The highly regarded Indian scientist Professor CNR Rao has been chosen for the Bharat Ratna for 2013, the ultimate civilian honour in the country. Rao, an authority on structural chemistry and materials, is former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and is currently working at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. He joins the trinity of three other scientists who have been conferred the Bharat Ratna earlier - Nobel laureate and physicist CV Raman - 1954 and civil engineer M. Visvesvarayya - 1955 and most recently missile man APJ Abdul Kalam - 1997.
Even at 79, he still spends several hours daily in his lab and also tries to popularize science among Karnataka villagers. He has published over 1500 papers and got 60 honorary doctorates to his credit and every paper of his has received 1500 citations each (1500 x 1500), making him one of the most oft-quoted researchers. His latest craze is working on thin films of carbon called 'graphene'. He has been a Nobel Prize nominee for many years. Very fond of classical music, he spends evenings relaxing with wafts of veena and sitar.
Rao is Chairman, Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and has been criticizing the red-tapism that surrounds Indian science. A passionate science educator, he is the man behind unleashing the reforms in science education and was the driving force for the new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER).