Nobel Prizes have been an indicator of a country’s scientific prowess.
It was CK Prahlad who in his vision of India @75 wished India to have 10 Nobel Prize Winners by 2022.
‘Outlook’ published a list of Indian science luminaries who had potentials for the Nobel Prize in its July 14, 2003 issue. nterestingly, one in the list V. Ramakrishnan, Structural biologist, MRC Lab,shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath, “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome” and thus became the fourth Indian to become a Nobel Laureate after Raman, Chandrasekhar and Khorana.
The Outlook jury were themselves great scientists: a cellular and molecular biologist (P.M. Bhargava), an astrophysicist (Ramanath Cowsik), a space scientist (K. Kasturirangan), a chemical engineer (R.A. Mashelkar) and a physicist (M.G.K. Menon).
Vilayanur S. Ramachandran discovered the now well-known phantom limb syndrome. According to Ramachandran, ‘we’re all born with a map in the brain to which the sensory surfaces of our bodies are connected’.
C.N.R. Rao has been at the frontiers of superconductivity, buckyballs and nanoparticles.
Shrinivas R. Kulkarni discovered the millisecond pulsar—distant stars emitting very high-frequency radio waves—and has conducted stand-out observational astronomy in virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
Ashoke Sen has contributed to string theory of elementary particles has, in recent times, tended to set the agenda for other researchers and his name is taken in the same breath as Schwarz’s, Witten’s and other pioneers of the field. Sen is currently working on the study of dynamics of tachyons on unstable D-branes in string theory and his findings may have interesting applications in cosmology.
K.R. Srinivasan has been working in the complex area of turbulence to peer and critical acclaim.
Abhay Ashtekar is working on revamping Einsteinian relativity in an attempt to marry it with quantum theory.
E.Premkumar Reddy: The most notable of his findings are the molecular cloning and sequence determination of a number of viral oncogenes and their cellular homologues.
Lalji Singh is a molecular biologist with areas of his research interest involves molecular basis of sex determination, DNA fingerprinting, wildlife conservation, silkworm genome analysis, human genome and ancient DNA studies.
Goverdhan Mehta, organic chemist, has made notable and outstanding contributions in Chemical Sciences and specializes in the area of Organic Chemistry.
J.V. Narlikar developed with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory, commonly known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory. It synthesizes Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Mach’s Principle.
Narlikar is a proponent of the steady state cosmology.
M.S. Swaminathan, plant geneticist, known as the “Father of the Green Revolution in India”, for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India/
K. Vijay Raghavan, Biologist, researched on the important principles and mechanisms that control nervous system and muscles during development and how these neuromuscular systems direct specific locomotor behaviours.
G. Padmanabhan, Molecular biologist, IISc, has made significant contributions in the area of transcriptional regulation of malarial drug metabolizing genes in liver, mechanism of chloroquine action and its resistance in the parasite, new drug targets for malaria etc.
Mriganka Sur is deepening our understanding of how the brain works and the “mis-wiring” that causes mental diseaseIn that experiment he showed, for the first time, that the brain is ‘plastic’. He demonstrated how the brain changes in response to the external environment even as it continues to develop.
Jainendra Jain is known for his theoretical work on quantum many body systems, most notably for postulating Composite fermions.
Lov Grover is the originator of the Grover database search algorithm used in quantum computing.
Gurdev Khush is an agronomist and geneticist who, along with mentor Dr. Henry Beachell, received the 1996 World Food Prize for unparalleled achievements in enlarging and improving the global supply of rice during a time of exponential population growth.
The list above would have certainly not included all of those with potential to be a Nobel Laureate. The main thrust is to be on an education system that enthuses more and more to join the R&D activities in various scientific fields.