Wife unravels DNA of parallel processor that Rao is

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Indumati Rao

Bangalore, Prashanth G N, Nov 17, 2013, DHNS: She is the woman behind the success of C N R Rao, the stalwart scientist chosen for the country’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. Indumati Rao, wife of the workaholic researcher, talks to Deccan Herald about the 54 years of their marital journey, their life ethics, how they share their hobbies and support each other’s interests.

She is an education teacher herself and a geography expert. Indumati is presently the honorary co-ordinator of the multimedia group at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR).

As if to symbolise their perfect synchronisation as life partners, they both love Hindustani classical music, beginning and ending their day with a soulful of melody.

“We wake up with Hindustani classical music at 4.30 am every day and we sleep at night with Hindustani music at around 9.30 pm. We do yoga in the morning and then get down to work. My husband immediately plans what to do for the day and he is clear by 9 am, when he is in office. He doesn’t waste a minute at office. He doesn’t take tea-coffee breaks and breaks only for lunch for an hour.

At that time he listens to music and keeps to himself. He eats very little to keep light. After finishing with his research papers, he returns home to prepare for the next day. CNR does a lot of work at home too, simultaneously with his research work. So I always call him a parallel processor. He is the best for time management,” says Indumati.

Family man

The super scientist is as much a family man as he is wedded to his work. “My husband may be a very busy person, but it isn’t that he doesn’t spend time with us. He loves his children and grandchildren and is with them whenever he gets time.”

Does Indumati miss Prof Rao as he is constantly at work and travelling?

“Of course, I have always missed him when he’s away. You can’t but miss him, because he is such a dynamic presence at home. I should tell you that our dog, Chimba, misses him the most I think. CNR loves dogs and plays with our golden labrador.”

“We both listen to Bhimsen Joshi, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Amjad Ali Khan and a few great masters. We even write together – when he is preparing a book for the CNR Foundation, I make the CD-ROM. He and I are more like friends. The Foundation imparts science education to children, recognising talented teachers in rural areas and conducting outreach programmes in remote places.

We produce materials for children together. I gave him his space and time, and he encouraged me to take up teaching. I have been a teacher for 40 years. When you have a busy husband, you have to be busy yourself, else you’d keep nagging your husband to go shopping and I am someone who hates shopping.”

“When you are very busy doing what you love, you never get tired.”

They travel to Uttarakhand often to impart teacher training. “Life has to have a purpose and this is ours. Life has been beautiful to us, we feel it’s now time to give back to society. We do this through the Foundation. When my husband got the Dan David prize, Israel’s Nobel, it came with a grant of one million USD. My husband asked me if I wanted to shop or whether he could buy me anything I liked and then I said none of this. I have a dream of setting up an education foundation. Shall we set it up? Immediately he agreed. We also set up the CNR Hall of Science at JNCASR.” Does the Foundation have enough funds for its day-to-day activities?
“I want a small foundation. We are able to manage with the existing funds. I have realised along the way what a lot of things we can do even with a small amount of money. So I don’t want the Foundation to grow big,” says Indumati.

Strong believer in God

“Well, one has to believe in something greater and bigger than us, call it God or nature. We do believe, there is no doubt. We believe in Gods who love, not Gods who punish. My husband always tells me that to reach the position I have, someone or some force must be there, it’s not just intelligence and hard work. My mother-in-law used to tell me surrender to Saraswati. She’s hard to please. But once you please her, there’s no looking back.”

‘Are you sure?’

Indumati and Prof Rao were waiting at the airport at Thiruvananthapuram when an airline boy came to them and said, “Sir, you have a call.”

Indumati said: “Wondering what it was, my husband took the call and was shocked at the news. His friend had called him to tell him that he would be getting the Bharat Ratna. We asked him, are you sure, are you sure? And then we signed off. A few minutes later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called my husband and congratulated him. We had never expected it. It came as a total surprise when we were sitting to catch a flight to Bangalore.”

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