Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar

Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar was an Indian colloid chemist, academic and scientific administrator.

Updated: October 26, 2019


Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar was an Indian colloid chemist, academic and scientific administrator. The first director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), he is revered as the "father of research laboratories" in India. He was also the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission(India) (UGC).
In 1958, the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) instituted the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology for scientists who have made significant contributions in various branches of science to honour his name and legacy. He was born on 21st February 1894 and died on 1st January 1955.

Childhood of Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar:

Bhatnagar was born in the Bhera, Punjab region of British India, in a Hindu kayastha family. His father, Parmeshwari Sahai Bhatnagar, died when he was eight months old, and he spent his childhood in the house of his maternal grandfather.

Education of Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar:

Bhatnagar completed his elementary education from the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic High School, Sikandrabad (Bulandshahr). In 1911 he joined the newly established Dayal Singh College, Lahore which was later moved to New Delhi, India after independence. He became an active member of the Saraswati Stage Society and earned a good reputation as an actor. Bhatnagar passed the Intermediate Examination of the Punjab University in 1913 in first class and joined the Forman Christian College,where he obtained a BSc in physics in 1916, and a MSc in chemistry in 1919. Bhatnagar was awarded a scholarship by the Dayal Singh College Trust to study abroad, and he left for America via England. The Trustee permitted him to join the University College London under chemistry professor Frederick G. Donnan. He earned his Doctorate in Science in 1921.

Some facts about Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar:

  • In August 1921, he returned to India and immediately joined the newly established Banaras Hindu University (BHU) as a professor of chemistry, where he remained for three years.
  • He wrote the 'Kulgeet', or University song.
  • He then moved to Lahore as a Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of University Chemical Laboratories of the University of the Punjab.
  • In 1928 he developed the Bhatnagar-Mathur Magnetic Interference Balance with K.N. Mathur, which was one of the most sensitive instruments at the time for measuring magnetic properties.
  • It was exhibited at the Royal Society Soiree in 1931 and it was marketed by Messers Adam Hilger and Co, London.
  • Bhatnagar's first industrial problem was developing the process for converting bagasse (peelings of sugarcane) into food-cake for cattle.
  • He also solved industrial problems for Delhi Cloth & General Mills, J.K. Mills Ltd. of Kanpur, Ganesh Flour Mills Ltd. of Layallapur, Tata Oil Mills Ltd. of Bombay, and Steel Brothers & Co. Ltd. of London.
  • His major innovation was an improvement of the procedure for drilling crude oil.
  • Bhatnagar was elected one of the first Fellows of the Indian Academy of Sciences (FASc) in 1934.
  • He was appointed a Foundation Fellow of the National Institute of Sciences of India (FNI; now the Indian National Science Academy) the following year.
  • Bhatnagar was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1936 New Year Honours List for his contributions to pure and applied chemistry.
  • The British government knighted him in the 1941 New Year Honours List for his contributions to the advancement of science.
  • Bhatnagar was appointed a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FInstP) in 1942, and was also appointed a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (FRIC) that year.
  • In 1943 the Society of Chemical Industry, London, elected him as Honorary Member and later as Vice President.
  • Bhatnagar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1943.
  • In independent India, he was the President of the Indian Chemical Society, National Institute of Sciences of India and the Indian National Science Congress.
  • He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 1954.


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