Daulat Singh Kothari: Story of an exceptional Educationist and Scientist

Daulat Singh Kothari was an eminent Indian scientist and great educationist. He is highly appreciated for his contributions to the entire spectrum of Indian education from elementary level to University level. 

He has a important role in forming many organizations such as University Grants Commission (UGC)

Early Life 

Daulat Singh Kothari was born on 6th July, 1906 in the city of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. He was the son of a school teacher, Shri Fateh Lal Kothari. Daulat lost his father at an early age of 12. His father died in the plague epidemic of 1918 and was raised by his mother.


In 1922 D.S. Kothari completed his secondary education from Maharana Shivajirao High School, Indore, M.P. 

Daulat Singh Kothari
Daulat Singh Kothari (Source)

After completing his matriculation he came back to Udaipur and joined an intermediate College. In 1924 he passed his intermediate exams and he stood first in Rajputana Board. He also received distinctions in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. 

After his exceptional performance in his exams he was awarded a Scholarship of Rs 50 per month for pursuing his studies from Maharaja of Mewar.  

In 1926, he completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from Allahabad University. 

In 1928, he passed Masters of Science in Physics from Allahabad University under the guidance of eminent physicist Meghnad Saha.  

After working two years as a demonstrator he went to England to pursue his PhD. That became possible as the United Province State Government issued him an interest-free loan of Rs 3500/- because he didn’t want to make his family suffer after his departure. 

In 1930 he sailed for England. He was also awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge, England under the supervision of Ernest Rutherford, to whom he was recommended by his mentor Meghnad Saha. 


After receiving his PhD from Cambridge University, England, Daulat Singh Kothari came back to India and joined Allahabad University as a demonstrator. 

In 1934, D.S. Kothari joined Delhi University as Reader and Head of Physics Department. 

In those days Delhi University used to operate in a rented building. The University imparted education only up to Bachelor’s Degree. 

D.S. Kothari made necessary changes like upgrading the laboratories and the university moved to Viceregal Lodge Estate. University also decided to be extended education up to the MSc level. 

Kothari was appointed professor of Physics in 1942 and took the task of establishing the Physics department.

Kothari’s great work even grabbed Einstein’s  attention, he advised Kothari : “Keep good comradeship and work with love and without pre-conceive ideas and you will be happy and successful in your work.”     

Many eminent figures like P.M.S. Blackett, Niels Bohr, P.A.M. Dirac, P. Kapitza, M.N. Saha, K.S. Krishnan frequently visited the University and their visits enhanced the prestige of the university. 

In 1936, he was unanimously elected as the secretary of the Library Committee, he held his post till 1943. 

Kothari played a very important role in improving the University Library. He realised how important a library is for young minds, without a library no research can be done. 

He organised the all India Library Conference at the University of Delhi. 

He also invited S.R. Ranganatha, who is regarded as the father of library science in our country. For suggesting a better reorganization of the library. 

He also appointed Dr. S.R. Das Gupta was the first University Librarian and he was sent to Madras University for getting a training for the job. 

In 1948, D.S. Kothari was appointed as Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Defence

Indian Government also invited PMS Blacket for advising them in organising defense science in India. 

Blacket and Kothari have a history of working together in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge under the guidance of Ernest Rutherford. 

During the Second World War PMS Blacket had played a very important role in organising the United Kingdom’s defense science. 

One of kothari’s colleagues, Nagaratam wrote this to appreciate him for his contributions to the defense science in India.

 “In giving a direction and coherent shape to the Defence Science Organisation, Professor Kothari had no precedents to go by. It is a tribute to his clear thinking and visionary foresight that he unerringly identified thrust areas of relevance in the country’s geopolitical (both the then existing and anticipated future) context.
Further there were no ready-made specialists in any of these disciplines in the country. He carefully chose through personal contact, scientists (mostly from universities) who had the necessary interest, aptitude and competence.
He guided them personally on developing these disciplines on healthy lines. He himself spared no effort to get a mastery over all these areas (most of which were new to him). He organized weekly seminars on relevant subjects and made it a point to participate actively in each one of them, and particularly encouraged the younger scientists. He believed in humble beginnings and natural growth.

