerpts :

“ Restriction of space does not permit detailed analysis of this particular aspect of Dr. Atma Ram ‘s career . Nevertheless some of the more important utterances and views of Dr. Atma Ram may be listed briefly without discussing the merits and demerits of any of them . It is , however , important to note that he did not exercise any dichotomy in his precepts and practice . He tried his best to put into function many of his ideas although he did not always succeed :

1. A society which continued to be largely illiterate , would find progress , economically, socially and culturally at a fast rate difficult . Therefore first priority must be given to education not only for imparting knowledge but also skills .

2. The superstructure of Indian science and technology to be strong , healthy , and progressive , must be built on the strong foundations of university research . This was not given enough attention .

3. The academic community , particularly scientists and technologists , have a tremendous social responsibility in India . This means their activities should be related to needs of the society which supports them .

4. Freedom and accountability must go hand in hand in the work of scientists . Freedom can not be interpreted to mean that one can do whatever one wishes to , but one should have the fullest intellectual freedom to carry out one’s tasks , in the choice of which national requirements should dictate , the methodology of dealing with a project should be entirely that of the scientist .

5 . In a poor country like India scientists must be extra careful in spending public funds .

6 . Scientists who continued to work at the bench were far more important than those who had gone into offices to deal with paper work , administration or similar responsibilities While the role of a technician should be appreciated and he should be given the best possible terms of emoluments and recognised in the society , the relative roles and functions of a scientist and a technician should be understood . It may not be good to call a technician a scientist .

7 . There had been increasing governmentalisation of Indian science with the result there was no independent scientific public opinion in the country which could critically examine , comment and even question government policies and functioning in the field of science and technology .

8 . Scientific academies and learned societies have a special responsibility for generating independent scientific public opinion . He felt that this had not happened to the extent necessary .

9 . While science and technology interact synergistically they had their own separate identity , roles and importance . As India had one of the best statements on the Science Policy , there ought to be a Technology Policy Statement as well . After a number of years of campaigning by him , the Government did make a Statement on Technology Policy .

10 . For several reasons he wanted a more liberal policy of import of technologies from the advanced countries subject to certain basic conditions such as adaptation and further improvements within the country , selectivity with a view to encouraging indigenous efforts [ without providing protection to mediocre efforts ] . He felt that although people felt rather strongly against imports of technology , the fact was that more than 90% of technological knowhow and industrial development in India had been based on such imports although often times indiscriminate . Even the public sector had been built more or less completely with imported technology . Whatever indigenous efforts have been made in the private sector had been built upon the efforts of scientists , engineers and technicians through out the country . on the basis of adaptation and improvements of imported plants and machinery and equipment and technology . He , therefore , felt his views completely justified . He even felt inspite of all that was being said , it was likely our dependence could continue for quite some time because of the inadequacy of our efforts within the country .

The three most important questions dealt with by the N.C.S.T. under his guidance were :-

(a) Science and technology education must get a fair share of brightest young .

(b) The need to substantially augment the resources of the universities for research and development .

(c ) Preparation of the draft of the Technology Policy Statement for the Government’s consideration .

On the application of science and technology Dr. Atma Ram in his address to the Conference on the Application of Science and Technology to the development of Asia at New Delhi in August 1968 stated:

“ There is much knowledge –scientific and technological –already available and the problem is to adapt it to suit the conditions prevailing in different countries . In the glamour of research , the developing countries may miss this important aspect . While they establish good infrastructure for research , impact on economic growth can be secured only through application .---- Knowledge is power only when there are people to use it . Herein comes the significance of education and acquisition of multifarious skills and capabilities to develop and sustain a modern society based on science and technology .”


Ideal Pupil Of Ideal Teachers

Dr. Atma Ram felt that there was too much politics in science , but there has been very little assimilation of science in politics .The entry of scientists in Politics is right for the country’s economic progress . But the professional politicians would not let scientists come into politics . This was exactly the problem which was faced by Prof Meghnad Saha at the time of first general elections in 1952. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had assured him a seat from Calcutta North East constituency as a congress candidate . But his candidacy was not liked by the congressmen of the area and of West Bengal in general . The Provincial congress committee allotted the ticket to Shri Prabhu Dayal Sinka ignoring Pandit Nehru’s assurance . Pandit Nehru buckled to party’s decision . Prof Saha took it as a personal affront and filed his nomination for election as an independent candidate from the same constituency .

Prof Saha requested for assistance in his election campaign from all his scientist colleagues, friends and pupils . Dr. Atma Ram was at that time Director of CGCRI, Jadavpur, Calcutta . He had faith in the principles of the Congress Party . He had good relations with Pandit Nehru . Pandit ji also liked him . Despite this , he obeyed his teacher’s command without caring for the Government Service and actively assisted him in his election campaign . For him it was his supreme duty to obey his teacher’s command . He took very active part in running the campaign . In the end Prof. Saha won with a very large majority .

Atma Ram ji treated Prof. Saha like his father . In 1956 Prof Saha expired . His body was brought to CGCRI so that all his friends , acquaintances and well wishers could pay their last homage to the departed soul . The moment Dr. Atma Ram saw the body , he began crying profusely . He could not control himself and fell over the body . This showed his great regard and affection for his esteemed teacher- cum - mentor . A huge crowd of people collected there to pay last homage .

Atma Ram ji was one of the favourite pupils of the famous scientist Dr. Neel Ratna Dhar . It was said that he would not do any thing without consulting Dr. Dhar . Dr Dhar was an embodiment of simple living and high thinking . Atma Ram all his life followed his teachers ideals . He had one more esteemed teacher , to whom he all his life time remained indebted . He was Prof. Phooldev Sahai Verma , The help he rendered to Atma Ram , not only raised him high in his personal esteem but also enlivened the old wonderful tradition of pupil and teacher relationship . Atma Ram had very high and special regard for him . He held him in greatest esteem . In 1979 Vigyan Parishad , Allahabad , decided to honour Prof. Phooldev Sahai Verma . Prof Verma was not keeping well those days . He was at Kanpur and was not in a position to move to Allahabad . Atma Ramji was at that time at Allahabad to dedicate the publications of Dr. Ratna Kumari Swadhyaya Sansthan . When the general secretary of the Parishad Dr. Shiv Gopal Misra told him that the ‘ Abhinandan Granth ‘ had to be given to Prof. Verma at Kanpur , Dr Atma Ram cancelled all his programmes and immediately got ready to proceed to Kanpur to get his teacher’s blessings . Dr. Atma Ram went to Kanpur along with other Parishad members . He presented the ‘Abhinandan Granth ‘ to Prof Verma . Dr. Verma could speak with difficulty . Dr. Ram felt exceedingly happy on meeting his teacher and getting his blessings . It was a moment of great personal satisfaction for him . For an obedient pupil like him , there could be no other better occasion for expressing his gratefulness and at the same time performing his duty towards his teacher .

