C. N. Ramachandra Rao

Indian chemist
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Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao (born June 30, 1934) is an Indian chemist whose particular field of research is in solid-state and structural chemistry|structural chemistry, and nanomaterials. Rao's unique contribution is reflected in his 1,500 research papers and 45 scientific books. He has been honoured by 60 universities from around the world with honorary doctorates. His has received many major scientific awards, and is member of all major scientific organisations. The Government of India honoured him on 16 November 2013 with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in the country.

C. N. R. Rao, an authority on solid state and materials chemistry (2004)

Quotes edit

  • I have been working in the area of solid state chemistry for nearly four decades. When I first got seriously interested in the subject in the early 1950s it was still in in infancy. Very few chemists , let alone others, recognized solid state chemistry as an integral part of the main-stream chemistry . In spite of such benign tolerance, solid state chemistry has gradually emerged to become a crucial component of modern solid state and material science.
  • Fifty years is a very long period. The first 30–35 years – we could call this period as one when India equipped itself to face important problems. For example, we built institutions such as the IITs and the National Laboratories...We need much better infrastructure facilities and we must work on more difficult problems. Unfortunately, we have been used to working on problems that are somewhat repetitive. If we want to be at the cutting edge, we have to be innovators and originators.
    • Quoted in In Conversation (pdf). Indian Institute of Science. Retrieved on 22 December 2013.
  • Since I set up the Unit, the area of solid state chemistry is no longer called so but is called chemistry of materials.This subject has become important. I set up this Unit in Bangalore much before the subject became important in the world. Now chemistry has two major directions:chemical biology and materials chemistry.
    • Quoted in "In Conversation".
  • I feel basic science is getting its due now. I used to say earlier that Dr Homi Bhabha should get this honour and also some other eminent researchers. Scientists work very, very had but rarely get recognition. I have been working for 62 years. I was 17 when I started my research. I am going to be 80 soon.
  • Prof Rao said he visited the Nobel prize-winning scientist’s (C.V.Raman} laboratory in Bengaluru first as an 11 year-old school boy. “He was the first to recognize my interest in science and has given me a lot of encouragement. He made me a member of the Indian Academy of Sciences when I was only 30. I can never be equal to him.
    • Quoted in "CNR Rao: Bharat finds a jewel in science".
  • I feel the Indian industry should contribute to help the government towards scientific research. The government alone can't do it. As of now, there's nothing. I have been into research for about 40 years. In the US, 50 to 60 per cent of the research and development (R&D) cost would be covered by the industry. There is a need for the same here and the industry needs to do it. Earlier, the industry in India didn't feel the need to do research. They could sell anything. Now, it wants to compete with the likes of South Korea and Japan, but they can't. We need to change this or the industry can't compete.
    • Quoted in "We need to have an instinct for self-preservation: C N R Rao".
  • Also, we need to give importance to value systems to promote innovation. We need to develop an ecosystem of innovation and technology will arrive soon. Of the 140 nations rated for innovation, India stood at a lowly 66. We need new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. We cannot be doing the same things. Jugaad (a temporary solution) is one of them. The atmosphere itself should encourage innovation.
    • Quoted in "We need to have an instinct for self-preservation: C N R Rao".
  • Our society has created a bunch of icons and role models who are distorting not just the future of this city [Bangalore] but of all India, and of our sense of values. Our people have lost respect for scholarship. Money and commerce has taken over. If IT is going to take away our basic values, then you can burn Bangalore and burn IT.

Understanding Chemistry (1999) edit

C.N.R. Rao (1999). Understanding Chemistry. Universities Press. ISBN 978-81-7371-250-0. 

  • Philosophers of ancient Greece and India sought an answer to this question [What is matter made of] centuries before Christ.
    • p. 7
  • The only part of the early concept of the elements that has survived is that elements have distinctive properties.
    • p. 8
  • An element is a substance which cannot be further reduced to a simpler substance by ordinary processes, and is made up of particles of one kind only.
    • p. 8
  • It is only since 1911 that we know that atoms contain negatively charged electrons and positively charged nuclei.
    • p. 29
  • Atoms were originally proposed as an idea. Although their presence was proved by various means, people did not think that they could see them directly. This was so until recently. We are now able to directly see atoms by employing powerful microscopic techniques.
    • p. 22
  • Man’s search for metals goes back to prehistoric times. Metals have been used for several thousands of years in India. Certain periods in history are associated with specific periods used extensively during that period
    • p. 28
The rustless Iron Pillar in Delhi/
  • The famous iron pillar in Delhi, erected in the Gupta period (over 1500 years ago), is a marvel. After all these years this pillar stands erect without deterioration. This rustless iron pillar is a tribute to the great ingenuity of our forefathers.
    • p. 36
  • Substances can exist in three states – gas, liquid and solid. Water exists in all three states: gas (steam or water vapour), liquid (ordinary water) and solid (ice}. Properties of gases, liquids and solids are different.
    • p. 56
  • Even metals offer some resistance for the passage of electricity. Some materials conduct electricity without any resistance. Such materials are called superconductors.
    • p. 59

Climbing the Limitless Ladder: A Life in Chemistry (2010) edit

C. N. R. Rao; Antonio Vázquez Barquero (2010). Climbing the Limitless Ladder: A Life in Chemistry. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-4307-86-4. 

