Srinivasan Varadarajan holds MA from Madras University, MSc from Andhra University, PhD (1952) from University of Delhi, and PhD (1956) from University of Cambridge, UK. He has received DSc (hc) and DLitt (hc) from several Indian Universities including the Institutes of Technology, Banaras Hindu University. Varadarajan was Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, Delhi University (1949-53), 1851 Exhibition Overseas Fellow (1953-56), Cambridge, Visiting Lecturer in Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA (1956-57), Beit Memorial Fellow in Medical Research in Addenbrooks Hospital, Department of Radiotherapeutics, University of Cambridge (1957-59). He was a Member at Pembroke College, Cambridge (1953-59). British Council provided Travel Grants in 1953 and 1956. He was awarded ICI Post Doctoral Fellowship and Senior 1851 Exhibition Fellowship as well in 1957. He returned to India in 1959 to initiate research in Hindustan Lever of the Unilever International Group.
Academic and Research Achievements: His initial research contributions with TR Seshadri in Andhra and Delhi were on the structure of several benzopyrones and rotenoid natural plant products with biological effects. In the University Chemical Laboratory of Sir Alexander Todd, Cambridge, as an 1851 Overseas Exhibition Fellow, he was also associated with DM Brown in research leading to the synthesis of nucleosides, nucleotides and to the structure of ribonucleic acid (RNA) phosphate linkage, through first cyclonucleoside and with Iodine labelled heavy atom and first application of X-ray crystallography in the Laboratory of Sir Lawrence Bragg. His research at the Biology Department of MIT yielded uniformly 14C labelled Thiobacillus denitrificans and Escheria coli deoxynucleotides, converted to triphosphosphates chemically and isolated through first use of lithium bromide, as precursors for biosynthesis of DNA.
The work at Hindustan Lever led to transformation of non-edible oil and forest products to valuable industrial raw materials such as detergents and perfumery goods. High Protein Efficiency Value Edible Nutrition Products were also formulated and provided to several million people in drought condition in Western India. Large volume production arising from the Indian scientific research, innovation and novel technologies yielding national economic output and social benefits led to its recognition as a technology enterprise within the country and internationally. During 1959-74, Dr Varadarajan was successively Head of Research, Director Research and Technology based Manufacture of new high value chemical products while continuing association with Unilever Research Internationally and contributing to National Science Policies in the country. Large number of Scientists from Indian research moved to high positions in General Management in Unilever in Western Europe, Asia and South America from 1975 providing for economic and social growth from Science.
Dr Varadarajan moved to Government of India and has been Chairman of Public Sector Organizations such as Indian Petrochemical Corporation (IPCL) (1974-81). Petrofils Cooperative (1975-80), Engineers India Ltd (EIL) (1975-78; 1981-82), and Bridge and Roof Co. (1978-83). He worked as Secretary to Government of India (1982-88) in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and was Director General, Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), Vice Chairman, National Biotechnology Board, and Chief Consultant Planning Commission of India (1986-88). Through interaction with Scientific, Technological, Engineering Consultancy Organizations. IPCL evolved at Baroda a Naphtha Cracker Olefin Complex of sixteen large manufacturing units of Olefin Polymers, Fibers and Chemicals utilizing services of Engineers India Limited (EIL) to provide four million manhours of detail engineering. Complex items of engineering were designed to be produced by Indian Public and Private sector Companies for the first time for storage of gaseous hydrocarbons, as liquids at very low temperature and for reactors, heat exchangers pipelines with special alloys. High safety and Environment Quality standards in Air and Water could be met. Large numbers of highly capable technical personnel emerged to meet requirement of numerous Government Enterprises at the time of Petroleum Oil Crisis to function as Chief Executives as well as Directors of major Public Research Institutions.
The processing of offshore petroleum oil gas was completed and later led to production of fuels, LPG, ammonia and urea. The success of EIL provided major projects overseas in Gulf, Middle East. EIL secured roles in non-ferrous metals, and in design and production of heavy water needed for Indian atomic natural uranium power generation. Design engineering of chemical materials in space launch were also provided. The large Public Sector Enterprises functioned to generate novel products as well as financial returns and capabilities to design, produce and install highly complex major engineering functions.
Contributions: Dr Varadarajan was a Founder Member of the Government Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) since 1973. He was invited to be Member of Oxford Energy Policy Club, St Anthonys College (1976-83). He has been Member of the Governing Councils of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1974-92), National Council of Applied Economic Research (1976-84), Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Banaras Hindu University. He was Trustee of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts. He served for 11 years as Chairman of National Commission of Science Museums and assisted in establishment of several Science Museums during 1975-86. He was Member of Public Enterprises Selection Board (1985-88). He was associated with international negotiations for establishment of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Delhi and Trieste, and the formation of Indo-French Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Delhi. Special mention may be made of his work completed on Environmental effects of Refinery on Taj Mahal Monuments (1974-76) and again (1994-95) and on safe disposal of highly toxic stored materials after tragic toxic gas leakage at Bhopal in December 1984. Policies suited to science agencies for personnel career advancement, mobility, international cooperation, bold novel risky experimentation and new fiscal forms for support by Industry to Scientific Societies as well as Universities and Public Research Agencies have been outlined. Science Advisory Groups in Ministries and in State Governments and Research Centres in most Public Enterprises have been established. He was associated with the task of revision of National Generally Recommended Dietary Allowances for Nutrition. Soon after petroleum oil crisis, he served as Chairman and Chief Executive of major new Government of India companies in petroleum oil, gas refining and processing to chemicals, petrochemical polymers, fibres, fertilizers, design engineering, project detailing, construction, production and marketing.
Awards and Honours: Varadarajan has been President of INSA (1996-98), Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1980-82), Indian National Academy of Engineering (1992-95), Nutrition Society of India (1982-86), Oil Technologists Association of India (1984-86) and Treasurer Materials Research Society of India (1990-94). He is Honorary Professor in Chemical Sciences, Technology and in Management in IIT Delhi. He was Honorary Chairman of the Consultancy Development Centre and is Honorary Chairman of Development Library Network DELNET from 1995, now with 1500 Members. He was Member of International Committee of ICSU on Chemical Research Applied to World Needs (CHEMRAWN); the small India-Japan Eminent Persons Group of Governments and the INSA-Japan Science Advisory Council. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (Honorary Fellow), National Academy of Agricultural Sciences of India, Society of Engineers, All India Management Association, and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. Awards: Padma Bhusan from President of India; INSA CV Raman Medal: INSA Medal for Promotion and Service to Science; INAE Lifetime Contribution Award in Engineering; Life Time Science Award in Petroleum; Awards in Biological Chemistry, Chemical Technology.
He is presently INSA Platinum Jubilee Professor.