APJ Abdul Kalam in his recent book, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India. wrote: “Dr. D.S. Kothari, a professor at Delhi University, was an outstanding physicist and astrophysicist.
He is well-known for the Ionisation of matter by pressure in cold compact objects like planets. This theory is complementary to the epoch-making theory of thermal ionisation of his guru, Dr. Maghnad Saha.
Dr. D.S. Kothari set a scientific tradition in Indian defence tasks when he became Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister in 1948. The first thing he did was to establish the Defence Science Centre to do research in electronic materials, nuclear medicine and ballistic science.

He is considered the architect of defence science in India. We are celebrating this great mind through a Chair research at the Indian Institute of Science”.

In 1961,  the University Grants Commission appointed Kothari as their new Chairman. 

He introduced various activities in his colleges and universities for overall development of students. He believed that education is the future of this country. 

Description of an University in Kothari’s words 

“A university is a society of teachers and students dedicated to the pursuit of learning. It is, above all, a dwelling place of ideas and idealism. And the contribution that the universities and colleges in our country will or can make to meet the great challenge of our times will be in direct proportion to their being and becoming, in pursuit of their true ideals, places where there is freedom to inquire boldly and readiness to doubt courageously, where knowledge and understanding and true humility go together and grow more and more, and where the highest standards of scholarship, integrity and conduct are expected, respected and cultivated.”

Kothari was the chairman of the Indian Education Commission of 1964–66, popularly known as Kothari Commission, which was the first ad hoc commission set up in India for the modernization and standardization of education in India

Kothari loved this country’s students and had immense faith in the youth of the country and he worked throughout his life in the betterment of our education system. 

The National Science Talent Search Program and the subsequent National Talent Search Program started by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) owe their origin to Kothari’s vision.

Kothari’s Nuclear Explosions and Their Effects, jointly written with Homi J. Bhabha, is regarded as a great contribution in the field of Nuclear Power, That book has been translated in many languages and appreciated worldwide. 

During the Daulat Singh Kothari as a Scientific Advisor of the Ministry of Defense following laboratories were established : 

  1. Institute of Armament Studies (later renamed Institute of Armament Technology), Pune. 
  2. Naval Dockyard Laboratory (later renamed Naval Chemical and Metallurgical Laboratory), Mumbai. 
  3. Indian Naval Physical Laboratory, Kochi
  4. Centre for Fire Research, Delhi 
  5. Solid State Physics Laboratory, Delhi
  6. Defence Food Research Laboratory, Mysore
  7. Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Chennai
  8. Directorate of Psychological Research, New Delhi 
  9. Defence Electronics and Research Laboratory, Hyderabad
  10. Scientific Evaluation Group, Delhi 
  11. Technical Ballistic Research Laboratory, Chandigarh


D.S. Kothari died from natural causes on 4th February, 1993 at the age of 86 in Delhi, India.

Awards & Recognitions 

DS Kothari Stamp (Source)
  • In 1963, D. S. Kothari was elected president of the Indian Science Congress at its golden jubilee session. 
  • He was elected President of Indian National Science Academy in 1973. 
  • His research on statistical thermodynamics and his Theory of White Dwarf Stars gave him an international reputation.
  • The Padma Bhushan was conferred on him in 1962.
  • He also received the Padma Vibhushan in 1973.
  • He was also listed as a “Proud Past Alumni” by the “Allahabad University Alumni Association.
  • In 2011, the Department of Posts issued a commemorative stamp in his honour. 
  • He was conferred the Atmaram Award in 1990 by the Central Hindi Directorate, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • One of the postgraduate men’s hostels at Delhi University ( North Campus ) bears his name.

So, that was a brief biography of Daulat Singh Kothari.

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