Birth of the Geological Society of India

A conclave of a small group of geologists, both professional and academic that included BPR, led to the formation of the Geological Society of India in the year 1958 at Bangalore. The others in this meet were L. Rama Rao, M.R. Sreenivasa Rao, P.S. Narayana, T.P. Krishnachar and C.S. Pichamuthu. The prime objective of the Society was to promote “the cause of advanced study and research in all branches of Indian Geology”. Being the youngest member in this initial conclave, the onus of being the first Secretary of the Society fell on BPR. The Society was fortunate to secure the services of Dr. D.N. Wadia, FRS, the doyen of Indian geologists at that time, as its first President and Prof. L. Rama Rao, a distinguished researcher and teacher at the Central College, Bangalore, as the first Editor.

BPR immersed himself totally in building the Geological Society of India from its inception in 1958 alongside his various governmental duties. He shouldered various responsibilities of the Society as Secretary (1958-73), Editor (1973-92) and President (1992-2006). The Journal of the Society, which started as an annual issue in 1959 became a monthly in 1977 during his tenure as Editor. On the solid foundations laid by Prof. L. Rama Rao, BPR played a crucial role in shaping the Journal to evolve over the years as the best earth science Journal in the country, through the regularity of its issue, the quality of peer-reviewed papers in it and the meticulous editorial work that was behind it. He set the norms and standards in all aspects of journal production for all to emulate. It is worth recalling that the Society for its first 25 years of its existence had neither an office nor any clerical staff for assistance.

BPR laid great emphasis on the Society holding periodic seminars, symposia and workshops to act as a forum for dissemination of knowledge generated by various governmental organizations, the academia and the industry. For the first twenty five years, the Annual General Meetings of the Society were held in Bangalore. Later he saw to it that, to the extent possible, they were held in different parts of India, thereby giving an opportunity for greater participation of workers in the field of earth sciences from the local institutions and organizations. The host institution was encouraged to select a suitable topic for the seminar as well. Thus, the first Annual General Meeting of the Society outside Bangalore was held at Thiruvananthapuram in the year 1984 devoted to environmental aspects of Earth Sciences, largely due to the initiative of Dr. H.K. Gupta, the then Director of the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS). This also marked the Silver Jubilee year of the Society.

A great deal of thought was given by him in identifying select group of active workers in a given field and providing them a platform to review the status of knowledge in that area. BPR possessed an uncanny knack of identifying promising young workers across the length and breadth of the country and inviting them to Bangalore to present the results of their work in the monthly meetings of the Society, to which he attached the utmost importance. He also urged them to present an extended abstract of the talks delivered by them to be later published in the journal, so that Fellows outside Bangalore will have an opportunity to keep track of the proceedings of these monthly meetings. He also initiated the conduct of a few field workshops for training research scholars and even budding professional geologists in the field of mineral investigation, structural geology and geomorphology. He used to follow up the work and careers of youngsters and constantly inspire and motivate them to higher levels of creativity and originality. His mentoring was responsible for the scientific careers of many a young scientist in the field of Earth sciences in India.

BPR was not very much in favour of receiving governmental grants and aid. He felt that the Society should generate its own resources through its fellowship, journal subscriptions and sale of other publication to preserve its functional autonomy and to avoid the bureaucratic red-tape involved in accepting governmental support. He was also totally against any ostentation in the organization of scientific meetings and symposia. He believed that we can achieve as much with dignified simplicity, while adhering to the highest standards of aesthetics and cleanliness in all our meetings and get-togethers. Many such meetings held in the premises of the Society under his guidance and supervision are remembered for their dignified simplicity and grace of execution.

The Geological Society of India became synonymous with BPR due to his total commitment to the cause of the Society. In addition to the Journal, BPR played a very important role in bringing out a series of other publications in the form of Memoirs, Lecture Notes, Field Guide Books, Mineral Resource Series, Text-book series of different States of India and Popular Science series.

A few were on methodologies to be adopted in investigations (in the field or laboratory) as instruction manuals. The prolific publication activity of the Society with a minimum supporting staff for a number of years is reflective of the efficiency with which BPR co-opted the services of many earth-scientists from across the length and breadth of the country to offer their free services for a common cause. The Society can be legitimately proud of the quality and quantum of its scientific publications in the course of its existence and it is amazing how one single individual had directly and indirectly contributed to it.