Jayant Vishnu Narlikar had his early education in the campus of Banaras Hindu University, and then went to Cambridge for his post-BSc studies (1957). Having distinguished himself at the Mathematical Tripos, becoming Star Wrangler and Tyson Medallist, Narlikar worked under the guidance of Fred Hoyle and got his PhD (1963), having won the Smith's Prize as well as Fellowship of King's College. He was awarded ScD (1976) by Cambridge University. He joined the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy as a Founder Faculty Member (1966) and became Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai in 1972 after returning to India. He was Founder Director (1989-2003) Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune and continues working there as Emeritus Professor.
Academic and Research Achievements: Narlikar specialized in astrophysics and cosmology. His research work in Cambridge was on the development of the steady state theory as a viable theory of the universe and on action at a distance approach to electrodynamics and gravity. His work with Hoyle on gravity led to what is today known as the Hoyle-Narlikar Theory of gravitation. This theory established a long-sought connection between Mach's principle and general relativity and was later adapted by Narlikar to explain the observed anomalous redshifts. At TIFR, he established a theoretical astrophysics group of repute. His work with Chitre in 1978 on the explanation of apparent superluminal motions in quasars through gravitational lensing, preceded the general enthusiasm for gravitational lensing. In 1977, Narlikar initiated a long-term programme of conformal quantization of gravity which led him to the avoidance of space time singularity in quantum cosmology. In 1993, he joined with Hoyle and Geoffrey Burbidge in proposing an alternative to big bang cosmology, known as the quasi-steady state cosmology. He guided 12 students for PhD.
Other Contributions: Jayant Narlikar is credited with setting up the internationally known institution, IUCAA at Pune as a resource centre in astronomy and astrophysics. He created a niche for himself as a science communicator, through his articles, books, TV programmes, science movies, etc. He has served on the Indo-US Sub-commission on Education and Culture (1985-89) and on the Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister (1986-89).
Awards and Honours: Professor Narlikar was conferred several awards for his research work and science popularization, notably INSA's Vainu Bappu Award, SS Bhatnagar Award, MP Birla Award, French Astronomical Society's Janssen Medal, INSA's Indira Gandhi Award and UNESCO's Kalinga Award. He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS). He was also President of the Cosmology Commission of IAU (1994-97).