Arcot Ramachandran
Born(1923-04-06)6 April 1923[1]
Madras, India
Died17 May 2018(2018-05-17) (aged 95)
AwardsPadma Bhushan
Sir M. Visvesvaraya Life Time Achievement Award
INAE Life Time Achievement Award
World Federation of Engineering Organizations Award
Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Gold Medal
World Habitat Trophy
Heat Transfer Memorial Award

Arcot Ramachandran (1923-2018) was an Indian scientist, anthropologist, author and a former Under-Secretary General of United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, known for his scholarship on the subjects of heat and mass transfer and environment and his social commitment to the cause of sustainable development. The Government of India honoured him in 2003, with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, for his services to the fields of Science and Engineering.[2]

Life sketch

Born in the Indian state of Karnataka, Arcot Ramachandran graduated from the Madras University and went to the Purdue University, USA, from where he obtained MS degree in Engineering. He continued at the University for his doctoral research and obtained his PhD.[3]

Ramachandran started his career as a faculty member of the Department of Power Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1950, and, later, rose to the rank of an Assistant Professor. In 1954, he took a break from the teaching career to work as a Research Engineer at Babcock & Wilcox Research and Development Centre, Renfrew, Scotland where he worked for a year. The next year, in 1955, he again went to the US to continue his studies at the post-doctoral level, as post-doctoral research fellow, to Purdue University and, later, at Columbia University.[3][4]

Ramachandran came back to India, in 1957, did a summer course at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Subsequent to that, IISc invited him to head the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 1965, he was transferred as the Head of the Department of Industrial Management and, two years later, in 1967, he became the Director of IIT Madras.[4][5]

In 1973, the Government of India established a new Department of Science and Technology and nominated Dr. Ramachandran as the Government Secretary and the Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, in charge of the newly formed department. During his tenure there, he is reported to be able to start several ventures and programs such as:[3]

In 1977, Ramachandran was made the chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development. He was also involved with the UNESCO Expert Group Meeting on Engineering Education,[7] in the capacity of its chairman. U.N. ESCAP Regional Centre for Transfer of Technology Bangalore, started on 16 July 1977, owes its origin to the recommendations of this Expert Group.[8] The next year, he was selected as the Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), headquartered in Nairobi. He also had the additional charge of the Administrator of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation. In 1993, Dr. Ramachandran retired from the UN.[3]

Ramachandran has participated, as the chairman or as a member, in various advisory and consultative committees[9] under the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, the Ministry of Urban Affairs and the Department of Ocean Development.[3]


Arcot Ramachandran has made many contributions, both social and educational, during his academic and administrative careers. During his tenure as the Under Secretary General at the UN Centre for Human Settlements, he proposed the introduction of World Habitat Day, which was accepted, leading to observing the first Monday of every October as a special day to remind the world of sustainable progress with regard to environment.[3][10] He was also instrumental in the proclamation of the year 1987 as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, as a part of the Global Strategy for Shelter for the year 1987.[10] It was during his tenure, UN launched the Sustainable Cities Programme in 12 cities, in 1990.[11][12]

On the academic front, Ramachandran is the founder of a School of Research in Heat and Mass Transfer.[4] He is reported to be successful in launching several programs in Mechanical Engineering, during his stint at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, under his Directorship, is reported to have gained reputation as a Centre of Excellence.[10][13] During this period, he founded the Indian Society of Heat and Mass Transfer of which he was the first President. He also opened the School of Heat Transfer and the School of Energy Research, under the umbrella of IIT Madras. He is also credited with organising the Regional Centre for Energy, Heat and Mass Transfer for Asia-Pacific.[3]

While he was the Government Secretary, Ramachandran implemented the first Science and Technology Plan, suggested by NCST. His efforts were also reported to be behind the establishment of National Remote Sensing Agency, in Hyderabad. He is also regarded as the architect of the National Program for Research and Development in Renewable Sources of Energy.[10][13]

Arcot Ramchandran has also contributed to dissemination of information by way of conducting many seminars[14] and by way of keynote addresses and lectures, delivered at various platforms and seminars, a few of which are:


Awards and recognitions

Honorary degrees and fellowships

Arcot Ramachandran has been honoured by several prominent educational and research institutions, by way of Fellowships and Honoris Causa Doctoral degrees.

Honorary doctorates



See also


  1. ^ "Ramachandran, Arcot, 1923-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Padma announcement". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag "DSDS". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Margaret P. Grafeld (23 January 1975). "Wikileaks". Limited Official Use – Biographic information on delegates. Public Library of US Diplomacy. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e "INAE bio". Indian National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  6. ^ "NISSAT" (PDF). DSIR Annual Report. DSIR. 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  7. ^ "UNESCO Expert Group" (PDF). Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  8. ^ "UN ESCAP". APCTT. 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Ramachandran Committee" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d "IISc Profile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Sustainable Cities UN". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  12. ^ Gebre-Egziabher, A. (June 2004). "Sustainable Cities Programme: A Joint UN-HABITAT-UNEP Facility on the Urban Environment with Participation of the Dutch Government". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1023: 62–79. doi:10.1196/annals.1319.016. PMID 15253899.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "INSA". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Salt March Media". Salt March Media. 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  15. ^ Under Secretary General – WorldCat. OCLC 81659456.
  16. ^ "ICF". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  17. ^ "PAC India". Archived from the original on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  18. ^ "KSCST". KSCST. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2014.