Who was Raja Ramanna ? - Short Story

Who was Raja Ramanna ? - Short Story

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Who was Raja Ramanna ?

 D Roopa With the then Prime Minister, Sri V P Singh and Minister for Science & Technology Sri Raja Ramanna; as Best NCC cadet, represented Karnataka in the prestigious republic day camp at New Delhi while in class 9


Raja Ramanna, who claims to be the father of India's atomic bomb is a name that is a cause of much fission among the scientific community. Ramanna himself shrugs off the debate saying, "The genetics of the bomb is not relevant." But like Robert Oppenheimer, who headed the Manhattan project that built the world's first atomic bombs, for India the mantle of leadership fell on Ramanna.

Raja Ramanna was born on 28 January 1925 in Mysore, Karnataka. His father B. Ramanna worked at the court of Mysore while his mother, Rukmini Amma was the daughter of the district judge. Ramanna did his B.Sc (Hons.) Physics from St. Joseph's College, Bangalore and completed his M.Sc. from Madras Christian College. After this he joined King's College, London for his Doctoral Studies in Nuclear Physics. he completed his Ph.D. in 1948 and then started working for D.Sc. By giving a fillip to India's nuclear research, Dr. Ramanna joined hands with Homi J Bhabha in 1953 and successfully supervised the setting up of the Tarapur nuclear reactor.

In the 1960s, Ramanna put the bomb team together in the legacy of Homi Bhabha -- by then a giant nuclear estate sprawled across the country -- to assist him. And in fact, Bhabha, before his death in 1966, had chosen Ramanna to head a team to explore peaceful nuclear explosions. Bhabha had always been impressed by the witty young man who, played music with the same passion. Dr. Ramanna never gave up his passion for music, especially playing the violin. In fact he has a Diploma of Licentiate of the Royal School of Music, London. Appropriately, a musical phrase best describes Ramanna's contribution to the making of the Indian bomb. He orchestrated the effort superbly and conducted it with such a degree of secrecy, that, when the explosion happened in 1974, it caught the world by surprise.

The task was made more difficult because India has remained politically ambivalent over possessing the bomb. Many political leaders including Mahatma Gandhi thought it blasphemous for India to even think of designing such weapons. Unperturbed and at times even defiant, Ramanna secretly told his team to go ahead with the programme. He had sensed the nation's need to have an atomic halo as an insurance against India ever being militarily colonised again.

Dr. Ramanna has served as the President of Indian national Science Academy and the 30th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna in 1986. From 1983 to 1987 he was the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Secretary of the Atomic Energy Department of the Government of India. He was also the Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai. He gave the vital inspiration and direction to Indian nuclear research while serving in these capacities. Dr. Raja Ramanna has also shared his expertise in defence issues by serving as India's Minister of State for Defence from January to November, 1990. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in August, 1997.

Dr. Ramanna is a recipient of a number of prestigious awards including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Memorial Award, the Meghnad Saha medal, R.D. Birla Memorial Award, etc. The national has honoured him with Padma Vibhushan. He has published a number of books and research articles. His autobiography is titled Years of Pilgrimage.

According to Ramanna, science would cease to be exciting the monment all the fundamental laws of nature were discovered, whereas, music for him is essentially an exploration of human consciousness which has no limits. Ramanna's personality came into conflict with many of his colleagues, and he had a stormy relationship with Rajiv Gandhi who unlike his mother, disliked his style. He remains better known, however, for splitting atoms and as India's bombmeister.

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