Scientist Manas Bihari Verma, key man behind Tejas, dead



Aeronautical scientist Manas Bihari Verma (78), who played a key role in the development of the country’s first light combat fighter aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas’, passed away on Monday night at Darbhanga in Bihar.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over Verma’s demise and said his role in the field of aeronautical engineering will always be remembered.

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“The demise of the famous scientist Padma Shri Manas Bihari Verma ji is very sad. His death has caused irreparable damage to the science world. The nation will always remember his contribution. May God grant peace to the departed soul,” the CM tweeted.

People close to Dr Verma’s family said he died after suffering a massive heart attack at around 11.45 pm at his home at KM Tank locality of Laheriasarai in Bihar’s Darbhanga town.

“Verma was deeply involved in LCA project definition and under his guidance the requirements of full-scale engineering development (FSED), phase-I activities, were achieved,” said Narayan Choudhary, a social activist and close associate of Dr Verma.

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Verma, who also worked closely with former President APJ Abdul Kalam during his 35-year long career, set stringent goals for integration of weapons, multi-mode radar (MMR) and initial operation clearance for Tejas during his stint at Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru.

Conferred with the Padma Shri award in 2018, Verma seamlessly transitioned into the role of an educationist working in the rural region after his retirement as an eminent scientist.

He was born on 29 July 1943 in Bour, a small village in Ghanshyampur block in Darbhanga district. After his schooling in the village, Verma pursued his graduation from Bihar College of Engineering—presently known as National Institute of Technology (NIT) Patna.

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He worked with several aeronautical engineering establishments in the country and went on to become a programme director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore between 2002 and 2005. Here, he got a chance to work with former President Kalam, the architect of India’s nuclear programme.

After his retirement from ADA Bangalore, Verma chose to return to his native village in Darbhanga, where he was actively involved in addressing issues of illiteracy. Later on, he extended support to Viksit Bharat Foundation that was started by Dr Kalam in mid 90’s to build scientific temperament among school students, especially in rural pockets through Mobile Science Laboratory (MSL).

During his first visit to Darbhanga on December 31, 2005, Kalam had advised Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to take Verma’s help for Bihar’s development.

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