Sachin Sharma & Prashant Rupera


Vadodara: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan left Vadodara almost four decades ago. But, it’s a city he could never forget. From helping girls of the minority community affected in the 2002 riots to lecturing at the MS University, where he studied as an undergraduate, Venky has kept the links alive. He even inquires about the old servant at his house whenever he calls friends here.


When Venky heard that the riots had left Professor JS Bandukwala of MSU’s physics department distressed, with mobs attacking his house here, he asked him to leave Vadodara and join him in Seattle.


So concerned was he that Venky helped Bandukwala in a program he ran for the welfare and education of Muslim girl students. ‘‘He used to send cheques to me regularly for financing the education of such underprivileged girls,’’ said Bandukwala.


In fact, Bandukwala is one of the few persons who has kept in touch with the scientist until very recently on a personal level even as others had academic interactions with him. A couple of months back, the Nobel laureate had asked Bandukwala to visit him at Cambridge. While Bandukwala joined the university soon after Venkatraman passed out, he had known him as the former was close to Venkatraman’s father CV Ramakrishnan. ‘‘Venky was always a person who liked to work in different fields and it is no wonder that he researched chemistry extensively after graduating in physics. His interest in science was total,’’ said Bandukwala.


But above all, Bandukwala said, Venkatraman was a thorough gentleman and a caring person. ‘‘He used to inquire about the servant, who used to take care of him when he stayed with his parents at the JM Hall on the university hostel campus,’’ he added.


Some of his teachers recall how Venkatraman had visited MSU to deliver a lecture on January 31, 2005, on ‘Biophysical approaches in deciphering the structure of molecular macromolecules and macromolecular complexes’. His teacher and retired professor Madhu Shah said she was proud that she attended a lecture of her student. ‘‘We are proud of him and he deserved it,’’ she said about Venkatraman bagging the Nobel Prize.


(TNN 8 October 2009)

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