Founded on July 29, 1876 by Dr Mahendra Lal Sircar, IACS is the oldest institute in India devoted to the pursuit of fundamental research in the frontier areas of basic sciences. Professor C V Raman worked at IACS during 1907 to 1933, and it is here that he discovered the celebrated Effect that bears his name and for which he was awarded Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
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Activities of the Association at 210 Bowbazar Street, Calcutta, in the very early years were supported by generous public contributions. It was conceived and planned in the backdrop of the great cultural and intellectual awakening of the nineteenth century Bengal and was desired by its founder to be an institution 'solely native and purely national'. intellectual The original objective of the Association, which continues even today, was to cultivate science in all its departments with a view to its advancement by original research and its varied applications to the arts and comforts of life. In the early phase, the list of lecturers in Science in IACS included all the luminaries of the era: Father Lafont, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Asutosh Mukherjee, Chunilal Bose and Pramathanath Bose. Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and Kesab Chandra Sen were among the members of the first Trustee Board of IACS, with Dr. Sircar himself as the first Honorary Secretary. Apart from these great scholars, the stalwart public figures like Gurudas Banerjee, Rajendralal Mitra and Surendranath Banerjee were its patrons. Raja Peary Mohan Mukherjee was the first Indian to take the position of the President of IACS in 1912. His other distinguished successors have been Dr. Nilratan Sircar, Jnan Chandra Ghosh and Satyendra Nath Bose.
The IACS entered a new phase with the emergence in the scene of C V Raman in 1907. He initiated serious research in IACS as a part-time worker, while carrying out his duties in the Accountant General's office in Calcutta - under the inspiring leadership of Dr. Sircar's son Amrita Lal Sircar - the then secretary of IACS. The rest was history. The celebrated Raman Effect was discovered in 1928, which culminated in Raman's receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. Raman started a vibrant school of research, which attracted quite a few talented scientists, who furthered the progress of research along Raman. After the departure of Raman, K S Krishnan started the pioneering school of modern magnetism and structural physics. K Banerjee pioneered the early development of the direct method of crystallography
Till the early decades of this century the Association was the only place in India where higher research in Physical Sciences could be carried out. As a result, students from all over India began assembling at Calcutta to work in the creative atmosphere of the Association. Many distinguished scientists of modern India had carried out research here. S Bhagavantam, L Srivastava, N K Sethi, C Prosad, M N Saha and a host of other eminent Indian Scientists worked here to enrich the research culture of the Association