Anna Mani: The Inspiring Journey of a Trailblazing Weather Scientist

Anna Mani, an extraordinary woman ahead of her time, made significant contributions to weather science in India. Born in 1918 in Travancore, now part of the southern state of Kerala, Mani played a crucial role in establishing India’s independence in weather measurements and monitoring the ozone layer. Her groundbreaking inventions, including the first Indian-made ozonesonde and high-precision weather instruments, have revolutionized the field. Despite facing various challenges and discrimination as a woman in science, Mani’s unwavering passion and dedication continue to inspire generations. Her legacy serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusivity and gender equality in the scientific community.

Mani’s journey towards becoming a renowned meteorologist was anything but easy. In a time when women pursuing higher education was uncommon, Mani displayed an insatiable hunger for knowledge from a young age. With a rejecting gift of diamond earrings in exchange for encyclopedias, Mani’s thirst for learning pushed her to excel academically. Her decision to forgo marriage and pursue physics instead of medicine further showcased her determination and resilience.

After obtaining her degree from Presidency College in Madras, Mani had the opportunity to study the properties of diamonds at Nobel Prize laureate CV Raman’s laboratory. However, a government scholarship redirected her path towards meteorological instruments, an area where India required expertise at the time. Mani embraced this opportunity and spent three years in the UK, studying all aspects of weather instruments.

Upon her return to India in 1948, a year after the country gained independence, Mani joined the weather department. Her acquired knowledge and skills abroad enabled her to help India manufacture its own weather equipment. She established a workshop and meticulously crafted over a hundred different kinds of instruments, including those measuring rainfall, temperature, and atmospheric pressure. Mani prioritized precision and accuracy, ensuring the highest quality and reliability of the instruments produced.

Additionally, Mani played an instrumental role in developing instruments to measure solar radiation and set up a network of radiation stations across India. These efforts were crucial to her larger vision of exploring renewable energy sources in the country. Prior to Mani’s advancements, high-precision instruments for solar radiation measurements were monopolized by western countries. She broke barriers and laid the foundation for future research and development in green technologies.

Despite her groundbreaking contributions, Mani faced numerous instances of discrimination within the scientific community. Her famous mentor, CV Raman, maintained strict gender segregation in his laboratory, limiting opportunities for women to engage in scientific discussions and debates. Male colleagues often underestimated Mani’s abilities and criticized even the slightest error she made, attributing it to “female incompetence.”

Mani’s determination and undeterred spirit guided her through these challenges. She firmly believed that her gender never hindered her professional aspirations, and she refused to see herself as a victim. Mani’s exceptional achievements and unyielding dedication to her work paved the way for future generations of women in science.

Anna Mani’s legacy lives on as a source of inspiration and empowerment, both in India and abroad. Her contributions to weather science, ozone layer monitoring, and renewable energy sources have had a lasting impact on the field. Mani’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of equality and inclusivity in scientific pursuits. By celebrating her achievements, we honor not only her individual brilliance but also the potential of all women in science. Through continued support, mentorship, and advocacy, we can create a future where gender disparities in STEM fields are eradicated, and all aspiring scientists have equal opportunities to thrive.