THE MASTER EXPERIMENTALIST
Studying the phenomena of resonance was never so interesting until instruments such as Foucault’s or Barton’s pendulum were discovered, thanks to the veteran ‘Babulal Saraf,’ a physicist and experimentalist, who gave an entirely new dimension to science education.
Prof. Saraf significantly changed the way science was taught in colleges. His ex-students who are now at senior positions in various government departments share… “We never studied in classrooms as Saraf preffered teaching in lawns or even in his kitchen. He taught us to make instruments ourselves for conducting experiments, so that we know the equipments well, before we start experimenting.”
He was highly unsatisfied with the government’s policies to promote science education. He was of the opinion that “Government has a blinkered vision. It cannot think beyond the utility of any experiment and grants money only after knowing its outcome. The government refuses to understand that its experiments and observations are valuable and its utility comes only secondary.
Prof. Saraf made Foucault’s pendulum in Rs 60,000 that would have cost Rs 60 lakhs to universities if imported from the US. In an interview to Times of India he pointed out, “Students, these days, do not understand their equipments. All they know is finishing their syllabus in time and securing marks,” adding that, “they are unaware of the fact that they can themselves make these instruments. This is the reason why science education is suffering so much in the country.”
At a university in Rajasthan, Saraf has established a Centre for Development of Physics Education wherein he has created several standardised physics experiments for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Also, the Central university of Hyderabad had sent a request to the department to supply these instruments made by Saraf. Besides working for the country, Saraf has also established a physics laboratory in the University of Daressalam, Tanzania.
Prof. Saraf had always himself designed and fabricated the equipments necessary for experiments besides conducting workshops for fabricating equipments which can be supplied to other universities and colleges of the country.
He has also worked with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for 10 years. And it was for the first time in history that permission was granted to a researcher to take his lab along with him when he migrated.
His experiments are also placed in Banglore’s Planetarium.
At 86, this devoted physicist said “I am proud that I made the most out of the opportunities that I got in life,”
Prof. Babulal Saraf died in march 2009…..
I pay tribute to this great son of india…..
Ref: An article in The Times of India march 2007