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Banerjee joins as Atomic Energy Commission Chief

Dr. Srikumar Banerjee

Dr Srikumar Banerjee has joined as the new chairman of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, from December 1. Banerjee, who has been director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc) since April 2004, has succeeded Dr Anil Kakodkar, who stepped down after an extended tenure and a long career of 45 years.

Dr Banerjee is one of the leading experts in materials science and technology in India and has made outstanding contributions to many materials related areas, basic as well as application oriented.

He obtained a B. Tech degree in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT-Kharagpur (IIT-K) in 1967 and then went through the BARC Training School.

He joined BARC's erstwhile Metallurgy Division and has spent his entire scientific career in the centre. Based on his work at BARC in his early days IIT-K awarded him a doctorate in metallurgic engineering in 1974.

Besides publishing over 300 scientific papers in reputed national and international journals, Banerjee is credited with developing a novel fabrication schedule for the pressure tubes used in Indian pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR).

Dr S. Banerjee is internationally well known for his work in the field of physical metallurgy and materials science. He has contributed extensively in the basic research on metallurgy of zirconium and titanium based alloys and their applications in the development of thermo-mechanical treatments for processing several nuclear reactor components. His work provides a basis for analysing the radiation stability of structural materials in nuclear reactors.

The contributions of Dr Banerjee and his colleagues with regard to the development of shape memory alloys and their applications in heat shrinkable couplings are finding extensive applications in the light combat aircraft project. A distinguished scientist, Dr Banerjee has been the recipient of many awards and honours. These include Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Engineering Sciences (1989), G. D. Birla Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Metals (1997), INSA Prize for Materials Science (2001) and Indian Nuclear Society Award (2003). Notable among the international awards received by him are Acta Metallurgica Outstanding Paper Award (1984) and Humboldt Research Award (2004).

In recognition of Banerjee's distinguished contribution, he has been honoured with Government of India's prestigious civilian award, Padma Shri, in 2005.

Banerjee is a Fellow of a number of august academic bodies including Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Academy of Engineering, The National Academy of Sciences, India and Asia Pacific Academy of Materials. He is on the Board of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. since October 8, 2004.

Banerjee has held visiting positions overseas which include the University of Sussex, Brighton, England, Max-Planck Institut fuer Metallforschung - Institut fuer Physik, Stuttgart and Forschungszeutrum Juelich, Germany, University of Cincinnati and the Ohio State University, USA (as Visiting Faculty).

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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