A visionary, a man of farsightedness and determination Dr. Homi Jahangir Bhabha was the architect of Indian atomic energy programme. To be ignorant of the lives of the most celebrated men of antiquity is to continue to live in a state of childhood all our lives. Dr. Bhabha’s life was a embodiment of noble ideas from which many a lesson can be imbibed. Homi Bhabha was a man of integrity. He always put service before self. All through his life he worked for his country and succeeded in making India a forerunner in the field of nuclear energy.
Born on October 30, 1909 in a well to do Parsi family in Mumbai, he had his early education in metropolis itself. He did his schooling in Bombay’s cathedral. After graduating from Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science, Mumbai, he went to Cambridge for further studies. He earned his engineering degree in 1930. That was the decade when the world witnessed numerous scientific advancements in the field of physics, from 1930 to 1934 by means of obtaining scholarship. He did significant work in identifying the elementary particles called mesons when the Second World War broke out in Europe.
Dr. Bhabha returned to India. In 1940 he was appointed Reader and then Professor of physics in the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. It was on August 6, 1945 the first atom Bomb exploded in Hiroshima, Japan. All that remained was a flattened devastated land. The world was shaken. The incident upset Bhabha. It was only a year earlier he was contemplating the peaceful use of atomic energy.
In 1945 founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Apart from being an eminent scientist he was also a skilled administrator; his scientific achievements personal reputation and friendships with Nehru enabled him to take government finances for atomic programmes and research. He was the first chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India. He led the team of scientists in setting up Asia’s first atomic sector Apsara at Trombay. As the Chairman of this commission his work involved two important areas. One of these was research and development the other was setting up of reactors and training personnel in specialised work areas.
The nuclear plants at Tarapur, Rana Pratap Sagar and Kalapakkam are the fruition of his efforts. He was bestowed the honour of being the chairman of the first United States Nation Conference on the peaceful uses of Atomic Energy held in Geneva in 1955. He advocated checks and balances on nuclear proliferation and outlawing of atomic bombs by all countries. He firmly believed that atomic energy should be utilized for constructive purposes alone. As recognition of his undoubtable efforts and service to the nation he was offered a place in the Union Cabinet Bhabha refused it. Like Gandhiji he never clamoured for honour and recognition.
However, he continued to be the scientific advisor to Nehru and later to Lai Bahadur Shastri. A talented individual Bhabha took keen interest in music and art. A bachelor all his life, Homi Jahangir Bhabha dedicated his time and energy to scientific purposes. He played an important role in scientific temper in the masses. Instead of searching for employees and scientists for his institute he founded the institute in order to bring out the vast potential in young scientists and budding talents. His work on atomic energy brought him many honorary degrees of D.
Sc. and Phd in India and abroad. On Jan 24, 1966, Dr. Babha was going to attend the international conference in Geneva but unfortunately the plane he was on board crashed on Mount Blanc in the Alps. His mantra work is worship was so inspiring that when he died the employees of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, worked extra hours to mourn his death.
Today when the world is divided on the issue of nuclear energy, with the super powers adopting double standards and other countries pursuing policies with vested interests, Bhabha’s life should be a shining example and a token of peace and development in the present nuclear age. His message can be summed up in the words of Long Fellow “Let us then be up and doing with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing learn to labour and to wait. In fact it was Dr. Bhabha who initiated the process of harnessing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Hence he can be called the architect of Pokhran I and II which too are meant for maintenance of peace in the subcontinent in view of nuclear threats from our Northern and Western neighbours.