  • Prof Brown used to say, if it is worth doing, it must be worth publishing. Faraday had said much the same many years earlier. In science, we “ work, finish and publish”. These statements have guided me all through my professional life.
    • p. 30
  • University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) is one of the most outstanding universities, and the Chemistry Department there ranks first amongst the universities of the world in research performance. This department was established by G.N.Lewis, who is considered to be the father of modern chemistry.
    • p. 32
  • The Maharaja of Mysore (then Governor of Mysore), ayachamarajendra Wodeyar, visited Berkeley for a day. I took him around. He was really impressed when he saw the accelerators in the Radiation Laboratory on the hill. He was happy to speak to me in Kannada and even more happy that I knew a little Sanskrit.
    • p. 35
  • The Berkeley campus was academically overpowering. In the Tuesday evening colloquia, one would see a galaxy of chemists in the front row, with many Nobel Laureates and members of the National Academy of Science amongst them. It was a daunting task to give talks at these meetings. I managed to survive those occasions.
    • p. 37
  • Since there was no infrared spectrometer, I managed to record routine infrared spectra of certain compounds here and there, in order to categorize group frequencies. One of these papers became a citation classic.
    • About his initial years of his work in Indian Institute of science after his return from USA, p. 40

How I made it: CNR Rao, Scientist (2010) edit

"How I made it: CNR Rao, Scientist". India Today. 3 June 2010. Retrieved on 22 December 2013. 

  • We created CNR Rao Education Foundation from a part of the million-dollar Dan David Award from Tel Aviv University, Israel, because if the youth don't catch on to science at a young age, we will lose whatever science and technology advantage we have now. My wife, Indumati has been leading the work of this foundation along with members of the family. We want to see India emerge as a scientific giant.
  • The conditions at IISc were no match to the American centres but it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
  • Pursue your dreams with passion, hard work and dedication.
  • Never stop learning. The thirst to gain more knowledge should never come to an end.
  • Always gain fresh insights, don't hesitate to ask the right questions.
  • Observe leaders closely, learn as much as you can from their leadership styles.
  • Build a strong base. The journey to peaks of excellence requires a strong base camp.
  • Keep a balance between professional and personal life. Find time for your family and the things which interest you.

Scientist wonders why nobody asks him about Dan David prize (2013) edit

"Scientist wonders why nobody asks him about Dan David prize". Deccan Herald. 17 November 2013. Retrieved on 22 December 2013. 

  • We couldn’t afford many things, but we had education. My father was a headmaster and later became an education officer. My mother was fantastic: she always told me, ‘Do what you want.’ She gave me total freedom, in fact both my parents did. But I really owe it to my mother. When I said I will go to Banaras (Varanasi) to study, she said, ‘You want to go to Banaras? Ok, go.’ She would say, ‘Don’t worry about money, reading is most important, read and then everything will come.’ My family was very open. Thanks to them I’m what I am today. I am the only child of my parents, so is my wife.
  • Those days, poor teachers and poor policemen alone would have maximum children. But my father believed in a sort of family planning. He was known as family planning teacher then.
  • I am also working on materials never worked on in the world, completely new type of materials on the planet. I am worried not so much for myself, I will go on working. But I am worried for others.
  • Among scientists, I am the second to get it [Bharat Ratna], after C.V.Raman. M. Visveswariah was an engineer, not a scientist. In that sense I am the second scientist to get it. I am happy that Kannadigas are also getting the award. My parents would always tell me to learn Kannada well in my younger days so I could be good both in Kannada and English. Learn to read and write Kannada, then you can learn English and enjoy both languages. [He was mistaken on the number of scientists with Bharat Ratna. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, a physicist, was bestowed the honour in 1997, making Rao the third recipient among scientists.]
  • There are some CNR clones. Prof D D Sharma in chemistry, Prof Ajay Sood in Physics are doing good work. Let’s see many more may come from the younger lot.
  • You give attention to army, police and things like that. Who pays attention to science? When I got the Dan David prize, which is similar to Nobel and given once in a few years by Israel, nobody talked about it. Nobody asked me anything about it. Nobody even knows and nobody understands it. It is so prestigious in the world of science but why didn’t anyone write about it?

About C. N. R. Rao edit

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