Manas Bihari Verma: Indian Aeronautical Scientist

Manas Bihari Verma: Indian Aeronautical Scientist

This is the story of an Indian scientist who, after serving as a distinguished scientist in DRDO and building the Tejas: India’s 2nd supersonic jet to protect our country, chooses to become an educator. Manas Bihari Verma was born in 1943 in Darbhanga to Yashoda Devi and Anand Kishore Lal, who actively participated in M.K. Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement in 1917.  

It is rare to find someone who chooses to leave the comforts of city life to work with people in rural areas.

After finishing his schooling at Jawahar High School in Madhepur, Verma pursued his graduation from Bihar College of Engineering, now known as NIT Patna.

He completed his master’s in mechanical engineering from Calcutta University in 1969, specializing in ‘jet propulsion’. In 1970, Verma joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), embarking on a 35-year journey in the aeronautical stream. 

Throughout his career, he collaborated with aeronautical establishments in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Koraput. From 2002 to 2005, he served as the director of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in Bangalore.

There, he played a crucial role in the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project, shaping the mechanical systems of the aircraft with the latest technologies.

As the program director, Verma and his team conceptualized the HAL Tejas at DRDO Bangalore. They led the flight tests to supersonic speed and 11 km altitude, completing the first phase of Tejas’ development. The project, initiated in 1986, aimed to replace 321 MiG aircraft. 

During Tejas’ design phase, Verma collaborated with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who led the Integrated Guided Missile Programme (IGMP) in Hyderabad.

After retiring from ADA in 2005, Verma returned to his native village in Darbhanga. Concerned about illiteracy and poverty, he launched the Mobile Science Lab (MSL) in 2010. 

The MSL, run by Manas Bihari Verma’s non-profit organization, Viksit Bharat Foundation, visited over 300 rural schools, showcasing scientific experiments to over one lakh students and providing computer training to about 500 students. He credits Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam for inspiring this initiative.

Manas Bihari Verma has earned several awards, including the Aeronautical Society of India Award in 1998 and the DRDO Scientist of the Year Award in 2001. He was also honored with the DRDO Technology Leadership Award in 2004 and the prestigious Padma Shri.

Yet, the true measure of his impact goes beyond awards. Manas Bihari Verma’s most significant contribution lies in establishing an accessible institution for underprivileged communities in rural Bihar.

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