Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar

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All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.- Albert Einstein

Science and Art though ostensibly belonging to different spheres, overlap in many ways. Both involve ideas, theories, hypotheses, that are tested, for the scientist it is the lab, for the artist it is the studio or his study room. And much like the scientist, the artist too studies various disciplines like history, literature, culture, religion, using the same investigative techniques.  Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was a bridge between the two worlds, one of the greatest Indian scientists of the modern era, who was an equally good writer. To most Indians, his name would be familiar with CSIR, that he founded as well as the awards given out in his name to aspiring scientists.  Yet not many know that he was also an equally good Urdu poet under the name of Seemab, and composed the Kulgeet for Benaras Hindu University in Sanskrit.  As a scientist, he played a major role in ensuring chemical industry is an important part of Indian economy, something he owed a lot to his teacher, the renowned P.C.Ray.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was born on February 21, 1894 in Bhera, a small town now located in the Punjab province of Pakistan. His father Parameswar Sahai, was a Brahmo, driven by ideology,  and a second master at Anglo-Sanskrit High School in Shahpur district.  With his father passing away when he was just 8 years old, Shanti was bought up by his maternal grandfather, Munshi Pyare Lal, one of the earliest graduates of Rorkee Engineering College. Growing up in his grandfather’s rather large home at Sikandra in UP’s Bulandshahr district, Shanti spent time reading the books in the large private library he had. He would later pass over his grandfather’s entire collection to Lahore University in 1919. He also inherited the passion for engineering and science from his grandfather, especially the instruments, geometry, algebra. His love for literature was more from his mother’s side, which had a rich tradition of poets and writers. The most well known was Munshi Hargopal Tufta, who got the title of Mirza from none other than Mirza Ghalib himself.

Shanti’s schooling was at the A.V.High School in Sikandarabad, and was quite a brilliant student. His father’s friend Lala Raghunath Sahai, persuaded his mother to send him to Lahore, where he was working as the headmaster at Dyal Singh High School.  It was at Lahore that he came into contact with Pandit Shiv Nath Shastry and Abinash Chandra Mazumdar, both of them Brahmos, which in a way influenced his ideology too. Raghunath Sahai, would also be Shanti’s father in law later, and played a major role in shaping his thought process and ideals too.

In 1911, he joined the newly established Dyal Singh college in Lahore, where he was an active member of the Theater Society.  Earning a good reputation as an actor, he also wrote a one act play in Urdu called Karamati, with active encouragement, from Ms.Norah Richards, the English literature professor. His interest in literature continued in life, when after the death of his wife, he wrote a collection of Urdu poems in her memory called Lajwanti.  He joined Forman Christian College in 1913 for his BSc degree, where he took up a Honors course in Physics.

Mr. Shanti Swarup was one of the ablest students in that large class of about 100 students; indeed, I am of opinion that in all-round ability he was the ablest. He distinguished himself in every branch of the work of his class—literary, scientific, dramatic, social and he gave the most complete satisfaction to the Professor by the excellence of his behavior. He is a young man of more than usual ability and I feel sure that if he is given opportunities of developing his talent in some great European or American Centre of Scientific research he will do some remarkable work in science and will thus be in a position to render high service to his country- Welinker, Principal of Dyal Singh College.

After graduation he worked for some time as a Demonstrator in the Physics and Chemistry department of Forman Christian College, and he would later complete his MSc in Chemistry from the same college in 1919.  The Dyal Singh College trust granted him a scholarship to pursue his studies abroad, and he left for London.  He studied at the University College of London, under Professor F.G.Doonan, and was given the degree in 1921.  His main area of study in London was study of adhesion and cohesion in emulsions and his thesis was entitled ‘Solubilities of bi- and trivalent salts of higher fatty acids in oils and their effect on surface tension of oils.’

Returning to India, Shanti joined Benares Hindu University as Professor of Chemistry,  and worked there for three years.  During his stint at BHU, he created an active school of physical chemistry research, penned the University’s Kulgeet in Sanskrit. From BHU he once again moved to Lahore, where he was appointed as Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of University Chemical Laboratories.  He worked for 16 years at Punjab University, Lahore till 1940, where he produced some of his best work.  While his areas were primarily colloidal chemistry and magneto chemistry,  he also did a lot of work in applied and industrial chemistry.  In 1928 he invented the Bhatnagar-Mathur Magnetic Interference Balance along with K.N.Mathur, a very sensitive instrument for measuring magnetic properties.

He also did considerable work in industrial and applied chemistry, one of his first projects was to convert bagasse( sugarcane peelings) into cattle fodder, which he did for Ganga Ram, one of the prominent Punjabi industrialists.  Another achievement of his was for Attock Oil Company at Rawalpindi, where they had an issue while drilling for oil. The mud used for their drilling operation would come in contact with saline water and get further solidified, making further work impossible. Shanti added an Indian gum, which lowered the viscosity of mud suspension, and increased it’s stability too against the electrolytes flocculating action.  Ms. Steel Brothers the parent company of Attock Oil, was so pleased, with his solution,  that they offered him a grant of Rs 1.5 lakhs for research on any work related to petroleum.

Bhatnagar used the grant to establish a Department of Petroleum Research at the University,  and this later carried out many studies on petroleum and it’s products.  Some of them included deodorization of waxes, utilization of waste products in vegetable oil. The company later increased the grant amount and extended the period to ten years, impressed by the work that was going on.  He never used any of the grants he receieved for his personal purposes, and utilized it only for strenghtening the research facilities at University.  Along with K.N.Mathur he wrote a book “Physical Principles and Applications of Magneto chemistry” which is regarded as a standard work on the subject. This is what the great chemist P.C.Ray had to say

On turning over the pages of Nature my eyes chanced upon an advertisement of Macmillan’s in which I find your book at last advertised. That the book is of a high standard is indicated by the most excellent review in Current Science by Professor Stoner, who is competent to judge. As far as I know Meghnad’s is the only text book in physical sciences which has been adopted by foreign universities; and it gladdens my heart that another work in physical science is likely to occupy a similar place. My days are practically numbered; and my great consolation is that you, in chemistry, are raising the reputation, abroad, of Indian workers

In 1933, Sir Richard Gregory, editor of Nature, while visiting the universities in India,  drew attention to lack of an appropriate central research organization for development of natural resources and new industries.   It was not just him, even others like Sir C.V.Raman,  Dr.J.C.Ghosh, had proposed for an Advisory Board for Scientific Research, on the lines of DSIR in Britian.  Indian scientists initiated schemes to launch National Institute of Sciences, and provincial Governments of Bihar, Odisha, Madras, too backed this demand.  The then Secretary of State for India, Sir Samuel Hoare, advised the Viceroy Lord Willingdon, to support the idea.  However Willingdon rejected it saying, it was not ncessary. In 1934, the Govt however made a small concession to create an Indian Intelligence and Research Bureau, with a very limited budget. This meant the institute could only do testing and quality control, but not undertake any industrial activity.