It is not that Atma Ram had high regard for only a few of his teachers . He was very grateful to all of them and remembered them with nostalgia and great warmth. He was always overwhelmed with intense feelings recollecting what all they did for him It is indeed difficult to find such principled and dedicated pupils in this age .

Dr. Atma Ram was greatly influenced by Prof. Neel Ratna Dhar . He used to say that in Dr. Dhar’s life the ideal motto was -work is worship . He used to follow it carefully and implicitly . Atma Ram all his life followed the footprints of Prof Dhar . For him too , work was worship . It became a way of life from him . No doubt he was an ideal and an obedient pupil . He was such a pupil that not only he assimilated all the good qualities of his teachers but also made them a part of his life.. He carried forward the age old great tradition of teacher-pupil relationship in its true sense .

Needless to say that the teachers would have felt elated in having a pupil like him . They bestowed their blessings on him wholeheartedly .Due to their blessings Atma Ram reached the heights which so many aspire but only a few reach there .

Dr. Dhar on learning of Dr. Atma Ram’s sudden demise , expressing sorrow said :

“ I consider myself very fortunate in having an eminent scientist like Dr. Atma Ram as my pupil . Dr. Atma Ram was a very qualified Physical Chemist and applied his knowledge and ability in tackling industrial and administrative problems very successfully . He rendered great service to Central Glass and Ceramics Research Institute at Calcutta . In Delhi he held the high position of Director General of CSIR . He advanced the progress of science in India . It is rather disappointing that he passed away very suddenly causing considerable loss to the progress of science and technology in India . “

Dr. Dhar in a letter to the author in 1979 wrote about his favourite pupil Dr. Atma Ram :

“ He [ Atma Ram ]is still active and alert . He continues giving his advice on science and technology to concerned officials and ministers . Besides this from time to time he delivers lectures full of originality on science and technology .

I would specially like to mention that when I was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Swedish Prof. A. Aslender in 1968 and later by Dr. Victor Kovada of Moscow in 1978 , then Dr. Atma Ram had prepared a wonderful note on my research work which was submitted to the Nobel Prize selection committee at Stockholm .”

Dr. Atma Ram was particularly influenced by the overall personality of Dr. Saha . Dr. Saha left an indelible imprint of his characteristics on the imagination of Dr. Atma Ram . Both of them were father and son more than pupil and teacher . In Dr. Atma Ram’s character one can discern the same characteristics as that of the world famous scientist Dr. Saha . It appears that Dr. Atma Ram got these ideals automatically imbibed in him . Dr. Saha was like a father to Dr. Atma Ram . He had made himself an honourable member of the Saha family by his actions , faith and devotion . He was so close to the Saha Family that after Dr. Saha’s death , his family members would look up to him for matters connected wit Dr Saha . They were right too as Atma Ram was Dr Saha’s confidant .

Dr. Atma Ram mentioned several things about his relationship with Dr. Saha from time to time . We have selected some excerpts given below from this store house of information which throw light on the similarity of characters of both these great scientists :

“ I met Dr. Meghnad Saha for the first time in 1929 at Allahabad . After passing B.Sc. from D.A.V.College Kanpur , I went to Allahabad for seeking admission in M.Sc. in the University . Lala Diwn Chand , Principal of D.A.V.College , Kanpur personally knew Dr. Meghnad Saha . They were friends . I had taken letters of introduction for both Prof Neel Ratna Dhar and Dr. Saha from him .I had not taken those letters to get admission on his recommendations but to approach them in case I had any difficulty in the University . Even otherwise I had the impression of my past experience that once I deposited the fee at the counter , admission was confirmed . My impression was proved entirely wrong for admission to M.Sc. classes . When I reached Allahabad the admissions to the University were over . There was no question of my admission based on these letters . Though I was admitted to M.Sc. due to Dr. Dhar’s compassion , but this is a separate story all together .

After this I did not meet Dr. Saha for a long time . And when we did meet it was in very strange circumstances . I wished to appear in Indian Civil Services Examination . I had to obtain Dr. Saha’s signature on some document . He was in a bad mood . Possibly he was irritated due to some reason The moment he saw the paper he shouted at me m, “ If all the brilliant students of the University opt for ICS , who will do research work ?” Till that time I had no connection with research . I had not even passed M.Sc. He refused to sign the paper .

What could I do .I simply returned disappointed with a sad face . I then gave up my desire to compete for ICS. I thought that Dr Saha was a very dry person This way my first impression of Dr. Saha was of his being very brash and curt . But this curtness was in Dr. Saha’s character .He was not a strict person . Dr. Saha was held in high esteem in the City of Allahabad and in the University Campus . He was a respected person . He was a noted scientist . In such a young age the prestige and reverence he received , very few scientists get it . At Allahabad Dr. Saha was known for his curt and dry nature . But he was pure of heart .

Dr. Saha was an impartial person . Though I was never his pupil , yet he had a tremendous affection for me . I had opportunities to listen to his lectures . But I never had any relationship with him as his pupil . Dr. Saha’s greatest speciality was that he was always eager to discuss all good things . And it was not necessary that he cared only for his pupils , but in such matters his heart was equally open to all . Whatever he did , he did so fearlessly . He had no hesitancy in him . Some persons dare not act thinking what others might say . But he was such a fearless man that he never hesitated in saying and doing things if he considered them correct . For example Shri A.C.Chatterjee was his good friend . But when ‘ Empress Victoria Readership ‘ was to be awarded , he did not listen to Shri Banerjee’s advice . He was of the firm view that only truth should prevail . In this respect he was a hero for the student community of University of Allahabad . He never differentiated between science , arts and commerce students . Occasionally students would wait for his arrival or departure just for a glimpse of him .

In 1933 I met Dr. Saha for a short while . Due to Dr. Saha’s efforts Allahabad science academy was established in 1930 . He had named it UP Academy of Sciences . [ Now this body is known as National Academy of Sciences ] The then Governor of UP, Sir Malcom Herry [ Later Lord Herry ] had inaugurated it . He gave full respect to Dr. Saha and Dr. Dhar . I read a paper on the occasion . While I was a Chemistry student I had used Physics quite a lot . Physics students asked me questions many times . Dr. Saha was chairing the session . He said some thing like this ,’I am very happy that there is a student of Chemistry who is as proficient in Physics as a student of Physics could be .’

