Sunday, September 29, 2019




 Prof.Satish Dhawan ( 1920-2002)  father of Indian Space Mission ( Chairman  ISRO ) and country's topmost scientist ,   was born in Srinagar city and had his initial schooling in Kashmir . His father, Devi Dayal Dhawan hailed from NWFP while his mother Lakshmi  belonged to a Punjabi  family that was well settled in Srinagar  kashmir. His father  was a high-ranking official who  served kashmir  during Maharaja’s rule  and who    retired post partition  as  resettlement Commissioner  Government of India .

Prof Dhawan  married  Nalini ,  herself a scientist and a  simple  woman .Maharaja of Mysore was a great admirer cum  supporter of Prof Dhawan's  scientific initiatives .

Prof. Dhawan  graduated from Lahore and later moved to USA for higher studies . He joined the University of Minnesota, from where he obtained an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, before moving to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

He followed this up with a PhD in Aeronautics and Mathematics from Caltech in 1951, which he pursued with eminent aerospace scientist Professor Hans W. Liepmann as an adviser. In his memoir ‘Vignettes’, Liepmann mentioned how Dhawan’s leadership of the Indian scientific community birthed some of the brilliant geniuses from a developing nation.

 His daughter Jyotsna Dhawan, is a renowned molecular biologist. For some time , she was also associated with Center for Cellular and Molecular BioIogy, Hyderabad . She adds:

" My father  very much valued the idea of working with your hands. He felt that working with your hands is not separate from the intellect. It’s part and parcel of it. And he had a great deal of respect for people who had the agility and capability to work with their hands. He worked with carpenters and trained people to build specific things for his own research programme. He built lots of our furniture at home. He also loved going to auctions in town to buy second-hand furniture which he would modify.
He just read voraciously. He also had a Master’s in literature. He read everything – biographies, fiction, history, political theory, literature. He loved poking around in second-hand bookstores and in those days there were several in Bangalore. Although he himself was not a religious man, he had a deep respect for Indian philosophy, and so he read a lot. One of his absolute favourite books was a book of short stories by a little-read author now called HH Munro, whose pen-name was Saki. I still have my father’s copy of Saki’s short stories."

It is a well known fact that Prof Dhawan would proudly declare his birth place and feel happy in linking  himself with Kashmir.

( Avtar Mota )
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