Anna Mani: Pioneer Indian Meteorologist

Anna Mani (Anna Modayil Mani) was an Indian physicist and a distinguished meteorologist. She was one of India’s pioneering women scientists

Mani was the former Deputy Director-General of the Indian Meteorological Department and further served as a visiting professor at the Raman Research Institute. 

She served by making several contributions in the field of solar radiation, meteorological instrumentation, wind energy measurements.

Early Life 

Anna Mani was born on 23 August 1918 at Peermade, Kerala to an ancient Syrian Christian family. She grew up in Travancore, a former princely state in the southern part of India, now part of the state of Kerala. 

She was the seventh of eight siblings. Anna Mani’s father was a civil engineer who owned large cardamom estates in the region.

Mani was from a prosperous family where the male children were groomed for high-level careers, whereas the daughters were primed for marriage. But Mani was different from her formative days; she was a voracious reader. 

She had access to a local public library and by the age of eight she read almost all the books in Malayalam and by the time she was twelve, she had read almost all the English books. 

Mahatma Gandhi deeply inspired Mani and she was impressed by the activities of Gandhi during his Vaikom Satyagraha. To support Gandhi’s initiative she started wearing only khadi garments. 

In her family, there was a ritual of customary gift when a girl reaches the age of eight. She was offered a  set of diamond earrings and she refused to take it and opted instead for a set of Encyclopædia Britannica.

Young Mani surrounded by books opened her mind and gave her new ideas to think out of the box. Books imbued in her a deep sense of social justice which informed and shaped her life. 

By her action she proved the quote : 

All Readers are not Leaders But all Leaders are Readers Click To Tweet


Anna Mani finished all the books from her local library by her teenage and self-taught herself a lot of things.

Anna Mani
(Photo Source: RRI Digital Repository)

That was the first source of immense knowledge which gave her thought process a direction. 

In 1939, She graduated from the Pachaiyappas College in Madras securing a B.Sc. honours degree in physics. 

She was also awarded a scholarship in 1940 for research at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

In 1945 she went to Imperial College, London to study physics but she ended up specialising in meteorological instruments. 


Anna Mani started her research career under the supervision of eminent scientist and Nobel Laureate SIR C.V. Raman at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. 

Mani worked very hard on the spectroscopy of diamonds and rubies and ended up publishing five research papers and receiving a PhD dissertation

As she did not have a master’s degree, She was refused to award a PhD in spite of having ample research work. 

After the completion of her research, she left India and pursued a specialisation in Meteorological instruments at Imperial College in London. 

After returning to India she joined the Indian Meteorology Department (IMD). 

At IMD, she standardised drawings of more than one hundred weather related instruments for production. 

She helped our nation to harness solar energy by setting up monitoring stations across the country to monitor solar radiation. 

She also contributed to the designing and manufacturing of many solar instruments. Today, as India takes a lead in setting up solar and wind farms all over the country, part of the credit goes to Anna Mani. 

Anna Mani also published various papers on subjects ranging from atmospheric ozone to the need for international instrument comparisons and national standardisation.

In 1960, Anna Mani understood the significance of the ozone layer and started studying it much before anyone in the entire world. 

She is the designer of Ozonesonde, an instrument to measure atmospheric ozone. She also set up a meteorological observatory at the Thumba rocket launching facility. 

Her books on “Solar Thermal System” are highly appreciated all over the world.

Her other book “The Handbook for Solar Radiation Data for India” (1980), which have become standard reference guides for solar tech engineers across the world.

I should be most unhappy to wake up without the prospect of some work to do, But when I have done it, I enjoy reading and listening to music.”  she said in an interview in 1991. 


In 1987, Anna Mani was a recipient of the INSA K. R. Ramanathan Medal

In 1975, she served as a WMO consultant in Egypt. 

She retired as the Deputy Director General of the Indian Meteorological department in 1976.

Anna Mani at her Farewell ceremony at RRI
Anna Mani at her Farewell ceremony at RRI (Photo Source: RRI Digital Repository)


In 1994, she suffered from a severe stroke that left her immobilized for the rest of her life. She passed away on August 16, 2001, in Thiruvananthapuram.

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