Listening to this the hecklers were much impressed. For me it was a certificate from a great scientist .

In 1936 I met Dr. Saha again for a brief period . I had gone to the University to receive my D.Sc. degree . As usual I stayed with my bosom friend Dr. Satya Prakash . We used to call him ‘ Dada ‘ with affection . His wife Dr. Ratna Kumari was the Principal of Arya Kanya Pathshala . His father had sent the car to fetch Dr. Ratna Kumari for attending the convocation . He asked Atma Ram to accompany them . But Dada told his father to go , saying that the University being very close from there [Beli Road ] he and Atma Ram would walk down . Dada was senior to me by four years . He had obtained D.Sc. degree much before me . He had his own gown . I did not have a gown . I borrowed Dada’s gown for the convocation and we both left for the University .

Dada’s watch was a little slow . I did not have a watch . When we reached the university campus , I saw the time on the university clock . It was three o’ clock . In utter dismay I told Dada that it was past three o’ clock . It takes about five to seven minutes to reach the venue -Senate Hall . When we reached in front of the hall there was dead silence there . The convocation had begun . Before we could reach there the D.Sc. degrees had already been distributed . The had begun distributing M.Sc. degrees . Dr. Saha and Dr. Dhar were very much surprised not to see me there as I had met them earlier . I felt very sorry for not reaching there in time . Seeing me coming late Dr. Saha had tauntingly remarked that ,’ This is the first effect of Government Service on you ‘ . I felt ashamed on hearing this .

Dr. Saha’s words had a great impact on me . Then and there in my mind I took a pledge to reach the venue of any seminar , meeting or a function in time . Really , I followed this rule to the limit of reaching the venue a bit earlier , that on occasions the organisers were not ready to receive me as carpets were being spread and chairs had yet to come . I may mention that coming late to a function in our society is a ritual and a sign of importance . I consider that not reaching in time is a great weakness in oneself . I may add that Dr.Dhar tauntingly reminded me of this incidence many a times in future . Whenever I met him , he would say ,’ Satya Prakash’s time was wrong “ . Dr Ratna Kumari too occasionally would mock at me , reminding me of this incident .

Dr. Saha had a principled difference of opinion with the then Vice Chancellor Dr. Amar Nath Jha .Dr. Saha decided to leave the University , the moment Dr. Amar Nath Jha’s appointment was announced . And he joined Calcutta University as Palit Prof of Physics . Prof C.V.Raman was the Professor of Physics there . This took place in 1938. Dr. Saha was a man of great self respect . With differences with the Vice Chancellor he did not consider it proper to continue as a Professor there . It was a moment of great historical misfortune for the University when Prof Saha bade goodbye to it . Though Dr. Saha left Allahabad , yet his love and affection and the pure heart always remained with his old Allahabad University students and he was always ready to help them Though Dr. Saha went to Calcutta , his mind was always in Allahabad . He always admired the environment of Allahabad University . Whenever any student of Allahabad University went to Calcutta , it was sort of mandatory for him to stay at his residence . Some of the persons whom I have met at Dr. Saha’s home are – Dr. P.K.Kichlu , Dr. G.R.Toshniwal [ Head of Toshniwal Brothers ] and Dr. D.S.Kothari .

On 6th July 1936 , I was appointed as Research Assistant at the Industrial Research Bureau . Those days it was located in the campus of Government Test House Alipur [ Calcutta ] . At that time I used to be called Chemical Assistant . Dr. Saha used to visit Calcutta quite often . I had a colleague by name Dr. Hrikesh Trivedi . He too was a favourite student of Dr. Saha . We both were Assistants in the Industrial Bureau and were working in the Test House .

Dr. Saha was seriously thinking and studying national planning . One day he went to meet Netaji Subhash Chandra bose in this connection . During the course of conversation Dr. Saha suggested to Subhash Babu to think about National Planning and keeping this in mind he suggested formation of a working committee for in depth studies . Netaji felt that this was all academic . He said that at the moment they were all busy in the struggle for freedom and had no time for such things . On hearing this as per his nature he got annoyed . Netaji used to treat Dr. Saha with regard . But in this matter he did not show any interest .

Perhaps that day or the next I went to meet Dr.Saha . During the course of talks he said , ‘ The politicians except ‘charkha - khaddar ‘ know nothing’ . They feel National Planning is a useless exercise . But how can the Nation progress without national planning ?’

I just submitted , ‘’ Sir , you spoke to Netaji like a teacher. You gave your suggestion like a Professor .”

At this Dr Saha with visible annoyance said , ‘ Then what should we tell them?’

I gathered courage and said ,” Sir, you simply ask him what will you do on gaining freedom ?” I did not say this based on any due consideration . The credit goes to the book –‘ If war comes ‘ . The foreword of this book was written by Dr. Saha himself . I was reading this book at that time . Obviously it was the reaction from the title of the book . It was a mere coincidence . I had this title in my mind . Dr. Saha felt encouraged and a bit agitated and said , ‘Let us go and ask this ‘

After a day or two he met Netaji again . This time I accompanied him . I do not know why Dr. Trivedi could not go with us . Perhaps he was on leave . Both the great men began talking in Bangla . Usually they talked in Bangla only . By that time I could follow Bangla a little . Later lot of people took me for a Bengali after talking to me in Bangla . During talks Netaji said , ‘ After independence we shall do this and that . Then no one will remain hungry or without clothes . We shall provide every one with a house to live in . We shall eradicate illiteracy .’ In short he spoke from the point of view of a politician . Dr. Saha could not contain himself and interrupting him asked , ‘ Please tell me then how much food, cloth and how many dwellings would be required ? How would you do it in no time ? Where are the resources ? etc etc . ‘ At this Netaji said we shall work this out after independence . At this Dr. Saha said , ‘ This is all what national planning is about . We should be ready before hand ‘ He mentioned what all happened in Russia . Then Netaji was much impressed by his questions . He said ,’ Oh you meant this . Then the national planning is a very good thing . This must be done .’

In the end formation of a National Planning Committee was discussed. Based on this after some time the National Planning Committee was established. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was made its Chairman . Shri K.T.Shah and Shri Harivishnu Kamath ICS were made its secretaries . Besides these Dr. Saha , V.V.Giri , J.C.Kumarappa , Dr. Sayed Mahmud , Dr. J.C.Ghosh , Pandit Ram Prasad etc were made members . They all were top class administrators , economists , and scientists . No doubt in my view Dr. Saha was the founder of the National Planning Committee.

