How does a premier institute of science come into being? How does it foster a culture promoting free thinking and original research? What impact do the policies of a newly independent nation have on the way it functions? Exploring such themes and analysing the dissonances between institutional records and individual recollections, Growing the Tree of Science narrates the unique history of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai.
Acutely aware that a scientific temper had not been nurtured in colonial India, Cambridge-trained physicist Homi Bhabha, who later came to be known as the architect of Indias atomic energy programme, wished to plant the tree of science on Indian soil. Thus was born TIFR on 19 December 1945. What followed were years of dynamic growth and struggle during which some of the best minds from across the world worked as well as taught at the institute.
Using both archival documents and detailed interviews, Growing the Tree of Science blends history and memory to reinterpret institutional legacy by moving beyond Bhabhas individual efforts and bringing to light the role of younger scientists during the formative years of TIFR. In the process emerges a fascinating account in which personal connections, novel forms of philanthropy, art and architecture, and international training networks, all come together in creating a vibrant culture of science at TIFR.
List of Abbreviations
Prologue: Tracing Institutional History
Excerpts from My Notebooks, 2002-2007
1. Dreams and Realities
2. Science and the Creation of an Elsewhere
3. Building a Scientific Community
4. International Networks and Institutional Life
5. The Predicaments of Institutional
Excerpts from My Notebooks, 2008-2010
Epilogue: Institutional Memory and Institutional
About the Author
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Indira Chowdhury heads the Centre for Public History at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru, India. She has a PhD in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Formerly a professor of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. Dr Chowdhurys academic interests include history, womens studies, science history, cultural studies, translation, and lexicography.