Homi Bhabha
Homi Bhabha
Homi Bhabha
Homi Bhabha
Homi Bhabha
Homi Bhabha
   
Homi Bhabha & TIFR | TIFR Endowment Fund | Access & Use | Archives Staff

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the founder of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, was an extraordinary man, a distinguished scientist, a deeply cultured person and an able administrator. He studied at Cathedral and John Connon School and later, briefly at Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science. He joined the Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge for the Mechanical Tripos. His father was nurturing the hope that Bhabha would become an engineer and join the well-established industrial house of the Tatas.

During the course of his stay in Cambridge, Bhabha's interests wandered towards mathematics. After obtaining a first in his engineering course Bhabha went on to live his dream. He had crafted his journey away from industry to academics. While on this journey, he worked with some of the greatest physicists of all times including PAM Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, Enrico Fermi and Niels Bohr. Bhabha completed his PhD in 1934 under the supervision of R.H. Fowler.

He returned to India in 1939 and took up the position of Reader at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. While working in Bangalore, Bhabha realized the need for setting up a world-class institute for fundamental research. On March 12, 1944, he wrote to Sir Sorab Saklatvala, Chairman of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, on the advice of his friend JRD Tata. His request for support was approved. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research started functioning in Bangalore from June 1, 1945 and later that year moved to Bombay. In realizing his vision of the Institute, he took bold steps to attract talented people and gave them the freedom to pursue their research activities.

Bhabha's vision of the useful role of atomic energy in the newborn independent India was also exemplary. In 1948, on Bhabha's insistence and with full support of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Atomic Energy Commission was constituted to formulate policies and programmes in a bid to make India a leading nation in the new technology. Bhabha also proposed the formation of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1954, which would fund, create and operate all the facilities needed for the atomic energy programme. Along with the establishment of the DAE, Bhabha set up a new laboratory called the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET). It was later renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) by Indira Gandhi.

Homi Bhabha was also an artist in his own right. Not only was he passionate about paintings, music and literature, he himself mastered the arts to perfection. Some of the cherished legacies of Dr Bhabha comprise a special collection of Indian contemporary art, some lovely gardens - including entire trees that were transplanted here in the early days of the campus - and a seaside promenade all of which create an environment for the exchange of ideas.

In January 1966, a tragic air crash put an end to an extraordinary life. The world lost Homi Bhabha. But the institution he built and nurtured is today regarded as a world centre for fundamental research.