"It is the duty of people like us to stay in our own country and build up outstanding schools of research such as some other countries are fortunate to possess." This was the vision that guided the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research which Homi Bhabha founded. The Institute was founded on 1st June1945 with support from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. The Institute first began functioning within the Cosmic Ray Research Unit on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and moved to Bombay in October that year.
A film on Dr. Homi Bhabha made by TIFR Archives ( 2 parts)
From Kenilworth to Colaba
In Bombay the Institute was housed at Kenilworth, a bungalow on Pedder Road. It was inaugurated by Sir John Colville, Governor of Bombay on 19th December 1945. In 1949, as the Institute grew, it found its second home at the Old Yacht Club Building (former home of Royal Bombay Yacht Club) near Gateway of India. The Cosmic Ray Group was the first to start functioning. The Nuclear Emulsion and the Electron Magnetism Group started in 1953. Work in Computer Science and Technology in 1954, and the first pilot machine became operational in 1956. The full scale machine, later named the TIFRAC was commissioned in February 1960.
The foundation stone of the main building at the Colaba campus was laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954. This constitutes the Institute's main campus at present. The modern building on the seafront with gardens, lawns and a seaside promenade was designed by the Chicago architect, Helmuth Bartsch. The building was inaugurated by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 15 January 1962.
The Tripartite Agreement
In 1955-56 the Tripartite Agreement between the Government of India, Government of Bombay and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust came into force at the Institute. The Tripartite Agreement envisaged extensive financial support from the Government of India and correspondingly a greater and more permanent representative for it on the Council of Management. Today, more than 99% of the expenditure of the Institute is borne by the Government of India. The Institute comes under the purview of the Department of Atomic Energy through which all grants are chanelled.
Expansion of the Institute
In the 1960s the Institute expanded to start a Molecular Biology Group and a Radio Astronomy Group. A low temperature facility and a semi conductor group started around the same time. In 1964 a Basic Dental Research Group started which has since discontinued. The 1970s saw the Institute expand to include Theoretical Astrophysics and the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. Over the next two decades the Institute further expanded by founding new national centres: The National Centre for Radio Astrophysics in Pune, The Centre for Applicable Mathematics in Bangalore, The National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore. The latest in such efforts has been the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences which was founded in 2007. The work of the Institute is now carried out in three Schools: the School of Mathematics, the School of Natural Sciences and the School of Technology and Computer Sciences. The Institute was granted the status of a deemed university in 2003.
In 1966, Homi Bhabha, the founder Director of the Institute died in an air crash. After him, Professor M.G.K Menon became the Director of the Institute. He was succeeded by Professor B.V. Sreekantan in 1975. Professor Virendra Singh became Director in 1987, followed by Professor S.S. Jha in 1997. Professor S. Bhattacharya became the Director in 2002. The present Director is Professor Mustansir Barma.