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Dr Govind Swarup – Father of India’s radio astronomy passes away at 91

Dr Swarup is widely acknowledged as the ‘doyen of Indian radio astronomy’. He was the founding director of the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Dr Govind Swarup, eminent scientist and one of the trailblazers of radio astronomy in India, passed away at 91, at Pune on Monday.

According to sources, professor Swarup was admitted to the city’s Ruby Hall Clinic 10 days ago following health complications related to old age. Medical authorities said he passed away around 9pm.

Dr Swarup is widely acknowledged as the ‘doyen of Indian radio astronomy’ in India. He was the founding director of the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) was established at Narayangaon near Pune under his guidance.

Mourning the loss, senior scientist Dr Raghunath Mashelkar said Dr Govind Swarup was an institution in himself and his work will always remain with us.

He was the prime mover behind the concept, design and installation of the Ooty Radio Telescope and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope near Pune. The installation of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope firmly established India as one of the leading countries on the grounds of radio astronomy research.

He retired from TIFR in 1994.

Background and career of Dr Govind Swarup

Dr-Govind-Swarup-career-Utkal-today
Picture courtesy: Research Gate

Born on March 23, 1929 at Thakurwada, Dr Swarup pursued his MSc degree from Allahabad University in 1950. He gained his PhD from Stanford University in the US in 1961, where his doctoral adviser was Ronald Bracewell.

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At the invitation of Professor Homi Bhaba, he joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research upon returning to India in 1963. He successfully built a strong radio astronomy group there, whose legacy is still continued today at the NCRA. He was a promoter of all-inclusive science teaching and along with Prof VG Bhide was instrumental in establishing Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISERs’) in the country.

Awards and achievements of Dr. Govind Swarup

He had received small distinctions throughout his career. He was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 1973.

Other honours and prizes include the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize (1972) and the Grote Reber Medal (2007).

Dr Govind Swarup was a notable student of many distinguished academies, notably as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Astronomical Society, London, and had served as president of the Astronomical Society of India during 1975-77.

His funeral was performed at night at the Aundh crematorium. He is survived by his wife, a son and daughter. 

To know more about Dr Govind Swarup and his works, click here.

Anwesha Mishra
Anwesha hails from Odisha and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in English Literature from Ravenshaw University. She is a voracious reader and a writer. Apart from that, she's also a singer.

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