Chittaranjan Bhatia completed his BSc (1953), MSc (1955) from Meerut College. He did his PhD in 1961 under the supervision of Dr MS Swaminathan at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. He then joined BARC, retiring as Director of the Bio-Medical Group.
Academic and Research Achievements: Bhatia's PhD work was to evaluate radiation induced mutations in wheat for rust resistance, quantitative characters and productivity. His subsequent research included the study of maize, sorghum and millet s biodiversity in the North-East and Kashmir. He also worked at Wageningen, studying selection response to mutagen induced variability for flowering time in Arabidopsis, and the association of protein bands with an induced chromosomal translocation from Aegilops umbellulata to wheat, protein and isoenzyme variation in Nicotiana species, inter-species hybrids and amphiploids. He joined the Biology Division of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in 1966 to continue exploring induced and natural genetic variation in crop plants for morphological, biochemical, disease resistance and productivity traits. Induced variants with increased protein content were identified in wheat and rice. However, these and other high protein stocks were found to be lower in productivity compared to the cvs with normal protein. This led to the identification of bioenergetic constraints in increasing grain protein, and subsequently for other desired plant breeding goals such as the desired fatty acid composition, insect resistance and higher harvest index. His group developed fifteen new cultivars of pulses and oilseeds that were approved and released for cultivation at the National and State level.
Other Contributions: Bhatia supported the import of Bt-cotton seeds for introducing the Bt transgene into Indian cotton hybrids. Bt cotton hybrids were approved for cultivation in 2002 and have contributed to significant increase in cotton production.
Awards and Honours: Dr Bhatia received the RN Tandon Memorial Award (1993), SK Mitra Memorial Award of INSA (1995) and the Om Prakash Bhasin Award (1995). He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (1984), the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi (1992), the National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad (1991), the Maharashtra Academy of Science ( 1983), and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) (1992).