USA denies supercomputer, India makes one within 2 years
“Denied supercomputer, angry India does it!”
A USA newspaper read this in 1991. All because of this great man.
Vijay P. Bhatkar . Father of super computing in India.
It all started with a humiliation. Well, some of the great stories start with a humiliation. Isn’t it? Chanakya . Remember!
During 1980’s countries like USA, GERMANY, RUSSIA had already developed supercomputers. They were critical for developing satellites used for various purposes and nuclear weapons.
That’s when the prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi went USA to import a CRAY supercomputer, the most advanced of that time . USA promptly denied the request. Despite our PM’s assurance that it would be used for only civilian purposes and not an inch of anything more . The prime minister returned empty handed.
A secret meeting was arranged on his arrival from USA. KPP Nambiar ( the secretary of Department of Electronics ) , K R Narayanan (minister of state for technology) along with an young scientist Vijay P Bhatkar met the prime minister . After a short meeting the responsibility was placed on the young scientist.
However, the problems were many.
The man himself had never seen a supercomputer. He knew only the applications of it, not the architecture.
Moreover he was given a 3 years time and a corpus of 30 crore rupees, the exact amount of money and time needed to import CRAY .On above it , there was no such facility available in India that time.
Backed by a government willing to do the near impossible task , Bhatkar established Center for development of advanced computing (CDAC) in 1988 in pune. We were gaining some ground.
The target was gigantic task . So were the problems. Aware by India’s attempt to build a supercomputer, USA imposed sanctions on export of critical components to India. Bhatkar had to source them through his german and british friends routed by various countries. Scientists from all over the country were invited to work at the facility with hugh perks.
Through all the dust and dew,riding on their passion, that young achieved the unthinkable in 1990. However people were still skeptical about the achievement. That was when Bhatkar decided to unveiled his super child at Zurich super computing show.
And finally that day came . The prototype beat all other supercomputers from RUSSIA, JAPAN.GERMANY. It came second only to the CRAY. It took a while for the world to believe what INDIA had done. Wow!!
Another leaf was added to the history. PARAM series was born. On 1st july 1991 it came to existence and showcased India’s capability to the whole world.
Vijay P Bhatkar is the man who made this possible.
He was awarded padma shri in 2000 and padma bibhusan in 2015. Currently working as chancellor of Nalanda university, he is surely a national treasure.