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Srikumar Banerjee, Who Led India’s Nuclear Institutions At The Cusp Of The US Nuclear Deal, Dies | India News


NEW DELHI: Less than eight months after former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Sekhar Basu succumbed to Covid, another veteran nuclear scientist, Srikumar Banerjee, who spearheaded the nuclear establishment when India signed the nuclear deal with And then passed the liability bill, passed away after recovering from illness.
Banerjee, 75, passed away early Sunday in Navi Mumbai of a heart attack after recovering from Covid-19 last month. A renowned scientist, he was a leading world expert in the use of specialized alloys used in nuclear processes and was widely published. He joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) after a BTech in metallurgy from IIT, Kharagpur, where he later also obtained his PhD.
Soft-spoken and affable, Banerjee led the nuclear power establishment at a tumultuous time when political and expert opinion was widely divided on whether India will lose its nuclear “autonomy” by signing Pact 123 with the United States. His argumentation went a long way to convincing skeptics that India will not lose its strategic options and indeed gain hugely out of the nuclear cold once the Nuclear Suppliers Group has approved an India-specific exemption allowing trade. nuclear. His role in the paradigm shift of nuclear thinking in India will continue to make a lasting contribution.
Condoning his death, State Minister for Atomic Energy Dr. Jitendra Singh told TOI: “I am saddened to learn about the disappearance of Dr. S Banerjee, who just defeated Covid last month. His contributions in construction of the nation are exceptional. His expertise in physical metallurgy and materials science is reflected in several coveted awards he is given. My condolences. ”
Current DAE secretary KN Vyas told TOI: “It is a great loss for the entire DAE family. Dr. Banerjee was active even a few days ago when he attended the virtual meeting of the governing council of one of our institutes. . he did for the organization was unmatched, especially in the field of metallurgy and materials science. His general academic abilities were also extremely good. He was a down-to-earth person and we had always admired him for his suggestions on projects. difficult. “Vyas said it is a great loss, losing two veterans in a few months because” they were our guides and advisers. ”
Banerjee served as a director of BARC for six years until 2010. During his tenure at BARC, he organized research in nuclear fuel cycle, innovative reactor design, applications of radiation and isotope technology in agriculture, health and conservation, and the food industry. After taking the reins of AEC and DAE from veteran scientist Anil Kakodkar in November 2009, Banerjee oversaw India’s turnaround in nuclear policy. He retired as president of AEC and secretary of DAE in 2012.
Banerjee received several awards, including the Nuclear Society of India Award (2003), the Padma Shri in 2005, the National Metallurgical Award (2008), and the American Nuclear Society Presidential Commendation (2012).
The Indian government’s chief scientific adviser, K Vijay Raghavan, tweeted: “The passing of Dr. Srikumar Banerjee is too sudden, too soon. His interests ranged from the most fundamental to the most applied. In every discussion, his astute leadership ensured there was more light and no heat. Dr. Banerjee had a total lack of condescension, he also addressed authority in the same gentle and analytical way that he argued with a student. Welcoming criticism, he gently navigated through reality in a principled way, helping science and institutions., embed, amplify. ”

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