The Indian and international radio astronomy community came together on Wednesday to pay rich tributes to Govind Swarup, whose contributions to the field of astronomy remain unparalleled.
Swarup, who passed away in Pune last month at at the age of 91, was instrumental in setting up some mega science observatories — the Kalyan Radio Telescope, Ooty Radio Telescope and Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) — in addition to guiding young researchers in the field of astronomy since the early 1970s. He was one of the key persons among international experts to conceive the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the largest radio telescope built so far.
Remembering him as someone who was ever smiling and with a warm personality, Swarup’s friends, colleagues and associates from across the globe hailed him as a visionary during an online memorial meet organised by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, founded by Swarup.
Calling him a “nation builder”, Secretary of Department of Science and Technology, Ashutosh Sharma, shared that limited resources failed to deter Swarup’s imagination to build big facilities in India.
K Kasturirangan, former ISRO chairman, recalled his meetings with Swarup since his student days. “From a student, a space programme professional, as ISRO chairman and even later as an advisor, I will cherish the many lessons imparted to me,” he said.
Known for his affectionate nature and genuine camaraderie, Swrup’s ability to forge long-term friendship with the global scientific community was hailed by many of his colleagues.
“Swarup will remain an inspiration and will be remembered for his big picture imagination for radio astronomy, globally. SKA owes a lot to Swarup,” said Richard Schilizzi, former director of SKA.
Swarup remained a friend for a lifetime, with bonds cutting across geographical boundaries, said Dave Jauncey from the Commonwealth Scientific Research Industrial Organisation, who had joined in from Australia to pay his respects.
The late scientist also guided and shared his rich experience with his counterparts in South Africa, which was taking baby steps in building a radio telescope.
“It was because of our friendship and Swarup’s generosity that we were ably guided through the setting up of MeerKAT Telescope in South Africa,” said Bernard Fanaroff, another former director of SKA.
Eminent astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar went back to his five-decade-long association with Swarup, who was full of scientific ideas, either for building telescopes or institutions capable of attracting bright young minds.
Eminent scientists Anil Kakodkar and RA Mashelkar, Director of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Sandeep Trivedi, along with Shirur MP Dr Amol Kolhe and local gram panchayat representatives of Khodad village, which houses the GMRT in Junnar taluka, also attended the event
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