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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

‘Blast from the past’: Anand Mahindra shares picture with Stephen Hawking, takes people down memory lane

The rare photograph is from the time when British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking visited India to deliver a lecture and was conferred with a special award.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 21, 2021 10:15:05 am
Stephen Hawking along with Justice PN Bhagwati, DR Mehta (Sebi Cheif) and Anand Mahindra at Taj Hotel. (Source: Express archive photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

Not everyone is lucky enough to share the frame with a living legend, and even though decades may have gone by, it continues to remain special. Something similar happened when business tycoon Anand Mahindra shared a 20-year-old picture, which features him with Stephen Hawking — making all nostalgic online. The rare photograph is from the time when Hawking visited India to deliver a lecture and was conferred with a special award.

The English theoretical physicist-cosmologist, who had inspired millions around the world, took Indians by frenzy when he visited India in 2001. And to help with his travel around Mumbai, Mahindra Group’s auto team created a special van. “I was particularly proud that our auto team created a specially kitted minivan for him so he could travel with ease throughout the city,” he gushed about his brand’s creation.

Seen in the image along with Mahindra is Justice PN Bhagwati, DR Mehta (then Sebi Chief), RK Krishna Kumar at Taj Hotels.

Hawking, the celebrated scientist, spent most of his life in a wheelchair owing to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). During his India tour, over two decades ago, the Indian company designed the special minivan to help him travel in the city at the request of British Council.

He was provided with a red Mahindra Ranger, for his journey to the council free of cost with some alterations to meet his needs. The floor of the van was lowered, roof raised and a ramp was added at the rear for Hawking to board the vehicle in his wheelchair.

People on social media were thrilled to see the image.

Along with his wife Elaine, assistant Neel, Sharn and Pam, and his medical staff, Hawking became a celebrity in the city of stars during his visit to India in 2001. He was one of the three scientists to receive the first Sarojini Damodaran Fellowship by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. The physicist had also celebrated his 59th birthday at the Oberoi Towers hotel where he stayed.

Check out more photos from his 2001 Mumbai visit here.

However, Hawking wasn’t the only great mind in Mumbai at the time. Along with him, legendary scientists David Gross and Edward Witten also attended the ‘String 2001’ international conference held at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. The conference had attracted thousands of researchers and physicists around the country to hear him talk.

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