Bagavatula Viswanath specialized in the areas: Agricultural Science and Technology. He was Chemist and Agent-in-Charge, Kopakka Graphite Mine, Foundry and Workshop; Chemical Assistant, Agricultural College and Research Institute, Coimbatore (1912); Assistant Chemist, Government of Mesopotamia (1919-21); Assistant Agricultural Chemist (1921), Chief Chemist (1922), Imperial Agricultural Chemist (1934), Joint Director (1935), Director (first Indian), Pusa Institute (1935-44), Imperial Institute of Agricultural Research, Pusa; Head, Institute of Agricultural Research and Irwin Professor of Agricultural Science, Banaras Hindu University (1948); Director of Agriculture and Food Commissioner of Rajasthan (1949); also Honorary Regional Agricultural Production Commissioner and Secretary, Board of Agriculture Research, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (1950-51).
Academic and Research Achievements: Viswanath’s studies covered a wide range of subjects: soil science, fertilizers, plant and animal nutrition, sugarcane research and economic utilization of agricultural products and wastes. He prepared the first Soil Map of India in collaboration with others. He developed methods for industrial utilization of agricultural wastes. He demonstrated on a pilot-plant scale that malt could be produced from millet Cholam (Andropogon sorghum Brot.), active carbon from paddy husk (for decolouring cane juice and for purifying vegetable oils and drinking water), and synthetic rubber from indigenous raw materials. His work on Cholam led to a very useful commercial application of starch for sizing. He developed and designed an apparatus for extracting juice from live sugarcane. The top/bottom ratio method of determining the maturity of sugarcanes was the result of his extensive research.
Other Contributions: Viswanath served as Honorary Adviser to the Planning Commission on Agricultural Programmes (1951-52), Foundation Member, Royal Institute of Chemistry, London and Chairman, Soil Science Committee of ICAR (1952-56).
Awards and Honours: Viswanath was conferred the title Rao Bahadur (1928). He received the Coronation and King’s Silver Jubilee Medal, CIE (1943) and OBE. He was elected President for the Agricultural Section of Indian Science Congress (1937). He was Foundation Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and Indian Chemical Society, and Foundation President of the Society of Soil Sciences.