Thursday, November 07, 2013

C.V. Raman's Speech ... in Russian!

The story behind this curious event is recounted by Mr. S. Narayan, the man who wrote that speech for him. It appeared in The New Indian Express today which happens to be Prof. Raman's 125th birth anniversary:

One bright morning, Dr. Raman told me with a beaming smile that he had been invited to visit USSR as a State Guest to receive the prestigious award. He added that he would very much like to address the Soviet Academy of Sciences at Moscow in the Russian language during his visit. The Russian Language which I had taught him in those few weeks was too rudimentary to undertake such a mammoth exercise.

Nothing is impossible for a great scientist like him. He immediately hatched a plan and suggested that I should give him a scripted text of the speech which he would practice to deliver. A couple of days later, Lady Raman told me during a repartee that her husband used to practise the speech delivery by heart like a school boy, something she could not decipher. On hearing his wife's jibe, Dr. Raman told me he was ready to deliver the speech. At the rehearsal session, he waxed eloquence over his heavily Tamil-accented Russian speech. Both lady Raman and myself had a hearty laugh. While appreciating his sincere effort, I told him that nobody would understand him if he spoke with that accent. I then gave him a cassette with the speech delivered in my voice. With the help of this cassette Dr. Raman fine- tuned his speech.

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Two asides: (a) Today's Google-doodle celebrates Prof. Raman's 125th birthday. (b) The author of the TNIE piece was a lecturer in our department at IISc for a brief period in the 1950s.