Panchanan Maheshwari

Panchanan Maheshwari

(1904-1966)



Born in November 1904 in Jaipur (Rajasthan) Panchanan Maheshwari rose to become one of the most distinguished botanists not only of India but of the entire world. He moved to Allahabad for higher education where he obtained his D.Sc. During his college days, he was inspired by Dr W. Dudgeon, an American missionary teacher, to develop interest in Botany and especially morphology. His teacher once expressed that if his student progresses ahead of him, it will give him a great satisfaction. These words encouraged Panchanan to enquire what he could do for his teacher in return.

He worked on embryological aspects and popularised the use of embryological characters in taxonomy. He established the Department of Botany, University of Delhi as an important centre of research in embryology and tissue culture. He also emphasised the need for initiation of work on artificial culture of immature embryos. These days, tissue culture has become a landmark in science. His work on test tube fertilisation and intra-ovarian pollination won worldwide acclaim.

He was honoured with fellowship of Royal Society of London (FRS), Indian National Science Academy and several other institutions of excellence. He encouraged general education and made a significant contribution to school education by his leadership in bringing out the very first textbooks of Biology for Higher Secondary Schools published by NCERT in 1964.

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