Scientist Vasant Gowarikar passes away

Space veteran and eminent scientist Vasant Gowarikar passed away after a brief illness at the city’s Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, aged 81.

Mr. Gowarikar, a protégé of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, was part of the illustrious band of scientists who initiated India’s satellite research programme and included luminaries such as A. P. J. Kalam, E. V. Chitnis, Pramod Kale and U. R. Rao among others.He pioneered solid propelant development and later served as Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) between 1979 and 1985.

Intimately associated with and former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation since its humble birth, Dr. Gowarikar once reminisced on the exciting early days of space research under Dr. Sarabhai when his office was in the building of the local St Mary Magdalene Church in Thumba in Kerala.

“I was given a cow shed for my lab,” he recounted on the occasion of ISRO’s 100th space mission in 2012.

Dr. Gowarikar also served as scientific advisor to late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao between 1991 and 1993, was appointed as Vice-Chancellor, Pune University and was chairman of the Marathi Vidnyan Parishad between 1994 and 2000.

After his schooling and graduation from Kolhapur district in Western Maharashtra, the young Dr. Gowarikar embarked on his scientific odyssey to England in the early 1950s. He obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering, supervised by Dr. F.H. Garner. His fruitful collaboration resulted in the Garner-Gowarikar theory, which was a novel analysis of heat and mass transfer between solids and fluid.

Dr. Gowarikar, along with his associates, also compiled the massive The Fertilizer Encyclopedia(2008) that featured 4,500 entries detailing the chemical composition of fertilizers, and containing information on everything from their manufacturing and application to their economic and environmental considerations.

Preeminent American biologist and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug called it “an invaluable resource” for students, academics and industry people the world over.

Dr. Gowarikar, who was earlier honoured with the Padma Shri, was later awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2008.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 1:39:27 AM |

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