Top nuclear scientist Baldev Raj no more
Dr Baldev Raj, described as the father of India’s Fast Breeder Reactor programmes and a globally respected material scientist passed away on Saturday at Pune. He was 70. Dr Baldev Raj, who headed the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Kalpakkam near Chennai from May 2004 to December 2011 was the key brain behind the state-of-the-art 500 MW FBR which is being built at Kalpakkam.
The country had honoured Dr Raj with Padma Sree. At the time of his demise, he was heading the National Institute of Advanced Studies at Bangalore. Dr Raj, who was born in Jammu and Kashmir on April 9, 1947 joined the Department of Atomic Energy immediately after his graduation as a metallurgical engineer. He served DAE for 42 years leading the reactor research programmes of the country.
While India was blacklisted by the USA and other countries following the nuclear test explosion of 1998 at Pokhran, the team of researchers led by Dr Raj countered the embargo by developing some of the critical components required by the nuclear reactors. The special steel with which the Fast Breeder Reactor has been built was developed by Dr Raj during his tenure as IGCAR director. It was under his guidance that the material scientists of IGCAR developed a hydrogen sensor which could detect the presence of even 1/Rs 1,00,000 part of hydrogen in reactors.
A release by the DAE said that Dr Raj’s contributions to science policy and science diplomacy have been recognized worldwide. He has been honoured with Homi Bhabha Gold Medal, H K Firodia Award, Om Prakash Bhasin Award, Vasvik Award, National Metallurgist Award; Lifetime Achievement Award of Indian Nuclear Society, Distinguished Material Scientist Award and Distinguished Alumni of Indian Institute of Science.His ability to define the complex nuances of the nuclear science and reactor engineering to the layman made Dr Raj a favorite with student community and the media.
Dr Badev Raj leaves behind his wife Aruna Kumari and two sons.
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