Dr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar was a great Scientist of India. He was known as “The Father of Research Laboratories”. He is remembered for having established various chemical laboratories like central Food Processing Technological Institute at Mysore, National chemical laboratory at Pune (Maharastra), the National Metallurgical Laboratory at Jamshedpur and many others.
Bhatnagar was born on February 21, 1894 in Shahpur, now in Pakistan. His father, Parmeshwari Sahai Bhatnagar passed away when he was only eight months old. He spent his childhood in the house of his maternal grandfather, who was an engineer, where he developed an interest in science and engineering. He used to enjoy building mechanical toys, electronic batteries, and string telephones. From his maternal family he also inherited a gift of poetry, and his Urdu one-act play “Karamati” won the first prize in a competition. After completing his M. Sc. in India, he went to England on a fellowship. He got his D. Sc. degree from the London University in the year 1921, under the guidance of chemistry professor Frederick G. Donna. When he came back, Bhatnagar was presented with proposal of professorship at the renowned Banaras Hindu University.
Bhatnagar used to spend all his spare time in his laboratory doing research. Dr. Bhatnagar was knighted by the British Government in the year 1941 as an award for his research in science, whereas, on March 18, 1943 he was selected as fellow of the Royal Society. Though his area of interest included emulsions, colloids, and industrial chemistry, but his primary contributions were in the spheres of magneto- chemistry. He also made a melodious kulgeet i.e. University song, which is still sung with great pride before any function in his University.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru himself was an activist of scientific development. After India gained freedom from British rule in 1947, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research were established under the leadership of Dr. Bhatnagar, who was appointed its first director-general. Later he was awarded ‘Padma Bhushan’. He became the first director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1940. He died on 1 January 1955. After his death, ASIR established a Bhatnager Memorial award for eminent scientists in his honour.