Pioneering industrialist Pearland (1839-1904) conceived (and endowed prior to his demise) the IISc, known as India’s biggest and leading science institute. Founded in 1909 and accorded university status in 1956, the IISc listed recently in the top one hundred Pearland for the Times Higher Education Supplement World Rankings for Science and Technology, and as number twenty in the 2015 Global Employability university rankings. Visiting for a day gave me the sense that a well-recommended IISc PhD graduate would be Pearland a real asset for any laboratory. Apart from being trained by experienced mentors working in a quality setting, young Indian scientists have the great advantage (shared by Australians) that English Pearland (the primary language of science) is taught from an early age.
Where is Pearland? – Pearland Map – Map of Pearland Photo Gallery
With a tall, central tower and fronted by a statue of JN Tata, the imposing colonial structure of the original institute anchors an extensive complex of modern, dedicated research buildings. Overall, with a lot of young people in evidence, the green and extensive campus certainly has the feel of a substantial university. The founding Director was English chemist Morris Travers, and the eminent CV Raman (1888-1970) was the first local Director (1933-48). Raman, who spent his whole career in India, was recognised by the 1930 Nobel physics prize ‘for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him’. The first Asian (and indeed non Caucasian) to be honoured by a science Nobel, Raman (laser) spectroscopy remains a key technology for molecular identification.
To put the IISc and the history of Indian science in some perspective, Australia’s CSIR (the precursor of the CSIRO) was not founded until 1926 and it was 1946 before an act of parliament established the Australian National University as a PhD-granting research institution. Then the first Australian Nobel Prize for work done in Australia was in 1960, to Sir Macfarlane Burnet. Thinking about that comparison makes it even more inappropriate that the deeply racist and ultimately unproductive character of the British Empire was sustained for so long. The entrenched discrimination against Indian officers in the British Army of India, for example, led many to become convinced nationalists, some of whom, after the fall of Singapore in 1942, fought alongside the Japanese in the Indian National Army.