The first Dr S Ramachandran Memorial lecture was delivered by Dr Manju Sharma, former DBT Secretary at the Nation Institute of Immunology.
The lecture was attended by DBT Secretary, Professor K VijayRaghavan, Mrs Ramachandran, scientists, eminent researchers & DBT officials. Dr T Ramasami, former DST Secretary was the guest of honour for the programme.
Professor VijayRaghavan in his welcome address highlighted the role of Dr Ramachandran in steering the Department from its humble beginning to a huge one which made a mark. He said that without the efforts of Dr Ramachandran, DBT would just have ended up as small section of some other department.
Dr T Ramasami who had been the Director of Central Leather Research Institute recounted how the institute was turned around under Dr Ramachandran’s leadership. He recounted his experiences of working with a ‘composer, conductor and coach’.
Dr Manju Sharma in her lecture reminisced Dr Ramachandran’s leadership at DBT. She recalled how as the first secretary he guided the officials to deliver results rapidly without compromising on the quality.
She pointed out that he believed in importance of Science and Technology for societal development and was instrumental in persuading the then Prime Minister to establish a separate Department of Biotechnology and institutes related to it. She highlighted Dr Ramachandran’s concern for the development of society the central role that science can play in it.
Her pictorial tour through the life and contributions of Dr Ramachandran, especially in the development of the Department resonated among the public, many of whom had been part of that journey.
As the first secretary of the Department of Biotechnology Dr. Ramachandran was responsible for creating a vibrant research ecosystem across the country focusing on all the important components of Human resource and Infrastructure and Research capacities, which he did effectively. India was one of the first countries to boast of a separate Department of Biotechnology, in the Government.
Born on September 9th, 1934, Dr. S. Ramachandran received his Bachelor of Science from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 1955 and then his Master of Science from Banaras Hindu University in 1957. Under a merit fellowship, Dr. S. Ramachandran went on to earn his doctorate at the University of Illinois in 1960, specializing in biochemistry. In 1961, Dr. S. Ramachandran joined the Hindustan Antibiotics Limited, Poona as a CSIR scientist and rose up to become its head of research in 1972. In 1977, he was appointed Chief Executive of Bengal Immunity Company Limited, Government of India, an organization he successfully turned around.
He was appointed Member Secretary of the National Biotechnology Board in New Delhi in 1982. It did not take him long to highlight the importance of a separate department and in 1986 he became the first Secretary to the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. During his nearly 7-year tenure as Secretary, he initiated several successful mission programmes in the areas of immunization, tissue culture, aqua culture, academic and industrial training and information technology.
In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to Indian science. The scientific community will remember him fondly for his contributions to the advancement of biosciences. The entire DBT family gratefully acknowledges his enormous contribution in laying the foundation of this Department.
The Department announces the institution of a named annual lecture in his honour. The Dr. S. Ramachandran Lecture will be delivered each year by an eminent person, from India or abroad.