I thus saw how science and politics combined for the benefit of the common man in the back ground of common interests and nationalist feelings . Netaji was always thinking of ways and means of achieving independence . In the same way the great scientist was thinking of the ways and means of feeding crores of people and taking care of them in summers and winters . Both had a common aim –to work in the interest of our country men and to find the path for their all round progress.

Dr. Saha was a great patriot . But he did not believe in charkha and khaddar . Perhaps his scientific mind could not accept such conservative ideas . It appeared that he considered these as obstacles in the way of quick progress. He took the initiative to in using science for development . He was the first scientist to place before the nation the idea of organisation of science at national level in a planned manner for its proper utilisation for development . Dr Saha had studied Russian literature and he was influenced by the current literary thinking . He had visited Russia many times and was in personal and friendly contact with their top scientists and organisers . Russian scientists held him in high esteem . He was true to his words and was a very determined worker . Once he accepted he would never leave before completing the task . Not only this he had the uncommon acumen of doing maximum work in the least possible time . He was the inspirer for hard work . He would engage people with so much enthusiasm and encouragement that not only the workers but the viewers too were taken aback at the marvel .

It is said about Dr. Saha that he was among those men who can break but can not be bent . All his life he never compromised with his principles . This resulted in his not getting any recognition from the then British Government due to his staunch nationalist views , despite being an internationally famous scientist . Once it as rumoured that he was being considered for ‘ Knight Hood ‘ .But he did not get it . He was a bitter critic of the British Government . That was the reason behind it . After independence it was expected that the Government would suitably honour this world famous scientist . But this too did not happen . It was because immediately after independence he had confrontation with the Government . He was earlier against the British Government , now he was against this Government too .

Dr. Saha was an ideal example of simple living and high thinking . He lived his life in a very natural way . He detested artificiality . He had a very soft heart . He can be compared with almonds and walnuts —very hard from outside but equally soft inside .. Some people are like berries – sweet outside but the stone inside tastes bitter. Dr. Saha could not become a berry all his life . He always remained an almond . People would hesitate even going to the verandah leading to his room . But any one who came in contact with him easily discerned the wonderful and extremely affectionate nature hidden underneath . It had a reason . He had experienced poverty . He advanced dealing with and tackling scarcities . He advanced so much which could be a reason for envy to any other famous scientist .

Dr. Saha could not suffer fools . He would get angry at any thing foolish . He was a very straight forward man . I never saw him trying to please biggest of man . He disliked people who indulged in buttering . He was able to see through such persons . He would spend hours of his valuable time with people who meant business . He would dismiss persons who came just for nothing .

In 1945 I went to Calcutta as head of the glass laboratory . I could not get a suitable house to live in . I lived in Dr Saha’s house for full three months . Dr Saha had so much love for Allahabad University students that whenever any one came to Calcutta Dr Saha would insist on his staying with him . Who would not have loved the affectionate command of such a great teacher . It was my fortune that I got the fruits of his insistence . He was in true sense a ‘Guru ‘ . [ teacher ]

Some people believe that Dr Saha was of a dry nature . I also felt the same during my first meeting . He had little time and work load was heavy . It is true that during first meeting he would appear a bit dry but as you come closer you begin seeing the soft interior . He was above partiality . It was in his nature to treat every one alike . He was not very social . That is why many thought that he was not a man of this world . But it is not true . He would listen to every one’s problems . He would help them too. But he had his principles and his own ways .

He was a very alert and straight forward person . He would care for every small detail . In matters of money he was very careful and alert . People found it difficult to work along with him and under him . But my experience of long association with him is entirely different . I do feel that there was a totally different pleasure and great happiness in working with him . For the second time in his life time I stayed in Calcutta for eleven years . Not a single week would have passed if I did not meet him . In a way I became a member of his own family . How much affection Dr Saha had towards me is made amply clear by the fact that when after his death family members approached me if I knew some thing which they did not ,regarding some matters .”



Obituaries

After the sad and sudden demise of Dr. Atma Ram , several eminent persons called on his wife , Smt Sita Devi , at her residence , 25 , B-Road , Maharani Bagh , New Delhi -110065 , to personally condole his death . A few of them jotted down their feelings in the visitor’s book . Others sent condolence messages . Some are reproduced below

Shri Morarji Desai , Former Prime Minister [ Letter in Hindi in his own hand writing ]
‘Ashiana’
Netaji Subhash Road
Mumbai- 400030

“Bahen Shrimati Sita Deviji , 12.2.83.
I felt grieved to read the sad news of Dr. Atma Ram’s sudden demise .My relations with him were of several years and were very close . Some days back he came to meet me upstairs . But I being not at home that day I could not meet him . In this world every thing happens as per the wishes of God Almighty. In the end no treatment is effective . We have to bear the sorrowful separation with courage and fortitude.
May God give you and your family strength to bear this irreparable loss with courage and calmness! This is my wish and prayer.
Yours,
Morarji Desai


Shrimati Indira Gandhi Prime Minister’s House
New Delhi
February 7 , 1983

Dear Mrs. Atma Ram ,

I am grieved to learn of Dr. Atma Ram’s passing away . He rendered notable service to the country , specially as Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research . He was respected by his colleagues .
My sympathy and condolences to you and your children in your bereavement .

Yours Faithfully
sd. Indira Gandhi
( Indira Gandhi )
Mrs. Atma Ram,
25-B , Maharani bagh,
New Delhi.



Sri Jagjivan Ram , 6 Krishna Menon Marg , New Delhi wrote on a post card as follows

“ I feel great sorrow on learning the sad demise of Dr. Atma Ram . I pray to God for his soul to rest in peace and to provide solace to the bereaved family . Kindly accept my heartfelt condolences—Jagjivan Ram “

Dr. Raja Ramanna , Bombay

“ I was very sorry to learn abot the sad demise of your husband Dr. Atma Ram . Please accept my heartfelt condolences in this hour of your beravement “

Dr. D.S.Kothari , Delhi University, Delhi {ex- Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri ] wrote on 10.02.1983 :

“ A most distinguished Scientist who made a special and far reaching contribution to linking science with industry and productivity ; a person of sterling character , and very affectionate . His example and work will long continue to inspire scientists and others for a long time to come . It is a deep personal loss “

DR. G.R. Toshniwal , Kundan Nagar , ajmer

“ I have known Dr Atma Ram ever since he was a student of the Allahabad University and we developed an intense liking for each other since then I have watched his scientific career , which always had a practical bent of mind . The technology for developing the method of making optical glass in India for the first time was a signal achievement . He very rightly deserved promotion as D.G. CSIR and I had very close contact with him even during this period . His approach to all matters scientific was very practical , but the country was not prepared to accept it whole heartedly . Dr. Atma Ram lived a very useful life and will be remembered for centuries not only in India but outside too His death is a great loss to India .”

