C.V Raman- The first Bharat Ratna of India

C.V Raman

C.V Raman was an Indian Physicist. He is known for his work in the field of light scattering. He developed Spectrograph and used it together with his student K.S. Krishnan discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, the deflected light changes its wavelength and frequency. The effect was termed as Raman effect or Raman Scattering. This discovery led him to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize in any branch of Science.

CV Raman receiving Nobel Prize
Raman receiving Nobel Prize

Personal life of CV Raman

C.V Raman was born on 7 November 1888 in Tiruchirapalli, Madras Presidency during British Raj. His father’s name was Chandrashekhara Ramanathan Iyer and his mother’s name was Parvathi Ammal. He had 7 siblings. One elder and seven younger siblings. His father was a teacher at a local high school and had a moderate income. They moved to Visakhapatnam as his father was appointed as the faculty of Mrs. A.V Narasimha Rao College.

CV Raman's Family
C.V Raman’s Family

Raman was married to Lokasundari Ammal on 6 May 1907. They had two sons, Chandrashekhara Raman and Venkatraman Radhakrishnan. He was the maternal uncle of the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics winner Subrahmanyan Chandrashekhara. 

Education of C.V Raman

C.V Raman studied at St. Aloysius’ Anglo-Indian High School where he passed matriculation at the age of 11 as he was a precocious child and he passed the First Examination in Arts examination with a scholarship at the age of 13. He secured first position in both examinations under the Andhra Pradesh School Board examination.

Raman joined Presidency college in Madras (now in Chennai) where his father was transferred to teach mathematics and Physics in 1902. He obtained a B.A. degree from the University of Madras, and won the gold medal in Physics and English. Raman was a graduate at the age of 18, when he published his first scientific paper on “Unsymmetrical diffraction bands due to a rectangular aperture” in the journal Philosophical Magazine in 1906. He gained the M.A degree from the same university with highest distinction in 1907.

His second paper published in the same journal that year was on surface tensions of liquids.

It was alongside Lord Rayleigh’s paper on sensitivity of ear to sound and after that Lord Rayleigh started courteously addressing Raman as “Professor”.    

The Rise of the First Bharat Ratna 

Due to his poor health Sir Raman was in no condition to study abroad as he was unable to withstand the harsh conditions of England. The elder brother of Sir Raman, Chandrasekhara Subrahmanya Ayyar had joined the Indian Finance Service, so Sir Raman also followed the suit and qualified for the Indian Finance Service achieving the first position in the entrance exam in February 1907. In June 1907, he was posted in Calcutta as Assistant Account General. He became highly impressed with the Indian Association of Cultivation Of Science (IACS), which is the first research Institute founded in India in 1876. 

He became friends with Ashutosh Dubey, Amrita Lal Sircar, the founder and secretary of IACS and Ashutosh Mukherjee, executive member of the institute and vice-chancellor of the university of Calcutta. With their influence and support, Sir Raman obtained the permission to conduct research at IACS in his own time. At that time the institute had not recruited any researchers or produced any paper. C.V Raman’s article “Newton’s Rings in polarized light” published in “Nature” in 1907 became the first from the institute. His work inspired IACS to publish a journal, Bulletin of Indian Association for the cultivation of Science, in 1909.

In 1909, Raman was transferred to Burma (now Myanmar), as a currency officer, However he returned to Madras after a few months as his father had died from an illness. He remained there for the rest of the year. When he returned to Burma he was soon transferred to Nagpur, Maharashtra, in 1910. He was promoted to Account General and then posted to Calcutta.

The University of Calcutta started recruiting research scholars under Raman at IACS from 1915. Sudhangsu Kumar Banerji was his first student. From the next year, the other universities followed suit including University of Allahabad, Rangoon University, Queen’s College Indore, Institute of Science, Nagpur, Krishnath College and University of Madras. Until 1919, Raman guided more than a dozen students. 

Raman was chosen by the University of Calcutta, to become the Palit Professor of Physics. Raman became the first Palit Professor of Physics but was delayed as World War-I broke out. He became a full-fledged professor, when he joined Rajabazar Science College.

C.V Raman’s Professor Life

His resignation as a civil servant was a great sacrifice as the salary of a professor was roughly half of the salary of the civil servant. 

On his first trip to Europe, he was motivated to see the Mediterranean Sea, to identify the prevailing explanation for the blue color of the sea at the time. He proved that the Rayleigh-scattered light from the sky was incorrect He founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926. Then he moved to Bangalore in 1933 to become the first Indian director of the Indian Institute of Science. 

In 1948, he established the Raman Research Institute where he worked to his last days. He discovered the Raman effect on 28 January 1928. The day is now celebrated as the National Science Day in India. In 1954, the Government of India honored him with the first Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.

C.V Raman receiving Bharat Ratna

Death Of C.V Raman

Raman had an Cardiac arrest in his laboratory where he collapsed in October 1970. He was moved to the hospital where the doctor diagnosed him and declared that he would not survive another four hours but miraculously he survived for a few days. 

Two days before his death in the evening he met with the Board Of Management of his institute at his bedroom discussing the fate of the institute’s management. He also willed his wife to perform  simple cremation without any rituals after his death. 

And then in the morning of 21 November 1972, Sir C.V Raman died at the age of 82.

On the News of C.V Raman’s death, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi publicly announced :

The country, the House [of Parliament], and everyone of us will mourn the death of Dr. C. V. Raman. He was the greatest scientist of modern India and one of the greatest intellects our country has produced in its long history. His mind was like the diamond, which he studied and explained. His life’s work consisted in throwing light upon the nature of lights, and the world honored him in many ways for the new knowledge which he won for science

Indira Gandhi