ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Meghnad Saha's Eigenschaften

In the last two months, two interesting articles have appeared about Meghnad Saha (1893–1956) in two different journals (“Meghnad Saha and His Contributions” by Pramod V Naik, Current Science, July 2016; and “Meghnad Saha: Physicist and Nationalist” by Somaditya Banerjee, Physics Today, August 2016). Both articles deal with Saha’s scientific and sociopolitical contributions, especially in the context of “national planning” (the NITI Aayog has given it up) and in science–society relationships. As the country celebrates the 70th year of her independence and EPW observes its golden jubilee, the historic debates on national planning deserve to be revisited. EPW with its diverse, committed and accomplished readership, would recognise its importance.

It would be noteworthy to record the depth of enthusiasm that was generated when Saha gave the idea of national planning in 1938 to the Indian National Congress President, Subhas Chandra Bose. It was at Saha’s request that M Visvesvaraya stepped down from the chairmanship of the National Planning Committee, and Jawaharlal Nehru was offered the post, which Nehru accepted. Saha recalls that Visvesvaraya appreciated Saha’s point that this post would need poli­tical decision-making and hence Nehru would be the appropriate choice. This common aim that Saha shared with Bose and Nehru, the “only two genuine modernists in the High Command” of the Congress party, as Anil K Chanda, an associate of Rabindra­nath Tagore had noted, gave this concept wide support. This was also the opinion of poet Rabindranath Tagore and many others. Tagore had enthusiastically welcomed the idea and wrote to Nehru about a “long and interesting discussion with Dr Meghnad Saha about Scientific Planning for Indian Industry; I am convinced about its importance.” In a subsequent letter, he sought a personal meeting with Nehru, since, as Chanda explained to Nehru, the poet “has been rather captivated by Dr Saha’s ideas of Rational Planning and he is hoping much from the Committee. He wanted to talk to you, before you took up any other work.”

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