Mr.Wahid C. Malic , Vice Chancellor , University of Kashmir , Srinagar . 13.02.1983

“ As a chemist I always admired his contribution to science and specially chemical technology . His commitment to the development productive science was unparalleled . I came in personal contact with him on several occasions and was always inspired by his profound excellence and integrity of character . May his soul rest in peace!”

Signature illegible 10.02.1983

“ A scientist in the real sense , a sage , a guide and a philosopher of great virtue has gone too soon --- leaving others behind to emulate his greatness in words and deeds .”

Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati 21.02 .1983

“ DR.Atma Ram came to Prayag in 1927 . Our closeness began right then . Slowly our friendship grew so much that we both became members of the same family . To day it appears unreal that he is no more in this world . He reached an eminent position in life from very humble beginnings . Separation from his younger brother --- this is destiny .One has to accept it . My mind is full of reminiscences to write about and think .”

Shri G.P.Kane , Bombay 07.02.1983

“ I had known Dr. Atma Ram for more than three decades and since he came to New Delhi as DG CSIR , a friendship and comraderie for common endeavour developed that I valued greatly . His passing away suddenly has created a gap for me that can never be filled .”

Prof Neel Ratna Dhar , University Of Allahabad 10.02 1983

“ Your husband’s passing away suddenly has caused a tremendous loss to me . He was deeply devoted to me for over fifty years . I wholeheartedly join with you and the members of your family to mourn this dreadful loss to us .”

Dr. Dhar sent another letter on 14.02 .1983from his 2-D Beli Road Allahabad residence :

“ I prayed yesterday at 2 PM for my devoted pupil , Dr. Atma Ram and for you and the members of your family . I got the printed card that you celebrated the Shradh function at 2 PM , on Sunday , the 13 th . I hope you received my earlier letter . With blessings and good wishes to you all .”

Smt. Sharda Mukerjee , Governor of Gujrat 07.02 1983

“ Shocked to hear the tragic news of Dr. Atma Ram’s demise . He was an eminent scientist and intellectual who devoted his life to the service of the nation . Profound sympathies and condolences to you and family in your irreparable loss and sorrow .”

Shri Shiv Charan Mathur Chief Minister Rajsthan 08.02.1983

“ I have known Dr. Atma Ram for a very long time At Bhilwara he got produced heat-resistive bricks from waste mica and used them at Central Glass and Ceramics Research , Institute , Calcutta ., thus saving crores of rupees in foreign exchange . The passing away of the famous scientist has inflicted a mortal blow to the scientific world .”


Immediate Family Of Dr. Atma Ram

Dr. Atma Ram’s immediate family comprised of the following :-

Wife : Smt. Sita Devi [ 25.06.1818 – 27.12. 1992 ] was an ideal life companion of Dr. Atma Ram . She lived as happily in his village among his family members right in the midst of pecuniary scarcities , though she came from a very well to do family , as she lived in affluence later in life . She supported him wholeheartedly in all his efforts . That gave him tremendous strength to face the world fearlessly with courage . She ran the household and kept him free to follow his intellectual pursuits . She without any reservation and with great willingness performed marriages of boys and girls of the family bearing all expenses . Not only this both of them set apart funds in the form of Unit Certificates for the possible weddings of children who were still not of age . She gave away these certificates to their parents after her husband’s demise . She was a very well respected by all in the family . She was a pillar of strength of the entire family - her husband’s and her parents . Every one looked towards her for advice . She kept the house open for all relatives howsoever distant and family friends at any time of day or night . The house was always full of people coming from village for treatment , shopping for weddings , engagement ceremonies and for fixing up matches for the girls .

She was like mother nature thrifty and led a very simple life . She was always neatly attired gracefully and elegantly . She liked people who were clearheaded and simple in nature . She was full of compassion for the poor . She taught servants’ children daily with love and affection . She in particular liked teaching English . They still remember her .

She stood firmly like a rock after her husbands death . She took the calamity very calmly . She never lost her composure and it was she who immediately took initiative to get back all our things from the Holy Family Hospital room right after Dr Atma Ram’s death , when the body still lay on the bed. It was she who consoled others and gave the needed strength to bear the loss with fortitude .

She continued running the household and gave her advice till the end . She suddenly suffered a stroke and breathed her last peacefully after a very brief illness on 27.12.1992 almost ten years after her husband’s death .

Eldest Daughter ; Smt. Snehlata Singhal { Birthday 30. 06. 1936 ] w/o Air Commodore [ Retd. } Ravendra Kumar Singhal , an Electronics Engineer ,who after permanently seconding to Defence Research and Development Organisation from the Indian Air Force , retired as Director of Electronics and Instrumentation and subsequently Director Technology Forecasting Group . She has inherited in abundance all the qualities her father possessed. .She has now taken over the mantle of running the household and she is doing an amazing job . The family remains firmly as one as before , as though nothing has changed in life . She spends lot of her free time in teaching servants’ children ever day mornings and evenings . She is ever eager to help others . She has ensured that every Sunday morning we perform Hawan before breakfast . Like her father she leaves it to others to take part on their own accord in the prayers . She had two children –elder a daughter and younger a son .

Daughter Smt. Rita Kumar [ Birthday 01.09.1956 ] is married to Shri Pradeep Kumar , a Senior Engineer in Proctor and Gambles , who is presently posted at Kobe , Japan . She has the distinction of being elected the President of the Parent -Teachers Association of the Canadian Academy -being the only non - Asian and non - American lady . She later was nominated as the Member of the Board of Trustees of the Academy which runs the Academy . She has two children . Elder is a daughter , Miss Richa Kumar , [Birthday 07.08.1979 ] . She after graduating from Canadian Academy and obtaining International Baccalaureate Diploma is now in final year of her under graduate course in the School of Foreign Service , George Town University, Washington DC , USA . Son , Master Anupam Kumar [ Birthday 08 .03. 1984 ] is studying in Canadian academy , Kobe , Japan and is in the eleventh standard.