When the Bureau was proposed to be abolished during WWII,  Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar, proposed the creation of a Board of Scientific and Industrial Research with more resources and wider objectives. Thanks to Mudaliar’s persistent efforts, the Board was created on April 1, 1940 for a period of two years and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was asked to take charge as the first Director, while Mudaliar became the first Chairman.  Allocated an annual budget of Rs 50,000, placed under Commerce Department, by the end of 1940, BSIR had about 80 researchers engaged, of whom around 20 were directly employed.  By 1942, the Institution came up with a number of processes, some of which included purification of Baluchistan sulphur, development of vegetable oil blends as fuel,  development of plastic packing cases for army boots and uniforms.  Bhatnagar persuaded the Government in 1941, to set up an Industrial Research Utilization Committee( IRUC) to transform research findings into action. The Central Assembly in Delhi accepted the reccomendations to constitute an Industrial Research Fund for five years on November, 1941.  And the efforts of Mudaliar and Bhatnagar came to fruit when the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was founded on September 28, 1942 as an Autonomous body. In 1943, CSIR Governing body approved proposal to set up 5 national laboratories-the National Chemical Laboratory, the National Physical Laboratory, the Fuel Research Station, and the Glass and Ceramics Research Institute. CSIR got a grant of Rs 10 million to establish these laboratories, while Tata Group donated Rs 2 million for the Chemical, Mettalurgical labs.

Post independence, he played a major role along with Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai, P.C. Mahalanobis to build up the science and technology infrastructure, as well as policies. As Director General of CSIR,  Bhatnagar, also established the Central Food Technology Processing Institute at Mysore, National Mettalurgical Lab at Jamshedpur, Central Fuel Institute at Dhanbad. He also mentored other scientists like Syamdas Chatterjee, Asutosh Mukherjee, Shantilal Banereej at Kolkata, apart from being the Secretary of Ministry of Education. He played a major role in drafting the Scientifc Manpower Comittee Report of 1948, the first ever systematic assesment of the scientific manpower needs of India.  He was also instrumental in establishing the National Research Development Corporation( NDRC), and negotiated with oil companies for setting up refineries in different parts of the country. On January 1, 1955 he passed away at just 60, but not before leaving a very rich legacy in terms of establishing the scientific infrastructure needed for the development of the country.

Source: http://vigyanprasar.gov.in/bhatnagar-shanti-swarup/

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Veer Surendra Sai

When one looks at the history of the freedom struggle in Odisha, one name that would stand out would be that of Veer Surender Sai, who led a tribal revolt in Sambalpur that nearly rattled the British.  A born rebel, Surendra, hailed from the small village of Khinda, and was a Rajput belonging to the Chauhan clan of  Khinda-Rajpur.  His father Dharam Singh, was a descendant of Aniruddha Sai, the fourth Chauhan ruler of Sambalpur. When Maharaja Sai passed away in 1827 AD, Surendra Sai presented his legitimate claim to the throne of Sambalpur, as the Maharaja had no male heir.

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The British however found Surendra too much of an independent thinker for their own good. Predictably they were looking for some one more pliable, and their first choice was the Maharaja’s widow Mohana Kumari. The British had already occupied Sambalpur in 1804 AD after their victory in the 3rd Anglo Maratha War, when Odisha was one of the territories ceded by the Marathas.  The British allowed Mohana Kumari to rule over the State, the decision however led to a lot of resentment between her and other claimants to the throne. With Mohana Kumari proving herself to be incapable, the people themselves revolted against her.

The British put down the rebellion, deposed Mohana Kumari, and sent her to Cuttack in 1833 AD, where she lived as a pensioner. The British then placed another puppet ruler Narayan Singh, one of the offspring on the throne.  However Narayan, by then was already too old, not capable of handling the responsibilities of the state, and soon there was an outright challenge from other members of the Rajpur-Khinda Chauhan clan.  Surender was backed by his uncle Balaram Singh( brother of his father), on the grounds that being the direct descendants, they had a legitimate claim over the throne. The Gond tribals in Sambalpur too revolted against Narayan Singh, who died in September 1849 with no male heir.

Under the Doctrine of Lapse,  Lord Dalhousie annexed Sambalpur, and Surendra Sai, revolted against the British.  Surendra felt he had a legitimate claim to the throne, however the British were wary of his popularity and strong personality. Aware that he would not be the puppet ruler they wanted him to be, the British did their best to keep him away from the throne.  And thus began an intense and epic struggle against the British, that in fact had it’s genesis much earlier in 1827 AD.

The Beginning

Since 1827, Surendra backed by his uncle Balram,  had repeatedly laid claim to the “Gadi” of Sambalpur as the legal heir apparent. However with the British ignoring his claim, Surendra decided to go down the path of total revolt.  His 6 brothers Udyanta, Ujjala, Chabila, Jajjala and Medini too supported him, as did all the local Zamindars and Gauntias.  When Narayan Singh’s men killed the Gond Zamindar of Lakhanpur,  Balabhadra Deo, the furious Gonds too supported Surendra in his revolt. Some of them murdered the unpopular Zamindar of Rampur, Durjaya Singh, a camp follower of Narayan Singh.  Though Surendra had no role in it, the British neverthless implicated him in the case, and he was arrested along with his uncle Balaram and his brother Udyanta Sai.  Sent to Hazaribagh jail in 1840 AD,  Surendra spent as many as 17 years in prison, till the 1857 Revolt, when the mutineers, broke down the prison. His uncle who was his guiding force and mentor, however died in prison itself.

In the meantime, the Zamindars of Sambalpur, as well as the ordinary people, were fed up with some of the oppressive measures taken by the British, after they annexed the state.  The British indiscriminately raised the revenue to be paid by the Tribal Zamindars as well as the Gauntias.  When the 1857 revolt broke out and Surendra Sai was liberated from prison, the tribal masses in Sambalpur, gathered under him.  And this marked the second phase in his long struggle with the British.

1857 Revolt and Later

When the 1857 Revolt broke out and Surendra was released from prison by the rebels,  he was declared a fugitive by the British.  The authorities put a bounty of Rs 250 for  his arrest as well as that of his brother Udyanta.  Surendra however had become a hero for the common people, and returned to a rousing reception in Sambalpur.  Surendra made a petition to Capt R.T.Leigh, the Senior Asst Comissioner of Sambalpur to recognize him as the Raja of Sambalpur and remit his life imprisonment.  However the Odisha Comissioner,  G.F.Cockburn, strongly opposed any kind of amnesty to Surendra Sai, and recommended his deportation. The British bought in more troops and put Surendra under house arrest in Sambalpur.  He however managed to give them the slip and escaped to Khinda village where his brother Udyant was located.

