Scientific Community pays tribute to first DST Secretary

The Scientific Community pays tribute to Dr Arcot Ramachandran, the first Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) who breathed his last on May 17, 2018. Renowned for his work on Thermal Engineering and Heat Transfer, he was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, for his services to the fields of Science and Engineering. He was also instrumental in setting up the Science & Engineering Research Council for positioning science and technology as the fulcrum for social and economic change.

He also held the position of Under Secretary General of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT) and is known for his social & educational contributions during his academic and administrative careers.

During his tenure as Secretary DST, Dr 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 was also the architect of the National Program for Research and Development in Renewable Sources of Energy.

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. 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. It was during his tenure, UN launched the Sustainable Cities Programme in 12 cities, in 1990.

Dr Ramachandran was the founder of a School of Research in Heat and Mass Transfer. He successfully launched several programs in Mechanical Engineering, during his tenure 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. 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 organised the Regional Centre for Energy, Heat and Mass Transfer for Asia-Pacific.

Committed to the cause of sustainable development, Dr Ramachandran participated, as the Chairman or as a Member, in various advisory and consultative committees under the DST as well as Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, the Ministry of Urban Affairs and the Department of Ocean Development.