Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao FRS, also known as C. N. R. Rao (born 30 June 1934), is an Indian chemist who has worked mainly in solid-state and structural chemistry. He currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. Rao has honorary doctorates from 60 universities from around the world, and has authored around 1,600 research publications and 51 books.[1]

On 16 November 2013, the Government of India announced his selection for Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, making him the third scientist after C.V. Raman and A. P. J. Abdul Kalam[2] to receive the award.[3][4][5] He was conferred the award on 4 February 2014 by President Pranab Mukherjee in a special ceremony in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.[6][7]

Early life and education

C.N.R. Rao was born in Bangalore to Hanumantha Nagesa Rao and Nagamma Nagesa Rao.[8][9] He was an only child, and his learned parents made an academic environment. He was well versed in Hindu literature from his mother and in English from his father at an early age. He did not attend elementary school but was home-tutored by his mother, who was particularly skilled in arithmetic and Hindu literature. He entered middle school in 1940, at age six. Although he was the youngest in his class, he used to tutor his classmates in mathematics and English. He passed lower secondary examination (class VII) in first class in 1944. He was ten years old, and his father rewarded him with four annas (twenty-five paisa). He attended Acharya Patashala high school in Basavanagudi, which made a lasting influence on his interest in chemistry. His father enrolled him to a Kannada-medium course to encourage his mother tongue, but at home used English for all conversation. He completed secondary school leaving certificate in first class in 1947. He studied BSc at Central College, Bangalore. Here he developed his communication skills in English and also learnt Sanskrit.[10] He obtained his bachelor's degree from Mysore University in 1951, in first class, and only at the age of seventeen. He initially thought of joining Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for a diploma or a postgraduate degree in chemical engineering, but a teacher persuaded him to attend Banaras Hindu University. He obtained a master's in chemistry from BHU two years later. In 1953 he was granted a scholarship for PhD in IIT Kharagpur. But four foreign universities, MIT, Penn State, Columbia and Purdue also offered him financial support. He chose Purdue. His first research paper was published in the Agra University Journal of Research in 1954. He completed PhD in 1958, only after two years and nine months, at age twenty-four.[10]


Rao is one of the world's foremost solid state and materials chemists. He has contributed to the development of the field over five decades.[11] His work on transition metal oxides has led to basic understanding of novel phenomena and the relationship between materials properties and the structural chemistry of these materials.

Rao was one of the earliest to synthesise two-dimensional oxide materials such as La2CuO4. His work has led to a systematic study of compositionally controlled metal-insulator transitions. Such studies have had a profound impact in application fields such as colossal magneto resistance and high temperature superconductivity. Oxide semiconductors have unusual promise. He has made immense contributions to nanomaterials over the last two decades, besides his work on hybrid materials.

After completion of his graduate studies Rao returned to Bangalore in 1959 to take up a lecturing position, joining IISC and embarking on an independent research program. From 1963 to 1976 Rao accepted a permanent position in the Department of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, during which time he was elected as a fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1964. He returned to IISc in 1976 to establish a solid state and structural chemistry unit.[10] and became director of the IISc from 1984 to 1994. At various points in his career Rao has taken appointments as a visiting professor at Purdue University, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and University of California, Santa Barbara. He was the Jawaharlal Nehru Professor at the University of Cambridge and Professorial Fellow at the King's College, Cambridge during 1983–1984.[12]

Rao is currently the National Research Professor, Linus Pauling Research Professor and Honorary President of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore which he founded in 1989.[13] He was appointed Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Indian Prime Minister in January 2005, a position which he had occupied earlier during 1985–89. He is also the director of the International Centre for Materials Science (ICMS) and serves on the board of the Science Initiative Group.[14]

He shares co-authorship of around 1500 research papers and has co-authored and edited 45 books.[11][15]

Awards and recognition

Scientific awards

Indian governmental honours

Foreign honours

Personal life

Rao is married to Indumati Rao in 1960. They have two children, Sanjay and Suchitra. His son Sanjay Rao is engaged in popularising science in Bangalore's schools.[citation needed] His daughter Suchitra is married to K.M. Ganesh, the director of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Pune, Maharashtra.[34] Rao is quite technophobic. He removed computers from his tables and never checks his email by himself. He also said that he uses the mobile phone only to talk to his wife.[35]


Rao has been subject of a number of plagiarism scandals, allegations he refutes. In December 2011, an apology was issued to the journal Advanced Materials[36][37] – a peer-reviewed publication – for a paper he co-authored with a junior research associate that contained text reproduced without attribution of other scientist's work.[38] The PhD student assumed the responsibility for the incident and issued a formal apology.[39] Later Rao offered a full withdrawal the article from the journal, however the editor let the publication stay. Rao claimed to not be complicit in the incident plagiarism.[40]

Further controversy ensued when Rao and the other senior author of the paper, S. B. Krupanidhi, attributed blame to the principal co-author (a PhD student at IISc) for the error, "These sentences were part of the introduction of the paper, which was written by our student, that neither of us (namely, the senior authors, Rao and Krupanidhi) paid attention to". Particular public criticism was directed at Rao with relation his handling of the allegations, claiming senior co-authorship of a published work only to distance himself when problems arose. Rao was criticised by an Indian scientist for these incidents and passing the responsibility to the junior scientists, raising questions of his understanding and practice of modern research ethics.[41]

