Samar Bagchi

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

A backgrounder

Jayanta Sthanapati, ‘History of Science Museums and Planetariums in India’ , a research project sponsoredby the Indian National Science Academy (2013-2016)/ December 2020

Retrospection of Shri Samar Bagchi

By Dr Jayanta Sthanapati

[Around 1960], Syt Ghanshyam Das Birla, a philanthropist and an eminent industrialist of the Birla Familydecided to donate their palatial building at Birla Park on Gurusaday Road in Calcutta for establishing anindustrial museum by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Govt. of India.

He was close to two of the towering personalities of that era – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India and Dr BidhanChandra Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal. On 7th December 1954, Mr Birla expressing his desire sent aproposal, through Dr Roy, to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then Union Education Minister and Vice-President of CSIR.

The proposal was accepted, and approval was accorded by the Prime Minister. Theproperty was transferred to CSIR in 1956.A committee was constituted by CSIR, with Dr B.C. Roy as Chairman to specify the scope and managefinances of the industrial museum, which was subsequently named as Birla Industrial and TechnologicalMuseum.

The committee took an important decision to appoint the adequate number of professionallyqualified human resources who would not only contribute intellectually and technically to develop themuseum, but also would be able to help sustain its growth and expansion. As the first step in this direction,Mr Amalendu Bose, who was working as Patent Inspector, after completing higher studies in Chemistry inCalcutta and the US, was appointed as Planning Officer of BITM in November 1956.

Under his leadership,the BITM was made ready for inauguration by Prof Humayun Kabir, Union Education Minister on 2nd May1959.Mr A Bose was a visionary, who realised the importance of inducting right kind of people, having a passionfor this profession, and between 1957 and 1963, he recruited some matured officials, experts in respectivefields, like Mr P.M. Niyogi, Mr S. S. Ghosh, Mr R.C. Chandra and Mr C.S. Pai. He further recruited Mr S.K.Ghose, Mr R.M. Chakraborti and Mr S.K. Bagchi, three young engineers with many years to go, who wouldcontribute towards the betterment of science museum for a longer period.Mr Samar Kumar Bagchi had served the BITM as a Curator in different grades from 1962 to 1979 and afterthat as Director till 1991. T

A profile

From the archives of India Today

He is a former Director, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata


B.Sc from Calcutta University, mining engineering from ISM, Dhanbad.

Usually to be found

Working with teachers and students.


Classical music, reading poetry and travelling to the mountains.


Education being reduced to rote learning without understanding of basic principles.

Committing to memory and vomiting on paper. This is how Samar Bagchi sums up his take on science education in Indian schools. He’s been trying to undo the damage inflicted on generations of students from his days at the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum in Kolkata, where as director he carried out wide-ranging education programmes in schools in West Bengal.

Whether it was through the popular science quiz, Quest, on Doordarshan, between 1983 and 1988, or the 100-odd workshops that he conducted in schools for science teachers, with the slogans, ‘Science is Doing’ and ‘Where There is no Laboratory’, Bagchi has always been a people’s scientist. He received a national award in 1992 for popularising science through the media.

-by Abhijit Dasgupta

A profile

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Samar Kumar Bagchi was born in Purnea, Bihar, India, in 1933. He was one of six brothers and one sister. His father was a health officer under the District Board, and his family moved frequently due to his father's job. Bagchi attended school in Dumka, Munger, and Calcutta. He graduated from Scottish Church College in Calcutta with a degree in physics in 1957.

After graduating, Bagchi worked as a mining engineer for two years. However, he injured his back while pole vaulting, and this injury made it difficult for him to continue working underground. In 1962, he saw an advertisement for a job as a curator at the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) in Calcutta. He applied for the job and was hired, despite having no previous experience in museum work.

Bagchi quickly became a valuable member of the BITM team. He was responsible for developing and managing the museum's mining and metallurgy galleries. He also helped to organize a number of public lectures and events. In 1979, he was promoted to director of the BITM.

As director, Bagchi oversaw a period of significant growth and expansion at the BITM. He helped to develop new galleries on a variety of topics, including electricity, electronics, and space science. He also expanded the museum's outreach programs and educational initiatives.

Bagchi retired from the BITM in 1991. However, he remained active in the museum community and continued to promote the importance of science education. He died in 2004.

Samar Kumar Bagchi was a dedicated and passionate museum professional. He made significant contributions to the BITM and to the field of science education. He is remembered as a visionary leader who helped to shape the future of science museums in India.

Here are some additional details about Bagchi's life and work: • He was a member of the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) and served as its president from 1990 to 1991.

• He was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honor, in 1992.

• He was a recipient of the NCSM Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

Bagchi's legacy is one of innovation, creativity, and dedication to science education. He was a pioneer in the field of science museums in India, and his work helped to make science more accessible and engaging for people of all ages.

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