The Indian Institute of Science gave rise to many industries, some of which are still around. Its scientists were instrumental in setting up and leading many of independent India's PSUs. It also counts among the world's leading institutions of scientific researchIn1893, a monk and an industrialist – Swami Vivekananda and JamsetjiNusserwanji Tata – met on the steamship 'Empress of India' enroute from Japan to Chicago. Their conversation sowed the seeds ofIndian Institute of Science (IISc) in Tata's mind."Ivery much recall at this moment your views on the growth of the ascetic spirit in India, and the duty, not of destroying, but of diverting it into useful channels. I recall these ideas in connection with my scheme of a Research Institute of Science for India, of which you have doubtless heard or read," Tata wrote to Vivekananda onNovember 23, 1898. By then, he had constituted a ProvisionalCommittee under the leadership of Burjorji Padshah, who would go onto become a central character in the setting up of IISc.Padshah,who had visited many countries to understand how universities function, wrote after his tour: "...such a university might be the crown of the existing universities." He noted that the presence of a large number of young Indians at Oxford, Cambridge and other colleges and hospitals in London and Edinburgh demonstrated the demand for postgraduate education, mostly because "European degrees have a money value superior to that of Indian degrees; but the difference in the money value is itself the result of the difference sin educational efficiency."Thecommittee, on December 31, 1898, presented a draft to viceroy-designate Lord Curzon. Services of Sir William Ramsay, aNobel laureate, were sought to pick the institute's setting.Bengaluru – where it still stands on a campus of 400-plus acres –was chosen because of the city's good climate. Next, SriKrishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the maharaja of Mysore, donated more than 371acres. Viceroy Lord Minto granted a formal approval for the institute, and the vesting order to enable it to function was signed on May 27, 1909.
Driver of industrialisation
From the start, IISc's focus has been on research and the institute has featured in national and international rankings over the years. In 1913, Sir M Visvesvaraya, the dewan of Mysore, was nominated to its Council. He urged researchers to carry out studies that would realise his dream of an industrialised Mysore. "His association had an immediate impact on the nature of research," IISc says. "In five years, six factories were started as a direct result of the investigations carried out here: an acetone factory in Nashik; a thymol factory in Hyderabad (Sind); a factory to make straw boards from bamboo in Bengaluru, a soap factory in Bengaluru, and sandalwood oil factories in Bengaluru and Mysore." The success of the sandalwood oil and soap factories made sandalwood and its products synonymous with Karnataka.
Nursery of institutes
During WW-II, IISc contributed by training personnel, manufacturing military and industrial goods, and collaborating with Hindustan Aircraft Limited (now Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) to repair and maintain British and American warplanes. "This period saw an expansion of research in engineering, and new departments such as those of Aeronautical Engineering, Metallurgy, and Mechanical Engineering were added," IISc says.
Between the 60s and the early 80s, under director Satish Dhawan, IISc's research areas grew to include materials science, computer science and automation, molecular biophysics, and interdisciplinary work under the Centre for Theoretical Studies, which eventually led to the formation of other centres in ecology, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and more.
The social impact of advancements in science was a key focus during this period, particularly under the Cell for Application of Science and Technology to Rural Areas (ASTRA), which continues today as the Centre for Sustainable Technologies.
In 2015, Bharat Ratna Prof CNR Rao, one of IISc's directors (1984-1994) and a former scientific advisor to the PM, had told TOI: "IISc is the only one in India with the potential of matching the MITs and Harvards."
Today, IISc has more than 40 departments/labs offering PhD and integrated PhD programmes, several master's programmes and a four-year BSc (research) programme. It has dozens of active patents and several tie-ups with industries taking its research into the market while more than 20,000 students have graduated from it over the years. It has become more conscious about translating research into products and has helped host a lot of companies. AstraZeneca, a pharma MNC, began its operations at IISc. "...Wipro's first operation, too, was at IISc. Many of these things are not acknowledged," Balaram said.
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सिद्धयसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥
Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26