Professor Hemendrakumar Prithivraj Gandhi, the legend in the field of Indian diatoms, was born at Pratapgarh, Rajasthan on August 20, 1920 . He has the unique distinction of pioneering diatomological research in India . H P Gandhi did his primary and higher secondary schooling at Pratapgarh and obtained his intermediate degree from Agra . Later, he completed his Bachelors and Masters in Botany from the Wilson College , Mumbai in 1949, where he specialised in algae under the supervision of the then leading phycologist Prof. A Ella Gonzales. His work on algae of waterbodies of the islands of Bombay and Salsette predates to November 1944. Initially, he focused on algal taxonomy, periodicity, seasonal succession, population dynamics and its ecology. During this period, he was fascinated with diatoms for its form, structural beauty and their occurrence in profusion. With this motivation, Gandhi's contribution to science gathered at a very young age that became evident from his Masters' thesis, which includes the description of 10 new species, 21 new varieties and 40 new forms of algae, particularly diatoms. During this time, he published research papers on diatoms of Bombay and Salsette in three parts during 1952-54, each containing descriptions of 6, 42 and 24 diatoms respectively.
Gandhi joined as an assistant lecturer at Karnatak University (earlier known as Karnatak College), Dharwar in July 1949 and very soon he was transferred unceremoniously to M N College, Visnagar in Gujarat (August 1949), then to I Y College, Bombay (November 1949), and after another short time period he joined Rajaram College, Kolhapur after which he finally returned back to Karnatak College (June 1951). With the bifurcation of Bombay Presidency, in 1956, Gandhi was again transferred to Gujarat . His keen interest in the subject made him to collect algal samples from all the possible places and habitats during these transfers, tours and botanical excursions. He retired, in the year 1980, from J.J. Science College , Gujarat from the office of Principal.
The Gujarat University requested Prof. Gandhi on his retirement to participate in the research project on the diatoms based palaeoecological investigations in sub-Himalayan ranges. At this instant, he started an interesting work on the freshwater fossil diatoms of Karewa Beds in Kashmir . Usage of Scanning Electron Microscope for this project gave more insights into the taxonomy and biostratigraphy of diatoms. Prof. Gandhi became one of the earliest Indian phycologists to undertake electron microscopic studies of diatom frustules and highlight the implications in taxonomy. So far, h e has authored three papers on the fossil diatoms with their ecological notes. During his work on fossil diatoms he discovered the occurrence of Fragilaria leprostauron (Ehr.) Hust. v. amphitetras (Grun.) Gandhi comb. nov., which, until then was reported only from Dubravica fossil deposits by Grunow (1882), a European diatomist. This being a significant discovery in the field of Indian diatoms, it ennobled him a permanent place for Gandhi in the field of diatom research.
Gandhi authored a book and more than 35 publications covering a wide field from diatom taxonomy, diatom ecology, biostratigraphy to flowering plants. His work includes the description of freshwater diatom flora from Bombay, Partapgarh, Dharwar, Kolhapur, Radhanagari, Jog falls, Sagar, Gerusoppa falls, Hirebhaskar Dam, Mugad and Ahmedabad and its surrounding environment, collected throughout a period of five decades. The significant contribution includes the description of nearly 84 new diatom species. With the knowledge of freshwater and fossil diatom forms he has also become an authority on different species and varieties. During his scientific career, he had interacted with notable diatom scientists - Hustedt, Round, Cholnoky, Lund , etc. Today, he has a vast collection of literature on diatoms and related works with an excellent bibliographic record. He maintained meticulous records to keep track of his literature, which, even now, can help anyone to search a literary work only by the details of the author, species or locality. He also prepared the distribution records of most of the species that he encountered in his studies.
Despite his long working hours on the microscope, he exhibited a great interest in a wide array of subjects which included repairing radios, photography, tailoring, horology, carpentry, book binding, etc. Probably he is the only scientist who has fabricated slide boxes required for his scientific work, repair of microscopes, repair of typewriters, etc. He is also a capable radio mechanic qualified from the City and Guilds of London Institute, England .
The lack of facilities and other administrative hurdles deterred Prof. Gandhi from achieving his goals to provide the best work on diatoms to the Indian workers of today and tomorrow. He worked incessantly as evident from the quality publications. He is the sole authority on freshwater diatoms in India , particularly the Western Ghats of peninsular India . His research papers serve as the main reference for all phycological research, particularly diatomology in the Indian subcontinent.
Gandhi will be forever remembered for his selfless contribution to the field of diatomology. His perseverance and dedication to research, despite the odds, is inspirational for young researchers to emulate. He currently resides in Junagadh, Gujarat with his wife Smt. Zamku Bai and children. Recently Prof H P Gandhi donated his vast collection of samples, slides and literature, including reprints, reports and books on diatoms to SAHYADRI - Environmental Information System (ENVIS) centre on Western Ghats Biological Diversity located at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The details about his work and publications are available at : http://wgbis.ces.iisc.ernet.in/biodiversity/
Collections of Prof. Gandhi are kept in the diatom museum at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, which constitute a much awaited resource for diatom researchers. The flourishing research and interests in diatomology in India bears a testimony to the legacy of H P Gandhi and undoubtedly he is the father of freshwater diatomology in India .