More allegations of instances of plagiarism in papers co-authored Rao have been reported.[42]

On 17 November 2013, at a press conference following the announcement of his Bharat Ratna, he called the Indian politicians "idiots" that caused a national outrage. He said, "Why the hell have these idiots [politicians] given so little to us despite what we have done. For the money that the government has given us we [scientists] have done much more."[43] In his defence Rao insisted that he merely talked about the "idiotic" way the politicians ignore investments for research funding in science.[44]


  1. ^ "Professor C.N.R. Rao's Research". Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. Retrieved 15 February 2018. 
  2. ^ "C.N.R. Rao, Sachin conferred Bharat Ratna". The Hindu. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Sachin, eminent scientist CNR Rao get Bharat Ratna". The Times of India. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Sachin first sportsperson to win country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna". Hindustan Times. New Delhi. 16 November 2013. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Bharat Ratna for Prof CNR Rao and Sachin Tendulkar". Prime Minister's Office. 16 November 2013. Archived from the original on 19 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Sachin Tendulkar and CNR Rao conferred Bharat Ratna". The Times of India. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "CNR Rao, Sachin receive Bharat Ratna". The Hindu. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "Bangalorean CNR Rao to get Bharat Ratna". The Times of India. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Scientist wonders why nobody asks him about Dan David prize". Deccan Herald. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Stephen David (3 June 2010). "How I made it: CNR Rao, Scientist". India Today. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Johnson R (20 July 2012). "Author Profile: C. N. R. Rao". Journal of Materials Chemistry Blog. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  12. ^ a b INSA. "Indian Fellow". Indian National Science Academy. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Professor C N R Rao to be awarded with Bharat Ratna". Biharprabha News. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Madur (4 February 2014). "The Key Figure in Structural Chemistry – CNR Rao". karnataka.com. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  15. ^ ABC (24 November 2011). "CNR Rao is the winner of the 2011 Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize". abc.org.br. The Brazilian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "RAO, Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra". Indian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c "Professor C.N.R. Rao FRS Biography". Bangladesh Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c "C.N.R. Rao - Elsevier". Elsevier. 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  19. ^ "About Us". World Cultural Council. Retrieved November 8, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Satyarthi's '3D' model: Dream, discover, do". Times of India. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  21. ^ Honoris Causa Archived 8 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Caluniv.ac.in. Retrieved 13 March 2012
  22. ^ Ramasami T (2005). "India Science Award and Dan David Prize for C. N. R. Rao" (PDF). Current Science. 88 (5): 687. 
  23. ^ The Hindu : Karnataka News : Dan David prize for C.N.R. Rao. Hinduonnet.com (4 March 2005). Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  24. ^ "Dan David Prize". Retrieved 6 May 2008. 
  25. ^ "Abdus Salam Medal". The World Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "CNR Rao Awarded Nikkei Asia Prize". Convergence. 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  27. ^ "Khwarizmi International Award 21st Session -2008 - Khwarizmi International Award (KIA)". 123.54. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016. 
  28. ^ Jayaraman, K. S. (2010). "Need young scientists to lead: C N R Rao". Nature India. doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.365. 
  29. ^ China's top science award for Dr.C.N. R. Rao. Retrieved 24 January 2013
  30. ^ "CNR Rao is 1st Indian elected for Chinese Academy of Science". Deccan Herald. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  31. ^ http://www.iitp.ac.in
  32. ^ Padma Awards: Yearly Lists of Recipients
  33. ^ R. A. MASHELKAR (17 November 2013). "Tribute to a master alchemist". Business Line. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  34. ^ "C.N.R Rao, scientist par excellence (Profile)". Business Standard News. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  35. ^ Pallava Bagla (16 November 2013). "Bharat Ratna awardee CNR Rao: the scientist who finds computers 'distracting'". NDTV. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  36. ^ Basant Chitara; L. S. Panchakarla; S. B. Krupanidhi; C. N. R. Rao (2011). "Infrared Photodetectors Based on Reduced Graphene Oxide and Graphene Nanoribbons". Advanced Materials. 23 (45): 5419–5424. doi:10.1002/adma.201101414. 
  37. ^ Basant Chitara; L. S. Panchakarla; S. B. Krupanidhi; C. N. R. Rao (2011). "Apology: Infrared Photodetectors Based on Reduced Graphene Oxide and Graphene Nanoribbons". Advanced Materials. 23 (45): 5339. doi:10.1002/adma.201190182. 
  38. ^ "Plagiarism cloud over CNR Rao". Daily News and Analysis. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  39. ^ K.S. Jayaraman (2012). "Indian science adviser caught up in plagiarism row". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10102. 
  40. ^ "Plagiarism row: Charges shocking,unfair,says Rao". Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  41. ^ "No Science in cut and paste". The Hindu. 9 March 2012. 
  42. ^ "More cases of plagiarism come to light". The Hindu. 11 March 2012. 
  43. ^ "All you need to know about Bharat Ratna awardee CNR Rao". Firstpost.India. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  44. ^ "CNR Rao does damage control after outbursts; Jaipal Reddy agrees with Rao's views on funding". The Times of India. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 

Further reading

External links