Infosys Prize for Five Researchers

News »

Infosys Prize for Five Researchers

Award carries a cash prize of Rs.50 lakh for each category.

The Infosys Science Foundation, a non-profit trust set up by Infosys Technologies, on Monday announced the Infosys Prize 2009 for five eminent researchers in four categories for their outstanding contributions to scientific research.

The annual award, which carries a cash prize of Rs.50 lakh – the highest ever in the country – for each category, is being given from this year to promote world-class research in the fields of natural and social sciences in India.

The winners will receive the award from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a ceremony in Delhi on January 4.

The winners are: Thanu Padmanabhan of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune (Physical Sciences); Ashoke Sen of the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad (Mathematical Sciences); K. VijayRaghavan of the National Centre of Biological Sciences Bangalore (Life Sciences); and Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Upinder Singh of the University of Delhi (the award is shared in the Social Sciences and Economics category).

Though there is one more category titled Engineering Sciences, no suitable candidate was found to meet the Prize stipulations this year.

The researchers were chosen by separate committees for each category, comprising international jurors, including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.

Professor Padmanabhan has been chosen for his contribution to a deeper understanding of Einstein’s theory of gravity in the context of thermo dynamics and largescale structure in cosmology, while Professor Sen’s fundamental contributions to Mathematical Physics, in particular to String Theory, helped him bag the award. Professor VijayRaghavan was chosen for his many contributions as a developmental geneticist and neurobiologist.

Mr. Banerjee was chosen for his contributions to the economic theory of development and for pioneering work in the empirical evaluation of public policy. Similarly, Professor Singh was chosen for her contributions as an historian of ancient and early medieval India.

The Prize aims to reward and recognize outstanding inventions or discoveries, or a cumulative body of work done in India that has a positive impact on the nation.

Extension considered

Only those researchers who had worked in India were considered for the award this year. The Foundation, however, announced that it would consider Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s suggestion to extend the scope of the award, by including even those whose work is primarily in India but also extends to other countries.

Speaking on the occasion through video conferencing from Delhi, Mr.Sibal hoped the Prize would become India’s Nobel prize, adding that research was the foundation on which a nation’s growth rested.

Foundation President N.R. Narayana Murthy said research in science was the key to India’s development and progress. There was dire need to find ways to recognise and reward the leading researchers in India. The work done by the winners of the Prize depicted world-class quality.