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IIT Bombay’s former Director Prof. S. P. Sukhatme to honour his late father Dr. P. V. Sukhatme by establishing a Chair Professorship at IIT Bombay

13 Oct 2021

After serving as the Director of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay from January 1995 to January 2000 and being a faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Department of IIT Bombay (October 1965 onwards), the highly-esteemed and lauded Prof. S. P. Sukhatme is now beginning a new journey with the Institute.

The Padma Shri awardee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IIT Bombay on October 12, 2021 to establish a Chair Professorship at the Institute in memory of his father the late Dr. P. V. Sukhatme, an honour awarded to faculty members to acknowledge their contributions to high-impact research and teaching.

The Chair Professorship will be called “Dr. P. V. Sukhatme Chair in Biostatistics” to pay homage to the late visionary’s pioneering work. The aim of this initiative is to provide a boost to the subject of Biostatistics and associated applications.

A virtual MoU signing event was held at IIT Bombay and was open to invitation for the Institute’s faculty members, staff members and students. The event saw attendance in large numbers, which is not surprising considering the solid relationship Prof. S. P. Sukhatme shares with IIT Bombay. He is viewed as a father figure by students and junior colleagues and an influential leader who has contributed significantly to the Institute’s growth. By virtue of his generous initiative towards creating a Chair Professorship at IIT Bombay, Prof. S. P. Sukhatme is providing an opportunity to the Institute’s current professors to take the field of Biostatistics forward.

The MoU signing event at the Institute was attended by Prof. S. P. Sukhatme and his wife Dr. Shobha Sukhatme; Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay; Prof. S. Sudarshan, Deputy Director (Academic and Infrastructural Affairs); Prof. Suhas Joshi,Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), Prof. Milind Atrey, Dean (Research and Development), Prof. Rohit Srivastava, Head and Professor of Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and Prof. Sreedhara Sheshadri, Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering.

 

About Dr. P. V. Sukhatme

Dr. P. V. Sukhatme, a Padma Bhushan awardee (1971), served in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) from 1940 to 1951 and later served as the Director of the Statistics Division in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome from 1951 to 1972. During his time at ICAR, Dr. P. V. Sukhatme was responsible for the development of random sampling techniques for the estimation of the crop production all across India. At FAO, Dr. P. V. Sukhatme was able to extend his work done in India to other countries. He made his most significant contribution by evaluating the extent of undernutrition across the globe based on statistical methods and showing that the same had been significantly overestimated in the past. Later, he showed that there existed an incorrect notion of the “protein gap,” and that it was first vital to remove undernutrition rather than providing fortified food to the poor. Both the findings were accepted eventually and had important policy implications for developing countries like India. For his work on estimating the magnitude of undernutrition in the world, Dr. P. V. Sukhatme was awarded the Guy Medal by the Royal Statistical Society in 1961.

 

About Prof. S. P. Sukhatme

Like his father, Prof. S. P. Sukhatme has a long list of achievements. He is known for his outstanding contributions both in teaching and research, in the areas of Heat Transfer and Energy and has published two widely-referred text books on the subjects. He was the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Govt. of India from 2000 to 2005. Prof. S. P. Sukhatme is the recipient of many honours and awards which include being awarded the title of Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001 and becoming the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of IIT Bombay. He was also awarded the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology in 1983. 

At the event, Prof. S. P. Sukhatme gave an emotional speech as he spoke about the initiative and memories of his father and family. “Setting up this Chair is a very small thing that we are doing,” he said, while holding back tears and added, “My father’s contributions are many. I and my family want this initiative to be an inspiration for people. My father got recognized for his work, achieved great things and set up a tradition in the family, that education is the key to going forward. This has to be our nation’s motto. Education at all levels is the only thing that can push India forward and draw respect from the whole world.It’s educated people that are going to make this nation great. All else will follow. We must have schools and colleges like we have IIT Bombay which insist on excellence. That’s the message I want to send by setting up such a Chair.”

Commenting on the generous contribution by Prof. S. P. Sukhatme, Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay said, “Prof. S. P. Sukhatme holds a very special place in our hearts. Not only has he played a vital role in the Institute’s growth as a former Director, but also established a life-long kinship with the students, faculty and staff. Prof. S. P Sukhatme’s powerful leadership at IIT Bombay has inspired us all to continue with our mission to emerge as a global leader in the field of research. I am deeply grateful and thankful to Prof. S. P. Sukhatme for his thoughtful initiative, which will help IIT Bombay contribute to the domain of Biostatistics in a big way. We are indebted to his unfailing support towards the Institute through the years.”