The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was established in 1954 and its mandate includes
Research, including fundamental research in matters connected with atomic energy and the development of its uses in agriculture, biology, industry and medicine; and
Advancement of higher mathematics.
In pursuit of its mandate, the DAE has established research and development centres as well as grant-in-aid institutions, and has taken in its fold several existing institutions as its grant-in-aid institutions. Together all institutions under the umbrella of the DAE present a formidable group in terms of expertise in science and engineering and research infrastructure. All research institutions under the umbrella of the DAE had been pursuing academic programmes with affiliation from universities located nearby. These programmes were either research based degree programmes (Ph.D. and M.Sc. by research) or class room based course work programmes in certain specialized areas [Diploma in Radiological Physics (DipRP), and Diploma in Medical Radio Isotope Techniques (DMRIT)] or those having a combination of class room courses and research (M.D., M.Ch. and D.M.). Student intake for these programmes was less than the full potential of the institutions and intensity of academic exchanges between R&D centres and grant-in-aid institutions had scope for improvement.
For developing a well trained manpower to fulfill its mandate, DAE founded the “Training School” at Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) in 1957. There was no opportunity available anywhere in the country to impart sufficiently broad-based training in the field of nuclear science and engineering. The Training School provided just the needed avenue both for training as well as for recruitment. With the renaming of AEET as BARC the Training School has come to be known as BARC Training School and the increased demand for manpower has prompted setting up training schools at other units of the DAE. The Training Schools offer a well designed compact, one year intensive programme for fresh engineers and scientists giving them a sound knowledge base in nuclear science and technology. For historical reasons, the name “Training School” continues, however, given the depth and range of its operation of its programmes, it functions as a Graduate School.
The DAE has also made significant contributions to the development of research activity in the universities in the country. Through the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), it has strengthened the research programmes in the universities by funding well defined projects. BRNS has the distinction of being the first agency in the country for funding extra-mural research. In the past one decade, funding through BRNS has been significantly stepped up.
To promote interaction amongst the scientists working in the research centres of the DAE and the faculty from the universities and other institutions of higher learning, and to enable young students to work on programmes of national importance under the joint guidance of the faculty from universities and the scientists of DAE, an Inter-University Consortium was established with its headquarters at Indore As per the present Memorandum of Understanding between the DAE and the UGC signed in 2003, the consortium is named as DAE-UGC-Consortium for Scientific Research and collaboration covers the disciplines of physical sciences, chemical sciences, life sciences and engineering sciences. This institutional arrangement, whereby advanced and major research facilities such as research reactors and accelerators of the Department are made available to the academic institutions, provides an organic link between the Universities and the DAE institutions.
Considering continued expansion of the atomic energy programme and considering the fact that the DAE institutions are engaged in human resource development, the DAE Science Research Council in its meeting held on 26 June 2003 in Mumbai, when Dr. Raja Ramanna was in the Chair, recommended that the DAE might establish the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) having the status of a deemed university after accreditation from appropriate authorities. To advise the Department on all aspects of the setting up of the HBNI, a Steering Committee with the following composition was set up by the Department.
- Prof. P. Rama Rao, Former VC, Hyderabad University, Chairman
- Prof. S.P. Sukhatme, Former Director, IIT, Bombay Member
- Prof. S. Bhattacharya, Director, TIFR, Member
- Dr. Baldev Raj, Director, MCRG, IGCAR, Kalpakkam Member
- Dr. V.C. Sahni, Director, Physics Group, BARC, Member
- Dr. R.B. Grover, Director, SPG, DAE, Member Secretary
The Committee drafted a proposal for submission to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) in consultation with all possible constituent institutions. At this point of time, TIFR had already become a deemed university. All the remaining grant-in-aid institutions and R&D Centres concurred with the idea of setting up of the HBNI and therefore, after all internal approvals a proposal was submitted to the MHRD and the UGC by the Secretary, DAE.
After completion of further steps as stipulated by the UGC, an Expert Committee chaired by Prof. S.K. Joshi was appointed by the UGC and visited Trombay on March 28, 2005 to interact with the team from the HBNI and day-long deliberations were held with the HBNI team. Based on the report of the Expert Committee and its acceptance by the MHRD, the HBNI was notified as a deemed to be university on June 3, 2005 and started its academic programmes in 2006.
Setting up of the HBNI ensures that the DAE scientists and scientific establishments remain at the forefront of the pursuit of excellence in research in science and engineering, comparable with the best global standards. The HBNI brings together the following ten premier institutions of the DAE, called as Constituent Institutions (CIs) of the HBNI, under a single research-driven framework.
- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai established in 1957 and having campuses at other places including Kalpakkam, Tarapur and Mysore, and field laboratories at all nuclear power stations, Gauribidanur, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, high background radiation areas in Kerala, high altitude laboratories in Gulmarg, gamma ray telescope at Mount Abu etc. and BARC Training Schools at Mumbai, Indore, Kalpakkam and Hyderabad;
- Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam set up in 1969;
- Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore set up in 1984;
- Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Kolkata. Cyclotron became operational in 1977 while VECC was still a part of BARC;
- Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), Kolkata set up in 1950;
- Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar set up in 1986;
- Institute of Physics (IoP), Bhubaneswar, set up in 1972,
- National Institute for Science Education and Research (NISER), Bhubaneswar set up as a project of IoP in 2006;
- Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI), Allahabad set up in 1966;
- Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai set up in 1941; and
- Institute of Mathematical Science (IMSc.), Chennai set up in 1962.
The Institute has a distributed structure and is a unitary deemed to be university.
Its Constituents Institutions have already been carrying out advanced research and development for several decades.
These have made India self-reliant in this sensitive and advanced field of national importance. Mission, vision and guiding values of the
Institute were formulated in this background and are as follows.