Tuesday, 1 August 2017

World of Science loses a Crusader

With the passing away of Dr Pushpa Mitra Bhargava (22 Feb 1928 - 1 Aug 2017), the world of science has lost its courageous crusader. A man who would call a spade a spade, was admired by generations of scientists, researchers, art lovers, classical dancers, film personalities, writers, painters and people from all walks of life.

He was not only a world renowned scientist, but also a writer, thinker, institution builder and administrator.  Founder Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, he was widely regarded as the architect of modern biology and biotechnology in India.

He promoted scientific temper through his writings and speeches. He would question the lack of any scientific basis or analysis of 'fish prasadam' given by a family in Hyderabad in June every year. People with irrational thinking and blind faith in the prasadam would attack his residence and burn his effigy. But he pressed on with his questioning. Year after year.
Author of hundreds of research papers as well as number of books, he was the most sought after key-note speaker in India and overseas. He had delivered an unbelievable 2500 invited talks in India!

Few years ago he gave a key-note address to heads of Business Schools in Hyderabad on a provocative theme 'Management Education- Rethink or Perish'. The seminar was organised by Ghumakkad and team. Amongst the points made by Dr Bhargava were:

  • University stands for universality
  • Quality is your best weapon to win the clients
  • Be modest-let others judge you
  • Have a social objective

On a personal front, it was a privilege to know him as my mother's younger cousin. They both had highest regards for each other having excelled in academics at their young age. Both had same first names. My mother's name was Pushpa whereas Dr Bhargava was Pushpa Mitra. In the family circles he was fondly addressed as 'Pucchi bhaiya'. Alas, they will renew their family bonds in heaven.

Few weeks ago Neeta and I had visited him at home. He was on dialysis with all the equipment and medical attention round the clock. A room had been converted into a mini hospital for him. He preferred to meet us during the dialysis which would last few hours. It gave him ample time to meet us and talk, We chatted and enquired about family members. He made sure that we were served butter milk since neither of us has tea or coffee. That was the last we saw him.
Although his health was failing, yet the news of his demise has created a vacuum. 

Who will question the God men being invited to Science Congress?
Who will raise a voice for freedom of speech?
Who will explain science to school children the way you did?
Who will bring science and art together and derive meaning from it?

We will miss you Pucchi mama.May your soul rest in peace.

    -Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with Neeta Bhargava/ 1st August 2017

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