Monthly Archives: January 2015

(2 Jan 2015) Vasant Gowarikar passes away

Scientist Vasant Gowarikar passes away

A protégé of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, he was part of the illustrious band of scientists who initiated India’s satellite research programme.

Space veteran and eminent scientist Vasant Gowarikar passed away after a brief illness at the city’s Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, aged 81.

Mr. Gowarikar, a protégé of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, was part of the illustrious band of scientists who initiated India’s satellite research programme and included luminaries such as A. P. J. Kalam, E. V. Chitnis, Pramod Kale and U. R. Rao among others.He pioneered solid propelant development and later served as Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) between 1979 and 1985.

Intimately associated with and former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation since its humble birth, Dr. Gowarikar once reminisced on the exciting early days of space research under Dr. Sarabhai when his office was in the building of the local St Mary Magdalene Church in Thumba in Kerala.

“I was given a cow shed for my lab,” he recounted on the occasion of ISRO’s 100th space mission in 2012.

Dr. Gowarikar also served as scientific advisor to late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao between 1991 and 1993, was appointed as Vice-Chancellor, Pune University and was chairman of the Marathi Vidnyan Parishad between 1994 and 2000.

After his schooling and graduation from Kolhapur district in Western Maharashtra, the young Dr. Gowarikar embarked on his scientific odyssey to England in the early 1950s. He obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering, supervised by Dr. F.H. Garner. His fruitful collaboration resulted in the Garner-Gowarikar theory, which was a novel analysis of heat and mass transfer between solids and fluid.

Dr. Gowarikar, along with his associates, also compiled the massive The Fertilizer Encyclopedia(2008) that featured 4,500 entries detailing the chemical composition of fertilizers, and containing information on everything from their manufacturing and application to their economic and environmental considerations.

Preeminent American biologist and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug called it “an invaluable resource” for students, academics and industry people the world over.

Dr. Gowarikar, who was earlier honoured with the Padma Shri, was later awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2008.

Pune mourns passing of Dr Vasant Gowariker
Pune: Vasant Gowariker, renowned scientist and educationist, passed away in the city on Friday afternoon following a brief illness.

Gowariker was the former Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister of India, member of Consultative Group of Eminent Senior Scientists, Government of India, and former director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananathapuram. He was also the
Vice-Chancellor of the then University of Pune (now Savitribai Phule Pune University) between 1995-98.

Gowariker had a long and eventful career, with achievements ranging from a key role in launching India’s first successful satellite launch vehicle into space, creating India’s own monsoon forecasting model, to editing the world’s first fertiliser encyclopedia. He had also been a scientific adviser to three of India’s prime ministers. According to his family, the day before he was admitted to the hospital, he had written to the Prime Minister about his vision and plan for an India with drought-free agriculture.

The city’s scientific community mourned the demise of Gowariker and stated that his demise is a great loss to the country.
Remembering Gowariker, former chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) and former Vice-Chancellor of University of Pune, Arun Nigavekar said, “I knew Gowariker for three-and-a-half decades. He started thinking about innovation when he was just 11-years-old. His demise is surely a big loss.”

Sourav Pal, Director, National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), remembered Gowariker as a multi-talented scientist and said that Pune always took pride in having Gowariker as amongst its citizens. “People like Gowariker are very rare. His contribution to space sciences has been great. He took keen interest in mechanics and fluid mechanics and was the one who made the launch of SLV-1 possible,” Pal said.

Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the demise of Gowariker.
“Scientist Vasant Gowariker contributed immensely in the field of space sciences, weather among others. But he was also a scientist who had a great understanding about the problems faced by our nation,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in a release.

Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao in a release said, “Gowariker was instrumental in exploring space sciences and getting satellite technology to India.”
Gowariker who lived in Pune since 1993 is survived by his wife Sudha and three daughters, Ashwini, Kalyani and Irawati.