The Institute of Science was established as a result of serious consideration extended to science education in the erstwhile State of Bombay by Sir George Clark, later known as Lord Sydenham, the then Governor of Bombay and a Fellow of the Royal Society, London. His appeal for a Science Institute in Bombay received immediate response in the form of princely donations from Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Bart., Sir Jacob Sassoon, Bart., Sir Currimbhoy Ebrahim, Bart., and Sir Vasanji Trikamji Mulji, Kt. These donations were supplemented by the Government of Bombay. The foundation stone of the building was laid on 5th April 1911 by Lord Sydenham and the construction was completed by 1915. During the visit of his Majesty the King Emperor in 1912, the word ‘Royal’ was associated with the Institute and it was designated as Royal Institute of Science.
In 1920 the building was made available for housing various departments of Science. The formal opening of the Royal Institute of Science was made on 27th March 1924, by the then Governor of Bombay, Sir Leslie Wilson.
The building was designed by Mr. George Wittet, F.R.I.B.A., the Consulting Architect to the Government of Bombay. It has three wings. The west and south run respectively along the Mayo Road and Madame Cama Road, while the east wing faces the Mahatma Gandhi Road. The Cowasji Jehangir Hall is situated at the junction of these two roads. The building is a massive stone structure and reflects the greatest credit on Mr. Wittet, the Government Architect. On entering through the main gate of the Institute one is struck by the marble statue of the founder, Lord Sydenham, and the wide main staircase surmounted by a huge dome. The interior is plain with wide verandahs running along one side of the rooms in all the wings.
The first Principle of the Institute was Dr. C.J.J. Fox, I.E.S., who was also Professor of Chemistry. Science teaching was transferred from Elphinstone College to the Institute together with the Science Staff, the equipment and books. The Institute thus started instructions in Physics for the First Year Class; Physics, Chemistry and Biology for the Intermediate Science and Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology for the B.Sc. classes. The teaching of Mathematics was shared by the Elphinstone College for all classes. Professor G.R. Paranjpe, I.E.S., was the first Indian to be appointed as Professor on the staff of the Institute in 1920. Within a short time the laboratories were equipped and organized for teaching at undergraduate level, and for research, in Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology. Most of the requirements of the Institute, in the initial stages, by way of apparatus, standard books and older sets of periodicals were procured within a very short time. The affiliation of the Institute to the University of Bombay, was temporary up to 1938, and was made permanent after this.
Though the Founder of the Institute has categorically state while laying the Foundation Stone of the Institute that the Institute should serve as a means of placing University teaching of science on a sound basis, there were difference of opinion as regards to the function of the Institute, and various views were expressed by educationists and the public on this matter.
Finally the Senate of the University of Bombay at its meeting held on 9th August 1922 passed the following resolution which reads as follows:
“That the Government be informed that the Senate is strongly of opinion that an Institution so liberally endowed as the Royal Institute of Science should primarily be a post-graduate Research Institute affording ample facilities to the Professors and students for research work in Science, both pure and applied, and providing adequate instruction for such graduates in Science as desire to obtain the M.Sc. degree of the University by reason of original research work of high order or by submitting to the prescribed examination, and also for others, who, from pure love of Science, wish to do research work without any intension of proceeding to a degree.” To this resolution the following reply was received by the Senate from the Government of Bombay:
“The University may be assured that if the Royal Institute of Science, Bombay, is affiliated, both undergraduate and post-graduate teaching and post-graduate research will be carried out there, that if the present staff and appliances are insufficient, any further staff and appliances that may be required will be provided as far as it is practicable to do so, and that if the undergraduate teaching is found to interfere with the post-graduate teaching and research, the undergraduate teaching will be to that extent discontinued. As regards allowing men who from pure love of Science wish to do research work without proceeding to a degree, I am to add that Government will be glad to afford such persons facilities to conduct research as far as is reasonably practicable provided the Principal of the Institute and the Advisory Committee consider them suitable for the purpose.”
LIST OF PRINCIPALS/ DIRECTORS OF THE INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE.
1. Dr. C. C. Fox (1920-1925)
2. Dr. A. N. Meldrum, D.Sc. (1925-1931)
3. Dr. T. S. Wheeler (1931-1938)
4. Prof. G. R. Paranjape (1938-1946)
5. Dr. Mata Prasad, D.Sc. (1946-1953)
6. Dr. F. R. Bharucha, D.Sc. (1953-1956)
7. Dr. D. V. Bal (1956-1964)
8. Dr. (Smt.) K. Sohonie (1964-1969)
9. Dr. P. V. Rangnekar (1969-1970)
10. Dr. B. C. Haldar (1970-1972, 1973-1982)
11. Dr. A. Gopalkrishna (1972-1973)
12. Dr. K. M. Joshi (1982-1985)
13. Prof. M. S. Huzurbazar (1985-1986)
14. Dr. A. N. Inamdar (1986-1989; 1995-1996)
15. Dr. S. A. Suryawanshi (1989-1994; 1998-2000)
16. Dr. A. P. Sathe (1996-1998)
17. Dr. V. V. Rane (2000-2001)
18. Dr. M.M. Salunkhe (2001- 2004)
19. Dr. Mrs. M. M. Bapat (2004 - 2005)
20. Dr. V. V. Rane (July 2005 – Jan 2008)
21. Dr. Mrs. V. V. Mulwad (2008 – April 2009)
22. Dr Vilas A. Tabhane, D.Sc.(May 2009- June 2009)
23. Dr. B. G. Kulkarni Director (July 2009- May 2014 )
24. Dr. A. S. Khemnar Director (June 2014 - May 2017)
25. Dr. Vasant B. Helavi Present Director (June 2017 - Present)