List of new diatom taxa, described by H P Gandhi
|Achnanthes elata (Leud.Fort) Gandhi||1960|
|Achnanthes fasciata Gandhi||1959|
|Achnanthes jogensis Gandhi||1959|
|Achnanthes submontana Gandhi||1959|
|Achnanthes baltalensis Gandhi||1983|
|Ceratoneis jogensis Gandhi||1959|
|Cymbella powaiana Gandhi||1960|
|Cymbella rivularis Gandhi||1959|
|Cymbella sagarensis Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia cholnokyi Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia jogensis Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia montana Gandhi = E. ambigua||1959|
|Eunotia nehruii Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia patrickii Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia porcelloides Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia rivularis Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia saravathense Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia subgibba Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia sublunaris Gandhi||1959|
|Eunotia tumida Gandhi||1959|
|Frustulia indica Gandhi||1959|
|Frustulia jogensis Gandhi||1970|
|Gomphonema clavatoides Gandhi||1960|
|Gomphonema lacus-rankala Gandhi||1960|
|Gomphonema magnifica Gandhi||1960|
|Gomphonema moniliformae Gandhi||1960|
|Gomphonema sarvathense Gandhi||1959|
|Gomphonema spicula Gandhi||1959|
|Gomphonema spiculoides Gandhi||1960|
|Gomphonema submalayense Gandhi||1959|
|Gomphonema tenius Gandhi||1960|
|Hantzschia boriviliana Gandhi||1984|
|Hantzschia voigtii Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula avenaceoides Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula chandolensis Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula cholnokyii Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula fridrrichii Gandhi||1960|
|Navicula inflata Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula jogensis Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula mugadensis Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula panhalgarhensis Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula ramosissimoides Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula reimeri Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula subbengalensis Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula subdapaliformis Gandhi||1970|
|Navicula subdigna Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula thienemonnioides Gandhi||1959|
|Navicula vanhoeffeniformis Gandhi||1959|
|Neidium capitellata Gandhi||1959|
|Neidium grandis Gandhi||1959|
|Neidium indicum Gonzalves et Gandhi||1954|
|Neidium jogensis Gandhi||1959|
|Neidium panhalgarhensis Gandhi||1959|
|Nitzschia clausiiformis Gandhi||1959|
|Nitzschia graciloides Gandhi||1959|
|Nitzschia pseudogracilis Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia balatoneis (Pant.) Gandhi||1960|
|Pinnularia conica Gandhi.||1957|
|Pinnularia divergentissimoides Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia dolosa Gandhi||1960|
|Pinnularia dubiasa Gandhi.||1959|
|Pinnularia karnatica Gandhi||1957|
|Pinnularia kolhapurensis Gandhi||1958|
|Pinnularia lonavlensis Gandhi||1962|
|Pinnularia mysorense Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia panhalgarhensis Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia paucicostis Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia pseudoluculenta Gandhi||1960|
|Pinnularia pusslia Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia sagittata Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia sahyadrens Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia simplex Gandhi||1960|
|Pinnularia subgraciloides Gandhi||1959|
|Pinnularia subsimilis Gandhi||1959|
|Stauroneis angulare Gonzalves et Gandhi||1952|
|Stauroneis tenuis Gandhi||1959|
|Surirella capronioides Gandhi||1959|
|Surirella shyamaii Gandhi||1959|
|Synedra chandolensis Gandhi||1959|
|Synedra jogensis Gandhi||1964|
List of publications by Prof. H P Gandhi
Gonzalves, E. A and Gandhi, H. P. 1952. A systematic account of the Diatoms of Bombay and Salsette I. J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 31: 117 115.
Gonzalves, E. A and Gandhi, H. P. 1953. A systematic account of the Diatoms of Bombay and Salsette II. J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 32: 239 - 263
Gonzalves, E. A and Gandhi, H. P. 1954. A systematic account of the Diatoms of Bombay and Salsette III. J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 33: 338 350.
Gandhi, H.P. 1955. A contribution to our knowledge of the freshwater Diatoms of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan. J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 34: 304-338.
Gandhi, H.P. 1956. A contribution to the freshwater Diatomaceae of S. Western India - I. Freshwater diatoms of Dharwar. J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 35: 194-202.
Gandhi, H.P. 1956. A preliminary account of the soil diatom of Kolhapur . J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 35: 402-408.
Gandhi, H.P. 1957. The freshwater diatoms from Radhanagari - Kolhapur . Ceylon J. Sci (Biol. Sect.), 1: 45-47.
Gandhi, H.P. 1957. Some common freshwater diatoms from Gersoppa-falls (Jog-Falls). J. Poona Univ. Sci. Sec., 12: 13-21.
