Dec 26, 2017, (Research Matters):
Pushpa Mittra Bhargava was born in Ajaymeru in Rajasthan on 22nd February 1928, to Ram Chandra Bhargava, a medical doctor, and Gayatri Bhargava. He was homeschooled until about the age ten, by his grandfather, after which he was directly admitted to class 9 in Varanasi. Having completing his Master’s in organic chemistry from Queens College, one of the best institutions in Uttar Pradesh back then, Bhargava joined Lucknow University for his Ph.D. By age 21, he was armed with a PhD in synthetic chemistry.
PM Bhargava is perhaps best remembered for voicing his dissent against GM crops and the multinational seed companies. But among the academic circles, he was known for setting up the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad in 1977, as a semi autonomous arm of the then Regional Research Laboratories (today’s Indian Institute of Chemical Technology). Apart from his work in academics, PM Bhargava was also a well known critique of government policies, often challenging its decisions. He was also vocal about corruption and cronyism within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Later, he went on to serve the National Knowledge Commission, National Security Advisory Board and the Supreme Court of India.
PM Bhargava was also passionate about spreading scientific temper and rationalism and, along with Satish Dhawan and Abdur Rahaman, set up the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Temper. For his contributions to the nation’s educational and scientific goals, PM Bhargava was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1986, which he later returned in 2015 to protest the Indian Government’s failure to protect active spaces for dissent.
On the 1st August 2017, at the age of 89, PM Bhargava took his last breath at his home in Hyderabad, after complication arose during kidney dialysis. The nation lost another promoter of the scientific temper that day, and the government of India lost one of its best critics.