Jamshedji Jijabhai Chinoy
The towering figure of modern botany, India’s great scientist and Gujarat’s famous son Jamshedji Jijabhai Chinoy was born on February 18, 1909 in Kachchh-Bhuj. He had his college education in Mumbai (Bombay). In 1929, he cleared BSc in Botany with a first class (distinction) from Mumbai University. After losing his father at a very young age, he was brought up by his grandfather. Some years later, his grandfather too, passed away. With courage and hard work he surged forward. Considered a bright student in school and college, he regularly took part in various debates.
Having stood first at the graduate level in his subject, he was awarded the Dakshina Fellowship by Mumbai’s Government College, better known as Royal Institute of Science at that time. Besides, he received Mumbai University’s Research Fellowship. In 1931, he cleared MSc with first class honours. Because of his promising career and good results; after he completed post graduation, he went to Britain on a Research Fellowship. To do PhD from London University, he Joined the Imperial College. There he had the unique opportunity to undertake research under the guidance of world-renowned botanist Professor F G Gregory. In 1935, he was awarded the PhD degree by London University.
After completing PhD, he returned to India and Joined the Central Cotton Committee at Layalpur as physiological assistant. In 1941, he Joined the Indian Agriculture Research Institute as Assistant Economical Botanist. When India attained independence, more doors opened for brilliant research scientists. Meanwhile, this brilliant research scientist was invited to join as Reader at the botany department of Delhi University. He accepted it wholeheartedly. Thus, he became associated with university education. He taught for 22 years at the post-graduate level and was engaged in research. Many of his research papers were published during this time. He also actively participated in many research workshops and seminars abroad.
In 1959, when he got the opportunity to join Gujarat University, he snapped it to serve his native place. He joined as professor and head of the botany department. Meanwhile, from 1962 to 1974, he was also the director of the University School of Sciences.
For the last 50 years he was engaged in pure and applied research. His research work received recognition from various institutes and the science world. In 1959, at the ninth International Botany Congress held at Montreal in Canada, he headed the plant physiology section. In 1961 for his outstanding research, Gujarat University awarded him the Dr K G Naik gold medal. In 1964, he was specially invited to represent India and take active part in the discussions at the tenth International Botany Congress in Edinborough. In 1975. he was selected as the working vice-president of the twelfth International Botany Congress held at Leningrad in Russia. At this congress he was awarded a special medal for his exceptional research work.
Besides, Chinoy also visited the world-famous biological research schools in England, Holland, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Russia. In many of these countries he honoured the invitation extended to him by the science academies to lecture in their lecture series.
He was appointed Fellow of Indian Academy of Science. Besides, there was a demand for his lectures at the botany seminars held at Bhavnagar, Vadodara (Baroda), Kolkata (Calcutta) and other places in India. In these seminars he was invited as president, vice-president or chief speaker. Wherever possible he would go, there would be exchange of thoughts and others would be benefited by his knowledge. He was the patron member of the Plant Physiology Society of India, besides serving as honorary secretary, vice-president and president.
The prestigious Rafl Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize awarded every year by the New Delhi based Indian Council for Agriculture Research, was awarded to Chinoy for 1974-75, for his agricultural botanical research.
Chinoy had developed a plant strain with disease-free and fast growing seeds besides seeds that required less water and could be grown during droughts. He contributed immensely towards cellular and molecular biology. More than 250 research papers of his were published in national and international magazines. Under his leadership a group of leading scientists was working on plant physiology at Gujarat University. This group received recognition in India and abroad. Under his able guidance more than 100 students got their PhD degrees. These students are holding high posts in well-known research Institutes within the country and abroad. Till his last breath, Chinoy rendered service in this field. Even after retirement he continued his honorary services. Under the aegis of the University Grants Commission. New Delhi, Chinoy conceived the book ‘Role of Ascorbic Acid in Plant Metabolism’. This great scientist who believed in the adage ‘Work is Worship’ remained active till the end of his life.
Chinoy was an optimist and mild-mannered. Nobody ever found him furious. Punctuality and discipline were his watchwords. He cared for his students, employees and co-workers. He understood their personal problems and always tried to help them. He believed that if there is no teamwork there could be no worthwhile research even though the laboratory is well-equipped. With a smiling face he would enter the department on time and the entire department would liven up. It was said that he had a sweet tooth. His voice and speech too, were melodious and sweet-sounding.
On March 12, 1978, at the age of 69 years, the country’s great scientist Chinoy took leave from us forever. He has departed mortally, but left a body of sincere students behind. We will always remember this honest son of the soil and scholar of Gujarat through his works.