Manmohan Singh presents lifetime achievement award to four DAE scientists

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday reiterated that while the Centre went ahead with its nuclear energy programme to meet the growing energy needs of the country, it would continue to ensure that nuclear power remained totally safe.

“The Fukushima incident in 2011 [has] raised justifiable safety concerns about nuclear power … We will ensure that the safety and livelihoods of people are not jeopardised in our pursuit of nuclear power,” Dr. Singh said.

Presenting the lifetime achievement awards of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to four of its veteran scientists at a brief ceremony at his residence this morning, Dr. Singh noted that the Department worked in “one of the most complex, sophisticated and challenging areas of science, technology and engineering.” He appreciated its scientists for working with unfailing commitment, dedication and skill, despite decades of facing international technology denial regimes.

“It is to their [scientists] credit that India has now mastered advanced technologies and developed indigenous capabilities across the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Their efforts have not only given us deterrence capabilities and nuclear energy, but also national capacity to apply the benefits of nuclear science to areas such as agriculture and health care,” he said.

He urged the DAE to ensure that it continued to attract the best scientific minds among the younger generations and expressed hope that its scientists would continue to be guided by the basic goal of directing scientific activities to bring about an improvement in people’s quality of life.

“As we pursue our national growth objectives to meet the rising aspirations of our people, the supply of affordable clean energy will be our foremost national challenges and a key priority for our government. Nuclear energy will remain an essential and increasingly important element of our energy mix,” he added.

Dr. Singh paid special tributes to nuclear scientist and Principal Scientific Advisor to the government, R. Chidamabaram for “guiding India’s atomic energy programme with such great distinction” and said his [Dr. Chidambaram’s] life and work were a source of inspiration for all scientists and technologies in the country.

The scientists who were presented the lifetime achievement are: R.B. Grover, who played a key role in negotiating the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, K. Balaramamoorthy, who developed non-destructive testing techniques, mathematician R. Balasubramanian, and S.K. Sikka, a key player in the nuclear tests of 1974 and 1998.

Known as India’s leading nuclear diplomat, Dr. Grover played a key role in opening ensuring India became a part of the international nuclear trade which were shut after the peaceful nuclear experiment of 1974. He was also in the forefront of talks that resulted in India's entry into the pioneering International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project to tap fusion energy to meet future global power needs. Among other things, he conceptualised and set up the Homi Bhabha National Institute to meet the human resources requirements of the nuclear programme.

Dr. Balaramamoorthy, a former Chief Executive of the Nuclear Fuel Complex, was honoured for his pioneering contribution to the development of non-destructive testing techniques and outstanding work in the field of nuclear fuel and nuclear components fabrication.

Dr. Balasubramanian, who is the Director of the DAE’s Chennai-based Institute of Mathematical Sciences, was conferred the award for his outstanding contribution to the field of higher mathematics, cryptology and theoretical computer science.

Dr. Sikka was honoured for his contribution to condensed matter physics and to the strategic programme of the department of atomic energy.

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