Persons in News 2017

Renowned academic Professor Yash Pal passes away

Globally renowned physicist, academic and higher education reformer Professor Yash Pal passed away in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. He was 90.

He was known for his contributions to the study of cosmic rays, as well as for being an institution-builder. He was also one of the leading science communicators in India.

About Yash Pal

Yash Pal was born in 1926 in Jhang in then British India (now in Pakistan). He had graduated with a master’s degree in physics from Panjab University in 1949 and earned PhD degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958.

He had started his academic career at Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). He had served as the first Director of the newly set up Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, in 1973.

He was a member of the ‘cosmic rays group’. He was appointed by the government to several school and higher education reform committees. Government had also roped him as chair of National Council of Educational Research and Training after it had started work on the National Curriculum Framework.

He also had served as chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) from 1986 to 1991. In 2009, the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development had set up a committee on higher education (known as Yash Pal Committee) chaired by Yash Pal to look into reforming higher education in the country.

He was awarded the Padma Bhusan (1976), Padma Vibhushan (2013). He also has received the Kalinga Prize (2009,), awarded by UNESCO for the popularisation of science.

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Former ISRO Chairman U R Rao passes away

Internationally-renowned space scientist and former chairman of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), Udupi Ramachandra Rao passed away in Bengaluru. He was 85.

Prof Rao is credited with having played an instrumental role in building up Indian satellite programmes right from nation’s first satellite Aryabhatta.

About U R Rao

He was born on 10 March 1932 in Adamaru, Karnataka. He is alumni of Madras University, Gujarat University, Banaras Hindu University.

He had served as Chairman of ISRO from 1984 to 1994. Under his guidance, ISRO had designed more than 20 satellites including India’s first satellite Aryabhatta. Under his leadership, India had initiated the development of the geostationary launch vehicle GSLV and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991.

He was also responsible for successful launch of INSAT satellites during his stint at ISRO. He had played pivotal role in promoting the use of space technology for broadcasting, education, meteorology, disaster warning and remote sensing. He also had served as the first Chairman of Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the ISRO.

He has published more than 350 scientific and technical papers in various journals covering topics like cosmic rays, high energy astronomy, interplanetary physics, space applications and satellite and rocket technology and also authored many books.

He was serving many reputed scientific research institutions and Universities as a member of their academic councils and panels. He was chancellor of Indian Institute for Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Thiruvananthapuram, Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru.

For his contribution to Indian space technology, he was awarded Padma Bhushan (1976) and Padma Vibhushan (2017). He is the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the prestigious ‘Satellite Hall of Fame’ in Washington DC in 2013 and also first in ‘ International Astronautics Federation (IAF) Hall of Fame’ in Mexico’s Guadalajara in May 2016.

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