The Scientist Post proudly hosts the presence of one of the best and extraordinary women scientists of contemporary times of scientific research & development field, Professor Rama Govindarajan, an amazing fluid dynamics expert. Currently, she is associated with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Sciences – Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences, Hyderabad who is busy in discovering the unknown cosmos of physics of interfacial flows of physical stuffs and aeronautical sciences! She has been in different capacities in some of the awe-inspiring places in the ever-expanding universe: as the likes of…Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi; Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore California Institute of Technology; Drexel University, Philadelphia; National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore; and Jawahar Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. In an exclusive talk, Professor Rama speaks with The Scientist Post about her inspirations, dreams and everything she likes. She has firm faith and believe that sooner than later, “…an India where every child will grow up with close friends of other castes, religions and background.” And yes, she has been awarded some of the most prestigious awards so far, which includes in her bag the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in 2007 too. Well, that was a short introduction.
Let’s begin scrolling down…
TSP: Would you share with The Scientist Post in brief about yourself?
RG: I do research in fluid mechanics, and work for the new TIFR Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences in Hyderabad.
TSP: How were your educational experiences as a student during school, college and graduate days?
RG: I went to a girls’ school where the emphasis was more on becoming a rounded personality than on getting prepared for a bright career. We were taught math reasonably well, but I found later that the state board syllabus in those days did not compare too well with CBSE in several ways. The pre-university education emphasised committing to memory, even in science, rather than understanding.
IIT was a great college to study in, in every way. I was very happy as an undergraduate.
TSP: Who is the teacher you like and mattered the most? How did they make a profound impact on you?
RG: My PhD advisor Roddam Narasimha. I owe the way I do science to him.
TSP: How science fascinated you? Have you ever-wondered to be a researcher during your childhood days?
RG: I did not plan to do a PhD till I was in my late twenties. My spouse’s job was in Bangalore and I had to make a career there. After many attempts I realised that research would be the best thing for me to do in that city.
TSP: What do you love most during research?
RG: I love the fun of doing science and the freedom. When I wonder about a particular phenomenon, I love the feeling that I can use my work time to try and understand it.
TSP: What is your advice for students who wish to take career in science?
RG: Go for it! It is a very good career in so many ways. Do not be afraid if you do not have ideas for several new problems to solve when you begin. It sounds a bit strange, but `getting good ideas’ is a talent you can learn as you go along.
TSP: What are the things which motivate and inspire you?
RG: Original and deep work of other scientists.
TSP: What is your message for the 58 million children out-of-school children?
RG: No child should be out of school. It is a child’s birth right to get an education.
TSP: Recently, Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian, who was behind the public attention among many citizens, won the Nobel peace Prize 2014, has been playing instrumental role in child rights. What are your views about him?
RG: I have to admit that I do not know the details of his work too well, so I do not have very original views about it. I admire anyone who serves noble causes, and giving children their rights is one of the noblest things to aspire for.
TSP: In your opinion what does India should develop policies to ensure all out-of-school children are into learning and school?
RG: I am no expert at policy and execution. However, I know that India must do much more to ensure that every child goes to school. Also, literacy is just the beginning of education, and we should not be happy achieving 100 percent literacy. We should ensure that every child knows and understands some maths, science, history etc.
TSP: Who in the world today would you describe as inspirational?
RG: Many scientists. You see some inspirational work in almost every big conference.
TSP: What is your Success Mantra?
RG: Work as hard as you possibly can. Be thorough not superficial. Keep learning and understanding.
TSP: One thing which I wish to see, change and bring a difference in India is:
RG: I would like to see many things changed, and many things kept the same. A few of the things we should have are: (i) good experimental labs in every school and a culture of children learning through doing (not seeing) experiments (ii) increased emphasis on ethics in our education (iii) increased emphasis on the humanities. To explain the last: We need more deep thinkers in these subjects, and for these areas to become attractive for young people to take up for their research careers. Increasing the scientific temper in these areas is important. Also, every scientist should know some history, some literature etc. and be an `all-round thinker’ if I may use the term. I feel this helps one do better science.
TSP: How do you see India 2030?
RG: Do you mean in science or in general? If it is the latter, I would like (i) an India where every daughter is treated the same as a son, and every daughter-in-law is treated the same as a son-in-law. (ii) an India where every child will grow up with close friends of other castes, religions and backgrounds. (iii) where every child will be taught to think scientifically and to question. (iv) where ethics are built into every child’s way of thinking and corrupt people are disliked by society and discouraged. (v) a clean, safe and healthy India (vi) an india where every child is given the opportunity to become anything.
TSP: What are your views about our ‘The Scientist Post’ initiative?
RG: Keep going!
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