The possible discovery of the Higgs boson has refocused attention on the life and work of Satyendra Nath Bose, whose pioneering work helped pave the way.
News that the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle which is crucial to the Standard Model of physics, may have been discovered brought excitement to the world scientific community.
In South Asia, it had special resonance because of the contribution to the field made by a top Indian scientist.
British physicist Peter Higgs "is a familiar name in the world of science. However, it is not well known that the term Boson owes its name to the pioneering work of the late Indian physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose," the Ministry of Information said in a July 8th press release.
"His pioneering work on the quantum theory of light provided the foundation for Bose-Einstein condensates, a new state of matter in which thousands of atoms condense into a single giant atom that behaves like a wave. Particles that follow Bose's statistics have been named boson in his honour," the release said.
"He is a forgotten hero, even in India, even though he won a worldwide fame (sic) for his association with the great Albert Einstein in developing a theory of the particle-like qualities of light," it said.
Bose (1894-1974) was born in Kolkata, then known as Calcutta, and spent the major part of his life in his native Bengal. He spoke seven languages including Sanskrit, English, French and German.
He gained international recognition when his letter to Albert Einstein led to a long collaboration between the two, climaxing in their joint prediction of the existence of a phenomenon which came to be known as the Bose-Einstein condensate – a dense collection of the particles later dubbed bosons.
India's pioneering scientific achievements in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, chemistry, physics and other fields have yet to be recognised in the West, said former education minister Murli Manohar Joshi.
"About 12 physicists have won the Nobel Prize for basing their work on Bose, but the Indian never got the award," he told Khabar South Asia. Some professional physicists, however, say that politicians and segments of the media are brewing up a storm in a tea kettle and misconstruing the nature of scientific collaboration.
"This line is unacceptable to true scientists because we benefit from each other's discoveries," former joint director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Mohandas Chintamani told Khabar. "I feel that the government has needlessly participated in a game of spurious nationalism started by TV news channels for the sake of gaining prime-time viewership."
India itself appears to have downplayed Bose's work in the past. It failed to award him the Bharat Ratna, the nation's highest honour. Instead he was given the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest honour, in 1954.
There is a plaque outside a house on Iswar Mill Lane in Kolkata where Bose used to live, but few residents of this narrow lane in the city's bustling northern quarter are aware of his contribution to science.
"He died when I was a small boy. All that we knew was that he worked for the government," Nantu Banerjee, who owns a house on the street, told Khabar.
The search for the Higgs boson has been a priority for physicists since the 1960s, when Peter Higgs and other researchers proposed its existence and described its properties.
Research teams working at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), located on the French-Swiss border, announced on July 4th they have discovered a previously unknown boson which could be the Higgs.