Son Late Shri Anuj Singhal [ 25.02.1966 – 17. 01.1996 ] After graduating from the university of Delhi , Anuj joined the Hotel Consultant Institute in Switzerland and obtained Diploma in Hotel Management specialising in cuisine . Thereafter he proceeded to USA and obtained B.Sc. degree in Hotel Management from the Johnson and Wales University , Providence , Boston . He served in Pizza Hut , Hotel Holiday Inn , Colonade Hotel and Brakers Hotel at Palm Beach . He died in an accident on 17.01.1996. in USA. His last rights were performed by Shri Pradeep Kumar in the presence of Smt Rita Kumar . He too was like his grand father. He lived very simply even abroad and would not spend much on himself to the extent his fast friend Mr. Chris Cresto came to spend sometime at Delhi with him told us that he was till then under the impression that he belonged to a poor family . What a beautiful coincidence with Atma Ramji when his grand daughter considered him poor and thus not eligible to visit her school . We felt proud of our son . As a child after his fourth birthday he told us firmly that instead of a birthday party the money saved must be sent to the orphanage . When told that we would do both , he typically replied like his grand father that the additional amount be also given to them . Every year he would either personally visit the orphanage or we would give the money to the blind school . We are carrying out his wishes . As a child we remember the incident when my wife shooed away the birds when some eatable was kept for drying . He sternly told her to refrain from doing so as the birds can not go to office to earn money .Where would they eat ? What a compassion ! He overwhelmed us . Once when he reached his school for the Competitive Military Entrance Examination for entry to Military Academy , Pune , his friend got injured in his leg. Without caring for the examination he went from his school , The Central Air Force School , Dhola Kuan , on a cycle and dropped his friend in his house about three KM away . When he returned the examination had begun more than fifteen minutes back . On his entreaties he was permitted to write his paper . He passed with very high marks and was subsequently selected by the Services Selection Interview Board , Bangalore . He declined to join the army and we all accepted his wish . He told us that he simply wanted to prove himself . His helping nature remained with him even after his death . In his driving license or blood donation card , he had mentioned that his body parts may be used for transplantation for the needy . Even then Doctors attending on him asked for our permission . We agreed . All his body parts were used for transplanting . We received several letters of thanks and appreciation from the Hospital . Beloved grand son joined his grand father in heavens but a bit too early for the rest of us .


Younger Daughter of Dr. Atma Ram , Smt, Manju Mittal [ Birthday27.11.1949 ] , w/o Shri Narendra Kumar Mittal . He is an Electrical Engineer from the University of Roorkee . He is a Diploma holder for Export Promotion from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade . After spending a few years in the profession , he joined his father’s trading business in gur ,at his insistence , at his home town Hapur in UP. Since then they reside there. But they keep coming to Delhi . They have two children . Elder is a daughter - Smt. Archna Maheshwari { Birthday 31.03.1972 ] . She had a brilliant academic career . She is interested in Fine Arts and has lots of Tanjore Paintings to her credit . She is married to Shri Vipul Maheshwari , a supreme court lawyer . She spent her childhood with Dr. Atma Ram at Delhi and continued living there till marriage . Dr. Atma Ram was very fond of her and she could take any liberty with him . She is now the proud mother of a lovely little girl -Aradhita - who had the privilege of being blessed by no other than Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam , Bharat Ratna , and Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister , Shri Atal Behari Bajpai . The scientific tradition continues .

Her Son- Shri Prashant Mittal [ Birthday 27.03.1975 ] has obtained his Chartered Accountant degree from the Institute of Chartered Accountants { India }.

The family is happily living together in the house built for them by Dr. Atma Ram – 25 , B-Road , Maharani Bagh , New Delhi -110065 .

Through The Memory Lane

Air Cmde R.K.Singhal who spent years in Dr. Atma ram’s close company reminiscences :

“ We lived together in close company for several years and had many opportunities to discuss matters of serious nature , be it science and technology or metaphysics . I thought that it would be nice if I shared with the readers a few things which gave me a completely new direction in my thinking and seed sown by him ever remained in search of similar ideas . He had the knack of explaining seemingly complex matters in very simplified way and in very few words . Certain words scientists use commonly , without really understanding them , caused lot of unnecessary controversies .

How many of us really understood the subtle difference between science and technology ? He would simply say that science shows the possibility of something to happen . Technology makes it happen . For example science discovered that if current was passed through a resistance wire , it would glow with heat and emit light . Technology invented an electric bulb . This clearly established the difference between science and technology . Application of science for a useful product is technology.

He would explain technology transfer thus . Technology is not something which you transfer from one bin to another or money which you transfer from one bank account to another . It comprises the whole range of activities from concept , design , pilot plant , industrial production , creation of needs if necessary , advertising , sales and further growth .

Initiated , I began thinking how to explain terms like ’knowhow ‘ and ‘knowwhy ‘ .Once reading an article in National Ggeographic Magazine I observed that while a species of eagles was flourishing yet another species in the same area of Sahara Desert was on the brink of extinction . As in the desert they existed on bones , mostly of camels , which were huge .They would pick up a big bone , fly and from a height drop it on the ground . If it broke the small pieces would be easily eaten .They both were following the ‘knowhow’ . The successful one was dropping the bones on a rocky surface , so they broke to pieces on impact . The other one copied blindly and dropped the bones on the sand which proved as a cushion without breaking them to pieces. They did not try to find out ‘Knowwhy ‘ for the ‘knowhow’ process. As simple as that .

Once we were discussing the purpose of life in the universe . I felt that there was no purpose but doubt was there that life was not a random act but a very well thought of , planned and designed where there is no duplication and nothing is wasted . What one throws out another eats . Cycle is complete . He asked me a very simple question . Does a he-goat knows his purpose of life ? No . But we know that he is to be killed and eaten . With our limitations how can we know the purpose . He opened a new direction of thinking for me in just one sentence . Like Rishies of Vedic period we have to take our imagination to heights beyond our physical bodies and then try to fathom out . This resulted in theory of immortal soul but the purpose still remains out of reach of the humans .”



Submission By The Author Of Hindi Edition

I met respected Dr. Atma Ramji for the first time in 1974 . By that time he had retired as Director General , the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research . He was residing with his eldest daughter Smt. Snehlata Singhal at 36 Central Vista Hostel , Dr. Rajendra prasad Road , New Delhi . I met him in connection with some writing work for ‘ Saptahik Hindustan ‘ . I had initially met him for an interview but slowly within less than two or three meetings our relations grew very strong due to his very warm nature.

