C.L. Khetrapal, 1937-2021

ISMAR mourns the passing of C.L. Khetrapal. Prof. Khetrapal made numerous contributions to magnetic resonance, especially high-resolution NMR in liquid crystalline media, founded the National Magnetic Resonance Society of India, and was a Fellow of ISMAR.

The following obituary was written by his colleague Prof. Anil Kumar:

Prof. C.L. Khetrapal, a brilliant scientist, a world-renowned pioneer expert on NMR of molecules oriented in liquid crystal matrices, and an Institution builder, passed away this morning (21 July 2021) in Lucknow. Born on 25 August 1937, he had his college education in Allahabad University. After his Masters in 1959 he joined the Training School of Atomic Energy in Bombay and later joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and obtained his Ph.D. in 1965. During his post-doctoral studies at Basel, Switzerland, he pioneered the NMR of molecules oriented in Liquid Crystals, from which he could derive the three-dimensional structures of the molecules. He returned to India in 1973 and joined the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore. Here, on a suggestion by Prof. G.N. Ramachandran, he set up in 1977, a modern NMR facility (first superconducting magnet-based NMR facility in India, a 270 MHz NMR spectrometer) in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, named the “Sophisticated Instruments Facility” (currently named the “NMR Research Centre”, having eight superconducting magnet-based NMR spectrometers). After the successful operation of this facility, many more such facilities were created in the country, the foremost of them at TIFR itself. Currently India has nearly 500 superconducting magnet-based NMR spectrometers and many MRI machines.

On superannuation from the Indian Institute of Science in 1998, he became the Vice-Chancellor of Allahabad University, where he established several Centres of Excellence. In 2001, he started a new Centre in the Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) in Lucknow, UP, namely CBMR (Centre for Bio-Medical Research) of which he was the founding Director. He also created a Registered Society in 1995, named the “National Magnetic Resonance Society" (NMRS) of India, of which he was the Founder President. He was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in 1982 (the highest award in India at that time).

In his passing away India has lost a brilliant scientist, an Institution builder, and a fine human being. Many of us owe our scientific careers in India and abroad to him.

We pray to Almighty to bestow peace to the departed soul.