Born: Thiruchinapalli, India; November 7, 1888
Died: Bangalore, India; November 21, 1970
Nobel Prize: 1930 Physics, for his discovery of the “Raman” effect
Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman, popularly known as C.V. Raman, was born in Thiruchinapalli, in Tamil Nadu, India on November 7, 1888. He was the second of children of Chandrasekhar Iyer and Parvathi Ammal. His father was a professor of mathematics. At an early age, Raman moved to the city of Visakhapatnam, in the present day state of Andhra Pradesh, where his father accepted a position at the Mrs. A.V.N. College. Raman’s academic brilliance was established at a very young age. At eleven, he finished his secondary school education and entered Mrs. A.V.N. College and two years later moved to the prestigious Presidency College in Madras (present name, Chennai). When he was fifteen, he finished at the head of the class to receive B.A. with honors in Physics and English. During that time students who did well academically were typically sent abroad (England) for further studies. Because of Raman’s poor health he was not allowed to go abroad and he continued his studies at the Presidency college.In 1907, barely seventeen, Raman again graduated at the top of his class and received his M.A. with honors. In the same year he married Lokasundari.
At the time of Raman’s graduation, there were few opportunities for scientists in India. This forced Raman to accept a position with the Indian Civil Services as an Assistant Accountant General in Calcutta. While there, he was able to sustain his interest in science by working, in his spare time, in the laboratories of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. He studied the physics of stringed instruments and Indian drums.
In 1917, with his scientific standing established in India, Raman was offered the position of Sir Taraknath Palit Professorship of Physics at Calcutta university, where he stayed for the next fifteen years. During his tenure there, he received world wide recognition for his work in optics and scattering of light. He was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1924 and the British made him a knight of the British Empire in 1929. The following year he was honored with the prestigious Hughes medal from the Royal Society. In 1930, for the first time in its history, an Indian scholar, educated entirely in India has received the highest honor in science, the Nobel Prize in Physics.
In 1934, Raman became the director of the newly established Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore, where two years later he continued as a professor of physics. In 1947, he was appointed as the first National Professor by the new government of Independent India. He retired from the Indian Institute in 1948 and a year later he established the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, served as its director and remained active there until his death on November 21, 1970, at the age of eighty two. Raman was honored with the highest award, the “Bharat Ratna”(Jewel of India), by the Government of India.