Wrangler Paranjpe Reassessed
20 September 2011
A new book by Dr Jitu Shah, a Visting Fellow in the School of Physics, examines the life and work of Sir Raghunath Purushottam Paranjpe (1876-1966), the first Indian to achieve the coveted title of Senior Wrangler at the University of Cambridge.
Paranjpe was named Senior Wrangler after becoming the highest-scoring student in the third year of the Mathematical Tripos with first-class honours at Cambridge. He went on to become a university administrator and Indian ambassador, and was well known for his work in education and social reform in British India.
During his illustrious career, he was professor of mathematics and then principal at Fergusson College, Poona, India, and Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University and the University of Poona. He received a British knighthood in 1942 and in the three years (1944-47) preceding India’s independence from the British Raj, the British government appointed him India’s High Commissioner to Australia.
The book, entitled Wrangler Paranjpe Reassessed, looks anew at his achievements and the long-lasting impact of his work on the social life of Modern India.
Dr Shah said: ‘The book has been written to prove that although it is nearly 45 years since he died, the Senior Wrangler should not be forgotten. He played an important part both in educating women and students from underprivileged backgrounds and in bringing about social reform in India, so badly needed against the backdrop of polarised Hindu and Muslim communities.’
Dr Shah was a full-time member of the School of Physics for over 36 years, continuing as an honorary research fellow after retirement. He was awarded the 2009 Brunel Prize by the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society for an outstanding original piece of research on the efforts of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his father, Marc Brunel, to produce a new and better form of engine power than steam.