31st October 1857, Surendra began his rebellion against the British, and soon many of the ordinary people, the tribal Zamindars, Gauntias all joined hands with him.  It was primarily a tribal revolt, with the Zamindars of Kolabira, Laidia, Loisinga, Lakhanpur etc, sacrificing all their comforts, and joining Veer Surendra Sai in his guerilla war against the British.  Fighting in the thick jungles of Sambalpur,  some of them lost their lives, while some had their estates confiscated, and some were arrested and hanged. The selfless spirit of sacrifice and heroism shown by the tribals, was Veer Surendra Sai’s greatest source of strength and support.

Surendra organized the rebels into different groups, and soon they began to cut off all the routes of communication used by the British to Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Cuttack. The dawk road to Bombay was blockaded, and the British by now had completely lost control over Sambalpur.  Veer Surendra Sai, regularly harassed the British with his guerilla attacks, and it became difficult for them to venture in to the thick forests. The soldiers were regularly ambushed, and when Capt Leigh undertook the operations, the rebels struck back hard, killing and wounding several of his 50 strong contingent.

Cockburn despatched more forces to Sambalpur, and the Government transferred Sambalpur from the Chota Nagpur division to Orissa division for more effective handling.  With the Chota Nagpur division Comissioner having his hands full, and the difficulties in controlling Sambalpur from the North, it was felt that having it in Orissa, would be better. And by  Dec 19, 1857, it became a part of the Cuttack division. Capt Wood arrived in the meantime from Nagpur with a large cavalry and made a surprise attack on the rebels at Kudopali on Dec 30, 1857.  Though Surendra Sai, managed to escape, he lost one of his brother Chabila Sai, as also about fifty rebels in the skirmish.

Major Bates arrived in Sambalpur on January 7, 1858 to take charge of the situation, and occupied the Jharghati pass connecting Ranchi, that was blocked by Udyant Sai.  Bates destroyed the village of Kolabira, it’s gauntia was arrested and hanged. Captain Woodbridge and Wood then launched another attack on the hill stronghold of the rebels Paharsgira on February 12, 1858. However the rebels managed to counter the British, and Woodbridge was killed, his headless body was later found in the forests.

With the situation in Sambalpur, slipping out of control, the British sent Col Forster in March 1858,  and gave him wide ranging military and civil power.  Forster cracked down hard, blocking the food stocks of the rebels. He convened a meeting of all the neighboring Rajas and Zamindars, and demanded their cooperation in suppresing the revolt of Veer Surendra Sai.  Ujjal Sai, another brother of Surendra Sai, was captured and hanged without a trial at Bolangir.  The Zamindars of Kharsal and Ghens who were sympathetic to Veer Surendar Sai,  were also captured and hanged.  In spite of all the repressive measures and crackdown, though Forster still could not capture Veer Surender Sai.

Major Impey was appointed as Dy. Comissioner of Sambalpur in April 1861, and believed a carrot and stick approach was better suited to end the revolt. He announced a policy of amnesty for all rebels who surrendered in September 1861, except Surendra Sai, his brother Udyant and son Mitrabhanu.  He issued another proclamation in October 1861, promising free pardon to all the rebels who surrendered.  Weary of the long conflict, and seeking a normal, peaceful life, many of the rebels surrendered to the British leaving the jungles.  Impey’s conciliatory approach worked, with many rebels now surrendering, and the local people too more or less reconciled to the inevitability.  The Zamindar of Kolabira, one of Veer Surendra Sai’s strongest supporters, received generous treatment after his surrender and this made many rebels trust the Government’s intentions.  Mitrabhanu surrendered on on January 7th, 1862 and 2 days later  his two brother Udyanta and Dhruva Sai too surrendered.

Surendra Sai once again negotiated with the British authorities for his claim to the throne of Sambalpur. They however rejected it, and and Impey assured him a liberal pension in lieu of that. He then demanded payment of arrears to his soldiers, to which Impey agreed, and soon Surendra surrendered on May 16th, 1862, bringing the long revolt to an end. It was however not the end of the story,  some of the British officers were not satisfied with the conciliatory moves towards the rebels and Veer Surendra Sai.

British officers like Berial, the Superintendent of Police, felt that Surendra Sai should have been charged with dacoity and murder. Pressure was put on the Dy. Comissioner for the arrest of Surendra Sai, and when Major Impey passed away in December 1863,  they saw it as a golden opportunity.  Capt Cumberledge joined as Dy. Comissioner, Sambalpur on January 19, 1864 and soon Surendra Sai, his son and some close followers were arrested on January 23, at their native village of Khinda. His brothers Udayant and Medini too were arrested, and all of them were sent to Raipur for trial.  After what was clearly a farcical and hasty trial, the Comissioner announced Veer Surendra Sai and others guilty, and sentenced them to deportation for life.

Even though the then Judicial Comissioner John Scarlett Campbell, called the trial a farce and the charges as baseless,  Surendra along with 6 others was detained at Nagpur.  Fearing his presence in Sambalpur would provoke another mass uprising, the British kept him at Nagpur till April, 1866 and and thereafter to the Fort of Asirgarh.  Medini passed away at Asirgarh, Dhruva and Mitrabhanu were released on January 1876.  Surendra however had to spend the rest of his life in prison, and it’s believed he passed away there at an unknown date. One of the great revolutionaries, a man who was a terror to the British in Sambalpur, passed away in anonymity in a remote prison.

Veer Surendra Sai was a true valiant warrior against British imperialism, who fought against them till 1862. An inspiring leader of the tribals in Western Odisha,  spent 37 years in prison. His aim was to drive the British out of his native Sambalpur, and though he could not succeed in his goal, he inspired a generation of freedom fighters in Odisha, and Jharkhand later on. A man who gave up the comforts, suffered untold miseries for the cause of his people,  Veer Surendra Sai, was a true hero, worthy of emulation.  When the history of Odisha is written, the resistance led by Surendra Sai, would forever be in letters of gold.

Source: http://magazines.odisha.gov.in/Orissareview/august-2007/engpdf/Page72-75.pdf

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Dr. Hargobind Khorana

Har Gobind Khorana Biography in Hindi | डा.हरगोविंद खुराना की जीवनी

Ever since the existence of earth,and the creation of various animals, birds and humans in the universe, one of the most fundamental questions, that has been asked. How is it that we are so similar  to our parents?  Be it skin color, or facial features or physical build, how is it that we inherit these characteristics from our parents. A question that has prompted scientists of the world to also clone living beings based on certain characteristics.  Apart from humans, birds, animals, scientists have also been able to create new species of trees and crops. And this was based on what we call as genetics or the study of genes across different species. One such scientist was Dr. Hargobind Khorana who won the Nobel in 1968 along with Marshall Nirenberg and Robert Holley, for showing how order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, that carry the cell’s genetic code control the synthesis of proteins.

