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JC Bose in UK citizens’ choice for face on 50-pound note
The news that UK citizens have nominated Bengali scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose among more than 800 other scientists in the Bank of England’s search for new face to be printed on its new 50-pound note has generated a lot of enthusiasm in Bangladesh and India as well.
The Bank of England released the list of nominees on November 26, which includes names of great scientists like Stephen Hawking, computing pioneers Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and astronomer Patrick Moore.
Newspapers have since published articles and analysis on the list of nominees anticipating that the final selection criteria will be stricter in finalising a face from the long list of contenders.
The list of nominees is the result of a call from the Bank of England to its citizens to nominate individual who must be real, deceased and have contributed to the field of science in the UK.
BBC reported that the Bank received 174,112 nominations, of which 1,14,000 met the eligibility criteria, including over 600 men and almost 200 women.
According to the BBC, Bose is competing against penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming, father of modern epidemiology John Snow, naturalist and zookeeper Gerald Durrell, fossil pioneer Mary Anning, British-Jamaican business woman and nursing pioneer Mary Seacole and erstwhile UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
BBC said that Thatcher studied at Oxford University and worked as a food research chemist after completing her graduation.
The nomination deadline will expire on December 14 after which a shortlist of potential candidates is expected to come from the Bank’s Banknote Character Advisory Committee.
BBC names the members of the committee drawing up the shortlist as space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, author and genetics expert Emily Grossman, editor of the British Journal for the History of Science Simon Schaffer, and theoretical and particle physicist Simon Singh.
Bose, who was born at Rarikhal of Bikrampur in Munshiganj in 1858, is a polymath. He is known for inventing radio and is also credited with proving that animals and plants are as alive as human beings.
He also designed and made the sophisticated instrument, crescograph, to measure the growth in plants.
Bose studied natural sciences at the University of Cambridge after graduating from Calcutta University with a physics degree. In 1884, he returned to India to teach at Presidency College in Kolkata.
A creative man to the core, Bose’s field of work expanded from science to archaeology to literature. In fact he is considered the father of science fiction in Bengal as well as in the British India.
The story of his ascend through the ladder of glory seems like a fairy tale coming to life. Despite being the son of a government employee on British India, his father sent Bose to study at a vernacular school, Mymensingh Zila School, to learn Bengali.
He had to travel to Kolkata to pursue higher study as such opportunities were absent back home. After he came back from Cambridge to teach in Kolkata, he stumbled on financial crisis and lack of supply of instruments while pursuing scientific research. Still, he succeeded in his venture.
Reflecting on his childhood, at a lecture in 1915, Bose remembered how his scientific interest in nature was shaped in his childhood. In the school he studied was used by underprivileged section of society. He remembered hearing from his classmates, sons of fishermen, stories about fishes, birds and trees.
At his birthplace at Rarikhal, where Bose was born, a complex has been built to remember the scientist.
According to BBC, first introduced in 1981, there are 330m £50 notes in circulation with a combined value of £16.5bn.
Going against call for not printing plastic notes considering its environmental effects, the Bank decided to print it on polymer to prevent forgery.
The note is likely to go into printing in 2020.