The Indian chemist Thiruvengadam Rajendram Seshadri (T R Seshadri) has contributed a lot to the field of Chemistry.
Today we are remembering him on his 119th birthday.
T R Seshadri was born on 2nd February 1900, in the small village of Kulithalai on the banks of the river Kaveri near Tiruchirappalli in British India. His father was a school teacher and Seshadri was third of the five brothers. Seshadri had his early education in the temple towns of Srirangam and Tiruchirappalli.
He then joined Presidency College, Madras, and from here he did honours in Chemistry. Here, he got the opportunity to meet B B Dey and P Narayana lyer. He worked on the synthesis of quinolino- αlpha -pyrones with Dey and earned two prizes from the University of Madras.
In 1927, he was selected for the overseas scholarship from Madras Government and got an opportunity to work with Sir Robert Robinson on new antimalarial drugs and the synthesis of anthocyanins. And obtain a doctorate degree of the University of Manchester.
In 1929, while spending his time in the laboratories of the Austrian Nobel laureate, Fritz Pregl at Graz, he learned about organic microanalysis. He also did part-time work on agricultural analysis under Cameron who was the agricultural analyst for the county of Fife.
In 1930, after coming to India he took up an appointment at the Agricultural Research Institute in Coimbatore where he began his studies in plant chemistry.
In 1934, he joined the Andhra University as the Head of the Chemistry Department and after three years he became the professor. He established a research school with his students that received international recognition as a prime centre of research on flavonoids and related compounds.
And in 1949, he joined the University of Delhi as Head of the Department of Chemistry and have done a lot of research in the field of chemistry. He was the first to initiate chemical studies on lichens in India that included some rare Himalayan species. His early work was on the pigments of cotton flowers and the flowers of different species of hibiscus.
Seshadri’s work received wide recognition in India and abroad. He received doctorates from Andhra University, Banaras Hindu University, Osmania University and Delhi University, honorary professorship from Andhra University and Osmania University. He was elected as the Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), London, in 1960.
In 1963, the Government of India conferred him the Padma Bhushan. He was also a receipt of the INSA Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal, INSA Meghnad Saha Medal, ICS Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray Medal, ICS Acharya Jnanendra Ghosh Medal. He was also elected as the general president of the Indian Science Congress and president of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA).
His work and experiences got documented in more than 1000 articles and two books, namely, Chemistry of Vitamins & Hormones and Advancement of Scientific and Religious Culture in India.
He continued to teach and guide research students even after his retirement, an inspiring Indian Scientist!
Article by Kartikay Shukla
Edited by M R Raghul