History of Indian Institute of Science

It is time to remember the great minds that took part in the building of the institute. It all began with a dream for a centre of excellence seen by J N Tata. And relentlessly pursued by many scientists in the 100 years that followed. It is time to salute their efforts.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is all geared up for its centenary celebrations beginning May 27, the day on which it was established in 1909.

Bangalore would have lost the prestigious Indian Institute of Science to Roorkee if it it had not been for the timely initiative of Mysore Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhana back in 1901.

On behalf of her young son Krishna Raja Wodeyar Bahadur IV, the queen assigned 371 acres of land free of cost at Bangalore and an annual grant of Rs 18,000 a year towards expenses of establishing a research institute. That clinched the deal for Bangalore.

The fact-finding committee comprising Masson and Clibborn of Roorkee College had reported prevalence of enteric fever and plague in Bangalore. The climate was enervating in November, they added, and the power from the nearby hydel project (Sivasamudram) was hypothecated to KGF. Roorkee, they said, was more favourable for Tata’s Institute.

This was in reply to Prof William Ramsay who at J N Tata’s behest had toured India and found Bangalore the best place as it ‘does not present the same distractions as Bombay, Calcutta or Madras, but it is seat of a Geological Survey, of an agricultural section and of a government college and these would furnish a certain nucleus of scientific society which could not fail to be congenial both to staff and students of the new Institute.’

Interestingly, Ramsay had cited the hydel project with its ‘enormous potential for industrial development in which the new institute could play a vital role.’

He had found the climate temperate for nearly all the year; ‘it is not too hot for Europe nor too cold for natives’.
Bangalore was also favoured for a qualification it no longer holds! Ramsay was of the opinion that the place chosen ‘should not be in a very large centre of population, else social and administrative occupation from which it is so difficult to escape in a large city, would necessarily absorb the attention of the staff from their more immediate duties.’

Eventually Viceroy Lord Minto approved the establishment of the Institute, named Indian Institute of Science by Masson and Clifford, on 27th May 1909.

It is time to remember the great minds that took part in the building of the institute. It all began with a dream for a centre of excellence seen by J N Tata. And relentlessly pursued by many scientists in the 100 years that followed. It is time to salute their efforts.

Source : DECCAN HERALD

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