The Great Indigenous Scientist Dr. Atma Ram

Dr. Atma Ram was one of the greatest scientist of all time in the history of Indian Science. Under his inspiring leadership, the Institute has established the entirely indigenous technology of producing optical glass in India and produced optical glass since 1960 in quantities sufficient to meet the entire requirements of the country. His contribution in the respective field of applied science is commendable. He contributed over 200 original research papers in professional journals and also filed 31 patents.


He was born 12th Oct 1908 to Munshi Bhagwan Das in Pilana. Atma Ram was the eldest among all his brothers and sisters. Despite being borne in a Munshi- Patwari family Atma Ram had actually seen and experienced stark poverty. His father’s job was only a means of livelihood. Due to his father’s honesty, straight forwardness, regard and care for others , he lived an extremely simple life. Atma Ram , not only during childhood but when in the University would send home part of his scholarship money for his brothers education. Simultaneously he was repaying the loan he had incurred for his education.

In 1922 when Atma Ram was just 13 years old, he passed the Vernacular Middle examination from Chandpur. Now the problem was what was to be done next. A thirteen year old boy could not take up Normal Training course as for it the minimum age requirement was eighteen years. Later he moved to Banaras where he joined Banaras Hindu University to do intermediate. There he studied Science for the first time. By obtaining a first division in Intermediate, his prospects for further education improved tremendously. He had no difficulty in getting admission to B.Sc. course, which had started only that year , in D.A.V. College , Kanpur. In 1929, he decided to do M.Sc. and got admission in the University of Allahabad.

On 26th December 1934, Atma Ram got married.


He studied B.Sc., Kanpur, 1929; M.Sc., Allahabad, 1931; Ph.D. His areas of specialization were photochemistry, glass and ceramic technology. He was Planning Officer (1945-49), Joint Director (1942-52), Director (1952-66), Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata; and Director-General, CSIR, and Secretary to the Government of India (1966).


He started his career as a member of the research team (1942-44), directed by the late Dr. S.S. Bhatnagar, in the Industrial Research Bureau and subsequently joined the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). In 1945, the Governing Body of CSIR entrusted to him the responsibility of organizing the newly started Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute. After holding successively the positions of Officer-in-Charge and Joint Director(1945-49 and1949-52) Dr. Atma Ram was appointed Director of the Institute in 1952.Dr. Atma Ram was appointed Director-General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) on August 22, 1966. Chairman, National College of Science and Technology (NCST), 1977; Principal Advisor, Prime Minister and Union Cabinet on Science and Technology, 1977-83.


Atma Ram did extensive research on photochemical reactions. He was responsible for a comprehensive all-India survey of glass and ceramic raw materials, which established the then unknown sources of high-grade raw materials within the country for use in place of imported ones. Of the many industrially productive researches he and his colleagues carried out, mention may be made of the substitution of selenium (imported) by copper to produce ruby red glass, which goes into the production of bangles. Atma Ram established the technology and production of optical glass in the country, rated then as one of the landmark contributions of applied science in India. Another important contribution he made was the process for the production of highly homogeneous, optically clear and corrosion-resistant lead glass sheets, blocks and slabs for nuclear reactors.

Other Contributions:

Atma Ram was largely responsible for indigenization of Indian industry, especially in relation to glass and ceramic products. He had an unwavering focus on the application of research results. He also served as Chairman, National Committee on Science & Technology and Principal Advisor to the Prime Minister and the Union Cabinet.

Awards and Honours:

Atma Ram was the first recipient of SS Bhatnagar Medal of INSA (1959), Padma Shri, (1959). He received All India Glass Manufacturers Federation’s Plaque of Honour (1964) and was the President of Indian Science Congress (1967-68). He was a Fellow of Institution of Metals (sometime President); Indian Ceramic Society (sometime President); President, Institution of Chemists (India); and President of INSA (1969-70).





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