National Science Day 2012

Thingujam Surendranath *

A school science exhibition held in December 2010 at Christ Jyoti School, Mantripukhri, Imphal.
A school science exhibition held in December 2010 at Christ Jyoti School, Mantripukhri, Imphal :: Pix - David M Mayum


National Science Day is celebrated in India since 1987 on February 28 every year. Events on this day remind the importance of science inspiring people of all ages to work in the field of SCIENCE. This day attracts many young minds and motivates them to take up science as their career. The celebrations of this day include showcasing the country's competence in the field of science.

National Science Day also known as Rashtriya Vigyan Diwas is observed to mark the discovery of Professor Raman's work on the scattering of light by liquids. Of course, it was the one which fetched him, and our country, the Nobel Prize in Physics and came to be known as the RAMAN EFFECT.

In Manipur also, Manipur Science & Technology Council (MASTEC), Imphal takes a lead role in National Science Day celebration every year creating a platform in the State to remember the contributions of Prof. C.V. Raman and his world famous achievement Raman Effect which he stumbled upon while working in the laboratory of Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Kolkata.


In 1986, the Government of India decided to designate February 28 as National Science Day to commemorate Prof C.V. Raman for his legacy and discovery of the Raman Effect on February 28, 1928, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. The event is now celebrated all over the country in schools, colleges, universities and other academic, scientific, technical, medical and research institutions.

Prof. C. V. Raman was not only the first Asian but also the first non-White to get the Nobel Prize in the field of sciences. Before him, Rabindranath Tagore (also Indian) had received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hence, the National Science Day holds great significance for Indian Science and scientific community.

On the occasion of first National Science Day (NSD), February 28, 1987- National Council of Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India announced institution of the National Science Popularization awards to be conferred to the science communicator(s) to recognize the outstanding contribution in the area of science communication and popularization in the last 5 years.

Theme of the year

Every year, a different theme is selected and all the forth programmes and activities are based around that theme. Whole nation takes the honour of thanking all the scientists for their remarkable contributions and dedication on this occasion. As in previous years, the focal theme for the year 2012 is "Clean Energy Options and Nuclear Safety". It will be the time to inspire the young minds for new scientific inventions for the welfare of human beings.

Biography of Prof C.V. Raman

Prof Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman was born on November 7, 1888 to a Hindu Bramhin family in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu. At an early age Raman moved to the city of Vizag, Andhra Pradesh where his father Shri R. Chandrasekhara Iyer was a Lecturer in Mathematics and Physics, so he grew up in an academic atmosphere.

Prof Raman was a genius. He finished school education at the age of 11 and graduated in Physics and English from the University of Madras four years later. At 17, he did his Master's in Physics. Prof Raman entered Presidency College, Chennai in 1902 and in 1904 he passed B.Sc. winning the first place and gold medal in Physics. In 1907, he passed M.Sc. obtaining the highest distinctions.

Prof Raman was married on 6 May 1907 to Lokasundari Ammal with whom he had one son, Radhakrishnan. The same year, after passing Civil Service Examination, Prof C.V. Raman joined as an Assistant Accountant-General in Calcutta in June, 1907. But his love for Physics continued. While working in Indian Finance Department, he contributed 30 original research publications in very good journals in 10 years (1907-1917).

Later, in 1917, Prof Raman resigned from the Indian Audit and Accounts Service and joined as a Professor of Physics in the University of Calcutta with the influence of Sir Asutosh Mukerjee, who was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta (1906 to 1924). In 1934, Prof Raman became the Assistant Director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, where two years later he continued as the Professor of Physics. He also worked on the acoustics of musical instruments. He worked out the theory of transverse vibration of bowed strings, on the basis of superposition velocities. He was the first to investigate the harmonic nature of the sound of the Indian drums such as the tabla and the mridangam.

In 1947, he was appointed as the first National Professor by the new Government of Independent India. In 1948, Prof Raman retired from the Indian Institute of Science(IISc) and one year later in 1949, he established the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, Karnataka. During his lifetime, Prof Raman produced 51 Ph.Ds under his supervision. After his retirement from IISc, Pro Raman served as Director of Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, Karnataka and remained active there until his death at the age of 82 on November 21, 1970.

Inspiration of Raman Effect

The first trip outside India of Prof Raman was to Oxford in 1921 to represent the University of Calcutta. During his first voyage trip to Europe accross Mediterranean Sea, he conducted an experiment on the ship to show why `The Colour of the Sea is Blue'? It was a generally held belief that the blue colour of the sea is due to the reflected sky-light as well as due to absorption of the light by the suspended matter in the water. Prof Raman showed that the blue colour of sea is independent of sky reflection as well as absorption, but rathter it is due to the molecular diffraction. These initial experiments opened up a new field of research in Kolkatta.

Further work on the scattering of light led to the discovery of the Raman Effect in 1928. The effect deals with the change in the frequency of the monochromatic light after scattering. The spectrum of the scattered light gives clues about the molecular structure of the material under study, thereby helping to understand its properties.

Raman Effect - Discovery

In 1917, Prof Raman after joining at the University of Calcutta, continued doing research at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Kolkatta, where he became the Honorary Secretary. Prof Raman used to refer to this period as the golden era of his career.

Many talented students gathered around him at the IACS and the University of Calcutta. IACS is the oldest research institute in India. Dr. M. L. Sircar (1833-1904), a medical practioner, founded IACS in 1876 to cultivate science in all its departments and to its varied applications. Dr Sircar wished IACS to be solely native and purely national. IACS did not receive any government aid in the first 50 years and was run on donations.

On February 28, 1928, through his experiments on the scattering of light, Prof Raman discovered the Raman Effect which is a phenomenon in spectroscopy discovered by him while working in the laboratory of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata. It was instantly clear that this discovery was an important one.

It gave further proof of the quantum nature of light. Raman spectroscopy came to be based on this phenomenon, and Ernest Rutherford referred to it in his presidential address to the Royal Society in 1929. Prof Raman was President of the 16th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1929. He was conferred a Knighthood, medals and honorary Doctorates by various Universities.

Prof Raman was confident of winning the Nobel Prize in Physics as well, and was disappointed when the Nobel Prize went to Richardson in 1928 and to de Broglie in 1929. He was so confident of winning the prize in 1930 that he booked tickets in July, even though the awards were to be announced in November, and would scan each day's newspaper for announcement of the prize, tossing it away if it did not carry the news.

In 1930, Prof. C.V. Raman fulfilled his dream of winning the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the Effect named after him i.e. RAMAN EFFECT.

* Thingujam Surendranath wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
A special feature article on the occasion of National Science Day on February 28 2012
The writer is Director, Manipur Science & Technology Council (MASTEC), Imphal
This article was posted on March 04, 2012.

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