It’s a matter of shame that today we all dance to the tune of foreign lands & dignitaries. We all run after them believing it as the only best and we forget the contribution and importance of our own land. We all forget that it is India who is the creator of every discovery and invention. Our Vedas, Rishis and Munis have made discoveries even before the Western nations thought of
There are many such unsung heroes who brought praise for India at the international level with their intelligence but unfortunately today they are not even remembered by the nation.
One such unsung hero is Dr.Narinder Singh Kapany, the father of fibre optics. It was his path-breaking research in the 1950s on fibre optics, which paved the way for high-speed broadband internet, laser surgeries and endoscopy among others. He was the one who had demonstrated for the first time the transmission of images over a bundle of optic fibres.
Born on 31 October 1926, to the Sikh family of Punjab Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany initially studied at Agra University and then went to Imperial College of Science and Technology, London for advanced studies in Optics. Kapani always have this thought in his mind. Even during his high school he kept on pondering over the idea that light need not travel in a straight line, it could be bent. The same idea he carried along with him to higher level and put in practice during his PHD. It was at this time when he first managed to transmit images over a bundle of optic fibres.
Although he desired to be back to India after this but his meeting with an American professor at a science conference in Italy (1954), where he presented the very first publication on fibre optics, altered the course of his life. He chooses America as his work land and started his first company there in Palo Alto (Silicon Valley) and then engrossed himself in research.
Kapani was the only person who used the term ‘fiber optics’ for the first time in 1960. According to Kapani he coined this term in 1955 while other sources point out that he coined the term “fibre optics” in an article published for the famed Scientific American publication in 1960.
But it was unfortunate for him and for the nation also that the one who revolutionized the world with the discovery of fibre optics didn’t receive his due credit. Infact most of us even don’t know about him. Everyone recognizes Charles Kuen Kao, a Shanghai-born scientist, who was awarded 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for his trailblazing work in the field of fibre-optics communication. When in reality it was discovered much before that by our Indian scientist Dr.Narinder Singh Kapany.
His contributions, however, have been recognized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which acknowledges him as the inventor of fibre optics. Even the noted Fortune Magazine in 1999 listed him as one of the seven “unsung heroes” whose contributions radically changed the global business landscape
Apart from this he has received several awards including ‘Excellence 2000 Award’ from USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1998. Also he is a fellow of many scientific societies including the British Royal Academy of Engineering, the Optical Society of America and the American. Currently he has over 100 patents to his name and runs a philanthropic organisation called the Sikh Foundation, which seeks to better relations between the Sikh community and others in the US.
India’s research in Modern Science has often been overlooked. From Jagdish Chandra Bose, Satyendranath Bose, G.N. Ramachandran to Narinder Singh, none of these have been given the Nobel Prize whereas the Nobel Prize is awarded to people like Vatican’s mother-in-law Mother Teresa, Kailash Satyarthi and Amartya Sen. Only two physicists Sir CV Raman and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar (who settled in America) have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
In future whenever you listen about Fibre Optics anywhere do not forget to remember this pioneer and make nation aware of his contribution to the world.