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Friday, July 17, 2009

Scientists Of Pakistan Series Professor Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui. (1999-2)

Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui was born on October, 19,1897, and passed his B.A. examination from Aligarh MAO College in 1919. Later he obtained his Doctorate ( degree from Frankfurt/M. University, Germany, in 1927.
On return to the then India he established the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbi Research Institute at Dehli (1928) and joined it in 1929 and worked there with his usual zeal and commitment. During the troubled period of the 2nd world war, he was appointed in the Indian Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, where early in 1947, he was selected as the Director of the National Chemical Laboratories (of the Indian C.S.I.R.) In addition to other responsibilities and achievements in R&D, he developed the formulation of indelible ink that was used in the 1946 elections. Incidentally the same formulation is still being used in Pakistan.
Dr Siddiqui’s coming into Pakistan was agreed between the two Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in 1948 and here he was appointed as the Director of the newly created Department of Scientific & Industrial Research in 1951. This department was later upgraded to PCSIR in 1953.
Dr Siddiqui had already started the laboratories of this premier national establishment in four barracks in the Naval Hospital Complex, Karachi. Also in 1953 he, alongwith eight others, founded the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and was thus one of the founding fathers of another prestigious S&T Organization in Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan set up the Pakistan Science Commission and Dr S. Siddiqui, as one of its members, was the Chairman of its drafting committee: later the Government acting on the recommendations of the Commission established six research councils in the country.
In 1963 Dr Siddiqui was also made the Chairman of the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology, another organization created as a result of the Science Commission ‘s recommendations in 1961, and he was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London the same year. He was the second Pakistani to receive this honour and ,till now, the only one while working in Pakistan. It was a rare occasion when the late Dr I. H. Usmani, in one of his addresses in the PCSIR Laboratories, remarked that “with Salim here and Salam there, the health of our science seems good”.
The concern and commitment which Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui had for the development of science in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that he started the PCSIR with only 6 Ph.D.’ s and planned to train people abroad in advanced research Laboratories and thus raised the number to 112 Ph.D.’ s working in the PCSIR in 1966.
This 19 fold or over 8 percent per year increase in 13 years is a figure that the organization has never reached again. Dr Siddiqui retired from PCSIR in 1966 and was appointed as Professor of Chemistry and Director of Post-graduate Institute of Chemistry at the University of Karachi. Here he established in 1975 another prestigious centre of excellence, the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Institute of Chemistry, for which there is no dearth of praise from Chemists working in the field of plant Products chemistry.
He retired from this Institute at the age of 93 and passed away on April 14th, 1994. Two of his three sons have followed in his footsteps in science & technology, one of the three retiring as Associate Professor in Theoretical Physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. This brief narration reveals that Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui established a number of R&D as well as S&T institutions and worked with dedication to see the fructification of his efforts.
The span of his research activities is spread over 65 years, during which he published over 400 research papers and developed about 50 formulations of pharmaceutical interest and guided a large number of Ph.D. students.
Before concluding I want to share the feelings of another illustrious Pakistani scientist, the late Chaudhry Mohammad Afzal, which he expressed on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui in 1987 (Proceedings of Pakistan Academy of Sciences).
“His research output is prodigious. He is known all over the world for his pioneering work on alkaloids of drug plants, for which he has been honoured by the Third World Academy of Science by giving him a special award. He has already been honoured by several Governments and Learned Societies.
He is the second Pakistani Fellow of the Royal Society, London. I am more concerned with a shy, retiring individual his greatest contribution of Pakistan’s Science is his “Do it-yourself” work ethic.
In the HEJ Institute, every member of the staff, including Dr Siddiqui did his or her own work using their own two hands. This work-ethic had its own spin off”.
At his 90th birthday his colleagues conferred on him the honorific title of “Baba-i-Science of Pakistan” a title which he so richly deserved.
Professor Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui died on April 14, 1994, May Allah bless his soul.
Contribution: Chairman Pakistan Council of Science and Technology.
To commemorate the 5th Death Anniversary of the eminent Scientist of Pakistan Professor Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs 5 denomination on April 14,1999.