Jagadish Chandra Bose was almost a pioneer in modern science in India. He was a man of versatile genius — a physicist, biologist, botanist as well as a writer of science-fiction, and an essayist. He was born on 30 November 1858 at Bikrampur (now Munshiganj of Bangladesh). His father Bhagaban Chandra Das was a devotee of Brahmo Samaj and worked as a Deputy Magistrate in Faridpur, Burdwan, and some other places.
Early Education: Jagadish Chandra’s early education started in a Vernacular school because his father believed that one must know one’s mother tongue before learning any other language. In 1869, Bose joined Hare School and six years later he was admitted to St. Xavier’s College of Calcutta. Here he came under the influence of Father Lafont, a great scientist, who instilled in him a love of science and a desire for making researches. After graduation, he proceeded to England and entered the University of Cambridge. He completed his scientific studies, specialising in Physics, and obtained the Natural Science Tripos in 1884.
As a teacher and research in science: The following year, Bose joined Presidency College as officiating Professor of Physics. But he was not provided facilities of research. He was also offered a lower salary than his European colleagues. Jagadish Chandra Bose had a remarkable sense of self-respect and national pride. Therefore, as a sign of protest, he continued his teaching assignment for three years without accepting his salary. Finally, the Director of Public Instruction and the Principal offered him all his back-pay of three years and a permanent teaching post; and he served there without a break for thirty years. In this college, he made those pioneer researches — first in Physics and then in plant physiology — which earned him name and fame all over the scientific world. Jagadish Chandra Bose’s first researches were in Physics. In 1895, he was the first person who was able to send electromagnetic waves without the medium of wires from one room to another through three solid walls, about 75 metres away, and then to his house about two miles (3 km) away. This was a remarkable and path-breaking incident which paved the way for future research all over the world. Instead of looking for the commercial benefit for his inventions, Bose made his inventions public in order to allow others to advance further along the lines of his research. Thus his success in wireless telegraphy preceded the Italian scientist Marconi who got the patent for the invention of wireless telegraphy in 1911. It is now known that a despicable conspiracy deprived Jagadish Chandra Bose form the Nobel Prize. However, Jagadish Chandra Bose’s place in history has now been evaluated.
Jagadish Chandra Bose had invented several delicate and sensitive instruments made by himself to show that plants behave in the same manner as animals under similar stimuli, though plants take longer time to respond than animals. One of them is the Crescograph which is used to measure the growth rate of plants. He proved that plants are sensitive to heat, cold, light, noise and other external stimuli, just like human beings. By injecting poison into a living plant, Bose showed that they react in the same manner as we do.
Bose Institute: Jagadish Chandra Bose retired from his professional work in 1915. On 30 November 1917, he founded the ‘Bose Institute‘ at his own house in Calcutta and donated it to the nation for research on science.
Literary Works: Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose wrote several books and published many research papers in leading science journals. Some of his famous books are ‘Response in the Living and the Non-living’ (1902), The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926), ‘Major Mechanism of Plants’ (1928), etc. In 1896, he wrote ‘Niruddesher Khonje ‘, first science fiction in Bengali. It is no wonder that his imagination has found excellent expression in his Bengali literary writing in the book ‘Abyakta’ (‘Inarticulated’).
This great scientist was eventually crowned with honours when he was awarded a knighthood by the British government in 1917. He was also conferred many other awards like ‘Fellow of the Royal Society’, ‘Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire’, etc.
Death: Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose breathed his last on 23 November 1937, bequeathing his entire wealth and property to the service of science and humanity. Needless to say, he is one of the greatest scientists even born in India.