Renowned scientist Pushpa Mitra Bhargava, the founder director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB) here, who returned his Padma Bhushan award two years ago in protest against the NDA government’s stance towards liberal ethos in the country, died today. He was 88, CCMB sources said. The scientist, popularly known as P M Bhargava, had been suffering from multiple health problems for some time now. Bhargava, a reputed molecular biologist, is survived by a son and a daughter.
Bhargava is a pioneer in the field of biotechnology in the country and he was instrumental in setting up a separate department for biotechnology (DBT) in the Union Ministry of Science and Technology in the 1970s, according to his portal linked to CCMB’s website. Bhargava held various positions, including the vice- chairman of the national knowledge commission during 2005-07. He is recipient of over 100 national and international honours and awards, including the Padma Bhushan in 1986 and the Legion d’Honneur in 1998 from then President of France, it said.
He had opposed the approval of GM in India and called for a moratorium of at least 15 years on genetically modified crops in the country, it said. Bhargava had returned his Padma Bhushan award in 2015 in protest against the alleged intolerance in the country thus facing flak from various quarters. “I have decided to return the award. The reason is that the present government is moving away from the path of democracy, moving towards the path of making the country Hindu religious autocracy just like Pakistan. This is not acceptable… something I find unacceptable,” he had said then.