Indian Association For The Cultivation of Science - History


The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, established in July 29, 1876 at 210 Bowbazar street, Kolkata, is a national institution for higher learning whose primary purpose is to foster high quality fundamental research in frontier disciplines of the basic sciences. Founded by Dr. Mahendra Lal Sircar, the activities at the Association in the very early years were supported by generous public contributions. It was conceived and planned in the backdrop of the great cultural and intellectual awakening of the nineteenth century Bengal and was desired by its founder to be an institution 'solely native and purely national'.

In the early phase, the list of lecturers in Science in IACS included Father Lafont, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Shashi Bhusan Chatterjee, Ashutosh Mukherjee, Chunilal Bose and Pramathanath Bose. Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and Keshub Chunder Sen were among the members of the first Trustee Board of IACS, with Dr. Sircar himself as the first Honorary Secretary. Apart from these great scholars, the stalwart public figures like Gurudas Banerjee, Rajendralal Mitra and Surendranath Banerjee were its patrons. Raja Peary Mohan Mukherjee was the first Indian to take the position of the President of IACS in 1912. His other distinguished successors have been Dr. Nilratan Sircar, Jnan Chandra Ghosh and Satyendra Nath Bose.

The IACS entered a new phase with the emergence in the scene of C V Raman in 1907. He initiated serious research in IACS as a part-time worker, while carrying out his duties in the Accountant General's office in Calcutta - under the inspiring leadership of Dr. Sircar's son Amrita Lal Sircar - the then secretary of IACS. The celebrated Raman Effect was discovered in 1928, which culminated in Raman's receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. Raman started a vibrant school of research, which attracted quite a few talented scientists, who furthered the progress of research along Raman. After the departure of Raman, K. S. Krishnan started the pioneering school of modern magnetism and structural physics. K Banerjee pioneered the early development of the direct method of crystallography.

Till the early decades of this century the Association was the only place in India where higher research in Physical Sciences could be carried out. As a result, students from all over India began assembling at Calcutta to work in the creative atmosphere of the Association. Many distinguished scientists of modern India had carried out research here. S Bhagavantam, L Srivastava, N K Sethi, C Prosad, Meghnad Saha and a host of other eminent Indian Scientists worked here to enrich the research culture of the Association.

In 1946 the Association embarked upon a new development plan under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Meghnad Saha envisaging the creation of an active research school for investigation on the problems continuing with the fundamental studies in X-ray, Optics, Magnetism, and Raman Effect in which the Association had specialised in early years. A new campus was opened at Jadavpur which became a sprawling complex of educational research and industrial establishments, where the laboratories were shifted from Bowbazar Street. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy played a key role to provide the land for the new campus in Jadavpur through a gazette notification of November 20, 1947 of the Government of West Bengal.

Now it is an autonomous institution controlled by a General Body and Governing Council. IACS receives funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and Government of West Bengal, many Public agencies (DST, CSIR, DAE, MNES etc), private companies as well as foreign sources (NSF, UNDP, Japan, European Union, Sweden etc).

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