Breaking new ground

Breaking new ground

From the albums

Breaking new ground

This photograph is a prized possession of mine.  It was taken on  ‘turning the first sod’ function of the earlier building of the Department of Applied Mathematics (now known as the Department of Mathematics) at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in the late 1960s.

  Before that, the department  did not have its own building. It was initially housed in
the main building and was then shifted to the building which was the ‘Director’s Lab’ (behind the then building of Physics Department) after the director, Dr S
Bhagavantam, left the institute to become a full-time scientific advisor to the then
Defence Minister Krishna Menon.

These photographs show the two towering personalities of Indian science. One of them is ‘Padma Vibhushan’  Dr Satish Dhawan, who was the director of IISc that time and later, became secretary of the Department of Space and Head of ISRO.   The other is ‘Padma Bhushan’ Dr PL Bhatnagar, who was the founder - professor of the Department of Applied Math, IISc, that time.

 He later became Vice-Chancellor of the Rajasthan University, a member of UPSC, and the founder director of the Mehta Research Institute of Mathematics and Mathematical Physics (which was later shaped into the Harish Chandra Research Institute) at

In the picture, seated from left are Ramachandra and Gangappa, the two helpers at the department.

The person standing first from left is Sreenivasa Murthy. I am the person  next to him. A majority of those present at the function constituted the students and faculty of the department.  The ground, where this function was held and on which the first building of
the department came up, is near the present Choksi  Hall at IISc, which comes to the right side when we enter IISc from the main gate.

This piece of land was earlier a playground (mainly cricket ground) at IISc. A new playground and the Gymkhana ground were assigned and the first building for the department came up at the cricket ground.

  At present, this building is used for administrative work and the department is housed in yet another newly constructed building of its own.I was a lecturer at the department at that time and I’m proud to have these photographs in my collection as they remind of the various pleasant and enjoyable moments I spent in the company of my colleagues and friends at the institute while studying mathematics.

  I am privileged to have done research under the able guidance and inspiring
supervision of PL Bhatnagar at the magnificent campus which owns its existence to Tatas and Maharaja of Mysore and where personalities like Sir CV Raman had worked.