Jagadish Chandra Bose

Jagadish Chandra Bose(Nov 30, 1858 – Forever)

He was a Bengali polymath: a physicist, biologist, botanist, archaeologist, and writer of science fiction. He pioneered the investigation of radio and microwave optics, made extremely significant contributions to plant science, and laid the foundations of experimental science in the Indian subcontinent. He is considered one of the fathers of radio science, and is also considered the father of Bengali science fiction. He was the first from the Indian subcontinent to get a US patent, in 1904.

He made remarkable progress in his research of remote wireless signaling and was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. However, instead of trying to gain commercial benefit from this invention Bose made his inventions public in order to allow others to develop on his research. Subsequently, he made some pioneering discoveries in plant physiology. He used his own invention crescograph to measure plant response to various stimuli, and thereby scientifically proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues.

Bose’s education started in a vernacular school, because his father believed that one must know one’s own mother tongue before beginning English, and that one should know also one’s own people. Speaking at the Bikrampur Conference in 1915, Bose said:

“At that time, sending children to English schools was an aristocratic status symbol. In the vernacular school, to which I was sent, the son of the Muslim attendant of my father sat on my right side, and the son of a fisherman sat on my left. They were my playmates. I listened spellbound to their stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature. When I returned home from school accompanied by my school fellows, my mother welcomed and fed all of us without discrimination. Although she was an orthodox old fashioned lady, she never considered herself guilty of impiety by treating these ‘untouchables’ as her own children. It was because of my childhood friendship with them that I could never feel that there were ‘creatures’ who might be labelled ‘low-caste’. I never realised that there existed a ‘problem’ common to the two communities, Hindus and Muslims.”

Bose was not provided with facilities for research. On the contrary, he was a ‘victim of racialism’ with regard to his salary.In those days, an Indian professor was paid Rs. 200 per month, while his European counterpart received Rs. 300 per month. Since Bose was officiating, he was offered a salary of only Rs. 100 per month.With remarkable sense of self respect and national pride he decided on a new form of protest.Bose refused to accept the salary cheque. In fact, he continued his teaching assignment for three years without accepting any salary.Finally both the Director of Public Instruction and the Principal of the Presidency College fully realised the value of Bose’s skill in teaching and also his lofty character. As a result his appointment was made permanent with retrospective effect. He was given the full salary for the previous three years in lumpsum.

Bose was not interested in patenting his invention. In his Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution, London, he made public his construction of the coherer. Thus The Electric Engineer expressed “surprise that no secret was at anytime made as to its construction, so that it has been open to all the world to adopt it for practical and possibly moneymaking purposes.” Bose declined an offer from a wireless apparatus manufacturer for signing a remunerative agreement. One of Bose’s American friends, Sara Chapman Bull, succeeded in persuading him to file a patent application for “detector for electrical disturbances”.

Speaking in New Delhi in August 2006, at a seminar titled Owning the Future: Ideas and Their Role in the Digital Age, Dr. V S Ramamurthy, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Delhi, stressed the attitude of Bose towards patents.l

“His reluctance to any form of patenting is well known. It was contained in his letter to (Indian Nobel laureate) Rabindranath Tagore dated May 17, 1901 from London. It was not that Sir Jagadish was unaware of patents and its advantages. He was the first Indian to get a US Patent (No: 755840) in 1904. And Sir Jagadish was not alone in his avowed reluctance to patenting. Roentgen, Pierre Curie and others also chose the path of no patenting on moral grounds.”

A collection By Chetan.

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