Jayant Narlikar, renowned Indian astrophysicist and fellow of the Indian National Science Akademi, is the recent public personality to have written to President Pranab Mukherjee against the growing intolerance of freedom of expression.
Joining the many filmmakers, artists, poets, writers returning their national awards, Narlikar expressed his desire that “a statement at the highest level accompanied by reassuring action will come before long”.
Narlikar is internationally known for his work in cosmology, especially in championing models alternative to the popular Big Bang model. During 1994–1997, he was the President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union. His research work has involved Mach’s Principle, quantum cosmology, and action-at-a-distance physics.
Narlikar was the part of a study which cultured microorganisms from stratospheric air samples obtained at 41 km. According to the study, “Such findings have enormous implications for the budding field of astrobiology besides providing important inputs into the question of how life started on our planet. Amongst his pioneering work include developing with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory, commonly known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory. It synthesises Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Mach’s Principle.
Stating that he would not return his Sahitya award to make his concern over the situation known, Narlikar in his letter, dated 30 October 2015, wrote, ” The main burden of public wrath should be directed at those responsible for maintaining law and order [government] and not at the Sahitya akademi.”