Eminent scientist Professor C N R Rao was named the first recipient of the India Science Award instituted by the Government of India.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh conferred the award to Professor Rao for his outstanding contribution to science at the inaugural session of the 93rd Indian Science Congress on Tuesday. The award carries a citation, a gold medal and Rs 25 lakh in cash.
Professor Rao, in his brief acceptance speech, said he felt deeply honoured. "I am truly overwhelmed," he said.
"I was born in Bangalore 72 years ago. My mother was my first teacher. My parents allowed me to pursue my interests in science," he recalled.
A graduate in science from Mysore University and a post-graduate from Banaras Hindu University, he did his PhD from Purdue University in 1959 when he was 25 years old.
He returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, as Head, Department of Chemistry in 1963. He worked as Dean of Research of the institute till 1977. He was a visiting professor at Purdue University during 1967-68 and again in 1982. He was also Commonwealth visiting professor at University of Oxford and Fellow, St Catherine's College, Oxford during 1974-75. He had stints as distinguished visiting professor at Latrobe University, Melbourne and as Jawaharlal Nehru Professor, University of Cambridge and Professional Fellow, King's College during 1983-84.
He was founder chairman of Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit and Materials Research Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore during 1977-84. He worked as director of the Indian Institute of Science for a decade from 1984 to 1994. He was visiting professor, University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble (France) in 1990 and Honorary professor, University of Wales, Cardiff (1993-97). He was president, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research during 1989-99.
Over his five-decade long career, Professor Rao has published over 200 scientific papers, over 1,200 articles and 39 books. He has received atleast 37 honorary doctorates from universities across the world. He has been working as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the prime minister.