From Kerosene Lamp to President of the Australian Academy of Science: The Unlikely Success Story of Chennupati Jagadish

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Growing up in a small village near Vijayawada, Chennupati Jagadish had no electricity at home, so he studied by the flickering flame of a kerosene lamp as night fell.

Reflecting on his humble beginnings, Jagadish, now a successful physicist and neurotechnologist in Australia, emphasized the importance of “equal access” and “openness” in society for creating such unlikely success stories.

As one of the 27 recipients of the 2023 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India’s highest award for overseas Indians, Jagadish described the recognition as a “humbling experience.”

In 2016, Jagadish, who currently serves as the President of the Australian Academy of Science, became the first person of Indian descent to receive Australia’s highest civilian award, Companion of the Order.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention, Jagadish noted the low probability of a boy from a remote Indian village becoming the President of the Australian Academy of Science, but emphasized the potential to turn that probability into reality.

Jagadish emphasized that his success story was made possible by a society that transcends cultural differences.

When asked about India’s plural character, Jagadish expressed belief in the strength of the country’s credo of “unity in diversity.”

He also emphasized the universality of human nature, based on his experiences working with people from over 30 countries worldwide.

Jagadish, currently a distinguished Professor at the Department of Electronic Materials Engineering at Australian National University, stressed the importance of staying positive and providing opportunities to every individual, regardless of their appearance, gender, caste, or religion.

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