Born in a small village called Rapur, presently in Multan district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, in 1922, his father Ganpat Rai Khurana was a Patwari, basically a taxation clerk in that village. The youngest of five children, he initially studied in the village school. Though coming from a poor background, his father ensured his children did not miss out on education, taught them to read. He used to study under the village tree, would often have to go to other village homes to get embers for cooking coal.

He later joined DAV Multan, where his teacher Dina Nath Jee, became a father figure of sorts to him, after his own father passed away.  After school, he joined the Govt College  in Lahore, where he took up a scholarship for further studies. After graduating from Punjab University in Bsc Honors in 1943, and later Msc in 1945, he got a Fellowship at Liverpool for doing his Doctorate.

In fact, when Khorana applied for PhD in UK, the only placement he could find was in Liverpool Univ, and he did it from there. He got his PhD in 1948 for his work on Organic Chemistry, where he did research on Bacterial Pigmentation and Alkaloid structures under Roger Beer. He had an open mind when it came to research, apart from his field chemistry he also studied on biology and physics.He believed in adopting the best techniques, and he would spend time in other labs too observing the working there.

After Partition, he came to Delhi as a Refugee, around the same time he got a Fellowship from the Govt of India for further research, at Zurich. Between 1948-49, he spent a post doctoral year at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich  under Professor Vladimir Prelog, who would later win the Nobel  in 1975 for his work on stereochemistry. This was the period, that in fact influenced his thoughts on science. and his philosophical attitude too.

Returning back to India after doing research on Etherene Alkaloid, he however did not have the proper facilities nor environment to carry out further research here. He once again got a Fellowship at Cambridge, where carried out his research with Sir  A.R. Todd who won the Nobel in 1957 for his work on enzymes and Dr. G.W.Kenner. Again this period was when he began to explore proteins and the structure  nucleic acids, which would form the basis for his Award winning work later on. Around the same time, Fred Sanger was working on sequencing insulin, first protein to be done so at Cambridge. Max Perutz and John Kendrew, were working on first x-rays of myloglobin and haemoglobin during the same time. The work of Sanger, Perutz, motivated Dr.Khorana, to study on proteins and nucleic acids at Cambridge.During this time he fell in love with and married Swiss national Esther Elizabeth Silber too.

In 1952, a job offer from Dr. Gordon Shrum of British Columbia made him move all the way to Vancouver on Canada’s West Coast, where he joined the nascent British Columbia Research Center. Though the facilities were limited, the environment offered him enough freedom to explore and discover. It was during this time, that with encouragement from Dr.Shrum and good advice from Dr. Jack Campbell, he formed a seven member team to work on phosphate esters and nucleic acids. Notable biochemists like Arthur Konberg and Paul Berg, soon began to take note of Dr.Khorana’s work.

By 1960 he moved to the University of Wisconsin, Institute of Enzyme Research, which is where his biggest achievement would come.  This is where he elucidated the genetic code, function in protein synthesis. The experiment earlier by Nirenberg and Leder on the triplet nature of the genetic code, was the basis for Khorana’s study.  He confirmed Nirenberg’s findings of the chemical composition of a cell is determined by arrangement of 4 nucleotide. Basically it meant that arrangement of 4 nucleotide on the spiral DNA staircase, was what confirmed a cell’s chemical composition, function. He also showed that nucleotide code is transmitted in groups of 3 called codons, which play a role in production of proteins.

The concept of gene manipulation was again first outlined by Dr.Khorana, way before individual genes were characterized. For his pioneering work on elucidating the genetic code, and function in protein synthesis, he was given the Nobel in Medicine along with Marshall Nirenberg and Robert Holley in 1968. Apart from his work on genetic code, he is also credited for creation of synthetic DNA oligonucleotides.

His  work on synthetic DNA oligonucleotides, would later play a role in creation of artificial genes and primers.This in turn laid foundation for development of the polymerase chain reaction(PCR), which helped in amplification of DNA fragments. He later moved to MIT and in 1976, along with his colleagues achieved first synthesis of an artificial gene in a living cell.

Apart from science, Dr.Khorana also had an interest in Western classical music, which he got from his Swiss wife. He  loved nature, and he would often go for long walks or hiking or swimming.In fact more often than not he , would use the long walks to think through solving any scientific problems.Having spent the rest of his career in MIT, Dr.Khorana passed away in 2011, at age of 89, after a long and sterling career. In spite of his achievements, Dr.Khorana was known for his modest, down to earth attitude, not given to much publicity. The exchange program between University of Madison and Govt of India, Indo-US Science and Tech Forum, has been named in his honor.

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Veerapandya Kattaboman

Panchalankurichi is a small village located in Tamil Nadu’s  Thoothukudi district. It gets it’s name from the fact that 5 Pandya chieftains or Pancha Pandyas put up a brave resistance against the Madurai Nayaks in a valley( Kurichi) nearby.  The place was founded by Jaga Veera Pandya, when he saw a hare giving chase to the hounds, and considered it a land of great valor. Known for their bravery, and resistance to invaders, this place would witness the birth of one of it’s greatest sons on January 3, 1760, who became an icon of resistance to British rule, and inspired a generation of freedom fighters.

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Veerapandya Kattaboman, one of the great freedom fighters and revolutionaries, who was a terror to the British, with his lightning raid tactics and stubborn resistance.

Background

His  ancestors originally belonged to Andhra Pradesh, and migrated to a village in Tamil Nadu called Salikulam.  Belonging to what was called the Thogalvar community, they were skilled fighters, known for their stubborn never say die attitude on the battlefield. Kattabommu, was a Chief Guard to then Pandya ruler Jaga Veera Pandian of Veerapandiyapuram( currently Ottapidaram), which also accounts for their name. Loyal, devoted and known for his bravery, Kattabommu gained the confidence of the Pandyan ruler.

With no male heir to succeed him, Jagaveera Pandyan, crowned Kattabommu as his succesor, who named himself as Jagaveera Pandya Kattabommu, and later founded the town of Panchalamkruchi.  He built a fort here with a 12 feet high wall, and 500 feet length, 300 feet breadth, made of black clay, mixed with straw or paddy. Surrounded by thorny bale bushes, the fort was considered quite impregnable and could withstand any form of attack.

Veerapandiya Kattaboman, was the 47th in the line of Kattaboman dynasty rulers, the eldest son of Jagaveera Pandya and Arumugathammal. He had two younger brothers Omaithurai, Thuraisingam and two sisters Easuvaravadivy and Thuraikannu. Crowned as the ruler on February 2, 1790, when he was thirty years, he proved himself to be a wise and capable ruler. Maintaining good relationship with the neighbouring chieftains, he was ably served by his generals Vellaiathevan and Sundaralingam. A devotee of Murugan of Tiruchendur and Jakamma, he had constructed 45 bell towers between Panchalamkurichi and Tiruchendur, that would convey the pooja time, in a relay system. Also a great patron of arts and music, he generously donated to many scholars, musicians, dancers.

