Do you know the man in the picture? I didn’t know him till this Tuesday. He is a scientist who was denied of the honour he deserved. And we, Indians, denied him of that honour. His story answers the long-lasting question that we ‘patriotic’ Indians ask many a times, “Why in a country of 100 crore+ population we don’t find many Indian Nobel Laureates?” His tragic story has been covered on many news papers and websites since last Tuesday, still I feel I must share it on my blog.
You must be aware that this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine went to Robert G. Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilization or in layman’s language for the invention of the test tube baby technique. Using his techniques, World’s first Test Tube baby Louise Brown, was born through Caesarian section after a full-term pregnancy, on 25 July, 1978. Great achievement indeed in alleviating infertility related problems. While Edwards was honoured all over the world for such a remarkable achievement, another scientist in India who had developed such techniques independently was mistreated in his own country. The scientist was Dr Subhas Mokhopadhyay, the man in the above picture. In fact, the word ‘mistreated’ understate the misery that was inflicted on him.
This scientist along with Dr Suneet Mukherjee had, as said above, developed in vitro-fertilisation techniques independently and was able to give life to India’s first test-tube baby Durga alias Kanupriya Agarwal on October 3, 1978, mark the date, just after the 67 days of the 1st test tube baby was born. And yes, I must mention here that Durga was World’s second test-tube baby. He was able to achieve all this with few general apparatus and a refrigerator in his small flat. Sounds great? Feeling proud of being an Indian? then read the next paragraph.
When Subhas claimed about his success, the society as well as the government was skeptical about the success. People were jealous of his success. Government was not happy as he didn’t listen to the Bureaucrats. An ‘expert committee’ was appointed by the Government of West Bengal to check facts. And the committee with a ‘pre-determined’ intention denounced the claims of Dr Subhas, calling such claims to be bogus. He was transferred to another department. He was handed an insulting life to live which he decided to end by committing suicide on the 19th June, 1981.
His feat was posthumously recognised. He has been given belated recognition as the Indian physician who in 1986 was “officially” regarded as being the first doctor to perform in-vitro fertilization in India. Still thanks to the controversy related to him, some records still consider “Harsha”( born on 16th August 1986) as India’s first test-tube baby giving the credit to Dr TC Anand Kumar.
This case isn’t an isolated one. Dr Har Gobind Khuranna, another Indian scientist who has won a Nobel, was denied a job in Delhi University. Jagdish Chandra Bose too was denied of the success he deserved. This is probably the culture we have in India. This culture promotes neither successful persons nor their success stories. This culture excludes the idea of research from science. Probably that is why most of the Indians who have won the coveted Nobel Prize in science categories have won it after doing research in USA.
Are you still the same ‘patriotic, proud’ Indian? Shouldn’t we change this culture? Shouldn’t we promote a culture which creates a conducive environment for the scientists doing research and development? If the answer is yes, let’s implement this answer first; I am sure the question “Why in a country of 100 crore+ population we don’t find many Indian Nobel Laureates?” will automatically get answered.