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Scientist wonders why nobody asks him about Dan David prize

Bangalore, Nov 17, 2013, DHNS:
all smiles: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah congratulates Prof C N R Rao at the latter's residence in Bangalore on Sunday.  Union Minister K H Muniyappa (left) looks on. KPN

There are prestigious awards other than Bharat Ratna or Nobel prize to judge a scientist’s achievements, eminent scientist CNR Rao remarked at a press conference here on Sunday when asked which award he might possible get next.

Rao, whom the Union government chose for the country’s highest civilian award on Saturday, was specifically asked by a news reporter whether he expected the Nobel prize now. He replied, smiling: “I will give it to you.”

Then in a serious remark, he said: “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?”


Prof Rao said he was currently working on producing hydrogen in a lab and trying to separate hydrogen and oxygen. He hoped to taste success soon.

“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.”

When a reporter asked him whether he has been able to produce CNR clones, he said in a lighter vein: “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.”

Prof Rao also mentioned Kannadigas receiving Bharat Ratna, “Among scientists, I am the second to get it, after C V Raman. Sir M Visveswaraiah 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.”

Speaking about his family, Prof Rao said he belonged to a lower middle-class family, certainly not rich, but educated. “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,” Rao added in jest, saying, “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.”

When mentioned that Sachin Tendulkar also got the award the same day, Prof Rao said: “These two are different areas. That is a different kind of madness of India and I don’t talk about madness. If you ask them what have I been doing all my life, its one thing — writing, writing, writing. I write a paper everyday. I am writing even today. Writing is not a one shot thing — I don’t mean a cricket shot — it takes time. I don’t have the time for mischief or talking ill of someone. I have a wonderful life. What else can one want?”

Siddu calls on Prof Rao

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday visited the residence of Prof C N R Rao, who has been selected for the Bharat Ratna award, and congratulated him.

The chief minister, who came to the house of the scientist at 9.30 am, spoke to Rao for some time. Later, speaking to reporters, he said that he congratulated the scientist on behalf of the people of Karnataka and told him that a public function to felicitate him would be organised after he receives the Bharat Ratna award. He said that it is a matter of pride that Rao is being honoured with the award.

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