Resistance to British

During that time the East India Company had established itself at Fort St.George in Chennai, for doing trading.  In reality they were slowly establishing their rule over India, through a policy of divide and rule. More often they not struck deals with Indian rulers, ensured they were in debt to them, and had to act as per their bidding. One such ruler was the Nawab of Arcot, who ruled over a larger amount of territory in Tamil Nadu.  With the Nawab in full debt to the British, during 1781, the British demanded the right to collect taxes from his domain. Though the Nawab was opposed to the demand, he was helpless, as the British gave themselves the right to collect taxes. The British took advantage of the fact that the Nawab did not have money to pay his soldiers either, and they shrewdly merged his army with theirs.

With the Nawab helplessly acceding to the British request, they slowly began to bring all the rulers of South under their control, using their standard divide and rule tactics. East India Company announced that the Nawab had no authority now, and the Southern rulers were under the direct control of the British. Restrictions were imposed on construction of new forts, or formation of army, in effect the rulers were reduced to plain contractors for the British. Kattaboman was furious at the British skulldudgery, and took a pledge to oppose it till his end.

Soon he began to gather all his neighboring rulers- Nagalapuram, Kolarpatti, Kulathor, the Zamindars of Sivagiri , the Maruthu brothers of Sivaganga, a section of the Ramnad royal family, forming a union against the British. The British however successfully managed to wean away most of the rulers, who in turn advised Kattabomman to make peace with the British and abandon his revolt. The British took advantage of the petty differences between the rulers, turning one against each other.  They turned the Zamorin of Ettayapuram, Ettappa Naicker against Kattabomman, who in turn became one of their most trusted allies.

In spite of the repeated presssure, and the British weaning away his allies, Kattabomman stuck to his stand and refused to pay any tax to them. Matter of fact, he intensified his revolt against the British, and received support from the Maharaja of Ramnad.  When the Maharaja was arrested by the British in 1797, Kattabomman, along with his brother Oomathurai,  gathered forces to attack them at Sivagiri. The British took this as an opportunity to trap and capture Kattabomman.

Encounter with British

Around the same time in 1798 Jackson took over charge as Collector of Tirunelveli, and he managed to win over most of the local Zamindars and Chieftains to his side. Except Kattabomman that is, who expected a formal invitation. Not surprisingly Jackson was annoyed by Kattabomman’s attitude, and in two letters to him during February-April, warned him that his territory would be seized, if he did not pay taxes. Kattabomman however ignored those letters, and a furious Jackson ordered his arrest. He was however advised by higher British authorties to call Kattabomman for talks.

Jackson asked Kattabomman to meet him at Ramanthapuram, which he accepted and proceeded to along with his forces. Jackson however indicated he wanted to meet Kattabomman alone, more a trap to arrest him. Knowing fully well it was a trap, he neverthless walked in alone to meet Jackson, in the palace, leaving his guards outside. A war of words broke out between Kattabomman and Jackson, over paying taxes, which is when he uttered the famous words

“Why do we need to pay tax to you? Have you planted the crops, have you watered them? Did you sow them?”

A heated battle ensured between the British forces and Kattaboman’s army in which a officer Clarke was killed, and his minister Thanapathi Pillai was captured by the British.  Kattabomman wrote a letter to the higher authorities asking them to release Pillai, and after an inquiry into Jackson’s high handed behavior, they released him. Jackson was dismissed and sent back to England, and in January 1799, Lousington took charge as the new Collector.

Lousington once again invited Kattabomman for talks, and he gave him permission for his guards to accompany him. He arrived at Ramanthapuram with his full army, and he refused to meet Lousington, unless given a formal invitation. The Collector insisted that Kattabomman must pay tax, through his revenue officer at least. To which he flatly refused and returned back to Panchalamkurichi .  Left with no option, Lousington, wrote to the authorities and recommended war as the only option against Kattaboman.

The War Begins

5th Sept, 1799, the British under Major Bannerman invaded Panchalamkurichi , at a time when all it’s subjects were celebrating a festival at Tiruchendur. Kattabomman however had advance information of this attack, through his informers, and was ready. Bannerman had earlier asked Kattabomman to surrender to which he defiantly replied

We are the sons of this soil. We live with prestige, honour and dignity and we let our soul die for the prestige, honour and dignity of our land. We don’t bow down to the foreigners. We will fight until death.

One of the most pitched and intense battles was fought, with neither side giving an inch. Facing strong resistance from Kattaboman, the British were forced to retreat, and Bannerman, bided his time, awaiting cannons from Palaymkottai to break down the fort. Once the cannons arrived, the fort could not withstand the assault and broke down. Kattbomman lost his able general Vellaiyathevan, while he himself killed many officers in the British Army.  On the last day, an injured Kattabomman was escorted from the battlefield by his aides, and took shelter in the home of the Kolarpatti Zamindar. However the forces of  Etappa Naicker surrounded it, and once again Kattabomman had to escape. His minister Thanapathi Pillai though was captured, killed at Nagalapuram and his head was placed for display at Panchalamkurichi.

For some time Kattabomman and his men took refuge in the Thirukalampur forest, which came under the Rajah of Pudukottai. Knowing this the British, forced the Rajah to to trace him and hand over to them, or else his kingdom would be destroyed. Under duress, the Rajah ordered a search and on Sept 24, 1799 Katabomman was traced out and arrested. Handed to the British, he was sent to Kayathar prison for custody.

The trial began on October 16, 1799 where the British invited all the local Zamindars, in what was essentially a fabricated trial. Kattabomman, refused to surrender, give up on his self respect, and accused the British of illegal, immoral occupation. When the British offered him amnesty, if he asked for a pardon, Kattabomman shot back

“Do what you want to do, you cowards”.

Finally on October 16th, 1799, from a tamarind tree at Kayathar, Veerapandya Kattabomman was hanged to death. A great son of Bharat gave up his life, he would inspire a generation of freedom fighters and revolutionaries.

Posted in Polygar Wars, Tamil Nadu | Leave a comment

S.N.Bose-The God Particle

SatyenBose1925.jpg

Dhaka  University, 1921

The University had just started functioning, the masters class in Physics was in progress. The reader taking up the class decided to enliven it a bit, by taking up a problem that was at the centerpoint of most scientific discussions then. Planck’s Radiation Law, which described the spectral density of elctromagnetic radiation, emitted by a black body in thermal equlibrium at a given temperature T.

A good twenty one years after Max Planck had proposed it, the law still did not seem to have a solid foundation. Einstein in the meantime had come up with the Photo Electric effect in 1905, where he introduced the concept of photon, making good use of Planck’s law, especially the high frequency part.The reader had an idea, why not reverse what Einstein did, and use the photon instead to explain Planck’s theory, especially the high frequency part. Photons were considered to be identical particles, and the entire Planck Spectrum emerged from it.

