Initially, this award was instituted to encourage the study of science. In the first few years the Centre awarded an annual prize and covered the expenses for travel and stay in Hyderabad for the students who topped the list in the Statewide Class X Examination.
Subsequently, the scope of the prize was widened to include students and researchers at higher levels, instead of school students.
The Centre has instituted several awards. These include the B M Birla Science Prizes, amongst the most prestigious awards for Indian Scientists, the Life Time Achievement in Sciences Awards given to a selection from amongst the greatest living scientists in the world and G P Birla Distinguished Awards.
B M Birla Science Prizes
The B.M. Birla Science Prizes instituted by B.M. Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad, at the instance of Nobel Laureate Prof. Abdus Salam, are given each year since the year 1990 for outstanding contributions by young Indian scientists not more than 40 years of age as on the 31st December of the year for which the prizes are given for work done in India in the four fields of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
Initially these prizes consisted of Rs.50,000/- for each subject given only for two subjects per year by rotation in the four fields of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In an effort to inspire and encourage young scientists, from the year 2000 onwards the prize money has been enhanced to Rupees One Lakh per subject viz., Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Life Sciences each year. Many awardees have gone on to win national and international acclaim.
All matters relating to the prizes are dealt with by an Award Board consisting of a Chairman, and two experts per subject. The experts propose a college of nominators, who in turn, nominate candidates. Additionally, heads of all Recognized Universities and Institutes of Research are also requested to send in nominations. Each year the call for nominations is also advertised in Research Journals to give maximum publicity.
The Nominations are short-listed in each subject by the two subject experts and the actual awardees are finalized by the Award Board.
The first B.M. Birla Science Prizes were given away by the then Prime Minister Sri P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1992 and subsequently the prizes were given away by Nobel Laureates Lord George Porter in 1993, Ilya Prigogine in 1995, Roald Hoffmann in 1998 and Klaus von Klitzing in 1999 and Gerard ‘t Hooft in 2000. The B.M. Birla Science Prizes for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 were given away by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Hon’ble President of India on the 7th of June 2003. The awards for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 were given away by Nobel Laureate Prof. Douglas D. Osheroff in 2005. Subsequently the B.M. Birla Science Prizes were given away by Nobel Laureates Prof. Claude Cohen Tannoudji, Prof. Robert Curl, Prof.William D Phillips, Prof. Anthony J Leggett, Prof. Ei-Ichi Negishi, Prof. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Prof. Serge Haroche, Prof. Takaaki Kajita and Prof. Martin Chalfie.
Life Time Achievement In Science Award
The Life Time Achievement in Science Award has been instituted by the B.M. Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad as a token of appreciation and admiration for sustained contributions to science at the very forefront.
Many of them have delivered lectures and have received the Life Time Achievement in Science Award.
These include Nobel Laureates Professors Abdus Salam, William Fowler, Norman Ramsey, Ilya Prigogine, Van der Meer, Werner Arber, James Watson, t’ Hooft, S. Chu, Antony Hewish, Sir Aaron Klug, Sir Lord George Porter, De Gennes, Roald Hoffman, Charles Townes, Klaus von Klitzing, Norman Borlaug, Sir Harold Walter Kroto, Douglas D Osheroff, Prof. Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Prof. R. Curl, Prof. William D. Phillips, Prof. Anthony J Leggett.
This apart world famous scientists like Sir Fred Hoyle, Sir Hermann Bondi, Prof. Yuval Ne’eman, Prof. Walter Greiner, Prof. Jogesh Pati and others have also received this Award.
G P Birla Distinguished Awards
The G P Birla Distinguished Award has been instituted in memory of Late Padmabhushan Shri G P Birla to world’s most eminent scientists for their contributions to science and research.
The G P Birla Distinguished Award has been given to Nobel Laureates Prof. Ei-Ichi Negishi, Prof. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Prof. Serge Haroche, Prof. Takaaki Kajita and Prof. Martin Chalfie.