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“India must learn to honour its own nationality”: Prof. Mrinal Thakur

Prof. Mrinal Thakur, Nobel Prize Nominee in Chemistry for 2017

In a serious development that would have far reaching effects on the credibility of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Nobel Prize Nominee in Chemistry for 2017 Prof. Mrinal Thakur has filed a lawsuit against two Nobel laureates Eric Betzig Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner for allegedly using his original scientific researches for winning the Nobel Prize in Science in 2014.

Prof. Thakur, Director of the Photonic Materials Research Laboratory at Auburn University in USA, stakes claim to the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry since the “Super-resolved Fluorescence Microscopy” (2014 Nobel in Chemistry) is based on earlier nonlinear optical experimental and theoretical studies performed by him.

The issue now has taken a very interesting yet tricky turn as he has charged the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for indulging in “pick and choose” game in giving the Nobel Prize in sciences.

Historical Errors Must be Corrected

The historical records of sidelining of Indian scientists seamlessly support his statement.
History proves that the Nobel Committee shows a great apathy towards giving awards to Indian scientists and “it is a historical issue.’ Way back in 1909 the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to G. Marcony and Karl Ferdinand Braun for the development of wireless telegraphy sidelining Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose who had invented the Mercury Coherer (together with telephone receiver) in 1901: 8-years earlier. Sir Jagadish was never given the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Similarly, Prof. Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein together discovered the “Boson” (Bose-Einstein Statistics) in quantum mechanics. Though Einstein received the Nobel Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences conveniently forgot to honour Bose.

For Justice, Modi, Trump and Lofven Must Intervene

Prof Thakur has sought the intervention of the Modi Government at the Centre to take up the issue with the Prime Minister of Sweden Mr Stefan Löfven in ensuring that the Indian scientists also are credited with the Nobel Prize for their scientific discoveries.

Prof. Thakur, nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 14-times, regretted that according to the statues of the Nobel Prize the award is given to recognise the “earliest and most original works” in any given field. “But that was not followed in the decision of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry,” he said.

Alleging that deprivation of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the “Non-conjugated Conductive Polymers” for 14-long years tantamount to violation of human rights, Prof. Thakur said in the previous year he had suggested that the issue should be resolved with the help of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, the Prime Minister of Sweden Stephan Lofven and the US President Barak Obama (ex-President) along with the President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Dr. Christina Moberg. But nothing was done.

Prof. Thakur now suggests that the US President Donald Trump, Narendra Modi and Lofven should come forward in reaching a solution in communication with Dr. Christina Moberg in according due honour (the Nobel Prize in Chemistry) to him.

“India must learn to honour its own nationality and Narendra Modi must come forward in this regard,” he added. Being an Indian-American scientist, Prof. Thakur has also sought the direct intervention of President Trump in ensuring that he gets justice.

Royal Swedish Academy Must correct its document

Prof. Thakur’s research funding was abruptly stopped as he brought up the incorrectness and inequity regarding the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2000, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Alan Heeger, Alan MacDiamid and Hideki Shirakawa for discovery and development of conductive polymers. But Prof. Thakur through his research, accepted globally by the scientific community, proved in his research that non-conjugated polymers are also conductive.

The fundamental theoretical basis of conductive polymers as provided by Prof. Thakur (1988) has been proven to be correct while that given by the Nobel recipients were proven incorrect. Prof. Thakur has alleged that the Royal Swedish Academy still has not made the requisite correction in the document preserved at the Nobel Foundation website despite repeated requests.

The document states that a polymer must be conjugated to be electrically conductive – which is nonfactual and the corresponding theory is incorrect. Among many applications, the most significant application of non-conjugated conductive polymers is in protecting lives and the environment against radioactive iodine (carcinogenic) emitted from nuclear power plants, nuclear spent-fuel-rods, rocket/space satellite launching stations, other nuclear reactors as in nuclear-powered ships/submarines, and as emitted during treatment of thyroid cancer and hyperthyroidism (nuclear medicine).

It may surprise anybody in the world that since Dr. C.V. Raman got the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930, no other Indian citizen was ever honoured with the award over the last 86 long years despite the fact that a large numbers of them deserved it.

Bringing this surprising point to the fore, Prof. Thakur said three scientists of Indian origin to get the Nobel Prize were Dr. Hargovind Khorana, Dr. S. Chandrasekhar and Dr. Venkataraman Ramakrishnan. But they had all changed their nationalities and obtained the prize not as “Indians” but as “nationals” of other countries.

Report: Geeta Shah

  1. anubhava sinha

    It is hard to disagree with Dr. Thakur. But the question he is raising is quit unlikely to be solved as it lacks its background support. Its a matter of cultural win ability and the West holds it for granted.But one hopes this unnatural occurrence is most likely to be ceased after India establishes its political clout internationally.

  2. Anup Anand Singh

    I believe that there are a few points one should keep in mind before coming up in support of such claims:
    1. Irrespective of what Dr. Thakur claims, it is for the entire of the scientific community (involved in the area related to the disputed work) to decide whether the winners of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014 were at fault in not crediting Dr. Thakur “equally” in their work. Almost everything in the present-day science is built up on previous works; this, however, does not imply an equal contribution by all the people on whose works the new results are based. Of course, everyone involved in any way has to be duly credited. So, if Dr. Thakur was duly credited for his earlier works (if, at all, his work had a role to play), then the winners are nowhere at fault (the Nobel prize committee may still be wrong in not recognising Dr. Thakur’s work). If the claims do not have a sound footing, then this drama just sabotages the repute of the Indian scientific community globally. No reputed scientist elsewhere is known to call foul every time (s)he misses out an award.
    2. The Nobel prize committee has always been notorious for its notable exceptions. See this page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_controversies) for the huge list of people who many think deserved to be honoured with a Nobel prize but were never awarded. An important point one should notice is that this list features people from all over the world and not just Indians. So, there is almost certainly nothing like the Nobel prize committee specifically deciding to exclude Indians from the honour; the committee just makes stupid decisions from time to time, that’s all. And to me, bringing in the whole issue of “nationality” and stuff just appears a propaganda to put forth one’s claim on a stronger footing.
    3. The Nobel prizes are not the only benchmark for success, they happen to be the ones which catch the public fancy the most. The scientific community continues to recognise scientists (and mathematicians) for their works through equally important honours. And there are numerous Indian and Indian-origin scientists and mathematicians who have received such awards – Manjul Bhargava won the Fields Medal, the topmost prize in Mathematics; Srinivasa Varadhan was awarded the Abel prize (another hugely prestigious honour in Mathematics); Ashoke Sen was honoured with a prestigious Physics award (which, by the way, comes with more than twice the amount compared to the Nobel prize); so was Shiraz Minwalla. And this is a fraction of a much bigger list.
    4. Instead of blaming the prize committee for “conspiring” against Indians, one should reflect upon the condition of the scientific facilities in the country. One can talk about award-worthy work only when there are appropriate and sufficient facilities. You cannot compare India with the United States or the western European countries, or even China and Japan, which spend a lot more on fundamental research than us. The same applies to the exclusion of the Indian universities from the top varsities list; the rating agencies do not exclude us on purpose, we are NOT good enough. It is better trying to improve ourselves as a nation rather than criticising others for not honouring us.

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