Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prof. Obaid Siddiqi

Prof. Obaid Siddiqi passed away last Friday. He was 81. Here's an obituary at The Hindu.

NCBS, which Siddiqi founded over two decades ago, has posted a truly wonderful tribute -- Catalyst of a Culture of Creativity -- by Prof. Vijay Raghavan who succeeded him as its director. Here's an excerpt from the part on Siddiqi's appointment at TIFR:

Obaid met Szilard and as a result of that meeting, Szilard wrote to Homi Bhabha after talking to Alan Garen. Szilard writes to Bhabha, "The enclosed letter of a distinguished colleague of mine, Alan Garen of the University of Pennsylvania, is self explanatory. The second enclosed letter is from Pontecorvo, a distinguished geneticist and whom you may know and relates to the same subject matter. I should be grateful to you for reading these two letters and following it up which such action, which appears appropriate in the circumstances. I regret that our paths haven't crossed for a long time... With kindest regards." Bhabha writes back to Obaid saying "I've received a letter regarding you from a friend, Szilard. I am very interested in personally supporting work in Molecular Biology... We should give you an appropriate offer of appointment either at the Tata's Institute of fundamental research or the Atomic Energy Establishment of Bombay, the Biology division. I should be grateful if you send your CV. We usually ask for several letters of recommendation but those have already arrived so don't bother too much about that and if you want to know anything, just let me know". So that's an interesting way of getting a job; the letters have come in first and all Bhabha wants is Obaid's CV for the record because Bhabha, quite rightly, trusts the judgement of people like Szilard and Szilard trusts the judgment of people like Alan Garen and Guido Pontecorvo.

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Thanks to my colleague, Prof. S. Ranganathan, for the pointer.


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