The Indian Government on Jan. 25 announced that it was conferring the Padma Vibhushan award posthumously on Narinder Singh Kapany, who was widely known as the ‘father of fiber optics.’

The Indian American scientist is among seven people named for the Padma Vibhushan award – the country’s second highest civilian award – this year.

Two other Indian Americans are also among this year’s Padma awardees. Srikant Datar and Rattan Lal will receive the Padma Shri award for their work in the field of literature and education, and science and engineering, respectively.

Kapany passed away in Woodside, Calif., on Dec. 3, 2020.

In 1953, working alongside Harold Hopkins at Imperial College London, Kapany was the first to successfully transmit high quality images through fiber bundles. He coined the term “fiber optics” in a famous 1960 article for Scientific American.

Kapany founded Kaptron Inc. in 1973, which was later acquired by AMP Inc. In 1999, he was named one of seven “unsung heroes” in Fortune magazine’s “Businessmen of the Century” issue.

Kapany wrote four books on fiber optics and entrepreneurship. His seminal research in fiber optics, lasers, and solar energy, and their applications in bio-medical instruments, defense, communications, and pollution-monitoring earned him more than 100 patents. (Read earlier India-West story here:

Datar was named as dean of Harvard Business School in October 2020 and he began his service Jan. 1.

Datar, the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean for university affairs at Harvard Business School, has served since 2015 as faculty chair of the Harvard Innovation Labs, or i-lab.

Since joining the HBS faculty in 1996, Datar has held a series of key positions, as the school’s senior associate dean responsible for faculty recruiting, for faculty development, for executive education, for research, and currently for university affairs.

He has written and spoken extensively on the future of business education, and his wide-ranging academic interests encompass design thinking, data science, artificial intelligence, innovative problem solving, strategy implementation, and cost management.

Most recently, he has been intensively engaged in envisioning and implementing the innovative hybrid teaching and learning model that HBS has adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Read earlier India-West story here:

Lal is a distinguished university professor of soil science and director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University, an adjunct professor at the University of Iceland, and a visiting professor at PUCV, Chile.

According to his bio, his current research focus is on climate-resilient agriculture, soil carbon sequestration, sustainable intensification, enhancing use efficiency of agroecosystems, sustainable management of soils of the tropics, and soil health.

Lal is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, Third World Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, Soil and Water Conservation Society, Indian Natl. Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Rothamsted, U.K.

He is laureate of the World Food Prize (2020), Japan Prize (2019), the U.S. Awasthi IFFCO Prize (2019), the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (2018), and the Glinka World Soil Prize (2018). He has authored/co-authored more than 2437 research publications, including 955 refereed journal articles and 543 book chapters, written 22 books and edited/co-edited 76 books.

The Indian Government has announced ten names for the Padma Bhushan award and 102 names for the Padma Shri this year.

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