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Homi J Bhabha was the father of India's atomic energy programme.

His zeal to have India make a name for herself in the forefront of science and become sturdily self-reliant was legendary. A far-sighted, practical scientist, Dr Bhabha was also a great patriot.

At Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s behest he founded the Department of Atomic Energy and the Atomic Energy Commission in 1948 and moulded India’s stand on atomic energy.

He is credited with campaigning, on India’s behalf, for the peaceful development of atomic energy, long before other nations thought about it.

Educated in Mumbai and Cambridge, he conducted path-breaking research in the field of cosmic radiation in the 1930s in England. For his work he was elected a fellow to the prestigious Royal Society in London when he was just 31, in 1940, and interacted as equals with great scientists of that day like Wolfgang Pauli, Enrico Fermi, John Cockroft, Paul Dirac, W B Lewis and Niels Bohr.

Before India’s independence, Dr Bhabha and Nobel Laureate Sir C V Raman established the cosmic ray research unit at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore in 1939.

In 1943 he dreamed of setting up a special institute where research could be conducted in all streams of science and wrote to J R D Tata about this vision. With JRD’s blessings, he set up the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai in 1945.

Dr Bhabha led India’s nuclear programme until his tragic death 40 years ago, January 24, 1966, when his Air-India flight crashed near the summit of Mont Blanc in Switzerland as it was attempting to land in Geneva.

Rediff India Abroad salutes Dr Bhabha's memory in a special series of recollections of this great scientist by his distinguished colleagues at the Atomic Energy Commission:

Part 1: 'Bhabha wanted India to be a Nuclear Weapons State'
Dr P K Iyengar, former chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, salutes Dr Bhabha's vision

Part 2: 'He visualised a lively picture of a powerful India'
Dr Homi Sethna, former chairman, Department of Atomic Energy on his memories of Dr Bahbha

Part 1: ''He believed that strength respects strength' '
Dr V S Ramamurthy, secretary to the Department of Science and Technology pays tribute

Photograph: courtesy Homi J Bhabha: Architect of Nuclear India by Dilip M Salvi, Rupa & Co

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