Chandigarh :– Prof. Ashok Sahni, former DUI and Professor Emeritus, Department of Geology, Panjab University, while referring to his grandfather, Prof. Ruchi Ram Sahni, said, “Many of us would be happy leading just one life. Ruchi Ram Sahni led many lives and led them well.” He was speaking on ‘Grandfather: Leading Many Lives’ as the key speaker during the inaugural function commemorating the 150th Birth Anniversary Year of Professor Ruchi Ram Sahni held this morning in the Main Auditorium.An idea mooted by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Arun K. Grover, the year-long celebrations will showcase one of the most iconic alumnus of Panjab University – Ruchi Ram Sahni, a scientist, an innovator, an enthusiastic educationist, a fierce patriot, a devoted social worker and the catalyst behind popularizing science education in Punjab.As Prof. Sahni revealed through the course of his presentation, his grandfather was a man of independent thinking and progressive ideas. He was amongst those who favoured a modern approach to education even as the debate on whether to focus education on the “rationality of the West or the mysticism of the East” raged around him. He did not even stress on formal education for his children, particularly his sons. He believed that a liberal education should also be liberating. His children were encouraged to read and to explore. Family excursions in the Himalayas were in fact the catalyst for two of his sons becoming renowned scientists later in life.Ruchi Ram Sahni was also a teacher with a practical bent of mind. An astute businessman, he understood the importance of capital in funding one’s dreams and ambitions. As Prof. Rajesh Kochhar, CSIR Emeritus Scientist, IISER and co-convener of the Commemoration Committee said in his thematic address, “Ruchi Ram Sahni was a singularity. He did not fit into an existing pattern. Yet, he is more relevant today than he was in his own time.”Prof. R.P. Bambah, former Vice Chancellor, Panjab University, in his brief address said, “It is always inspiring to think of people who lay the foundations, the fruits of which we are reaping.” Interestingly, the same was highlighted by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Arun K. Grover in his welcome address when he spoke of the interactions and connections in academia. He illustrated how Homi Bhabha, S.S. Bhatnagar and Ruchi Ram Sahni were interlinked in the manner that one supported the other in academic pursuit. The same is true of the rest of academia. The Chief Guest, Sh. K.K. Sharma, Advisor to the Administrator, UT Chandigarh took the thought further when he said that it was a pleasure to see the efforts made by the University to bridge the gap between academia and the administration since both are crucial in taking society forward.The Plenary Lecture on the topic, ‘Strange Events in our Solar System’ was delivered by Prof. Jayant Narlikar, Founder Director, Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune. The audience found answers to many of their questions in a presentation that was tailored to the layman – Why the sky appears blue? In learning about the colour spectrum of light they also discovered the reason why traffic lights are the colour they are. The colour red for instance, does not scatter as much as the blue part of the spectrum does. Hence, the stop signal is red so that people even at a distance can see the colour, stop and be safe. Other questions dealt with – What is night and day like on the moon? What are the chances of earth being hit by another solar body? Can preventive action be taken? Prof. Narlikar ended his presentation by saying, “One should be prepared for strange sights and unexpected phenomena when one leaves terra-firma and goes into space.”The Vote of Thanks was presented by Prof. B.S. Ghuman, coordinator of the Commemoration Committee and by Prof. R.K. Kohli, Dean University Instruction for the first and second half of the Inaugural function respectively.