Gandhi, H.P. 1957. A contribution to our knowledge of the diatom genus Pinnularia. J. Bombay . Nat. Hist. Soc., 54(4): 845-853.
Gandhi, H.P. 1958. Freshwater diatoms from Kolhapur and its immediate environs. J. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc., 55: 493-511.
Gandhi, H.P. 1958. The freshwater diatoms flora of the Hirebhasgar Dam area, Mysore State. J. Indian. Bot. Soc., 37: 249-265.
Gandhi, H. P., 1958. Flowering plants (Angiosperms) of Ahmedabad and its immediate vicinity. Vishya J. Gujarat Univ. 2(2): 114-158
Gandhi, H.P. 1959. The freshwater diatom flora from Mugad, Dharwar District with some ecological notes. Ceylon J. Sci. (Biol. Sect.), 2: 98-116.
Gandhi, H.P., 1959. Freshwater diatoms from Sagar in the Mysore State . J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 38: 305-331.
Gandhi, H.P. 1959. Freshwater diatom flora of the Panhalgarh Hill Fort in the Kolaphur district. Hydrobiologia, 14: 93-129.
Gandhi, H.P. 1959. Notes on the Diatomaceae from Ahmedabad and its environs-II. On the diatom flora of fountain reservoirs of the Victoria Gardens . Hydrobiologia, 14: 130-146.
Gandhi, H.P. 1960. Some new diatoms from the Jog Falls , Mysore State . J. Royal Microsci. Soc., 79: 81-84.
Gandhi, H.P. 1960. The diatom flora of the Bombay and Salsette Islands . J. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc., 57: 7&-123.
Gandhi, H.P. 1960. On the diatom flora of some ponds around Vasna Village near Ahmedabad. J. Ind. Bot. Soc., 39: 558-567.
Gandhi, H.P. 1961. Notes on the Diatomaceae of Ahmedabad and its environs. Hydrobiologia, 17: 218-236.
Gandhi, H.P. 1962. The diatom flora of the Bombay and Salsette islands. II. Nova Hedwigia, 3: 469-505.
Gandhi, H.P. 1962. Some freshwater diatoms from Lonawala Hill Station in the Bombay State ( Maharashtra ). Hydrobiologia, 20: 128-154.
Gandhi, H.P. 1962. Notes on the Diatomaceae from Ahmedabad and its environs-IV The diatom communities of some freshwater pools and ditches along Sarkhej Road . Phykos, 1: 115-127.
Gandhi, H.P. 1964. The diatom flora of Chandola and Kankaria Lakes . Nova Hedwigia. 8: 347-402.
Gandhi, H.P. 1966. Freshwater diatom flora of Jog Falls , Mysore State . Nova Hedwigia, 11: 89-197.
Gandhi, H.P. 1967. Notes on Diatomaceae from Ahmedabad and its environs. VI. On some diatoms from fountain reservoirs of Seth Sarabhai's Garden. Hydrobiologia, 30: 248-272.
Gandhi, H.P. 1970. A further contribution to the diatom flora of the Jog Falls, Mysore State (Diatomaceae-II) Nova Hedwigia, 31: 633-652.
Gandhi, H. P., Kachhi I. H. and Buch M. P., 1974. Occurrence of Ophioglossum fibrosum Schum. at Junagadh in Saurashtra. J. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc., 72 (3): 878.
Gandhi, H. P., 1983. Preliminary observation on Baltal and Ara sediments, Kashmir . Proc. X Ind. Coll. Micropal. & Strat. 550-570.
Gandhi, H. P. and D. J. Mohan, 1983. Fossil diatoms from Baltal, Kashmir . Man & Environment, 7. 154-156.
Gandhi, H. P., A B. Vora and D. J. Mohan, 1983. Review of the fossil Diatomflora, of the Karewa Beds of Kashmir, Current Trends in Geology, Vol. VI, (Climate and Geology of Kashmir) 6:57-60.
Gandhi, H. P., A B. Vora and D. J. Mohan, 1983. Fossil diatoms from Baltal, Karewa beds of Kashmir . Current Trends in Geology, Vol. VI, (Climate and Geology of Kashmir ) 6:61-68.
Gandhi, H. P., A B. Vora and D. J. Mohan, 1986. Ecology of diatoms from the Karewa beds of Baltal area, Kashmir , India , Bull. Geol. Min. & Met. Soc. India , Proc. XI Indian Colloquim of on micropalaeontology & Stratigraphy Pt. II (Stratigraphy & Microflora) No. 54: 159-161
Gandhi, H. P., 1998 . Freshwater Diatoms of Central Gujarat . Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. Dehra Dun .
Gandhi, H. P., 1990. My work on Indian Freshwater Diatoms and Experiences with Indian Referees and Editors in Glimpses of Phycology in India (Eds) O. N. Srivastava and Madhavi Srivastava. Today & Tomorrow's Publishers, New Delhi .