University of Calcutta



J.N. Bhar Birth Centenary Lectures
February 10, 2011

About The School

Professor J.N. Bhar, D.Sc., F.N.A. was a legendary visionary and teacher of the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics. After the demise of Professor Sisir Kumar Mitra, it was Professor Bhar who single-handedly catapulted the Institute to one of the finest in the country. Research in the field of Space Science and Communication conducted at the Ionosphere Field Station, Haringhata reached a high point during his tenure as Head of the Department (1957-1976) and the Field Station became part of an elite global chain of ionospheric monitoring centres. The Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics, with support from the UGC Networking Resource Centre in Physical Sciences, a distinction recently earned by the Department in 2008, organized the birth centenary celebrations of Professor J.N. Bhar on February 10, 2011. Two lectures by prominent internationally renowned scientists in areas of Space Science and Communication were arranged at the Ionosphere Field Station, Haringhata with which Professor Bhar was deeply associated for more than two decades. These lectures were titled J.N. Bhar Birth Centenary Lectures. Reminiscences of Professor J.N. Bhar were made by some of his illustrious students.

The dignitaries on the dias were Prof. Mamata Ray, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs and Finance, University of Calcutta, Dr. B.M. Reddy, Research and Training Unit for Navigational Electronics, Osmania University, Dr. Sunanda Basu, Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, Prof. P.K. Basu, Director, UGC Networking Resource Centre in Physical Sciences (UGCNRCPS) and Prof. S. Kar, Head of the Department. The program started with the Prof. S. Kar welcoming the dignitaries on the dias and the Faculty members, Research Scholars and students among the participants. Next, Prof. P.K. Basu introduced the audience to the research activities of the Department in general, and the UGCNRCPS in particular. He also spoke about the contributions of Prof. J.N. Bhar in making the Department a forerunner in the teaching and research on communication and electronics in India and abroad. The Pro-Vice Chancellor stressed the importance of the Department and the UGCNRCPS to the University and highlighted the significance of the contributions made by Prof. J.N. Bhar.

This was followed by the felicitation of Dr. Santimay Basu, one of the most illustrious students of Prof. J.N. Bhar, who was a Faculty of the Department till 1976 and later joined the US Air Force Geophysics Laboratory. The felicitations were offered by the Radio Physics and Electronics Association, a forum for the alumni of the Department. Distinguished students of Prof. Bhar were then invited to share their memories with the audience. Reminiscences of Prof. J.N. Bhar were made by Prof. N. Purkait, Prof. S. Sen and Prof. S.K. Lahiri to name a few.

The first of the two lectures was delivered by Dr. Sunanda Basu, Boston College on the immense contributions of late Dr. A.P. Mitra in the fruition of Prof. Bhar’s vision for INRAPHEL, particularly, in the area of ionospheric research. Dr. Mitra was one of Prof. Bhar’s most illustrious student and later became one of his closest colleagues. She mentioned that Dr. Mitra, given his pre-eminent position on the Indian scientific scene, was perhaps the person most responsible for setting up the S. K. Mitra Centre at the University of Calcutta. Dr. Mitra served the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), New Delhi in various capacities – Head of the Radio Science Division up to 1982; Director, NPL 1982-1986; Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) from 1986-1991 and Scientist of Eminence up to his death in 2007. The audience was fascinated learning that at NPL he pioneered work on solar flares, D-region chemistry, tropo-scatter, microwave radiometry, HF propagation, payloads for balloon, rocket and satellite measurements and beacon studies. The Research Scholars were enthralled by the fact that when Dr. Mitra became the Chair of the URSI Young Scientists Program 1981, it was greatly rejuvenated and his search for external support was indefatigable which allowed about 120 scientists to attend URSI General Assemblies. Regarding “Global Change, in which mankind’s concern is increasing”, he asked what role should URSI play in involving developing countries and young scientists? Dr. Mitra was associated with ICSU, COSPAR, SCOSTEP, IGBP-START-SASCOM, APN in various capacities & their National counterparts. He utilized such programs to improve Indian scientific infrastructure – for instance, used the Middle Atmosphere Program to obtain the National MST Radar Facility in Tirupati. Finally, it was the issues of Global Change research: Methane, CO2, Earth’s radiation budget, India’s contribution to Global Change and Impacts on India that led him to organize the huge Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX), with the help of scientists from US, many European nations and the Maldives. At least 50 Indian scientists from 10 institutions and a research ship helped in clearly documenting the role of air pollution in forming the Atmospheric Brown Cloud in a large number of publications. Dr. Mitra was Fellow of the Royal Society of London, 1988, Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences & the International Academy of Astronautics. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan, a civilian honor awarded by the Government of India, 1989. The ultimate honor of winning the Nobel Peace Prize as member of the IPCC Team in Dec 2007 came a little too late for this brilliant, multi-faceted scientist and a true citizen of the world who passed away on September 3, 2007.

The second lecture was delivered by Dr. B.M. Reddy who was associated with Prof. J.N. Bhar during his early career at the National Physical Laboratory in the 1960s. Dr. Reddy spoke at length about various atmospheric measurements, particularly those performed using ST/MST radars. Starting from the expression for the tropospheric refractivity, he lucidly explained the concepts of height variation of the minimum scale of turbulence. He discussed how the coherent backscatter from a radar may be used to understand windshear disturbances. He cited examples of mesospheric zonal and meridional wind measurements, studies of E-region field-aligned irregularities and measurement of neutral wind, equatorial plasma bubbles, daytime 150km radar echoes and boundary layer processes. He informed that radar observations have shown i) a sharp change in the altitude of the tropopause, the magnitude of the change varying from 1 to 2 km ii) a sloping high reflectivity structure from the tropopause into the middle/lower troposphere iii) wind velocities of more than 30 m/s (WMO definition of the jet stream) in the upper troposphere (between the sloping structure and the tropopause, in particular), and iv) large wind shears along the frontal zone, as a result of strong horizontal temperature gradients. He further explained that radars could identify different types of precipitation, raindrop size distribution retrieval, temperature profile retrieval and gravity wave structures.

The program concluded with the Convenor, Dr. Ashik Paul thanking the speakers and all the participants for visiting the Ionosphere Field Station, Haringhata, a heritage site in its own right and for attending the meeting.

Selection of Candidates

The submitted registration forms were examined and a list of selected fellows was published in the website to enable them to reserve train/air tickets. Due consideration was given to select participants from all over India and to give preference to candidates from North Eastern regions. The following Table may provide an idea how the objective was fulfilled.