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PROFESSOR JAI KRISHNA 1912-1999

Prof. Jai Krishna - an eminent educationist, researcher and academic administrat or - passed away on August 27, 1999 in Roorkee. A doyen of Structural and Earthquake Engineering, Prof. Jai Krishna is credited with pioneering teaching and research in Earthquake Engineering in India. He has created a band of dedicated earthquake engineers for mitigating the disaster of earthquake and the departure of their revered guru will be missed by all those who knew him as a gifted and motivating teacher, an imaginative and original researcher, a prolific author of books and technical papers and, above all, an intelligent and warm person. For the University of Roorkee where he spent nearly six decades of devoted and dedicated work, it would be a big void, which would not be easy to fill.

Prof. Jai Krishna was born on Feb. 14, 1912 at Muzaffarnagar, a small district town in Uttar Pradesh. After obtaining his Bachelorís degree in Science, he studied engineering at Thomason College of Civil Engineering (now University of Roorkee) from where he passed with honours in 1935. As a student, he won several awards such as Thomason Prize, Cautley Gold Medal and Calcott Reilly Memorial Gold Medal. He obtained his Doctoral Degree in Civil Engineering from University of London in 1954.

After working for a brief period in the State Public Works Department, Prof. Jai Krishna joined Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1939 as Lecturer where he rose to the rank of Professor in 1960. In 1971, he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of University of Roorkee, thus becoming the first teacher of this institution to be elevated to this high office.

Prof. Jai Krishna made many pioneering contributions as an educator, researcher, innovator and institution builder. While on a visit to the California Institute of Technology, USA in 1956, he developed intimate and close relationship with Prof. G.W. Housner and late Prof. D.E. Hudson. This association resulted in the starting of a teaching and research program in Earthquake Engineering at University of Roorkee in 1960. This is the only program of its kind in India even today. He was the first in India to introduce courses on Soil Mechanics in 1948 and on Structural Dynamics in 1958. He was the prime motivating force behind the formulation of Indian Standards for Earthquake Resistant Design of Structures that was brought out by the Indian Standards Institution (now Bureau of Indian Standards). This standard is used extensively and is one of the most comprehensive in the world. His work has brought in original ideas in the design of earthquake resistant structures and has led to the evolution of economic and safe construction practices. He has also been responsible for earthquake resistant design of a large number of major and important engineering projects in India. The widespread application of the results of his research investigations in India and abroad is evidence of his great scholastic abilities. Since there was hardly any seismic data available for design of structures in India till the sixties, Prof. Jai Krishna initiated work on design, fabrication and installation of structural response recorders and accelerographs in India to collect such data. This activi ty has now picked up momentum and has begun to yield very useful database, which would go a long way in guiding engineers to adopt appropriate attenuation relationships for seismic design of important engineering structures. His outstanding contribution on the development of facilities for laboratory and field testing have led to independence from foreign equipment and consultancy on such problems and have greatly helped import substitution.

Prof. Jai Krishna published extensively in various national and international journals as well as conferences and won many prizes and awards from national and internation al organizations. Some of the notable awards are Bhatnagar Award of CSIR (1966), National Design Award (1971) of the Institution of Engineers (India), Moudgil Award of Indian Standards Institution (1972), International Award of Japan Society of Disaster Prevention (1988) and award for life time contributions in Earthquake Engineering by Indian National Academy of Engineering (1997). For his meritorious services to the nation, he was conferred Padam Bhushan by President of India in 1972.

Prof. Jai Krishna travelled far and wide and visited many countries all over the world. He held several important national and international assignments in various capacities. Prof. Jai Krishna is a Fellow of several professional bodies and academies. Some of the important amongst these are Indian National Science Academy, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Institution of Engineers (India), American Academy of Engineering, Third World Academy of Sciences and International Association of Earthquake Engineering of which he was the President during the period 1977-1980. He was also the founder President of Indian National Academy of Engineering. Prof. Jai Krishna was awarded Honorary Degrees of Doctorate by Agra University and the University of Roorkee.

Guru and mentor to generations of earthquake engineers, Prof. Jai Krishna epitomised the human spirit of enquiry and unflinching loyalty and devotion to academic pursuits, so very essential for development of knowledge. The School of Research and Training in Earthquake Engineering, now a full-fledged academic department of University of Roorkee, stands today, as a testimony to the creative genius of Prof. Jai Krishn a who was not only instrumental in its creation, but also nurtured it till he breathed his last. His life and work will guide the future generation of engineers inspiring them in the path of creative pursuit of profession to enrich human endeavor for knowledge.