Atmanirbhar Bharat: PN Bose`s discovery of iron ore
May 12 is 166th birth anniversary of legendary Geologist
Jamshedpur, May 11: Pre-colonial India had a glorious tradition in the domains of mathematics, astrology and medicine. However, colonization had resulted in great erosion of the tradition. In the latter half of the 19th Century, outstanding men of science appeared on the eastern Indian horizon.
One such individual was P N Bose, a passionate geologist to looked forward to leveraging scientific knowledge for the betterment and progress of his country. Influenced by the Swadeshi movement, Pramatha Nath Bose, along with India’s leading scientists of the age, were determined to secure India’s future in two fields: 1) the promotion of education along “national lines and under national control” and 2) the industrialisation of the country and material advancement.
P N Bose was born on May 12, 1855 at a village named Gaipur in West Bengal. He was educated at Krishnagar College and later at St. Xavier’s College. He obtained a Gilchrist scholarship to study in London in 1874. He was the first Indian to get a BSc degree from a British University. On his return, he joined the Geological Survey of India as an Asst. Superintendent, the first Indian to do so. His initial work focussed on the Siwalik fossils, which form part of the collection at the British Museum. He is credited with the discovery of petroleum in Assam. He is also credited with the discovery of several mineral and coal deposits across India, and even Myanmar. It was his scientific pursuit that helped set up the first soap factory in India. His significant contribution as a geologist led to the setting up of the Tata Steel Works at Jamshedpur.
P N Bose believed that India’s salvation lay in returning to its roots, which were once firmly planted in scientific knowledge and education. He, along with other great scientists of his day, believed, contrary to prevailing thought, that Indian scientists could rival European thinkers and investigators. Therefore, when Lord Curzon tried to scuttle J N Tata’s plan for Indian Institute of Science, they were unanimous in their condemnation.
While at the Royal School of Mines, P N Bose attended political meetings and attacked the acts of the government. In his 20-year stint in GSI, he carried out surveys of the Narbada Valley, Rewa State, Central India, and the Shillong Plateau. His book “National Education and Modern Progress” captures his passion for techno-scientific education in India. His efforts led to the establishment of the Bengal Technical Institute in Kolkata, known today as Jadavpur University. P N Bose was the first honorary Principal of the Institute.
The deep national commitment felt by P N Bose towards his country had made him reflect on the cause of poverty in India and search for possible solutions. In a book, he wrote: “There is scarcely a section of our population that may be said to be prosperous. Our artisans, our peasants, our labourers, our educated classes, all are sunk in poverty. The outlook for them is equally gloomy. The Government services can offer only a few drops of water among thirsty millions. The only remedy that is likely to be of very wide application and is likely to afford substantial relief to all classes of our people is the development of our industries. It is industries alone which can relieve the distress of the mass of the people by lightening the pressure upon land; it is industries alone that can relieve the distress of our middle classes by affording them openings other than clerkships”.
“He could even at that age foresee great potentialities for industrial expansion by the development of geological resources, particularly of coal, iron and steel,” India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad said of P N Bose. While Jamsetji Tata invested his capital and entrepreneurial ability, P N Bose invested his knowledge of science and geology to help set up India’s first iron and steel industry. He was aware of the fact that all his previous geological discoveries were used by the British Raj and thus, when he discovered rich iron ore reserves in Mayurbhanj, he brought it to the notice of Swadeshi industrialist, J N Tata, through his famous letter of February 24, 1904 and which led to the establishment of TISCO at Sakchi.
From the little soap factory to his contribution to the setting up of the first-ever integrated steel plant in India, and his relentless pursuit to make India self-sufficient in terms of natural resources aided with development of scientific and technical skills among fellow Indians, P N Bose truly pioneered `Atmanirbhar’ Bharat, as far as industrialisation of India is concerned.