The Glorious History of the Institute of Radio Physics & Electronics

 

The Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics was established in 1949 as a post-graduate teaching and research department of the University of Calcutta. Late Professor S.K.Mitra, D.Sc, F.R.S., was the Head of the Institute and continued until his retirement in 1955.

 

In retrospect, it was in the year 1925 that the University of Calcutta introduced “wireless” as an elective subject for special study in its post-graduate course in Pure Physics and started at the same time a wireless laboratory for teaching and research in the fields of electron tubes and radio wave propagation in the upper atmosphere. Ever increasing applications of radio waves, especially on the eve of and during the World War II, and the rapid development of electronics as an important science by itself created a new situation. Inclusion of these developments was found impossible if the teaching and research activities in these subjects were to be confined within the necessarily limited scope allowed to them as a part of another post-graduate course. A large-scale expansion and re-organization became imperative. To meet this situation the university, in 1946, formulated a plan for the creation of a separate post-graduate department for Radio Physics and Electronics by pooling the then existing resources of the Wireless section of the Pure Physics department and the Communication Engineering section of the Applied Physics department. A visiting committee of the All India Council for Technical Education (A.I.C.T.E) approved this plan in 1947. Grants sanctioned by the Government of India on the recommendation of this committee enabled the creation of the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics in the year 1949 —an independent post-graduate teaching and research department of the University of Calcutta.

 

The foundation stone of the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics was laid on April 21, 1949, by the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr. B.C.Roy. The concluding remark of his address on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the Institute was the following:


“Let me hope that in laying the foundation stone of the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics today, I have planted a seed which will grow into a mighty tree, spreading its branches much beyond the borders of your present expectation. The Institute will become not only an all-India center of study and research but will also attract earnest seekers after truth from beyond the boundaries of India”.

 

A look at the Institute today should convince anybody that the expectations of Dr. Roy are well on the way to fulfillment true to the spirit of each and every word of the speech.

 

In the beginning, the Institute started its first session of 2-year M.Sc. course in Radio Physics and Electronics from July 1949. As the main building of the Institute (completed and occupied by end of 1951) was under construction at that time, classes were held in different places of the Science College campus—in the seminar rooms of Pure Physics and Applied Physics departments. Practical work was conducted in the Pure Physics and Applied Physics Laboratories and drawing classes were held in the Applied Chemistry building. The infant department had thus to struggle hard during the first two years of its existence. The first examination was held in November, 1951, exactly as scheduled.

 

Hardly had the department come into existence when plans for the expansion of the 2-year M.Sc. course to a 3-year course leading to the M.Sc. (Tech.) degree engaged the mind of its founder members. This was necessitated by two factors. First, the latest developments in Radio Physics and Electronics could no longer be given adequate coverage within the curriculum of a two- year course. Secondly, a 3-year course would be in conformity with the general pattern of technological education recommended by AICTE. The approval for the 3-year M.Sc. (Tech.) course in Radio Physics and Electronics came from University Grants Commission ( U.G.C. ) on recommendation of AICTE, in April 1957.

 

Soon after, came a major boost that further brightened the path of progress for the growing Institute. Early in 1962, UGC recommended the establishment of Centers of Advanced Study (CAS) in selected university departments known for their tradition and promise. The object the commission had in view was to encourage the pursuit of excellence and to accelerate the realization of international standards in the field of post-graduate education and research. In recognition of the tradition built here, this Institute was nominated as one of the five Centers of Advanced Study in 1962-63. This nomination, with promise of financial assistance to intensify teaching and research activities so as to achieve a high standard of excellence on the international level, triggered enormous enthusiasm in the staff of the Institute from top to bottom. United as a team, the members set to work, each in his own sphere, with new vigor and courage.

 

In 1969, grants for the third stage of development of the Institute were received from the UGC which recommended drastic changes in the courses to be offered. In short, the approved scheme of development was: i) conversion of the 2-year B.Tech. Course to a 3-year graduate course leading to B.Tech. degree with an annual intake of 30 students, ii) conversion of the 1-year M.Tech. course to a 2-year post-graduate course leading to the M.Tech. degree with an annual intake of 25 students.

 

With the financial assistance allotted for the CAS, combined with the grants received for the third development stage, the facilities of the Institute began to develop as desired. A new multi storied building [known as the Centre of Advanced (CAS) – building] was constructed at a site adjacent to the Upper Circular Road Science College campus. Additions to staff, equipment and books paved the way for intensification of activities. The provisions for Visiting Professors, seminars and symposia, travel and personnel exchange facilities substantially accelerated the progress of the Institute.

 

Meanwhile, on the report of the Assessment committee appointed by the UGC ( in 1973-74 ) to evaluate the performance of the Center during the first decade of its existence, the UGC classified it as “excellent” and offered to continue grants to the center under Special Assistance Program (S.A.P) of CAS in selected thrust areas of research. On the basis of its continuing tradition of high quality research the Institute is still getting grants from UGC under the SAP.

