Eminent scientist Vasant R Gowariker passes away

Vasant R GowarikerEminent research scientist Vasant R Gowariker, who was former scientific advisor to the prime minister, died following a brief illness in a Pune hospital yesterday. He was 81. He is survived by wife Sudha and three daughters.

Reports quoted medical experts who treated Gowariker as saying that he died of multiple organ failure after being diagnosed with dengue. "He was admitted to the intensive care unit on December 29 for the treatment of what initially seemed to be urinary infection, low blood pressure and low platelet count," Sameer Jog, the ICU specialist at the hospital, said.

Gowariker was also formerly secretary to the department of science and technology and a director of the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Gowariker is best known for his pioneering contribution to the development of solid fuel rocket propellants for India's space mission. An expert in fluid materials, Gowariker did his doctorate from Birmhingam, UK.

Gowariker was handpicked by the then ISRO chief Vikram Sarabhai to lead the solid propellant group at the space research organisation.

He was instrumental in the development of the 'Gowariker model' the India Meteorological Department's first 12-parameter based statistical model for long range forecasting of weather.

Gowariker had been admitted to the Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital in the city. He breathed his last at around 11.30 am yesterday.

After completing his graduation in science from Kolhapur, Dr Gowariker went on to obtain a Master's degree externally, and followed it up with a doctorate in fluid materials.

Gowariker and Sarabhai started work on satellite technology in 1965 and Gowariker then went on to head Isro Trivandrum. He was among those responsible for the success of India's satellite launcher SLV-3 in 1983.

Gowariker was also vice-chancellor of the University of Pune and president of the Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission in the state.

Gowariker took a keen interest in mechanics from an early age when he invented a method for automatic winding of thread produced on the charkha.