Yash Pal

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Yash Pal
Yash Pal 049.jpg
Yash Pal at Science City, Kolkata, 1996
Born Yash Pal Singh
(1926-11-26) 26 November 1926 (age 90)
Jhang, British India
Citizenship Indian
Fields Physics
Alma mater Panjab University, Chandigarh
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Bruno Rossi
Known for Space science, Education, Television anchor
Notable awards Padma Vibhushan (2013)
Padma Bhushan (1976)
Marconi Prize (1980)
Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award
Kalinga Award (2009)

Yash Pal [1] (born 26 November 1926) is an Indian scientist, educator and educationist. He is known for his contributions to the study of cosmic rays, as well as for being an institution-builder. In his later years, he has become one of the leading science communicators of the country.

Starting his career at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), he later remained chairman of the University Grants Commission from 1986 to 1991. In 2013, he was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.

Early life and education[edit]

Yash Pal was born in 1926 in Jhang, British India, now in Pakistan.[2] He was raised in Pai, Kaithal, Haryana (India), graduated with a master's degree in physics from Panjab University in 1949 and gained a PhD degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958.[3][4]


Yash Pal started his career at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Bombay (now Mumbai), as a member of the Cosmic Rays group. He went to MIT for his PhD and returned to TIFR, where he remained until 1983.

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. At the same time, he continued to be on the faculty of TIFR.

Yash Pal's administrative assignments at the Government level and beyond began with his appointment as the Secretary General of the Second United Nations Conference on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (1981–82). He held the posts of Chief Consultant, Planning Commission (1983–84) and Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (1984–1986), after which he was appointed chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC) (1986–91).[5] During his tenure as UGC chairman, he advocated the setting up of Inter-University Centres funded by the UGC, on the model of the Nuclear Science Centre (now Inter-University Accelerator Centre), New Delhi. Institutions such as the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) emerged from this vision.

Role as educationist[edit]

School Education
Pal's involvement in school education dates back to the early 1970s, with the pathbreaking Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme.[6]

In 1993, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, set up a National Advisory Committee, with Yash Pal as chairman, to go into the issue of overburdening of school children. The report of the committee, entitled "Learning without Burden", is now regarded as a seminal document in Indian education.

When the National Council of Educational Research and Training embarked on the exercise of drawing up the National Curriculum Framework, Pal was asked to chair its Steering Committee.[7] The Executive Summary of the NCF 2005 document states that the curriculum review exercise was undertaken "in the light of the report, Learning Without Burden (1993)".[7]

Higher Education
In 2009, MHRD set up a Committee on Higher Education (Yashpal Committee) with Pal as the chairman, for examining reform of higher education in India.[8] In its report, the Committee laid emphasis on the idea of a university, and advocated a number of major structural changes. However, it is not clear whether the Government intends to take any action on the basis of the report.[9]

Science communication[edit]

Yash Pal is known for regular appearances on the science programme Turning Point telecast on Doordarshan and for explaining scientific concepts in layman's language,[10] along with participation on advisory boards for televised science programmes such as Bharat ki Chaap.[3]

He also has a column in the Indian English daily The Tribune, in which he answers question asked by readers.

In 2009, he received the Kalinga Prize, awarded by UNESCO for the popularisation of science.[11][12]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1976 the Indian government awarded Pal the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to science and space technology.[3][13] A fellow of Indian National Science Academy, Pal was made a Marconi Fellow in 1980 for his work at the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad.[14] In October 2011 he was also awarded the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for excellence in public administration, academics and management.[15]

He was the Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi from March 2007 to March 2012. From 2011 to till date(05.09.2014) he has been assisted by Rajesh Yadav, who is also working on his book "Random Curiosity" in JNU. First Volume of book "Random Curiosity" has been published and second volume is in under process.

He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan (1976) and the Padma Vibhushan (2013), the third and second highest Indian civilian Honours.[16][17]


  1. ^ also referred as Yash Pal Singh
  2. ^ "Prof. Yash Pal" (PDF). Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c iiasa.ac.at, "Yash Pal, CV", 18 November 2005, retrieved 5 July 2008
  4. ^ "Distinguished Alumni". Panjab University Chandigarh. Retrieved 2015-09-08. 
  5. ^ "Create new global awareness: Yashpal". Hindustan Times. 20 February 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "HSTP". NGO for Children – Eklavya. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "National Curriculum Framework 2005" (PDF). Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Yashpal committee suggests new apex body for higher education". The Hindu. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Singh, Binay (6 September 2012). "Prof Yashpal laments non-implementation of report on higher education". Times of India. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  10. ^ vigyanprasar.gov.in, Vigyan Praser Publications – New Arrivals" (synopsis of a short biography), retrieved 5 July 2008
  11. ^ "Yash Pal selected for Kalinga Prize". The Hindu. 4 October 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Kalinga-winners: List of Laureates". UNESCO. Retrieved 2015-09-08. 
  13. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. pp. 61, 168. Prof. Yash Pal  (archived)
  14. ^ marconisociety.org, "The Marconi Fellows – Yash Pal", retrieved 5 July 2008
  15. ^ "Yash Pal honoured with Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award, IBN Live News". ibnlive.in.com. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Padma Awards". pib. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 

External links[edit]