The reader – Satyendranath Bose or more popularly known as S.N.Bose.

What emerged from the discussion, would give rise to what is called the Bose-Einstein Statistics. It would lay the foundation for the Bose-Einstein condensate theory. And also a class of particles called Bosons named after him by Paul Dirac.

But then again to call him just a scientist, would be akin to calling Leonardo Da Vinci a mere painter. Much like his other namesake and contemporary, J.C.Bose,  he was a polymath, equally adept in music, literature,mineralogy.

The multi facted genius was born on January 1, 1894 in a middle class Kolkata family, his father Surendranath Bose, an accountant in the East India Railway Company.  The only son in a family that had six daughters after him. Bought up by his mother Amodini Devi, he later joined the New Indian School in the Goabagan neigbhorhood of Kolkata.  Seeing his skills at mathematics, his father encouraged him more by giving problems to solve. Joining the prestigious Hindu School in 1907 at the age of 13,  he soon got recognition as an oustanding student in maths and science.  His maths teacher, believed he could be the next Pierre Laplace.

Soon he joined Kolkata’s prestigious Presidency College, and majored in Applied Mathematics. Again proving to be an outstanding student, graduating in 1913 with distinction. He also learnt German and French, that helped him to read scientific works in those languages.

Into Academia

Bose entry into the world of Academia, was not an easy intiation for him. With World War I breaking out in 1914 all over Europe, scientific journals began to arrive less frequently. This just at a time, when quantum theory, relativity was arriving as a new field of study, and add to that, Kolkata University was still in a nascent stage adopting PhD programs. However the then Vice Chancellor, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, father of Dr.Shyam Prasad Mukherjee, began to spend funds in establishing professorships and new programs. He also gave scholarships for post graduates, and access to his own private library that had some of the best works on science and mathematics. Bose along with his friend Meghnad Saha, managed to get some of the best books through Paul Bruhl, an Austrian teaching physics at the Bengal Engineering College.

By 1916 end, he started giving applied mathematics lecturers and later in physics too. He was appointed to CV Raman Chair of Physics in 1917, and by 1919, along with Saha, published English translation of  Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. In 1921, he was appointed at the University of Dhaka as Physics Reader, where he made his most famous discovery.

Quantum Statistics

Bose’s greatest achievement was his derivation of Planck’s radiation law, a problem that had occupied the minds of some of the best physicists of that time. Max Planck’s law tried to provide a solution to failure of classical physics, to account for range of electromagnetic radiation frequencies emitted by a hot body. Basically Planck’s theory stated that if energy is quantized- coming in fixed multiples of what is called as Planck’s constant- the theory of radiation could be explained.  In a way that theory gave rise to what we know as Quantum Physics, and would drive the evolution of modern science.

Einstein in 1905 took Planck’s theory, and applied the classical Boltzmann statistics to it, which allowed him to describe the photon. Brilliant as his work was, many leading physicists of the time, rejected it, saying that light could only travel in waves and not particles.  Wave particle duality was still unheard of, the concept that circumstances determine whether light could travel as a wave or particle. It was around this time Bose was preparing to teach Planck’s theory and something did not seem right to him.

What Bose did was replace Boltzmann’s statistics with his own,  where the latter claimed that each particle was different from others. Bose statistical theory claimed that all particles are same, and not different. And he sent the paper called Planck’s Law and Hypothesis of  Light Quanta to Philosophical Magazine. However his thesis was rejected, which was ironical as it would actually prove to be one of the most ground breaking theories ever.

And in 1924, he sent his thesis to Einstein directly stating

I have ventured to send you the accompanying article for your perusal and opinion. I am anxious to know what you think of it. You will see that I have tried to deduce the coefficient 8πν2/c3 in Planck’s Law independent of the classical electrodynamics.

Einstein immediately knew that he was looking at one of the most significant breakthroughs in science. Planck’s quantum law used one of the classical physics factors, 8πν2/c3.  And this mixing up of classical and quantum laws was not easily acceptable to many scientists then. Bose had managed to produce the same factor, without using any classical physics theory, but instead it came from his own hypothesis that photons with equal energy were not distinguishable from each other.

Einstein translated Bose’s work into German, got it published in the journal,Zeitschrift für Physik.  He called it a very important step, actually it was a ground breaking theory, that laid one of the foundations for Quantum Physics.  The more Einstein dwelt over Bose theory, the more he was intrigued by it. He considered the possibility of applying Bose Quantum Statistics to a gas made of atoms to see the effects.

Bose-Einstein condensate

And this led to one of the major breakthroughs, the Bose-Einstein Condensate, where each particle in a collection of particles exists in the same identical quantum state. Roughly this is what happens during formation of a Bose Einstein Condensate

atom particles

At room temperature, the atoms in gas behave like particles.

atom waves

As temperature rises, the atoms gain wave nature, and move closer to each other.

atom waves condensing

As temperature rises more and more, inching to absolute zero, waves merge to form a single super wave.

atom waves condensate

Within a millionth of a degree of absolute zero, the Bose Einstein Condensate forms, all individual atoms have merged.

In December 1946, Paul Dirac coined the word bosons, in honor of Bose for  particles that obey Bose-Einstein statistics and fermion in honor of Fermi for particles obeying Fermi-Dirac statistics.

Bose was interested in making science popular too and also strongly supported Indian independence. He believed that a well educated, enlightened population was what could move India on the path to progress. He also promoted Bengali as a medium of instruction, translated many scientific papers into it. Apart from science, he also had a keen interest in English, Bengali literature, and even did research on it.

As Head of Department for Physics at University of Dhaka, in 1926, he made it a hub for scientific research, setting up an X-Ray crystallography lab himself.Along with Meghnad Saha, Bose also published an equation of state for real gases during his stint at Dhaka.

After Partition, S.N.Bose returned to Kolkata where he taught till 1956, and then later became VC of Shantiniketan too. He insisted, that every student should use local materials and technicians to design their own equipment. He later returned to Kolkata where he did research in nuclear physics, and also on organic chemistry. He also worked on applied research, he did great work in extracting helium from the hot springs at Bakreshwar. A true polymath he did research in fields as varied as literature, biotechnology, zoology,antrophology.

In 1959, S.N.Bose was appointed as National Professor, the highest honor for a scholar, and was in the position for 15 years.He  also worked as an advisor to the newly formed CSIR, and was General President of Indian Science Congress. And was good at playing the esraj too a form of musical instrument.

