The making of the ‘Raman effect’ and National Science Day in India

The making of the 'Raman effect' and National Science Day in India

CV Raman in 1930. Photo: Nobel Foundation.

India has celebrated National Science Day (NSD) on February 28 since 1987. This day commemorates the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Raman effect. It was on this day in 1928 that CV Raman decided to announce his discovery to the world.

NSD is an brainchild of Narender Kumar Sehgal, the founding chief of the National Council for Science and Technology Communication, created in 1982. The idea was to use the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Raman in 1988 to institute something lasting. A logical step would have been to choose Raman’s birthday – November 7 – as the NSD. But Sehgal suggested on February 28. The reason was that Sehgal was also born on November 7th and he didn’t want to be accused of renaming his birthday as NSD. Sehgal, who died in September 2020, revealed it during a conversation with me in 2019.

February 28 is generally accepted as the date that Raman made his groundbreaking discovery at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Kolkata, but science historians point out that the discovery was not made this that day. “The truth…

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