Birth: 1939, Kathmandu
Death: 7 January 2022, Kathmandu
Prof. Dr. Chabi Lal Gajurel dedicated his life to building a strong foundation for the field of chemistry in Nepal.
He began his teaching career in 1963. Soon after, he went to the United States to pursue his doctorate in organic chemistry. His studies completed, Gajurel came back to Nepal in 1972 to see what he could do back in his own country.
Once back home, he started spending his days in rigorous research to make the traditional Nepali teaching-learning skills accessible to more people.
In 1980, ‘Nepalma Paramparagat Prabidhi’, his first book, won Madan Puraskar, Nepal’s most prestigious literary award. The book helped spread traditional teaching-learning skills to the rural areas of Nepal as well as to other parts of the world.
From 1974, Professor Gajurel started teaching at the newly established Central Department of Chemistry at Tribhuvan University, where he was department head from 1984 to 1985, and again in 1987. He retired from the department in 2002.
From 1987 to 1991, he served as Member Secretary of the National Education Committee, then Nepal’s highest policy-making body. He was then instrumental in raising awareness on the importance of higher education and implementing relevant policies. It was his idea to take the ‘Plus Two’ level education to villages under the slogan ‘Higher education in the courtyard as if at home’. He was also involved with a number of scientific and academic organizations at the time.
In 1989, King Birendra tasked Gajurel with the responsibility to open a science academy in Nepal during the inauguration of the ‘Physical Summer Classes’ conducted by Nobel Prize-winning Physicists Abdus Salam and Philip Anderson.
He then worked for the establishment of specialized research laboratories in his home country.
Gajurel believed research could never succeed without academic honesty. While fighting for the implementation of his research papers, he knew in his heart that it was a progressive path for science in Nepal.
Two of his most famous research reports were ‘Establishment of Polytechnic Institute of Nepal, 1986’ and ‘Distance Education in Nepal, 1989’. In all, he wrote more than two dozen research papers as the lead author for both national and international journals.
After his retirement, every year, the Central Department of Chemistry has been giving out the ‘Prof. Dr. Chabi Lal Gajurel Chemistry Award’ to a Nepali researcher who has published original work in an international journal. Gajurel set up the fund for the same.
He has also published 17 books, including popular ones like ‘Nepalko Paramparagat Prabidhi’, ‘Nepalma Payine Dhatuharu’, ‘Rasayansastrako Bhasa’. His most recent book was ‘Immortal Stories’.
Professor Gajurel also contributed to the establishment of the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).
In the final 20 years of his life, Gajurel had immersed himself in learning. Studying, researching, and writing had become his daily routine.
To his last days, he was concerned about the lack of quality in Nepal’s theory-based education and its inability to focus on experimental and practical learning.
Gajurel passed away on 7 January 2022 at his home in Tinkune, Kathmandu at the age of 82.