IIT Roorkee establishes Institute Chair Professorship in honour and memory of Professor Anand Swarup Arya

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee announced setting up of an Institute Chair Professorship in honour and memory of the late Professor Anand Swarup Arya on the solemn occasion of his first death anniversary today, September 1, 2020. The Chair is the result of a generous donation pledged by Mrs. Kaushalya Devi Arya, his wife, and children Arun, Poonam, Anjali, and Anshuli so that Dr. Arya’s professional contributions continue to inspire generations to come.

Dr. Arya was born on 13 June 1931 in village Ambehta in the Saharanpur District of the State of Uttar Pradesh in India.  After his early education, he joined the University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) and obtained B.E. (Civil engineering) in 1953 and M.E. (Structural Engineering) in 1954; joined the university as a faculty, and later moved on to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA in 1959 where he obtained his Doctoral degree in 1961.

After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Arya returned to the university. He was instrumental in establishing an interdisciplinary department of Earthquake Engineering. He rose to the position of Head of Earthquake Engineering Department in 1971, became Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 1988 and continued to serve well beyond his superannuation in 1989 as an Emeritus Professor. He remained professionally active and served the nation vigorously until the very end when he left for the heavenly abode at the age of 88.

The world of engineering recognises Professor Arya as a raraavis whose pioneering contributions in the fields of structural engineering, earthquake engineering and disaster mitigation and management made him a legend in his lifetime. IIT Roorkee was his Karm Bhumi where, during 36years of service, he earned the reputation as a teacher par excellence. His students will always remember him for the unforgettable lessons in Dynamic Analysis and Design of Structures ranging from small to multi-storeyed buildings, arched and shell structures, bridges, dams and atomic power plants. During his tenure, he introduced several specialised courses to train professionals on the diverse aspects of earthquake engineering at the University of Roorkee and many other Institutions in India and abroad. He authored & co-authored numerous papers and several books, many of which were written well after his retirement.  The unique feature of his approach as a professional was to engineer innovative and apt practical solutions while addressing complex structural problems despite an uncertain eco-system.

Professor Arya served many national and international organizations.  He co-founded and was a Director of the International Association of Earthquake Engineering during 1977-84.  He was a consultant to United Nations agencies such as UNESCO, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNCHS), the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), and the World Bank. The Government of India invited him to serve as National Seismic Advisor to head its National Seismic Zoning Committee, lead the development of the first-ever Vulnerability Atlas of India and steer the affairs of the UNDP-sponsored Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction Programme. He made a yeoman’s contribution to the Bureau of Indian Standards as Chairman of the Committee on Earthquake Engineering Codes. Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA) will always remain indebted to him for his outstanding contribution in strengthening its foundation, in the formative years.

For his outstanding academic, research, and professional contributions, Professor Arya received several national and international honours and awards. United Nations bestowed upon him the most coveted DHA-Sasakawa Disaster Prevention Award in 1997. The Government of India conferred Padma Shri on him in 2002.  The Indian National Academy of Engineering also honoured him with its Lifetime Contribution Award in 2002. Both the University of Illinois and IIT Roorkee recognized him with Distinguished Alumnus Awards.  The Indian National Science Academy and the Indian National Academy of Engineering elected him a Fellow. Other awards received by him include the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry award (1986); National Design Award of the Institution of Engineers (India) (1987); Khosla National Award (1980); the Jai Krishna Award of the Indian Society of Earthquake Technology (1982) and the National Institute of Disaster Management’s first Disaster Mitigation Award (2006).

In addition to being a renowned scientist, engineer, teacher, and leader, Dr. Arya was a dedicated philanthropist and humanitarian. His most notable contributions in Roorkee area include the establishment and continued guidance of Anand Swaroop Arya Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Roorkee (founded 1996) and the establishment of ayurvedic and homeopathic dispensaries in 2019, just a couple of months before his passing away.

IIT Roorkee will cherish Dr. Arya’s memories and contributions forever. Anand Swarup Arya Institute Chair Professorship will inspire generations of faculty and students to come. The Chair Professorship announcement event arranged through video-conferencing was attended by his family members, the faculty of IIT Roorkee, his hundreds of admirers, colleagues, professionals, and students across the globe. On this occasion, the Arya family paid homage to beloved Dr. Arya and said “Advancing and applying science and technology to practically solve problems was a passion for Professor Arya. On the occasion of his first anniversary, we are proud to establish Institute Chair Professorship in his name at IIT Roorkee that we hope will motivate others to achieve excellence in academics and research, and applying it for the benefit of the nation. The Arya family is grateful to IIT Roorkee for establishing the Institute Chair in the honour and memory of Dr. Arya.”

“An Institute Chair Professorship in the name of an alumnus and also sponsored by an alumnus and her family makes this occasion specially memorable for us.” said Prof. Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee. He added “Prof. A.S. Arya was truly a legend who spearheaded earthquake engineering and disaster management efforts throughout his life.IIT Roorkee is immensely proud of his contributions, both as an alumnus and as a faculty member. IIT Roorkee is deeply indebted to Mrs. Kaushalya Devi Arya and her children for the generous donation to make this Chair Professorship a reality. Posterity will thank the family for their great service to Prof. Arya’s alma mater.”