Vijay Pandurang Bhatkar: Father of Indian Supercomputers


The USA bluntly refused Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, to export US supercomputer Cray. Rajiv Gandhi found a capable man who aspired to develop India's own supercomputer. He gave him permission to move forward. Know the rest from this article. Salute the visionary scientist.

Prelude

Computer giant IBM recognized the business opportunity in India in early 1980s. It submitted a proposal to make supercomputers in India. Ronald Regan, the then President of the USA, negated the proposal. Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India in November, 1984. He tried his best to convince America to import supercomputers. But America snubbed him. Export of supercomputer Cray was denied.

Rajiv Gandhi was furious

Rajiv was furious. He planned to set up Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC) in the year March, 1988. He started searching for a capable scientist to take care of C-DAC.



The all-important conversation

  • Rajiv Gandhi : Can we do it?
  • The scientist : I have not seen a supercomputer. I have only seen a picture of Cray. But, yes. We can do it.
  • Rajiv Gandhi : How long will it take?
  • The scientist : Less time that it takes us to try to import Cray from the USA.
  • Rajiv Gandhi : How much money it would take?
  • The scientist : We have to start from the scratch. We have to develop the technology. But, even then, the commissioning and installing India's first supercomputer will cost less than the Cray.


Rajiv Gandhi gave the scientist go-ahead.

India's one of the greatest technological projects

The scientist started the work. He brought all renowned scientists from all academic and scientific institutions of the country to work on this project. The scientists and engineers of the country gave their best in the project. The scientist with whom Rajiv Gandhi talked, led from the front. Within three years, well within the deadline, the Indian scientists and engineers made India proud. They did the extraordinary thing. In 1991, C-DAC commissioned India's first supercomputer PARAM 8000.

For the first time, a developing country entered into the field of developing supercomputer on its own. Whole world was stunned. America received a suitable reply. PARAM 8000 was the second fastest supercomputer of that time. Its price was lowest. In fact, Cray had to slash its price to remain in the fray.

C-DAC continued its journey

C-DAC continued its journey after commissioning of PARAM-8000. It developed PARAM-10000 in 1998. Based upon the PARAM series supercomputers, the scientist went on establishing National Param Supercomputing Facility (NPSF).

Who is this scientist?

The visionary scientist is Dr.Vijay Pandurang Bhatkar. This October, 1946-born scientist is known as the 'Father of Indian Supercomputers'. He was born in Akola, Maharashtra, and got his engineering degree from Visveswaraiya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur in 1965. He obtained his Master degree in Engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao University at Baroda (now Vadodara) and PhD from IIT, Delhi in 1972.

After his incredible PARAM success, the great scientist has been honoured with Padmashri in 2000 and Padma Bhushan in 2015. In addition, Maharashtra Government has honoured him with Mahrashtra Bhushan. He has also been honored with many other awards for his contribution in the field of science and technology.



The great scientist is still active

Dr. Bhatkar is still very active. In January, 2017, he has been appointed as the Chancellor of Nalanda University. Before this appointment, he was the Board of Governors of IIT-Delhi. He held many other prestigious assignments.

The great man firmly believes that "Great nations are not built on borrowed technology". Till now, he is busy in developing indigenous technology to make India one of the greatest nations.

Let us salute this great scientist.


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