Bangalore: The Infosys Science Foundation has named three top Indian scientists and two academic experts as winners of its prestigious Infosys Prize 2009 for outstanding contributions to scientific research in four disciplines.
The winner in Physical Sciences is Thanu Padmanabhan of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pune for his contribution to a deeper understanding of Einstein's theory of gravity in the context of thermo dynamics and large-scale structure in cosmology.
For Mathematical Sciences - Ashoke Sen of Harish Chandra Research Institute at Allahabad in recognition of his fundamental contributions to mathematical physics, in particular to string theory, which postulates that sub-atomic particles are one-dimensional strings.
For Life Science - K. Vijaya Raghavan of National Centre of Biological Sciences in Bangalore for his many contributions as a developmental geneticist and neurobiologist. The prize for Social Sciences and Economics has been awarded to Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee of the U.S. based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Upinder Singh of University of Delhi.
Banerjee was chosen by a jury headed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, for his outstanding contributions to the economic theory of development and for his pioneering work in the empirical evaluation of public policy, while Singh won the prize for her contributions as an outstanding historian of ancient and early medieval India.
The 5 million ( 50 lakh) prize, a citation and a medallion will be given to the five winners by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Jan 4 in New Delhi. The jury for Engineering and Computer Sciences, headed by MIT Professor Subra Suresh, did not find a suitable candidate for awarding the prize in the discipline.
The foundation has been set up early this year with a corpus of 450 million (45 crore), including 210 million (Rs 21 crore) jointly contributed by Infosys' co-founders and 240 million ( 24 crore) by the company to promote world class research in natural and social sciences in the Indian sub-continent.
"The highest prize money in five disciplines is to reward and recognise outstanding inventions or discovery or a cumulative body of work done in India that has a positive impact on the nation," Infosys Chairman and Chief Mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy said on the occasion.
Noting that Indian scientific talent had strong roots and was well respected the world over, Murthy said the work done by winners were clear examples of the world-class quality of scientific talent in the country. "Research in the sciences is key to India's development and progress and we must find ways to recognise and reward relevant, leading research in India," said Murthy.
Congratulating the winners, Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Kapil Sibal said research was the foundation on which rests a nation's growth. "To realize India's scientific potential, the government's efforts need to be supplemented by non-governmental efforts as well," Sibal said from New Delhi through a video conference.