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A profile

From the archives of India Today

Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore


Ph.D from Purdue University. He has received 46 honorary doctorates from various universities around the world.


Cooking, gardening, reading.

Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao is a giant on the Indian scientific landscape. He works 16 hours a day from his laboratories at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), both in Bangalore.

The former director of IISc has been chairman of scientific advisory councils of prime ministers from Rajiv Gandhi to Manmohan Singh. He is one of the world’s foremost solid state and materials chemists. Yet he is no ivory tower specialist.

An evangelist of pure sciences, he and his wife Indumati, who runs an educational multimedia lab to teach chemistry to India’s school children, have gone around villages, speaking in Kannada and encouraging youngsters to take science courses in colleges.

-by Stephen David

Among top 100 in h-index: 2013

Who is CNR Rao?

Nov 16, 2013 [1]

Prof Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao (89), also known as CNR Rao, became the first Indian in April 2013 to reach the h-index of 100, reflecting the enormity of the body of his published research work.

Rao, who serves as the head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India, has published more than 1,500 research papers in his career spanning over five decades. He is also one of the few scientists in the world who is a member of all major scientific academies in the world.

The h-index was first described in 2005 by physicist Jorge Hirsch. A scientist's h-index is the greatest number of papers he or she has published that have each amassed at least that many citations.

A section of the global scientific community though says h-index in itself may not be enough to rate a scientist and one also has to look into the total number of citations along with it to rate a scientist. Prof Rao, incidentally, is the only Indian scientist and among a handful in the world with close to 50,000 citations, which puts him in the league of the biggies of science.

Indian scientists familiar with the h-index and Dr Rao's works say most scientists with high h-index numbers are career researchers, unlike Prof Rao who has been involved in various other activities along with research.

"Dr Rao has run institutions like the Indian Institute of Science and simultaneously excelled in research. It is an extraordinary feat even for a scientist like him," Prof Upadrasta Ramamurty, Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science(IISc), Bangalore, was quoted has having said after Rao achieved the feat.

Rao's IISc colleagues are in the 60-plus range on the h-index chart.

Others on top of the h-index chart are George Whitesides of Harvard University, who is currently the highest ranked living chemist with an h-index of 169, Italian doctor Carlo M Croce noted for research into the genetic mechanisms of cancer, with 153, and Professor Alberto Mantovani, who specializes in immunology, with an h-index of 134 among others.

In a career spanning five decades, Rao is best known for his work in solid-state and structural chemistry.

Over time, the Bangalore-based scientist has also contributed extensively to nano materials and hybrid materials.

While most of his colleagues have retired, Rao never tires reinventing himself and most of his work is ahead of the curve. His never-say-die spirit is reflected in many significant activities, the most sought after being his current role as the Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of India.

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