Dr. Rajagopala Chidambaram served as the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India and as the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) during the period from November 2001 to March 2018. Currently, he is continuing as the DAE Homi Bhabha Chair professor at BARC, Mumbai.
Dr. R. Chidambaram is one of India’s distinguished experimental physicists. He made outstanding contributions to many aspects of basic science and nuclear technology. After receiving his Ph.D. degree from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1962 he joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in 1962 and became its Director in 1990. He nucleated the supercomputer programme in the BARC. He was Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission of India from 1993-2000. He played a leading role in the design and execution of the peaceful Nuclear Explosion experiment at Pokhran in 1974 and also led the team of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) which designed the nuclear devices and carried out in cooperation with the Department of Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Pokhran tests in May, 1998. During his stewardship of the DAE, the nuclear power programme got a big boost and the capacity of the nuclear power plants increased sharply. He was Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during 1994-95. He was a member, of the Commission of Eminent Persons appointed by the IAEA in 2008 to prepare a report on the ‘Role of the IAEA to 2020 and Beyond’. He was a member and later Vice-President, of the Executive Committee of the International Union of Crystallography during 1990-99. He was also the Chairman of the High-Level Committee for the National Knowledge Network till March 2018.
He has more than 200 research publications in refereed journals to his credit,
Dr. Chidambaram was awarded the Padma Shri in 1975 and the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India, in 1999. He has also won many other Awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1991; the Second Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary International Visiting Fellowship by the Indian National Science Academy in 1992; the C.V. Raman Birth Centenary Award of the Indian Science Congress Association in 1995; the Lokmanya Tilak Award (1998); Veer Savarkar Award (1999); Dadabhai Naoroji Millennium Award (1999); Meghnad Saha Medal of the Indian National Science Academy (2002); Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi National Eminence Award (2003); Homi Bhabha Lifetime Achievement Award of the Indian Nuclear Society (2006); Lifetime Contribution Award in Engineering (2009) from the Indian National Academy of Engineering and the C. V. Raman Medal (2013) from the Indian National Science Academy, and the Lifetime achievement Award of the Council of Power Utilities (2014).
Amongst the many initiatives he had taken as the PSA, the most recent ones include development of the Advanced Ultra Supercritical (AUSC) technology for coal based thermal power generation, the setting up of the Core Advisory Group for R&D in the Electronics Hardware (CAREL), the creation of RuTAG (Rural Technology Action Groups) and the establishment of SETS (Society for Electronic Transactions and Security) headquartered in Chennai. These initiatives have made significant impact to the STI landscape of the country.