 

 It’s sad that inspite of his pioneering research on Bosons, Quantum Statistics, Bose never got a Nobel Prize.The irony was that scientists who did research on Bosons, Bose-Einstein statistics were given Nobel, but Bose himself did not get it. Jayant Narlikar rated S.N.Bose’s work on particle statistics as one of the Top 10 Achievements of Indian science in 20th century. When asked about the Nobel, S.N.Bose simply remarked – I got all the recognition that I deserve, he was not too hung up on it.The fact that his research would play an important role in scientifc discourse was more important than the Nobel.

 Source: https://www.famousscientists.org/s-n-bose/
Posted in Bengal, Bengal Renaissance, Science in India, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

(This post was already published by me at Offprint, I am reproducing the same here

Bgt

The mathematics class was going on, and the teacher asked a rather difficult question to the class.  The other students were still working on it, but one voice gave out the answer in an instant.

“Who is it that answered the question without even working on the sum” asked the astonished teacher.

Couple of boys in the class pointed out to where the voice came from.

The teacher went to the boy,looked at his note book,  and was surprised, he had not even written down the problem.
“Where have you worked out the problem?”  he asked
“In my mind sir”  the boy replied with an impish smile,pointing to his head with his index finger.
“But you should work it out in your book”  insisted the teacher.
“Why sir,  when I can do it orally”.

The boy was Bal Gangadhar Tilak, for whom such math problems were pretty much a walk in the park.  Where his classmates often struggled with tough problems,  Bal just walked through them casually. This brilliant boy would one day shake the British with his struggle for freedom against them.

The boy was born to Gangadhar Ramachandra Tilak a Sanskrit scholar and teacher himself.  Apart from Maths,if there was another subject that Bal took to easily it was Sanskrit. Born in the coastal town of  Ratnagiri,  located in the Konkan, Tilak was a brilliant but equally mischievous student too. Independent in nature,  not awed by authority,  this was the reason why he was not  exactly the teacher’s favorite.  And he never accepted injustice meekly.

There was this anecdote about his class teacher once seeing groundnut shells scattered in the class. He demanded to know who did it, and when none answered, he decided to punish every one with two strokes of the cane.  However Bal refused to accept the punishment saying he did not litter the class,  and this made the teacher more angry to the extent of sending him out of the school.  Bal’s father had to come the next day and convince the teacher that his son indeed never ate anything outside.

Bal grew up listening to the stories on the 1857 revolution of people like Jhansi Lakshmi Bai, Nana Saheb and Tatya Tope from his grandfather who was in Kashi that time.  Their valor and courage impressed Bal.  He however soon had to go to Pune, when he was just 10,as his father was transferred there. It was a new phase in his life shifting from a small town to a large city.

Pune at that time was a major educational center, called the “Oxford of the East” for it’s colleges,schools and universities. Bal joined the Anglo Vernacular school, he was able to get good education.  Sadly his mother passed away soon and his father when he was just 16 years. Bal was still a Matriculation student then, and he took the full name Bal Gangadhar Tilak  after his father.  He joined the Deccan College soon.

Bal however felt that having a good physique was important,  and began to exercise regularly. Even his food intake was regulated, and he took active part in all games and sports. He became an expert swimmer, and equally good at wrestling. Soon he got his BA in 1877,  and later got his LLB too. Bal was good at academics as well as physical activity too.  With his academics, Tilak  could have easily got a job like many others and serve the British.

However Tilak decided to dedicate his life for the country,and he felt that first one must inculcate the concept of Swaraj. People should be made to feel the thirst for freedom and patriotism had to be nurtured. And that meant an education that would make people take pride in being an Indian.  Unlike the current Western oriented education system, that made “educated” Indians look down on their own country. He got support from his class mate Gopal Krishna Agarkar,  who decided to found such an educational institute.  They were joined in by the great Marathi writer Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar. Himself a teacher, Chiplunkar wished  that the younger generation should receive the kind of education Tilak dreamed of.

 

 

And soon the three great men, joined hands to create the educational institution of their dreams. The New English School was the result of their dream, and with it’s success, the Deccan Education Society  was founded in 1884 and a year later the Fergusson College was founded.  The seedlings planted by Tilak, Agarkar and Chiplunkar had now grown into a banyan tree, that was spreading out it’s branches. Both Tilak and Chiplunkar put in their efforts into the school,not even drawing salary for the first year.  With the school and college well established, Tilak  turned his attention to another task, awakening the people, especially the youth to the evils of British rule and inculcating the spirit of nationalism.

And that resulted in Tilak starting the Marathi weekly  Kesari and the English weekly, the Mahratta. Kesari  soon became popular, and Tilak used it to spread his ideas on nationalism,  as well as expose the evil British rule. Through Kesari,  Tilak exhorted every Indian to fight for their rights and stand up to the tyranny of the British rule.

You are not writing for the university students. Imagine you are talking to a villager….. Be sure of your facts. Let your words be clear as day light.

Basically Tilak managed to spread the message using very simple language that an ordinary person could understand. When Shivaji Rao became the Maharaja of Kolhapur, Tilak wrote a series of articles in Kesari,  exposing the shabby treatment given to him by the British. This aroused the indignation of ordinary people and unrest gripped Kolhapur, Pune.  The Government arrested Tilak and Agarkar on charges of inciting passions,  and were sentenced to 4 months rigorous imprisonment.

It was getting tougher for Tilak,  he had to quit Fergusson and Deccan Education Society,  over differences with management on salary raise.  An institution which he nurtured and raised,he had to leave, nothing more sad than that.  He was not getting much profit from the Kesari and Mahratta either.  Too proud to work under the British, he began to take up classes by himself to earn a living.

It was this period between 1890 when he resigned from Deccan Education Society to 1897 when he was arrested,  that would mould Tilak’s character and value system too. Tilak too the British head on now, he was now the leader of thousands.  He organized the Ganesh Puja on a large scale, as well as Shivai Maharaj  Jayanti. His intention was to foster a sense of community among ordinary Indians, above feelings of caste, class, religion. Soon he became a member of Pune’s  Muncipal Council, the Bombay Legislature and an elected “Fellow” of  Bombay University. He was actively into politics now, and in the midst of it all, published his maiden work “Orion”.

Tilak’s  idea of inculcating nationalism and community spirit through the Ganesh Puja and Shivaji Jayanti was working.  As people participated together overlooking differences of caste, community,class. When famine broke out in 1896, Tilak asked the Government to help the distressed farmers. He published in depth news of the famine in both Mahratta and Kesari. The British Government however was indifferent to the plight of those affected and revenue was collected forcibly.  Tilak began to expose the indifference of the British Govt in his magazines. He exhorted the people to question the Government on their failure,  and indifference to the whole famine crisis.

However instead of responding the British Government actually went ahead and decided to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign. Around the same time, Pune was in the grip of a severe plague.  The officer in charge Rand, adopted harsh measures, that included barging into the private quarters of people’s homes, pulling them out of their beds, separating infected people rudely from their families. Enraged by the actions,two brothers Damodar Hari and Balakrishna Hari known as the Chapekar brothers way laid Rand and assassinated him. Both were arrested and hanged for their act.

