Publication Activities of the Society

BPR firmly believed that the prime activity of any learned Society like ours should be in the quality and quantum of publications brought out with regularity. With a meager clerical staff and couple of technical assistants and the voluntary support of scores of competent earth scientists across the country, BPR was to a large extent responsible for the prolific publication activity of the Society in the last half-a-century. The Journal of the Society was fortunate to have had the services of late Prof. L. Rama Rao as the first Editor, who laid a solid foundation on which BPR built to make it what it is today. It is no mean achievement to bring out month after month, exactly on time, a scientific journal maintaining a certain standard in its content as well as in aesthetics of page make-up and printing standards. The BBD press, one of the leading printers of Bangalore of the bygone days with the Mallya brothers in-charge played an important role in the Journal production during the first 35 years. Subsequently, BPR trained Shri M. Nagaraju of Pragati Graphics (now Driti Enterprises) into an accomplished publisher by his exacting standards and insistence on an aesthetically pleasing final product.

BPR ardently desired that the Indian earth scientists publish their best work in the Journal of the Society and not reserve their best for foreign journals and the recycled and less important work in the Society’s journal.

The recent preoccupation of the Indian scientists and scientific organizations with the “citation index” and “impact factor” criteria for authors and journals respectively (mainly imposed by the institutions and organizations they serve) did not interest him much, as he felt that these were heavily skewed in favor of the publications from the western world and publishers there, who would not allow easy entry into their elite cliques. He felt that these indicators are far too complex to arrive at and not infallible and we should not be blindly carried away by these criteria. However, he was always for continuously raising our standards of scientific work more in terms of greater originality and not in just trying to fit our data into models developed elsewhere. While he firmly believed in the universality and supra-national nature of scientific research, he was deeply concerned with our slow progress in catching up with the more advanced nations in the realm of innovative thinking and treading new paths. It was his firmly held view that we would attract the attention of others in the world in direct proportion to the originality, quality and quantum of our scientific output in various sub-disciplines of Earth science.

It is a difficult task to pick out some of the books authored by BPR as among his best, but mention may be made of the great popularity and demand for his textbook on the “Geology of Karnataka”(co-authored with R.Vaidyanadhan), “Mineral Resources of Karnataka”, “Gold in India”(co-authored with L.C. Curtis). His edited (along with M. Ramakrishnan) Bellur Rama Rao volume on the “Archaean Greenstone Belts of South India”, his two volumes on “Sahyadri” (along with Y. Gunnel), on the “Vedic Saraswati” (with S.S. Merh), Antarjala (with S. Jithendrakumar), 50 years of the Journal (with S. Viswanathan) and the two volumes of compiled editorials (by M.S. Rao) entitled “Random Harvest” deserve special mention. The 3rd volume of “Random Harvest” (by B. Mahabaleswar) incorporating his editorials from 2003-2012 is set for release shortly.

BPR’s editorials in the Journal not only reflect the character, taste and personality of the author but also chronicle the various phases in the development of the Geological Society of India. BPR’s editorials have since become the voice of the geological profession couched in his own inimitable style. Whenever occasion demanded, BPR paid tributes to men of science, in particular earth science, trend-setters and achievers in the society (who may be administrators, industrialists, lawyers and even common men and women striving for the upliftment of sections of the society). His editorials were the first to be read avidly by most of the readers irrespective of their individual specializations in different branches of Earth science. He did not feel shy of exposing through his writings any scientific fraud perpetrated, even if it was in the very columns of the Journal he was editing. From time to time BPR drew the attention of the Earth science community on priorities in geological research by his critical appraisal of the state of knowledge in many frontier areas deserving our attention.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that almost all the publications of the Society had the direct or indirect contribution of BPR in terms of content, quality, aesthetics of design and printing. No other single individual in the field of Indian Earth sciences has been so vitally involved in so many publications over the last half-a-century, which in itself is a stupendous achievement. The void created by his departure from this perspective will be most difficult to fill for a very long time. He had the uncanny ability to visualize a book project, identify the author and propel him to undertake the task and offer invaluable help and critique in completing the task. There is no denying the fact that but for his constant pushing and prodding, several books brought out by the Society would not have been conceived nor seen the light of the day.

BPR had a great vision for Indian Geology and the role Earth scientists should rightfully play in the development of the country. He attached greatest importance to field work and geological mapping, which forms the fundamental basis for all other types of supplementary work in the laboratory. BPR fully endorsed and greatly admired the succinct statement of the famous sedimentologist F.J. Pettijohn in 1975, which is very valid even today –

I am after all a geologist, not a physicist or chemist. I have to ask myself, therefore, what does this paper tell me about the outcrop in front of me? All too often the answer is not too much. Have we in our enthusiasm for the new methods of data collecting forgotten our primary goal? Is it that we have expensive tools looking for a problem rather than a problem requiring an answer by whatever means that are appropriate? The older generation among us are now training a new generation without the field background, without which one cannot distinguish the fundamental from the trivial – the meaningful from the meaningless.

He regretted that geologists in India have more or less given up field mapping as a rigorous discipline.

He had great expectations from national organizations like the Geological Survey of India and many other new institutions set up in post-independent India devoted to different aspects of Earth Science. He was often critical and at times even harsh on these organizations for not readily sharing their data with others and not publishing geological maps expeditiously. He strongly felt that it is a great disservice to both the country and to the individual geologist to keep geological maps unpublished in the lockers of the governmental organizations, built at the expense of public funding. Underlying this was his frustration to see the talents and full potential of many bright youngsters recruited in these organizations being under-utilized and thus wasted.

It is no exaggeration to say that due to his crusading effort, substantial amount of data, including geological maps are now made available on the portals of many of these organizations. He made it possible for many superannuated earth scientists in the country to come forward to bring out very useful and high quality publications/books in their respective fields of specialization. These books have become very useful to the student community in Earth sciences as they are written by individuals with a lifetime of experience in our own country, in a given area/sub-discipline.