Bhalchandra Madhav Udgaonkar had his schooling and college education in Mumbai. After a brief stint as Lecturer in Sidhartha College, Mumbai, he joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai in 1949 as a research student with Homi J Bhabha. He wrote a couple of research papers on the theory of elementary particles and was sent to the Centre d’etude Nuclaire, Saclay, France in 1953 for training related to reactor physics. After returning from Saclay (1955), he developed a small but strong nucleus in Nuclear Reactor Theory in the Atomic Energy Establishment (AEE), Trombay, now Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). With Bhabha’s encouragement and support, he went to Berkeley, California (1960) to work with Geofrey Chew. Upon returning to India (1963), he took charge of the Theoretical Physics Group at TIFR, which soon acquired an international reputation. Thereafter, he continued to work at TIFR.
Academic and Research Achievements: Udgaonkar’s contributions cover many areas related to high energy physics and atomic energy. When India’s first nuclear reactor APSARA was built, he participated in experiments on neutron studies at the reactor. He and his colleagues carried out detailed calculations on the feasibility of a Be / Beo nuclear reactor. He also worked in the planning process of the Zero Energy Reactor ZERLINA and the Canada-India reactor CIRUS. He wrote an interesting note on Parity Violation but did not pursue it into publication, since some others had also got similar ideas in the meantime. By 1959, he decided to devote himself entirely to the high energy physics. While at Berkeley, he published his work on the behaviour of high energy total cross-sections, which stimulated considerable theoretical and experimental work during the next ten years. He collaborated with Murray Gellmann on nucleon-nucleus cross sections at high energies. He also collaborated with Virendra Singh, then a graduate student at Berkeley and published several papers, in particular on the Bootstrap approach to hadron dynamics. He is known for his pioneering work in phenomenology of high energy scattering based on the idea of Regge Poles and also for the work in the Bootstrap approach to hardon dynamics.
Other Contributions: Udgaonkar was responsible for the Graduate Courses and the Visiting Students Research Programme in the School of Physics at TIFR. Out of these emerged the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education (HBCSE) at TIFR and the Western Regional Instrumentation Centre at the University of Bombay. He continued his association with HBCSE as its Chairman (1975-91) and nurtured it as a unique Center of Excellence. He had written extensively on Science Education, Technology and Development, International Scientific Cooperation and Global Nuclear Disarmament. A selection of his writings was published by the HBCSE (1996). He was Chairman of the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences of the Department of Atomic Energy (1978-86) and Atomic Energy Education Society (1988-90). He also served as Member, ICSSR (1980-86), UGC (1973-76, 1976-79), and Pugwash Council and its Executive (1987-97). He was prime mover of Pugwash Guidelines on International Scientific Cooperation for Development (1978). He was Co-editor of the publication Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Desirable? Feasible? (1993). He was the first President of the Indian Physics Association (1971-73) and served as Editor of its news letter Physics News (1975-87). He served as Member of the Commission on Particles and Fields of IUPAP (1969-75).
Awards and Honours: Professor Udgaonkar was bestowed Hari Om Trust Award by UGC (1985) and Padma Bhushan (1985). He was elected President of the Maharashtra Academy of Sciences (1979-82), Indian Academy of Social Sciences (1988-89), Marathi Vidnyan Parishad (1982-91), All India Peoples’ Science Network (1988) (Founder- President), and Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1969).