its transformation into a city with clean
roads and busses equipped with GPS.
RRCAT, like IGCAR, is under the
purview of the Department of Atomic
Energy. It specializes in lasers and particle physics. The fiber optics lab is headed
by Shri Sanjay Kher. Kher’s group is developing an indigenous distributed fiber
optic sensor. The team’s most endearing
trait is its practicality. For example, if we
needed a BNC cable or any other component, Kher himself would walk through
nearby labs to find one, rather than wait
for someone else to deliver it. Rakesh
Kumar Sharma was the lab’s efficient
and hard-working scientific assistant. He
was so proficient with fiber optics that
he could strip and cleave a fiber with a
Cool mishti dohi on a hot summer day in Kolkata
Indore city bus
Coastal view of Kalpakkam
Marina beach in Chennai
Prateek Karandikar/ Wikimedia Commons
A map of my journey to different fiber optics labs in India: (A) Kalpakkam, (B) Indore,
(C) Kolkata and (D) back home to Chennai.
The next leg of my journey took me
east to Kolkata, known as the city of
joy. The train traveled through Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar, two states with a
distinct northern Indian flavor. The
trains to Kolkata are more crowded
than those to Indore, but the strangers still talk non-stop like old friends.
The “apnapan,” a phrase that roughly
translates to “a feeling of oneness,”
was present here. Kolkata is known for
its rasgola (a sweet milk delicacy) and
mishti dahi (sweet yogurt)—and the
people are as sweet as these treats.
Here, I worked in the fiber optics lab
at the Centre for Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), which, along
with the Indian Institute of Technology
in Delhi, arguably hosts the best minds
in fiber optics in the country. Kamal Das
Gupta heads the lab, which houses such
luminaries as S.K. Bhadra and Tarun
Gangopadhyay (my mentor). We had
access to state-of-the-art equipment,
including a fiber drawing machine and
FBG writing system to research regenerated FBGs, specialty optical fibers, fiber
lasers and fiber amplifiers.
The fiber optics group at CGCRI is
incredibly charming. Every evening, they
would meet at the roof top to eat and
share a cup of tea or coffee. The friendly
atmosphere that bonds the students and
Kolkata is known for its
rasgola (a sweet milk
delicacy) and mishti
dahi (sweet yogurt)—
and the people are as
sweet as these treats.
the scientists made the group stand out
in my mind.
Delhi, Guhawati and
back to Chennai
The Indian Institutes of Technology
(IITs) are some of the best research and
engineering institutes in the country, and
they are often counted among the best
in the world. IIT Delhi is home to Ajoy
Ghatak and K. Thyagarajan, whose book
An Introduction to Fiber Optics is a must-read for any graduate student learning
the fundamentals of the field. A lab led
by B.P. Pal works on cutting-edge waveguide modeling, fused fiber couplers,
quantum information and plasmonics.
IIT Guhawati, located in the more
scenic northeastern India, has an im-
portant fiber optics lab headed by Sunil
Khijwania. He studies photonic crystal
fibers, Bragg gratings, surface plasmon
resonance and bio- and nanophotonics.
There is also an IIT located at Chennai,
with Balaji Srinivasan, who is famous
for his research on FBGs and Fabry-
Perot interferometers. Like most IITs,
the campus is big, lush and often visited
Pandian Chelliah ( email@example.com) is
a postdoctoral researcher at Sabanci University
in Istanbul, Turkey. He received his Ph.D. from
the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research in
[ References and Resources ]
>> A.K. Ghatak and K. Thyagarajan.
Introduction to Fiber Optics, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge (1998).