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Birbal Sahni
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BIRBAL SAHANI

Begins Research

Birbal published his first two research papers in 1915, on some plants belonging to South France and Malaysia. Hereceived the B.Sc. Degree of London University the same year. Two years later the same University awarded the Master of Science Degree. Meanwhile, one of his research papers brought him the Sudbury— Handyman Award. He attended the summer semesters at Munich (inGermany) under Professor K .Goebel, the renowned German plant morphologist. By then, Birbal’s knowledge of an experience in the study of plants were fully recognized. He was asked to revise Lowson’s textbook of Botany, adding information about Indian plants, so those students in India could use the book. He did it efficiently and the book became very useful to the students of schools and colleges in India.

R.H. Compton, a botanist of South Africa, had collected a number of rare species of plants in some islands of the Pacific. Though they were fragmentary and poorly preserved Birbal made a fairly exhaustive study of those plants. In 1919 London University awarded him the Doctorate in Science for his research on fossil plants. Birbal returned to India.

Birbal’s father had retired from service while Birbal was still at Cambridge. He went to England. He joined Professor Ernest Rutherford, a Noble-Prize winner, in his research on radioactivity. Birbal helped his father in photographic and other connected work though he had himself to take the Degree Examination the same year.

On Professor Seward’s suggestion Birbal examined some specimens of fossil plants brought from different parts of Australia and wrote papers about them. He collaborated with Professor Seward in the study of Indian Gondwana Plants and together they published the book, ‘Indian Gondwana Plants: A Revision’ in 1920.

Gondwana or Gondaranya is the region where the Gondas lived. They were living in Central India. Millions of years ago, the formation of continents and oceans was different from what it is today. The Himalayan region was an ocean. South America, Africa, Australia and India together formed a single continent is usually referred to as Gondwana land because extensive evidence proving its existence is found in the Gondwana region of Madhya Pradesh (in Central India). A hundred-fifty million years ago were formed.

Professor Seward had built up a vast collection of fossil plants belonging to Gondwana land from the Geological Survey of India. For thirty years scientists had not taken much interest in the study of Gondwana plants. Seward and Sahni’s work on Indian Gondwana plants became a landmark in Indian Geology and Plants continued all through his life. To him, plant fossils had a deep significance; their geological background and implications were always present in his mind. He often remarked, "Fossil plants represent the debt that botany owes to geology."

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About Birbal Sahani
Introduction
The Parents
An Earnest Student
A Fresh Question Paper!
In England
You are Here! Begins Research
Back In India
Teacher
Guiding Research
Devotion To Work
The Himalayas
The Study Of Coins
A Shower Of Honours
A Source Of Strength
For The Research Institute
He Remains An Inspiration
A Rare Personality
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