Srinagar: In a development that makes Jammu and Kashmir’s chest puff with pride, among the top two percent scientists of the world, many from the region have figured in the list.
The list of these top scientists of the world has been compiled by Stanford University.
Of the Indians in Stanford University’s list of top 2% scientists in the world, a major chunk is from well-known institutes like the IITs and the IISs.
Sharing the prestigious list with them are many scientists from Jammu and Kashmir.
They include Dr. Pervaiz (Botany), Dr MS Khuroo, gastroenterologist and ex-director SKIMS, Dr Parveiz Koul, Current head of Internal and Pulmonary Medicine, SKIMS., Dr Mashuq Ahmad, Dr Tanvir Ahmad Wani (Department of Medicine), and Dr Ahsanulhaq Qurashi (energy discipline).
Another name that features on the list is Dr Khalid Muajsam Batoo, a physicist from North Kashmir.
Hailing from the Dewaanbagh locality in Baramulla district, Khalid is the youngest among five siblings. Known as an ‘unassuming boy’ in Noor-ul-Islam High school, Baramulla where he completed his primary education, Khalid proved the world around him wrong through his extraordinary mathematical prowess.
“My schooling happened in the turbulent nineties. My father, who ran a shop in the locality, often remained distressed due to the prevailing situation. His business got badly affected due to endless curfew days and strikes,” he said.
Despite facing economic difficulties, his father educated and encouraged him to continue his studies.
“While pursuing my secondary education, I met the most amazing teachers—Tariq Chalku, Asadullah Rather and Satpal Singh. They noticed my interest in science and mathematics and honed my skills. I owe a lot to them,” Dr Khalid told Free Press Kashmir.
The outstanding pupil in Khalid got him a selection in PhD from Department of Applied Physics, Aligarh University in 2009.
“I did my doctorate in nanotechnology. Interestingly, the concept of Nanotechnology was still in its nascent stage during that period and I became the first student from my University to earn a degree in that subject,” he said.
His other contributions in scientific research have earned him a Junior Research Fellowship from Inter-University Accelerator Center, New Delhi India, in 2007.
“This fellowship became a game-changer in my life. Later, I was offered a job of assistant professor in King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology at King Saud University in 2010,” he said.
In 2015, he got promoted to associate professor, and is currently working there.
“Reaching this place came with a set of challenges. However, I always had this firm belief that education is the best way to overcome the difficulties. Take an example from the Battle of Badr where the Prophet (S.A.W) captured 70 infidels What happened to them? Those who could pay were released. However, those who could not were penalized by directing them to teach ten children of Madinah. They taught them any skill they possessed so the future of kids was salvaged. That’s the beauty of education,” Dr Khalid said.
Dr Khalid is also serving on the editorial board member of more than 13 international Journals.
Another promising scientist who received recognition from Stanford is Dr Shakeel Chowdary.
Barely a few kilometers away from the Line of Control, lies the village of Mendhar in Jammu. The remote hamlet often reverberates with sound of cross-border firing but the explosions don’t deter Dr Shakeel Chowdary, one of the youngest scientists to feature on Stanford University’s recognized top 2 percent scientists in the world, from teaching his students.
Born and brought up in the village of Dhangri in district Rajouri, 31-year-old Dr Shakeel Chowdary currently works as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry in Government Degree College in Mendhar.
His achievements have earned him a membership of American Chemical Society and Royal Society of Chemistry, as he has published research publications on green nanomaterials and biopolymers for various applications including biomedical, packaging, and water treatment.
He has penned more than 15 books on polymers, nanomaterials, and green materials.
However, his success has come with a lot of hardships. What kept him going was his steely determination and faith in his abilities.
“I was one-year-old when my father passed away. Being the youngest among seven siblings, it was all the more difficult for my mother to educate all of us. There was literally no source of income,” Dr Shakeel said.
He mostly studied on scholarships and free tutoring.
“I did my primary education from a local school. Then, I shifted to Himalayan Education Mission school, where I completed secondary education. Even as a school goer, I was a voracious reader and used to borrow books and magazines whenever I could,” Dr Shakeel said.
He graduated in science from a government college. In 2012, he completed M.Sc from Dr Saiqa Ikram Department of Chemistry in Jamia Milia Islamia. His bright academic record helped him get a PhD in Chemistry from the same University in 2016.
“Following me PhD, I worked as a post-doc fellow at IIT-Delhi in 2017. It was there, I got a job offer as an assistant professor in Government Degree College, Meander,” he said.
Dr Shakeel, however, believes that the Universities in Jammu don’t have the proper infrastructure in place.
“There are no proper facilities for conducting good quality of research work. As a result of which, the researchers don’t progress the way they should,” he said.