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h narasimhaiah

The accomplished and distinguished Indian physicist, Professor Hanumanthappa “Hosur" Narasimhaiah (1920 – 2005), was born in Hossur, India. He earned his doctorate in nuclear physics from Ohio State University in 1960, and went on to serve as Bangalore University’s Vice-Chancellor, president of the National Education Society, and president of the Indian Rationalist Association. Narasimhaiah is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Jawaharlal Nehru National Prize for popularizing science, and the Government of India’s third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, for his service in literature and education.

In addition to being a self-proclaimed atheist, Narasimhaiah was a staunch rationalist, a principle he embodied professionally and politically. Inspired by his encounter with Mahatma Ghandi in 1936, Hosur Narasimhaiah joined Ghandi’s resistance movement, Quit India, in 1942, for which he was arrested and imprisoned for nine months during the last year of his undergraduate studies at the Central College of Bangalore. 

In addition to founding the Bangalore Science Forum, Dr. H. Narasimhaiah formed and chaired India's national Committee to Investigate Miracles and Other Verifiable Superstitions, chartered to conduct investigations into India's public proclamations of curses and miracles. He was also a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and, to date, remains the only Indian national to have served on the CSI. (In 2011, CSI posthumously inducted him into its Pantheon of Skeptics.) During his lengthy and prestigious career, he warned others against confusing open-mindedness with empty-mindedness, and to seek a balanced, progressive approach equally critical of an undisciplined “anything’s possible” perspective as of an inflexibly cynical one. Narasimhaiah argued that scientific inquirers should demonstrate a yearning for truth using reasoning and comprehensive scrutiny. He once famously stated, “A poor teacher complains, an average teacher explains, a good teacher teaches, a great teacher inspires.” For millions, he continues to be regarded as a singularly great teacher. An educator, politician, scientist, and investigator, Hosur Narasimhaiah heroically inspires us to set our own bar much higher, and to strike a rational and spiritual balance in our skeptical approach to paranormal inquiry.

H. Narasimhaiah’s biography was released in print in 2013, but numerous on-line sources continue to honor his life and career.  A recommended starting point is Suresh Jangir’s article, “H. Narasimhaiah and the Spirit of Enquiry”: http://www.bfirst.in/news/education/9901/h-narasimhaiah-and-spirit-enquiry.