Raja Ramanna
ರಾಜಾ ರಾಮಣ್ಣ
Raja Ramanna (1925-2004)
Born(1925-01-28)28 January 1925
DiedSeptember 24, 2004(2004-09-24) (aged 79)
Alma materMadras Christian College
King’s College London, United Kingdom
Known forOperation Smiling Buddha
Operation Shakti
Indian nuclear programme
AwardsPadma Shri (1968)
Padma Bhushan (1973)
Padma Vibhushan (1975)
Scientific career
FieldsNuclear Physics
InstitutionsBhabha Atomic Research Centre
Defence Research and Development Organisation
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Ministry of Defence

Raja Ramanna (Kannada: ರಾಜಾ ರಾಮಣ್ಣ; January 28, 1925 - September 24, 2004), D.Phil., was an Indian nuclear scientist and a prominent physicist, is best known for his leadership directing the research integral for the development of Indian nuclear programme in its early stages. Having started and joined the nuclear programme in 1964, Ramanna worked under Homi Jehangir Bhabha, and later directed this program in 1967. Ramanna expanded and supervised the scientific research on nuclear weapons and was the first directing officer of the small team of scientists that supervised and carried out the test of the nuclear device, under a codename Smiling Buddha, in 1974.

Ramanna associated and directed the India's nuclear weapons for more than 4 decades, and also initiate industrial defense programmes for the Indian Armed Forces. Because of his directing role and leadership for the developing the Indian nuclear programme for 4 decades, Ramanna is often considered as the "Father of the Indian nuclear programme", and also was a recipient of highest Indian civil decorations for honoring his services to build the nuclear programme. Ramanna died in Mumbai in 2004 at the age of 79. As a physicist and scientist, Dr. Raja Ramanna received highly respected in both India and academic scientists from Pakistan, and remembered as a leading figure in the development of nuclear physics.


Education and Musics

Raja Ramanna, a native of Bombay, was born in 1924 to a Kannada family in British Indian Empire. Ramanna was a versatile scholar interested in classical Western music, and Western literature, and science. Beginning his studies at Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Bangalore, where he mostly studied literature and classical musics. He he later attended from Madras Christian College and resided at St.Thomas's Hall where he continued his interests in arts and literature but soon shifted back to physics. At Madras Christian College, Ramanna obtained B.Sc. in Physics and gained B.A. degree in Classical music in 1947.

The same year, he moved to his native town and went on to attended the Bombay University where gained his M.Sc. in Physics, followed by M.Mus. in Music theory. Ramanna was awarded and received Commonwealth Scholarship, and traveled to Great Britain in 1952 to complete his doctorate. Ramanna attended London University's King's College, a constitute college of London University, and enrolled in doctoral programme there. In 1954, Raja Ramanna obtained Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics and also did a L.R.S.M. from King's College London. In United Kingdom, Ramanna was offered to do his research at Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) where he gained expertise in nuclear fuel cycle and reactor designing. While in U.K., Ramanna enjoyed his interests in European music and Western philosophy, attending Opera and Orchestra performances every week.

Western music and philosophy remained life long passion for Ramanna, and after returning to India, Ramanna accomplished himself as being one of the talented pianist having performed classical European music, at many a public concert in India and abroad but had a keen ear for Indian classical music. His music talent also reached a wide appreciation in adjacent and neighbor country, Pakistan. In 1956, Ramanna was invited by National College of Arts and National Academy of Performing Arts to perform deliver a lecture on classical piano and also performed an live ensemble where he received jubilant praise and honor for his live performance.

Indian nuclear programme

Main article: Indian nukes

See also: Pokhran-I and Pokhran-II

Following his doctorate in physics, Ramanna returned to India in 1954. Ramanna joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), supervising and leading the classified nuclear weapons research. In 1958, Ramanna was made its director, and was made responsible for the classified nuclear developmental programme for over a decade. In 1967, the Indian Government officially started and launched the nuclear weapons programme. The research on nuclear weapons was first started in BARC as Ramanna being the head (director) of the programme.

In 1974, seven years after the programme started, Ramanna and other officials of the BARC verbally notified Indira Gandhi, Premier of India that time, that a India was ready to conduct the test of its small miniature nuclear device. Gandhi verbally gave permission to Ramanna to carried out the test, and preparation was taken under Ramanna.

It was during this time that India carried out its first nuclear test in Pokhran in 1974, codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha. Pictures of the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, then India's Prime Minister, inspecting the aftermath of the explosion site were flashed on front pages of newspapers in India and the world over with Dr. Ramanna and Dr. Homi Sethna, India's top nuclear scientist duo, by her side. Later his career, he served as Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and as scientific adviser to the Defence Minister of India. He was the President of the 30th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Minister of State

He was the Union minister of state for defence in 1990 in the V.P. Singh government. In 1997, he became a Member of Parliament through the upper house, the Rajya Sabha. He was also the first director of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.

Institute Named After Ramanna

Posts held



See also

Further reading