When we came nearer I proposed to write his biography . He happily acceded to my proposal . I began taking notes from him from time to time . Some conversations were tape recorded . But all this ceased when I was selected to be the member-secretary of the National Indira Gandhi Decade Celebrations Committee. This committee was formed in connection with the completion of ten years of rule of Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister . Besides other work , a book in Hindi and English on Indira Gandhi was to be compiled and published by the committee. The Convener of the committee was the then Petroleum Minister , Shri Keshav Dev Malviya and its Chairman was Mr. Aziz Imam , Secretary Congress Working Committee . Members were Shri Khurshid Alam Khan , Shri Jitendra Prasad, Smt. Margret Alva , Shri Nawal Kishore Sharma ,Smt Aziz Imam , and Shri Sunder Lal , all Members of Parliament . Dr. Atma Ram accepted to be the consultant to this committee on the personal request of Shri Aziz Imam and myself . After that I continued meeting him in connection with the committee’s work . The biography was left out . We had lot of valuable help from him in carrying out our task in the committee . He also got for the committee a handsome amount of money due to his own efforts . On the whole during this period our relations grew stronger .

In 1977 general elections congress Government at the centre was wiped out . Indira Gandhi too was defeated . Morarji Desai formed the Janata Government at the centre . I could see that I would get the time to write the biography . I began thinking in that direction and started making up my mind . But then within a few days of the formation of the Government , Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai nominated Dr. Atma Ram as Chairman of the National Committee on Science and Technology . Atma Ramji shifted his residence to 2 Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road from Central Vista Hostel . He became so busy that we could hardly meet . Therefore our meetings were just formalities. Leave aside taking notes for biography we could not even talk freely . Even otherwise he was a strict follower of rules and time . Morarji’s Government fell through in only two and a half years and he resigned . Dr. Atma Ram too resigned immediately . Then he moved over to his own house in Maharani Bagh .

A long time had elapsed since I met Atma Ramji . Then one day the chief editor of ‘ Kheti ‘ Dr. Ramesh Datt Sharma in a taunting way told me that Dr. Saheb was saying that Nautial would write my biography when he was no more . As he said so the warm and affectionate face of Atma Ramji floated before me and I was overwhelmed . The loving complaint of Atma Ramji passed on through Shri Ramesh Datt affected me very deeply . For a moment I was lost in the past . I felt terrible remorse on my idle habits . Then I took courage and decided there and then that I would complete the book come what may . ( It is true that I have completed my promise after such a long time but could not prove Atma Ramji’s words wrong despite all my efforts . ) .

Very next day I contacted Atma Ramji . I learnt that due to my disinterestedness he had made up his mind to write his own autobiography as per the wishes of his admirers , wellwishers and persons close to him . He commenced writing on Krishna Janmashthmi day in 1980 . And what a coincidence that today I am also writing the preface on this very day after seventeen years . It is true without God’s mercy nothing can be done .

Now we were meeting quite regularly . Earlier I used to take a tape recorder but now I began taking notes based on question and answers . The work was progressing well . One day he asked me how I had come . On my saying that lot of time was wasted in commuting by buses , he arranged to bring and take me back by car . Thus the work gained speed . And after a few months of taking notes I was satisfied that I had got all the material I required.

The work progressed well . I began showing him the typed copies of my manuscript from time to time . He would correct them as necessary . This way the work became authentic and perfect . He appeared satisfied with the effort . I also felt relieved that the work which had almost been closed began taking shape . But this also did not last long . One day I learnt to my dismay that Atma Ramji was no more . I felt that he was telling me -‘ If you have leisure , write this biography , I am leaving after performing all my duties ’

I feel somehow guilty and sad that I could not complete the book in his life time due to several non reasons . This would always pinch my heart . But now I am pleased that despite my weaknesses I have completed the book and thus fulfilled the wishes of millions of his admirers . I may feel satisfied that what ends well is well done. Though the biography is of Atma Ramji but I have been coaxed and encouraged into writing it by his close friends , admirers and well wishers . I would like to express my thoughts in Kabir’s words ‘ Mera mujh mein kuch nahi , jo kuch hei so tera -tera tujhko sonpta kya lage hei mera ‘ . In a way it is his work which he put in my custody and I kept it hidden for so long from public with out authority .

On 7 February , 1983 all the newspapers carried the news of world famous scientist Dr. Atma Ram ‘s sudden demise . I was then working in ‘Saptahik Hindustan ‘ . Smt Sheela Jhunjhunwala was its editor . My friend and colleague Shri Himanshu Joshi informed Sheelaji that I was writing Dr. Atma Ram’s biography . On her request I gave a few chapters of the biography for publication in ‘Saptahik Hindustan’ . These serials were published with effect from the issue of 9 October 1983 .

The moment the issue was out we received hundreds of appreciative letters . Those days among the weeklies ‘ Saptahik Hindustan ‘ occupied an eminent place . We published dozens of these letters in the weekly . I personally received several letters from his friends and admirers . Every letter demanded that Dr. Atma Ram’s entire life be searialised . Thus even belated , the biography is before the public . This is all due the demand , requests , appreciations and encouragements of the readers of the weekly .. I apologise to millions of Dr. Atma Ram’s admirers for unnecessary delay in the publication of the biography in book form . I humbly request the readers that whatever they find useful and inspiring in the book please accept as loving gift ‘Prasad’ from a saintly scientist and whatever you may consider terse please ignore it as a shortcoming in my understanding .

‘ Bharat-kokila ‘ Smt Sarojni Naidu said that for writing about Dr. Rajendra Prasad one required a pen of gold and honey for ink . It would not be an exaggeration if I say that whatever was said about Rajendra Babu is hundred percent applicable to Dr. Atma Ram .

