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Dear friends, I have always been fascinated by the great work of Narlikar Sir and still dream to meet him personally one day. Today morning when I was browsing the website of IIT Gandhinagar, I saw a link ‘Living Legends in Indian Science’- The list included the names of the stalwarts-   Mambillikalathil Govind Kumar Menon, Asoke Nath Mitra, H.Y. Mohan Ram, T.N.Ananthakrishnan, Marthanda Varma Sankaran Valiathan, C.V.Subramanian, Udupi Ramachandra Rao, Bullusu Lakshmana Deekshatulu, Roddam Narasimha and my favourite Jayant Vishnu Narlikar. I could not resist myself from clicking the link further which led me to an article on Narlikar Sir published in the Current Science, Volume 107, Number 1, July 2014. To know what I found about Sir in that article, Read On!!

The article started with the following lines, “It was late 1964; newspapers all over the country had a big front page splash, a young Indian don at Cambridge and his senior research collaborator had been able to see beyond Einstein in their new theory of gravitation. It had just been announced in the meeting of the Royal Society, London and the announcement had been enthusiastically received. This was precisely what the young nation was looking for as it was hungry for such recognitions and it was the first big one. For, an independent India was aspiring to catch up with the Western world in all spheres of life quickly, and more so in science, which is believed to be the key transformation vehicle for material progress. This is how Jayant Vishnu Narlikar (JVN) arose with a bang on the Indian science horizon. One does not have to stretch one’s imagination much to know that he became a household name overnight, a science face of emerging and aspiring India, and an iconic role model. Exceptionally, he was awarded the civilian award, Padma Bhushan by the President of India. He is perhaps the youngest Padma Bhushan awardee.”

On reading this paragraph my pride grew manifold. On further reading I found many fascinating facts about Narlikar Sir. Let me share them with you. After completing his B.Sc, he went to Cambridge for further studies and there he became a Wrangler and Tyson Medallist in the Mathematical Tripos. (Mathematical Tripos is a course in Mathematics at Cambridge University.) Do you know how many degrees were awarded to Sir at Cambridge? He got his Cambridge degrees in mathematics: B A (1960), Ph D (1963), M A (1964) and Sc D (1976), but specialized in astronomy and astrophysics. Every student needs a mentor. Jayant Narlikar Sir was mentored by the great legend Fred Hoyle. After coming back to India, Sir joined TIFR- Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He then set up the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) which has now become a world renowned centre for astronomy and astrophysics. His work has been on the frontiers of gravity and Mach’s Principle, Quantum Cosmology, Physics and even Biology.  

Dear friends, his list of awards his very long but let me just mention a few. He has been awarded the Bhatnagar award, the M.P. Birla Award, the Prix Janssen of the French Astronomical Society, Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, Padmabhushan (1965), Padmavibhushan (2004), Maharashtra Bhushan (2011).

He has always been very close to children and tried to reach us through his books, articles, radio and TV programmers. My mother recalls his TV programmes for children when she was a child herself. I am happy that we all belong to the land where Jayant Narlikar Sir was born.


Blog by

Shreenabh Agrawal,

Class IX A,

The CDS School, Nagpur