Research Programmes —


The Centre in 1995-1996 was called upon to undertake an unusual research programme to assess certain claims about production of petroleum-like fuels from small quantities of specific herbal materials. During the year the scientific community in India at the highest levels was taken up by such claims being made by Sri Ramar Pillai of Tamil Nadu. Given its serious interest in evaluation and comprehension indigenous skills and technologies, the Centre was the first institution in the country to systematically assess the proposed technology. Sri Ramar Pillai conducted a series of experiments in the Centre during January-February 1995. Through these experiments the Centre was able to conclusively establish that the basic principle of mass-conservation was grossly violated in the experiments of Sri Ramar Pillai, and therefore his claims could not be taken seriously.

The results of these experiments of the Centre were conveyed in detail to the Department of Science and Technology, when the latter began to look into Sri Ramar’s technology in the middle of 1996. The Centre’s work proved to be crucial in this evaluation of Sri Ramar’s technology by the Department. The Centre’s contribution in this respect was acknowledged and appreciated by the Secretary, D.S.T. and by other scientists associated with the work, and was widely reported in the national press.

This is an instance in which the Centre, with the deep moorings of its scholars in science and their understanding of the foundations of scientific approach, was able to arrive at a level-headed assessment of a phenomenon that seemed to have led astray several practising scientists in the major institutions of the country.

Letter of Dr. Bajaj to Secretary DST
Frontline Reports on the Subject
Statesman Article by S. Gurumurthy