Noted scientist Vasant Gowariker, who made valuable contributions to the fields of space research, weather forecasting and popularisation of science, died here Friday morning. He was 81.
Gowariker, who was admitted to hospital Monday following poor health, was suffering from urinary tract infection and dengue, and died due to multi-organ failure and old-age complications, doctor treating him said. He breathed his last at around 11.30 am.
Hailed as the ‘Father of the Indian Monsoon Model’, Gowariker was associated with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, besides having served as the Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the secretary of Department of Science and Technology among other important responsibilities.
Gowariker, who headed the Maharashtra government panel aimed at popularising science, was also the vice-chancellor of Pune University from 1995 to 1998. He was associated with different reputed foreign varsities in different capacities.
Born in 1933 at Kolhapur, Gowariker did his Masters and later obtained his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham, UK.
He worked for a few years with the UK Atomic Energy Authority before joining the space centre at Thumba (Kerala) in 1967 as Head of Propellant Engineering Division and later Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
He received a number of awards, including Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. Mourning Gowariker’s death, noted astrophysicist Jayant Naralikar described him as a “gifted scientist and nice human being”. “He was the vice-chancellor of Pune University when I was heading Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), and we used to meet quite often. He contributed immensely to space research and weather forecasting,” he told The Indian Express.
His last rites were performed at Vaikunth crematorium.