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Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata

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A new director is born at the age of 60
Posted by Mishreyee Bhattacharya & Tilak Ghosh on July 15, 2012

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Last week, our Centre showed a little bit of love and appreciation to one of VECC’s own. On Thursday, 5th July, students, collaborators, colleagues and well wisher’s of Dinesh Kumar Srivastava assembled at Ajay Divatia Lecture Hall to felicitate him “to be 20 for the third time”. Dr. Dinesh Kumar Srivastava took over as the Director of the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) on 30th June.
                                                                                                                           


Dr. Bikash Sinha, who believes that ‘life begins with more maturity at the age of 60’, wished all the best to Dinesh Kumar Srivastava to ‘put VECC at the top of the world science scenario’. In the fest colloquium, he read also the poem “Where the mind is without fear” by Tagore. Saila Bhattacharya, mentioned Dr. Srivastava’s leading contribution to the building of the Physics Group. “He is always a realistic person….he is ‘Sri-vastava”, that is “Mr. Reality”, he is a friend of the young minds and he puts great effort in nurturing the students,” said Dr. Bhattacharya. Rakesh Kumar Bhandari, the outgoing Director of the Centre, called Dr. Srivastava as an exceptionally bright researcher who contributed tremendously to build a research group at VECC that is most productive. “His knowledge in science as well as humanities makes a perfect combination for leading an institution like VECC. I am sure that under his leadership the centre will achieve new heights”, said Dr. Bhandari. Y. P. Viyogi considers himself as a colleague as well as student of Dr. Srivastva, as Dr. Srivastava brought to him in the photon research program in ALICE at CERN.

“Research on photon is an Indian obsession”, said Steffen Bass who came from the other part of the globe to be present in the Fest Colloquium to honor Dr. Srivastava. “D.K. Srivastava and B. Sinha are the most prolific heavy-ion photon authors in the world,” mentioned Steffen who wrote a few pioneering research papers with Dinesh Kumar Srivastava (DKS) on Parton Cascade Model that probe the dynamics of collision of two nuclei at very high energy. Larry McLaren from Brookhaven National Laboratory, in his fascinating presentation, quoted Mark Twain: “People fall into three categories: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who are left to ask what did happen”. “Dinesh surely falls in the first category,” Larry added.

Dr. Alok Chakraborty, Associate Director of VECC; Dr. Asis Chaudhuri, Dr. Subhashis Chattopadhyay, Dr. R.K. Chowdhury, ex-Director of IOP, Bhubaneswar, Prof. Sudhir Raniwala from Rajasthan University, Prof. Raghav Verma from IIT, Mumbai, Prof. Vivek Tiwari from Allahabad University, Prof. Anju Bhashin from University of Jammu and many others congratulated Dr. Srivastava in his new position and wished all the best in their short speeches in the Fest Colloqium. Prof. Munshi Golam Mostafa shared the fun story that how 10 ml hair oil earned him a post doc position with DKS. “The two papers that I wrote with DKS and Berndt Mueller on chemical equilibration of partons in QGP gave me the prestigious Av Humbolt Fellowship as well a job” said Munshi who is now a Professor at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. “You are a supervisor that every student would like to have”, said Dr. Rupa Chatterjee, who graduated recently from VECC. While Rupa congratulated her caring thesis supervisor “to reach the age of 20 for the third time”, Prof. Rajiv Gavai from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research conveyed best wishes to DKS for “reaching the age of 18 with 42 years of experience!” Dr. Jane Alam presented an overview of the research activities of Dr. Srivastava. The felicitation program was conducted by Dr. Tapan Nayak who nicely presented a biographical sketch of Dinesh Kumar Srivastava.

In the felicitation program Dr. Srivastava wandered down the memory lane. His education started in a remote village at a school under a tree. The journey from school days with full of encouragement from teachers to moving to Allahabad city and finally reaching the Department of Atomic Energy is indeed a fascinating journey. He moved to Kolkata in the year of 1979. His first scientific paper with Bikash Sinha happened to be the first journal publication of VECC. Initially, he developed keen interest in low energy nuclear physics. During his post doctoral visit at Karlsruhe, he worked on saturating properties of nuclear forces and break up of light ions- the subject became extremely important in later years. The turning point came when he joined the QGP meet at Puri in 1989 out of curiosity. This meeting generated immense enthusiasm to venture him in the wonderland of quarks, gluons, plasmas! Till today, the journey continues with more than 150 scientific papers in best physics journals, with more than 2200 citations and some of them finding out path breaking results in the field of hadronic matter and QGP. He is an “Outstanding Referee” of the American Physical Society journals and he is a member of the Physical Review C Editorial Board.

Dr Dinesh Kumar Srivastava developed an immense interest in literature of the world, specially studied the Bangla literature extensively. Many of his short stories were published in the leading magazines and newspapers in Kolkata.

He truly admitted the great support of his family throughout this fascinating journey; described in his own words: “A journey that gave me hope, faith in innate goodness of human beings, a journey which gave me conviction that our happiness and joy lie in pursuance of science and knowledge”. Dr. Srivastava is thankful to the ‘City of Joy’ Kolkata that blessed him with achievements and happiness in every aspect of life: “This city has given me everything, this city has made me what I am today,” added Dr. Srivastava.

A well known scientist in the field of QGP, Berndt Mueller who couldn’t attend the Fest Colloqium sent a message to Dinesh Kumar Srivastava: “On this day of your celebration, I would like to send a special message to a man who embodies the opposites of life in perfect harmony: scientist and artist, critic and friend, discoverer and administrator, witness of Indian "roots" and citizen of the world. As you embark on new career adventures, I know that, with all your achievements to date, we have seen nothing yet!”

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