Eminent Indian scientist and academician Professor Yash Pal passed away at his residence in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida district late Monday night. The 90-year-old scientist had earlier battled with lung cancer and overcame the disease around five years ago. He was admitted in hospital due to age-old ailments at the time of his death.
Professor Pal was born in 1926 in Jhang district of British India that is now in Pakistan. The 1976 Padma Bhushan award-winning scientist did his graduation in Physics in 1949 from Punjab University and went on to complete his Phd in 1958 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with specialisation in high-energy physics, astrophysics, communication, science policy and space technology.
He gained recognition because of his contribution in the study of cosmic rays. His science-based programme on Doordarshan titled ‘Turning Point’ made him a cult figure during the 90s. He had held the position of professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. He also served as the Director at Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad for almost nine years, between 1973 and 1981.
Professor Yash Pal was later appointed as the Chief Consultant of the Planning Commission in 1983-84. He acted as the Secretary of Department of Science and Technology, a position that he held for two years, from 1984 to 1986. He was appointed as the Chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) where he served a full single-term of five years. During his term, Professor Pal started several innovative programmes to improve the standard of education.
In the international arena, he served as a member of UN Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for Development. He was also a member of Scientific Council, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste and Executive Committee and United Nations University. He was also the Vice-President of IUPAP and INSA Council between 1980 and 1981.
Owing of his achievements in the fields of science and academics, Professor Yash Pal was awarded the Macroni International Fellowship Award in 1980. Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) bestowed on him the prestigious GP Chatterjee Memorial Award in 1987. He was also honoured with the Association of Space Explorers Award in 1989.
In 2013, Professor Yash Pal was given the country’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.