A woman of Science who dared to reach for the skies in literal terms, Anna Mani’s contributions to the field have been tremendous.
But while her achievements are applauded, what is noteworthy is the conditions she managed this in.
Here’s her untold story.
Anna Mani grew up in a prosperous upper-middle-class family in Travancore.
The popular belief was that sons had to be groomed for high-level careers while daughters were to be primed for marriage.
But little Anna Mani would have none of it and pursued what she believed in.
In 1940, a year after finishing college, she was accepted into Nobel laureate C V Raman’s laboratory as a graduate student where she worked on the spectroscopy of diamonds and rubies.
In August 1945 she was awarded a government scholarship for an internship in England where she specialised in meteorological instrumentation.
This would in time shape the rest of her career and history as we know it.
When Mani returned to independent India in 1948, she undertook the development of an apparatus to measure ozone – ozonesonde.
This enabled India to collect reliable data on the ozone layer.
She also foresaw that alternative sources of energy would have a big role to play in India’s future development.
Later, in Bengaluru, Anna Mani started a small workshop that manufactured instruments for measuring wind speed and solar energy.
Today, as India makes strides in solar and wind power, we remember her contributions to the area.
In 1994, after a lifetime of research and ideas, Anna Mani suffered from a stroke that left her immobilised for the rest of her life.
But till today, her motto echoes loud in the field of science: “Find a better way to do it!”