Interview: Uttarpara boy Kinshuk Dasgupta wins the Bhatnagar Prize 2020 for developing special bullet proof jackets

Fourteen scientists were awarded with the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2020, on the 79th foundation day of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on September 26. Dr Kinshuk Dasgupta of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, won under the “Engineering Sciences” category.

The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize – considered to be the highest honour for scientists in India – includes a reward of Rs 5 lakh for exemplary work in various fields of science. The award is given to Indian scientists below the age of 45 in seven fields – Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Medicine, Engineering and Environmental Science.

Pritha M. Banerjee of The Bengal Story in conversation with Dr Kinshuk Dasgupta, one of the awardees of the prestigious award:

Congratulations on the award. You were born in Howrah and went to school in Uttarpara. Tell us about your journey from Uttarpara to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, and now this award…

Thank you! I was born in Bally, Howrah. I went to Uttarpara Government High School. In 1995, I got admission in the Metallurgy department of Jadavpur University. After completing college, I joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1999, where I completed a year of training period in Nuclear Sciences and Engineering. Since 2000, I have been working as a scientist here. I joined in group of materials and I am still pursuing that.

In 2013, I completed my PhD form the Institute of Chemical Engineering, Mumbai, now I am an Associate Professor at the Homi Bhabha National Institute.

Tell us about your research work…

I mainly work on carbon based nano materials and composite synthesis of the use of nano materials.

What is the practical use of the technology that you are working on?

The recent application of the technology has been applied in the “Bhabha Kavach”, which is a bullet proof jacket for the Indian armed forces. The Bhabha Kavach is an armour panel which gives personal protection against bullets of different threat levels. A special process developed is used to create panels offering protection (technically called Level III and Level III+ protection) and these are much lighter than currently available armours. I have been awarded for this particular work.

Earlier, bullet proof jackets had to be imported. They were expensive and heavy. But now these jackets will be lighter, less expensive and perfect substitutes for those imported jackets as well.

[The Bhava Kavach jacket is made using extremely hard boron carbide ceramics that is hot-pressed with carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer. BARC has been using boron carbide in the control rods of its nuclear reactors. The superior performance of the light weight jacket derives from advanced ceramics and advanced nano-composite tubes indigenously developed at BARC. Bhabha Kavach has been designed to protect soldiers against AK-47 (hard steel bullets), SLR and INSAS weaponry. A five-member BARC team worked for a year to develop this jacket, in which Dr Kinshuk Dasgupta was the key researcher.]