The Founder President


Prof. Jai Krishna-an eminent educationist, researcher and academic administrator was the father figure in the field of engineering education and research in India. He was recognized as "Legend of Earthquake Engineering" at a reception during the 14th World Conference of Earthquake Engineering held in Beijing, China in October 2008. His vision for scientific research and zeal for developing road maps to achieve the objectives resulted in setting up of a School of Research and Training in Earthquake Engineering (now Department of Earthquake Engineering, IIT Roorkee). Simultaneously he initiated the idea of creating a platform for engineers, geologists and seismologists to focus the attention of professionals towards the problems associated with earthquake disaster mitigation. Thus came into being the Indian Society of Earthquake Technology (ISET) with Prof. Jai Krishna as the founder President. He remained actively associated with the activities of ISET throughout his life.

Born on Feb. 14, 1912 at Muzaffarnagar, a small district town in Uttar Pradesh, Prof. Jai Krishna studied engineering at Thomason College of Civil Engineering, Roorkee (now IIT, Roorkee) from where he passed with honours in 1935. As a student, he won several awards such as Thomason Prize, Cautley Gold Medal and Calcott Reilly Memorial Gold Medal. He obtained his Doctoral Degree in Civil Engineering from University of London in 1954.

After working for a brief period in U.P. Public Works Department, Prof. Jai Krishna joined Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1939 as Lecturer where he rose to the rank of Professor in 1960. In 1971, he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of University of Roorkee, thus becoming the first teacher of this institution to be elevated to this high office.

Prof. Jai Krishna made many pioneering contributions as an educator, researcher, innovator and institution builder. While on a visit to the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA in 1956, he developed close relationship with Late Prof. G.W. Housner and Late Prof. D.E. Hudson. This association resulted in the starting of a teaching and research program in Earthquake Engineering at University of Roorkee in 1960. He was the first in India to introduce courses on Soil Mechanics in 1948 and on Structural Dynamics in 1958. He was the prime motivating force behind the formulation of Indian Standards for Earthquake Resistant Design of Structures that was brought out by the Indian Standards Institution (now Bureau of Indian Standards). This standard is used extensively and is one of the most comprehensive in the world. His work has brought in original ideas in the design of earthquake resistant structures and has led to the evolution of economic and safe construction practices. He was also responsible for earthquake resistant design of a large number of major and important engineering projects in India. It was for the first time in the country that seismic studies on feasibility of a Nuclear Power Plant at Narora was taken up and eventually detailed seismic analysis of various structures in this project has also been carried out within the country. Subsequently, work on a number of other nuclear power plants was also carried out fully through indigenous know-how.

Realizing that there was hardly any seismic data available for design of structures in India till the sixties, Prof. Jai Krishna initiated work on design, fabrication and installation of structural response recorders and accelerographs in India to collect such data. This activity has now picked up momentum and has begun to yield very useful database, which would go a long way in guiding engineers to choose appropriate seismic parameters for design of important engineering structures. His outstanding contribution on the development of facilities for laboratory and field testing have led to independence from foreign consultancy on such problems and greatly helped import substitution.

Prof Jai Krishna had authored text books on reinforced concrete as well as earthquake engineering which serve as basic reference material for engineering studies all over the country. He published extensively in various national and international journals as well as conferences and won many prizes and awards from national and international organizations. Some of the notable awards are Bhatnagar Award of CSIR (1966), National Design Award (1971) of the Institution of Engineers (India), Moudgil Award of Indian Standards Institution (1972), International Award of Japan Society of Disaster Prevention (1988) and award for life time contributions in Earthquake Engineering by Indian National Academy of Engineering ~ 997). For his meritorious services to the nation, he was conferred Padma Bhushan by President of India in 1972. ISET honoured him by bringing out a reference volume on earthquake engineering to commemorate his 60th birth anniversary.

Prof Jai Krishna travelled far and wide and visited many countries all over the world. He held several important national and international assignments in various capacities. Prof Jai Krishna was a Fellow of several professional bodies and academies. Some of the important amongst these are Indian National Science Academy, Indian National Academy of Engineering, The Institution of Engineers (India), American Academy of Engineering, Third World Academy of Sciences and International Association of Earthquake Engineering of which he was the President during the period 1977-1980. He was also the founder President of Indian National Academy of Engineering. Prof Jai Krishna was awarded Honorary Degrees of Doctorate by Agra University and the University of Roorkee.

Guru and mentor to generations of earthquake engineers, Prof Jai Krishna epitomized the human spirit of enquiry and unflinching loyalty and devotion to academic pursuits, so very essential for development of knowledge. The School of Research and Training in Earthquake Engineering, now a full-fledged academic department of IIT Roorkee, stands today, as a testimony to the creative genius of Prof Jai Krishna who was not only instrumental in its creation, but also nurtured it till he breathed his last. His life and work will guide the future generations of engineers inspiring them in the path of creative pursuit of profession to enrich human endeavour for knowledge.