No doubt internationally well known and famous glass technologist Dr. Atma Ram would be remembered in successfully producing optical glass at a very difficult time with indigenous raw materials and resources when he had vision in one eye only . [ At the age of 26 years he lost the vision in right eye in a serious car accident in Germany ] . Optical glass is a strategic material for the defence forces and is used practically in all visual instruments in civil life . India till then was totally dependent and at the mercy of a few nations who had its knowhow . He would also be remembered for many other successes in scientific field . He occupied many senior positions in the field of science . Future scientists would not forget him due to his being a perfect pupil of such famous scientists as Dr N.R.Dhar and Prof Meghnad Saha . Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru liked him much . Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held him in esteem . She depended upon him . He was a scientist confidant of the Gandhian Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai . Even more than being a great scientist , he would be remembered for centuries to come for his humane nature . He was such a man on this earth who was full of compassion for humanity . He was such a great man as though God Himself has taken birth as Atma Ram on this earth for the good of mankind . For only such great persons a poet has said :

“ Farishton se behtar hei insan banana
magar usmein padati hei mehanat ziada “

In our country lives of great men have always been written and read with great interest .. Ramcharitmanas is a case in point . People have shown interest in the lives of Saints and Mahatmas . But the biographies of scientists have been very few , and even so they contained very little about their struggles in life and more the dull descriptions of their research work .That is why they were not popular among the common men . In the present era Dr. Atma Ram was such a scientist in the applied sciences field that his field of work or of life was truly Indian and more of a real villager . Born in a small village of Uttar Pradesh and brought up and studied in that environment , it is indeed a mystery and a miracle , how he could grow into such eminence that he took his place among the internationally famous scientific community of the world . I have made an attempt to portray the glimpses of the life of this great man in words . How far I am successful in my efforts only readers would know after going through this book . I wish today Atma Ramji and many others were alive who gave me encouragement , cooperation and support in writing this book .

In a way the material of this book was Atma Ram’s own and he gave it to me for safe custody for writing his biography . But I am bringing it to light after so long a period due mainly to my laziness. Any way , today , I am exceedingly happy and satisfied that though late yet I have succeeded in fulfilling my pledge . Through this book I pray and gratefully remember a great pious soul like Atma Ram’s , who with all support and affectionate insistence inspired me to write this book and encouraged me from time to time so that I could give up my laziness .

World Famous scientist Albert Einstein said about Mahatma Gandhi , “ After two three generations no body would believe that a great man like Gandhi had ever walked on this earth “ Gandhiji freed the country from the shackles of foreign rule through his weapon of truth and non-violence . Dr. Atma Ram provided freedom to the country from dependence on foreign powers in respect of valuable optical glass . No doubt both brought freedom in their respective fields . Whenever the national flag will be unfurled from the ramparts of the Red Fort and at the time of the Republic Day parades Gandhi would always be remembered for centuries . Dr. Atma Ram would be likewise remembered when astronomers would use telescopes using optical glass to find out the mysteries of the distant stars and universe , when the cientists use the microscopes for research in their laboratories and when the Armed Forces use it as an eye augmenter . If the Indians remain indebted to Gandhiji for bringing them independence , they would be indebted to Dr.Atma Ram for that small piece of optical glass.

I feel that after reading this book there would be a natural urge to think hard how a simple village born lad and a one eyed scientist could reach such great heights in our country . Really it would be difficult to believe stupendous achievements of this man . And this is his greatness . And this is a measure of his determination to achieve eminence . An this is the way to assess his achievements .

Thus , if the readers and specially the young scientists get any inspiration from his biography , I shall consider my several year’s efforts successful . My mission of past several years would be fulfilled . I pay my regards and respects to this great soul .

--- Durga Prasad Nautial




Preface


After reading this book , I felt that Shri Durga Prasad Nautial , had done a commendable job in projecting Dr. Atma Ram as he was . Generally it has been observed that Hindi writers are prone to exaggerations and eulogising the person they are writing about . Shri Nautial has completely refrained from it as Atma Ram would not have liked it . He has extensively used Dr. Atma Ram’s own narration and that makes the attempt very charming and meaningfully authentic. Shri Nautial has a command and fluency in Hindi which persons can easily understand . Dr. Atma Ram’s scientific works have been extensively published –specially by the CSIR. But what was lacking was the impact that Dr Atma Ram’s struggles in life could make on impressionable young minds . Public had seen a little glimpse in Shri Nautial’s articles in ‘Saptahik Hindustan ‘ which were a raging success . The family was all these years waiting for this book and had almost lost hope and thought Shri Nautial had forgotten Dr. Atma Ram .Then suddenly the book was published and we were very relieved and happy . And what a book ! All praise to Shri Nautial .

I thought that the book would be more beneficial if it was translated in some other Indian Languages as it was mainly meant to enthuse the young children . I thought that I could do the English translation some justice as I knew and was quite familiar with Pitaji’s life and work and being an Engineer who managed research work in the Defence R&D organisation at senior levels . [ Dr. Atma Ram was my father-in-law and I addressed him so ] . But I had no occasion to speak my mind to Shri Nautial .

In early second week of April , 2000 Shri Nautial called on us to discuss matters concerning a documentary based on this book for telecast by Doordarshan . It was a great idea so that the young generation might be inspired from Dr. Atma Ram’s successful struggles in life . I broached the subject of English translation to him . He said he would begin only after competing the documentary . I suggested to translate the book myself . He readily agreed and I commenced working on it next day . Today I have completed the work and it is ready for publication .

I have taken the liberty of making a few alterations here and there and adding on new materials to make the publication more comprehensive and explicit. I only hope that the persons who do not understand Hindi are able to read this translation .

If it is able to inspire and kindle a light of hope even in a few downtrodden people to rise above their adverse circumstances to greater heights , I would be amply rewarded

I owe my gratitude and appreciation to my wife Smt. Snehlata Singhal for encouraging and supporting me in my efforts by making suggestions and helping in actual translation , without which this could not have been possible . In fact since Pitaji and Ammaji’s death , she had taken their mantle on herself and guided every one in the family . I owe my thanks to my nephew Shri Prashant Mittal , a Chartered Accountant , for teaching me the intricacies of computer operations , bringing back the lost typed pages in the computer and for print outs . I owe my thanks to Shri N.K.Mittal and Smt Manju Mittal for their help in selecting suitable photographs for publication .

I owe special thanks to my son-in-law Shri Pradeep Kumar , daughter Smt. Rita Kumar , grand daughter Miss Richa Kumar and grand son Shri Anupam Kumar for their suggestions and encouragement via e-mail every day from Kobe, Japan and from Washington DC.

25 , B - Road
Maharani Bagh
New Delhi -110065

Phones Residence - 6317214
6916144 R.K.Singhal
16.05.2000











Dedication

Dedicated to the sacred memory of

Dr. Atma Ram and Smt. Sita Devi

and to their devoted and doted Grand Son



Shri Anuj Singhal

2 comments:

AJOY said...

It was such a pleasure going through the life history of Dr Atma Ram ji. I am son of Dr N Ghatak who was a very close friend of dr Atma Ram and about whom u have mentioned in your article.
My email address is
ajoykghatak@gmail.com

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