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Janaki Ammal

Janaki Ammal-Ekam IAS
UPSC Current Affairs

Janaki Ammal

  • Janaki Ammal was the first Indian woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in the botanical sciences.
  • As India celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is important for us to remember the people who raised the fame of India through their immense works.
  • Today as we mark 75 years of free India, lets discuss Janaki Ammal who fought against sexism, casteism and racism and has made remarkable contributions in the field of science.
  • Edavaleth Kakkat Janaki Ammal was born in Thalasseri, Kerala.
  • Janaki Ammal is often referred to as the first Indian woman botanist.
  • She received the degree from the University of Michigan, in 1931, where she specialised in plant cytology.
  • In 1945, she co-authored Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants that scientists fall back on to this day.
  • She was an expert in Cytogenetics, branch of biology focused on the study of chromosomes and their inheritance, especially as applied to medical genetics.
  • Her most notable work involved studies on sugarcane and the eggplant(brinjal).
  • At that time, the sweetest sugarcane in the world was the Saccharum officinarum variety from Papua New Guinea and India imported it from Southeast Asia.
  • Janaki Ammal was able to create a high yielding strain of the sugarcane that would thrive in Indian conditions.
  • The Indian government invited her to reorganize the Botanical Survey of India, and she was appointed as the first director of the Central Botanical Laboratory at Allahabad.
  • The Department of Biotechnology has renamed the National Women Bio-scientist Award as Janaki Ammal- National Women Bio-scientist Award in honour of Dr. Janaki Ammal.
  • The award is to cognize the contributions of senior and young women scientists in the country who are working in the areas of Biology and Biotechnology.
  • Her life and achievements remain largely unknown to us except for a few articles.
  • Janaki Ammal passed away at the age of 87.
  • She chose to be a nomad both in the way she led her life, and in her science, in order to counter patriarchal shackles.
  • She was given a Padma Shri only when she was in her eighties, that is in 1977.

UPSC Prelims Model Question

Q. Who among the following co-authored Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants along with C.D. Darlington?

a) John Gribbin
b) Gala Vince
c) Janaki Ammal
d) C. V. Subramanian

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