Tilak took on the Government more strongly than ever with a series of articles titled “Has the Government gone mad?”  in the Kesari. His fiery writings now made the Government officials concerned and they decided he was a threat. The Government put a case on Tilak,accusing him of abetment to murder in the Rand case, and arrested him in 1897. Charged with sedition  and slapped with charges of disturbing peace, Tilak was sentenced to one and a half years rigorous imprisonment. Put in a dark cramped cell, filled with mosquitoes and bugs, and given coarse food,Tilak  was subjected to the worst ever indignities. He had to make mat and ropes from coir, his fingers got blisters. His spirit was however not broken and he wrote his landmark  work “Arctic Home in the Vedas”  in prison. Finally on pressure from other leaders and scholars, the Government released Tilak from prison.

Released in 1898,  Tilak by now had become a hero, people rushed in the streets to have a glimpse of him. His portrait began to be worshiped in homes by people. He was a national, pan Indian leader now. Soon he began to spread the message on Swadeshi through newspapers and lectures.  Travelling all over Maharashtra, Tilak exhorted people to boycott foreign goods and buy only Indian ones. Foreign clothes were burnt in a bonfire, local jaggery was used. Cotton mills, paper mills,factories by Swadeshi entrepreneurs were started.

“Swadeshi, Swaraj, National Education”
  was Tilak’s  motto,  and soon the feeling spread like wildfire among the masses.  The Government was looking for an opportunity to curb Tilak, and found it soon enough.  The wife of a rich man Baba Maharaj  complained that Tilak was misusing their trust’s money.  Once again the Government conducted a sham trial, and he was arrested, handcuffed like a common criminal.  Coming out on bail,Tilak  fought a long battle for justice and was finally rewarded damages after 14 long years. When the Globe and Times of India, alleged that Tilak incited people to commit murders, he sued both of them and made them apologize.

When Bengal was partitioned in 1901, massive protests broke out against the arbitrary decision. A district magistrate was assassinated by a young revolutionary Khudiram Bose.  One of the main leaders Aurobindo was handcuffed and taken to the police station like a common criminal. Any one suspected of using explosives could be sentenced to 14 years, without any proof.

It is unfortunate that bombs are being made in the country. But the responsibility for creating a situation in which it has become necessary to throw bombs, rests solely on the government. This is due to the gover nment’s unjust rule.


Tilak criticized the repressive measures in Kesari, under an article “The Country’s Misfortune”.  The Government now decided that Tilak was too dangerous to be left free any longer and charged him with sedition. Arrested on June 24, 1908, Tilak was sentenced to six year’s rigorous imprisonment at Mandalay in Burma.   He was in his 50s by then, a diabetic,and the sentence angered many a supporter of his, as well as many Western thinkers. Once again in Mandalay, Tilak was placed in a cramped prison with just a cot, a table, a chair and a bookshelf.  Placed in solitary confinement,  his room had no protection from the heat or cold. He spent time, reading and once again wrote another book Gita Rahasya. He also learnt German and French in prison,and followed a simple routine. Every morning he would pray to God, chant the Gayatri Mantra and do his daily rituals. It was around this time, his wife too passed away.

Released and back  in India on June 16th, 1914, Tilak received a hero’s welcome in Pune. However by this time, a rift had come in Congress between the Extremists and Moderates.  Tilak  headed the Extremist faction,  that also had Lala Lajpati Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal.  However with attempts to unite the two groups failing, Tilak quit Congress and started the Home Rule League along with Annie Beasant,  G.S.Khaparde and  S.Subramania  Iyer.  Tilak  went from village to village  explaining the concept of Swaraj.  For Tilak home rule meant one thing “An Indian should have as much freedom in India as an Englishman has in England.”  He began to tour the North, first Lucknow and then Kanpur, and declared boldly “Swaraj is our birthright, we shall have it”.

We want equality. We cannot remain slaves under foreign rule. We will not carry for an instant longer, the yoke of slavery that we have carded all these years. Swaraj is our birth right. We must have it at any cost. When the Japanese, who are Asians like us, are free, why should we be slaves? Why should our Mother’s hands be hand- cuffed?


Tilak even toured  England and explained the miserable conditions of the masses under British rule. The Home Rule movement was further intensified, and he won the admiration of  Labor  Party members too. When the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place, Tilak further intensified the struggle, touring all over India.  However  the constant stress took a toll on him, and by June 1920, his condition began to worsen. And on August 1, 1920, the great man was no more, passing away in sleep.A veritable ocean of people surged to have a glimpse of the great man,  Mahatma Gandhi,  Lala Lajpat Rai, were among those who carried the funeral bier of Tilak. A man of honesty,  integrity and simplicity was no more. But he would be an inspiration for many a revolutionary and freedom fighter.  One among them  was Chandrashekhar Azad born on the same date as him.  Tilak  stated  Swaraj is my birthright,  and Azad gave up his very life for that.  It was sheer destiny that both were born on the same date.Mahatma Gandhi’s  tribute to Tilak on passing away.

He used his steel-like will power for the country. His life is an open book. The Lokamanya is the Architect of New India. Future generations will remember Tilak with reverence, as the man who lived and died for their sake.

Posted in Indian Freedom Struggle, Maharashtra, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Veer Savarkar

Veer Savarkar has been one of my heroes. One of the most fascinating, multi talented personalities ever. Freedom fighter, nationalist, activist, thinker, writer and sadly a very misunderstood personality too. Here was some one who braved the worst form of imprisonment at Cellular Jail for not one year, two years, but a whole decade. Imagine spending ten years in a hellhole, that would have broken the spirit of a lesser man. There is so much about Savarkar to be told, his fight for independence, his Hindutva philosophy, his stay in Cellular Jail. Over the past couple of months, I had been penning a series of posts dealing with Veer Savarkar’s life.

.This series of mine is to show case the truth behind Veer Savarkar, who is being portrayed by the Leftists as a traitor, when he was not. Also it is impossible to capture Savarkar’s story in  just one post. There was just so much to his life. On his birth anniversary, I am sharing this series of posts, in chronological order to refer to. This would later be the basis for my book on Savarkar,  that however is a long shot as of now.

  1. A Hero is Born
  2. The Woman in his Life
  3. In Pune
  4. In the Den of the British Lion
  5. Madan Lal Dhingra and Assassination of Wylie
  6. Trial of Madan Lal Dhingra
  7. Arrest and Escape
  8. The Trial
  9. Cellular Jail
  10. Who is a Hindu?

This is not a complete series per se, there still is a lot more to be written on him. The very controversial part of his petitions, his activities with the Hindu Mahasabha, his alleged involvement in the assasination of Mahatma Gandhi.  I would be covering these in my later posts, as also a look at his ideology in more detail.

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