One of India's top scientists and founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Pushpa Mitra Bhargava died on Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 89.
According to his family members, he breathed his last at his residence at Prashant Nagar in Uppal in Hyderabad. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
Born in Ajmer on February 22, 1928, Bhargava did his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from Lucknow University. His pioneering vision and efforts led to the founding of CCMB in Hyderabad in 1977 as an institution for research in basic biology and for seeking its application for benefit of society.
CCMB staff expressed their condolence over the demise of Bhargava. In a statement, the CCMB noted that he belonged to the generation of nation building scientists who built the edifice of Indian science. He was an internationally recognised molecular biologist, thinker, and institution builder.
"His interests and engagements covered science as well as art and culture and their relation to society. He remained deeply engaged in social issues, particularly those relating to the impact of science on society in India and the world. His extraordinary energy and commitment will continue to always inspire us in our future endeavours," it said.
Bhargava also served vice chairman of National Knowledge Commission constituted in 2005.
Conferred a Padma Bhushan, the nation's third highest civilian award in 1986, he had announced in 2015 that he would return the award as he was worried about India's future.
He was among 100 scientists who had released a statement expressing concern over "climate of intolerance" and "the ways in which science and reason was getting eroded".
Bhargava had expressed concern over "RSS people" attending a meeting of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs. He had warned that if the present trend continued, India would cease to be a democracy and become a theocratic country like Pakistan.
He had also found fault with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for stating at Indian Science Congress that India had known technique of organ transplantation long ago.
Several people condoled his death.
We are very sad to inform you that the founding director of CSIR-CCMB, Dr. Pushpa Mitra Bhargava has passed away today.â€” CCMB (@ccmb_csir) August 1, 2017
Dr P M Bhargava passed away at 5.40 pm today. Confirmed by the family.â€” Shabnam hashmi (@ShabnamHashmi) August 1, 2017
Sad to hear about the demise of Padma Bhushan PM Bhargava, a tall figure in Indian biotechnology n the founder director of CCMB. RIPâ€” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (@kiranshaw) August 1, 2017
P M Bhargava, founder director of CCMB and India's most vocal scientist critic of GM crops, passes away.â€” TV Padma (@tvpadma) August 1, 2017
Dr. Pushpa Bhargava was one of most inspiring soles in the Indian science. He was the key person behind science... https://t.co/gXsF3lNr0Câ€” Ramanjaneyulu (@RamanjaneyuluGV) August 2, 2017
Dr bhargava was always passionate about social issues, committed to promoting scientific thinking. His CCMB hyderabad is a model lab of CSIRâ€” S l Habib (@irfhabib) August 2, 2017
My wholehearted condolences to the family & friends of eminent scientist & Founder director of CCMB Sri Pushpa M Bhargava. RIP Sirâ€” KTR (@KTRTRS) August 2, 2017