Servo Do Ideal
(Servant of an Ideal)
By Sadanand Bhatkal
Dr. Gopal Shankar Hattiangdi, sadhak, scientist, pracharak, writer - a versatile personality – will have achieved a score of 80 on 15th December 2001. It is difficult for a contemporary like me to adequately analyse the life and work of Gopal’s four score eventful years. There is no compelling reason for my attempting a brief assessment of the tremendous achievements of this Tikakar. We both are driven by an urge to seek the truth though it may be in different ways.
It will be useful to rely on the bio-vitae of Gopal instead of trying to present an impressionistic overview. The fact file starts:
Born: 15th December 1921
Education: Bharada High School (1932-1936)
However, the important point to note is his stay in New Delhi and Shimla for nearly ten years during his childhood. The influence of Mahajans of the two capitals on young Gopal must have certainly been responsible for moulding his personality. This was under the watchful eyes of H. Shankar Rau who was a role model for everyone who aspired to be a gentleman, an efficient administrator, diligent volunteer and/or a builder of ideas. Gopal’s mother Umabai must have been equally inspiring. Bharada High School was in those days known to impart liberal education.
The literary output of Gopal is a Hattiangdi family tradition. Those of us who have gone through the earlier files of the “Kanara Saraswat” have noticed that articles written by H. Narain Rao, H. Shankar Rau are brilliant in prose, accurate in facts, lucid in language and educative in content.
Gopal’s academic career spans over a decade and a half - first (1936-1949) in the prestigious Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science. Later, his research work took him also to the University of South California. He earned his Ph.D. at a very young age with his thesis, “Science and Technology”
A little known fact: Gopal had prepared a report on the chemical industry at the request of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in early forties (1942-44). Pandit Nehru was the (then) Chairman of the National Planning Committee of the Indian National Congress. The committee had produced reports on every important facet of National importance. The eminent economist Prof K.T. Shah was the general editor of the series.
1949-1976 were for Gopal eventful years in many ways. On his return from the United States where he had further opportunity for study and research, Gopal joined Hindustan Lever. During this period he made noticeable contributions for the organization, for the industry and for the country.
A book on ‘Vanaspati Industry’ was published in 1958. Eight useful monographs were written and forty eight research papers got published in scientific periodicals – some of these in prestigious journals of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He was invited to join several Technical Committees and special advisory boards of the Government of India, CSIR, ISI and others. He was appointed as chairman on some of these. He was also admitted as a Fellow of several institutions like Indian Academy of Science, Indian Chemical Society, Bureau of Indian Standards, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Arts, and admitted as a Member of American Chemical Society and American Association 0f the Advancement of Science.
His father H Shankar Rau’s contribution to the Shri Chitrapur Math and particularly his association with His Holiness Swami Anandashram are well known. It was but natural that Gopal was drawn to this institution and took an active part in its activities. He made a distinct contribution in his own way, especially after HSR’s demise in 1957. ‘Pandurang Pandurang’ and ‘ Fifty Years of Bliss’ were both released in 1965. The latter is a monumental work recording the history of the Math during the half century and serves as an authentic document useful to students of the history of the community.