Renowned Indian scientist and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Professor Yash Pal passed away at his residence in Noida in the National Capital Region of India on 24 July 2017. He was 90.
Though the cause of death is not yet known, he had reportedly recovered from cancer a few years ago. His last rites would be held at 3 pm this afternoon.
Known for his contributions to the study of cosmic rays, as well as for being an institution-builder, he was awarded India’s third highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan in 1976 and India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 2013.
In his later years, he became one of the leading science communicators of the country.
About Yash Pal
• Born in 1926 in Jhang, a part of British India, which is now in Pakistan, Pal started his career at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), as a member of the Cosmic Rays group.
• In 1972, the Government of India set up its Department of Space and embarked on an independent space programme.
• Yash Pal took charge as the first Director of the newly set up Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad in 1973.
• He was appointment as the Secretary General of the Second United Nations Conference on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 1981 and continued to hold the post till 1982.
• He later served as the Chairman of the University Grants Commission from 1986 to 1991. He also served as president of the Indian Physics Association.
• He also held several other portfolios under the Government of India including that of Chief Consultant, Planning Commission (1983–84) and Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (1984–1986).
• Pal had become a cult figure in the 90s with his science show ‘Turning Point’ that used to air on Doordarshan.
• Pal was also the recipient of several awards including the Indira Gandhi Prize for Popularization of Science in 2000, the Meghnad Saha Medal in 2006 and the Kalinga Prize by UNESCO in 2009.
• In 1976 the Indian government awarded Pal the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to science and space technology.
• In October 2011 he was also awarded the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for excellence in public administration, academics and management.
• In 2013, he was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.
In his illustrious career, Pal made significant contributions in the field of science and to the study of cosmic rays, high-energy physics, astrophysics and development, among others.
In 2009, the human resources development ministry set up a committee on higher education - that came to be called the Yash Pal Committee - which Yash Pal chaired, to look into reforming higher education in the country.
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