 

The Institute celebrated its Silver Jubilee in the year 1973. In late 1970’s an academic link program ALIS was established between the Institute and a few UK Universities. The program encouraged bilateral exchange of scientists. A Liquid Phase Epitaxy (LPE) Reactor was received by the Centre as a gift with which work on growth of semiconductor heterojunction started. A Centre for Research and Training in Radar and Microwaves also started functioning in 1970’s.

 

The University created a separate department named as the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in 1980. A number of teachers of the Institute were transferred and some of the facilities of the Institute were also made available to this new department. The activities related to computers in the Institute were somewhat reduced, but the work on semiconductor and space science scaled new heights. The Institute received in this decade substantial grant from the UGC under the Committee for Strengthening Infrastructure in Science and Technology (COSIST). Equipment related to Microelectronics, millimeter-wave technology and characterization of semiconductors were procured out of the fund received. The Institute celebrated the birth centenary of its founder Prof. S.K.Mitra in 1989. Almost concurrently a new Department of Electronic Science was created by the University. The teachers of the Institute provided initial support to this new department in all sorts of activities.

 

In the decade of 1990s, UGC established the Eastern Centre for Radio Astronomy (ECRA) making INRAPHEL as its nodal point and identifying Haringhata Field station as the site for observation. Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering Research (SAMEER), an organization funded by the then Department of Electronics, Government of India, opened a branch in Calcutta in this period. Two floors of the CAS building were rented to it to start with. New projects for fabrication of IMPATT diodes and characterization of millimeter-wave devices were awarded to the Institute by different National Organizations.

 

The Institute started its golden jubilee celebration in 1998 by holding an International Conference Computers and Devices for Communication (CODEC). A two day Workshop Nanostructures, Applications and Goals (NAG) was held prior to CODEC to felicitate its illustrious teacher Prof. B. R. Nag. Next year an Indo-French Workshop on Quantum Semiconductor Structures: Modern Developments (QUASEMOD) was also organized by the Institute. With continuation of CAS status, new areas of research, e.g., Atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gases, millimeter-wave propagation, GPS, satellite communication, photonics, etc. were undertaken. With funding from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) a Centre named as S.K.Mitra Centre for Space Weather was established in the Institute in 2002.

 

The Technical Education Quality Improvement Program (TEQIP): a joint venture of World Bank-MHRD, Govt. of India, was introduced in West Bengal in 2002. The University College of Technology (UCT-CU) was identified as one of the lead Institution. As a department of UCT-CU, INRAPHEL received some equipments and other support under the program.

 

The CAS status has been extended to cover the years 2005-2010 on recommendation of a Review committee that visited the Centre in March 2005.

 

UGC was entrusted to identify 10 Networking Resource Centres, two each in Physical, Chemical, Biological, Mathematical and Materials Sciences in the country. In the first phase CAS in RPE has been given this status.

 

The Government of West Bengal decided to create a Centre for Research and Training in Microaves and Millimeter waves pooling the resources of the Training program in MM wave technology. The Centre started its activities in 2008.

 

A new centre: Centre fur TeleInFrastructur : India (CTIF-India) has been established in the Institute on December 07, 2007.

 

ISRO has selected University of Calcutta for financial support under the programme of "Strengthening of Space Science Activities at Universities".

 

In addition, a few other Centers have been established or are to be established in the Institute. The complete list of such Centres with the respective year of establishment is given in the website.


HODs of the Institute

Prof. Sisir Kumar Mitra, FRS (01.06.1949 – 01.01.1955): [First Head of the Institute]
Prof. Jatindra Nath Bhar (27.04.1957 – 31.07.1976)
Prof. Mrinal Kumar DasGupta (05.08.1976 – 31.08.1980)
Prof. Biswa Ranjan Nag (01.09.80 – 31.08.1982)
Prof. Muktisadhan Basu (01.09.1982 – 31.08.1984)
Prof. Anadinath Daw (12.091984 – 11.09.1986)
Prof. Sites Kumar Roy (12.09.1986 – 11.09.1988)
Prof. Nanigopal Nath (12.09.1988 – 11.09.1990)
Prof. Amaranth Chakraborti (13.09.1990 – 12.09.1992)
Prof. Arun Kumar Sen (13.09.1992 – 12.09.1994)
Prof. Hrishikesh Paria (13.09.1994 – 12.09.1996)
Prof. Nripendranath Purkait (13.09.1996 – 12.09.1998)
Prof. Pradi Kumar Saha (17.09.1998 – 16.09.2000)
Prof. Debashis Chattopadhyay (18.09.2000 – 16.09.2002)
Prof. Prasanta Kumar Basu (17.09.2002 – 16.09.2004)
Prof. Phatik Chandra Rakshit (17.09.2004 – 31.03.2006)
Prof. Susanta Sen (01.04.2006 – 31.03.2008)
Prof. Gautam Ghosh (01.04.2008 – 30.11.2009)
Prof. Subal Kar (01.12.09 – ):[Present Head of the Institute]