Raman Research Institute

College & Education

Asia, India, Karnataka

Raman Research Institute (RRI) is a research institute in Bangalore, India. It was started by Nobel laureate Sir C. V. Raman. The main areas of research are: Astronomy and Astrophysics Liquid Crystals Theoretical Physics Optics RRI has progressed from a research institution privately owned by a leading Indian scientist to a national centre in basic sciences in around half a century. Founded by Prof. Raman, the only Nobel Prize winner in science from India, in 1948, RRI is located in a sprawling campus very close to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). The campus, lined with a large number of flowering and non-flowering trees planted by none other than Raman in the early years of the institution, even today is a secluded place of peace and tranquility as it was in Raman's days, despite being located in one of the busiest parts of Bangalore city. Run on a grant received from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) since 1972, RRI has been carrying out research in several areas of fundamental science. These areas are theoretical physics, optics, liquid crystals and astronomy and astrophysics. Raman, during his days at the institute, refused to accept any funds from the Indian government and other sources as he believed that no funds could come without conditions. "Raman who was an experimental scientist par excellence hated writing project reports and or for that matter giving periodic status reports to those who fund projects. He was of the firm belief that science could not be done that way," said Prof. N. V Madhusudana, Dean of Research at RRI and a leading liquid crystal scientist. Raman had planned the institute much before he retired from IISc as the head of its Physics Department. As he had abhorred being idle even for a single day, his idea had been to walk straight into his newly-founded institute when he retired from IISc. Much before he thought about founding an institute of his own, Raman had approached the then Maharaja of Mysore for land for building an office for the Indian Academy of sciences (IAS), which was again a brainchild of Raman. The Maharaja readily acceded to his request and a 10-acre (40,000 m) plot was gifted to the academy in 1934. The decision to build a research institution on this land was subsequently taken when there was a danger of this piece of land being retrieved by the Government of Mysore as the academy failed to utilise it till the end of 1941. Subsequently, Raman put forward a proposal to build a research institute to the academy at an extraordinary meeting and this was accepted by the meeting. Raman who raised the funds for the institute, was clear that it should have a distinct identity from the academy. According to A Jayaraman, one of his students in the initial days of the institute, RRI was under the umbrella of the Indian Academy of Sciences. But Raman gradually changed this, for he thought conflicts could arise if the institute was not made into a statutory body. During his time, the presidency of the academy and the directorship of the institute rested in him. He was the supreme authority as far as the Institute was concerned. This highly personal style suited the temperament of the founder. Just before his death, however, Raman chartered out a framework for running the institute, giving it a separate status and autonomy. The Institute adopted the change in 1971 and stepped into a new era. Prof. Madhusudana has said: "Till Raman's death, this was his private research institute. He had a very small group of research students working with him and a very few administrative staff. When he moved into the institute, the work on the building was incomplete and there was no electricity. This forced him to conduct several optics-related experiments using sunlight". Despite its budgetary and infrastructural constraints, scientists working under Raman did some path-breaking work. For instance, S. Pancharatnam, who joined the institute in 1954, discovered a fundamental quantum optic effect, independent of Raman. This work, according to Jayaraman, was "the most out