Kumar Bhattacharyya, Baron Bhattacharyya

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The Lord Bhattacharyya
Official portrait of Lord Bhattacharyya crop 2.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
3 June 2004 – 1 March 2019
Life peerage
Personal details
Sushanta Kumar Bhattacharyya

(1940-06-06)6 June 1940[1]
Bangalore, Kingdom of Mysore, Madras Presidency, British India
Died (aged 78)
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Political partyLabour
Alma materIndian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (BTech)
University of Birmingham (MS, PhD)
Known forFounder of Warwick Manufacturing Group
WebsiteWMG's Founder Page

Sushanta Kumar Bhattacharyya, Baron Bhattacharyya, CBE, FRS, FREng, FIMechE, Kt[2][3] (6 June 1940[1] – 1 March 2019) was a British-Indian engineer, educator and government advisor.[4] In 1980, he became Professor of Manufacturing Systems at the University of Warwick and founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group.[5] In 2004 he was made a Life Peer and became a member of the House of Lords.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Kumar Bhattacharyya was born in Bangalore,[8] the elder son of Sudhir Kumar Bhattacharyya (1909–1987) and Hemanalini Chakraborty. Of Bengali origin, the Bhattacharyyas were a zamindari family from Dhaka District (then in the Bengal Presidency of British India and now in Bangladesh).[9] At the time, his father, a distinguished professor of physical chemistry and subsequently Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, was a professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, where Bhattacharyya spent the first 12 years of his life. In 1952, upon his father's appointment as head of the chemistry department at the new Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur,[10] the family moved to Kharagpur.

Bhattacharyya studied Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, but was not a scholar but a politician and manager who successfully sought honours and titles, taking his Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in 1960.[1] The following year, he moved to Britain, where he worked for six years as a graduate apprentice at Lucas Industries, a large British manufacturing company.[10] During this time, he studied at the University of Birmingham, where he was awarded a Master of Science (MSc) degree in engineering production and management, followed by a PhD in engineering production in 1970.[11] While completing his PhD at Birmingham, he was appointed as a lecturer and began the process of establishing a manufacturing education programme for industry there.[10]

Career and research[edit]

In 1980, he moved to the University of Warwick and, with the support of Vice-Chancellor Jack Butterworth, he founded WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) of which he served as chairman until his death. WMG is now one of the largest academic departments of the university and is known for its collaborative research and education programmes with industry.[12] During this time, he was instrumental in brokering significant partnerships for UK manufacturing including the takeover of Jaguar Land Rover by Indian firm Tata Motors[13][14] in 2008 and the investment in the National Automotive Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick.[15]

Lord Bhattacharyya's contribution to innovation in academia and industry led to several prime ministerial visits to WMG. Margaret Thatcher called Bhattacharyya "a true pioneer" in a 1990 speech opening WMG's Advanced Technology Centre.[16] A decade later, Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair said WMG was "an outstanding example of combining academic excellence with industrial relevance."[17] In a 2007 speech, Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, said that WMG "provides a prime example of how the knowledge created in our universities can be transferred to make a difference in the real world".[18]

In 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May visited WMG with Chancellor Philip Hammond as part of her government's development of a UK Industrial Strategy.[19]

Bhattacharyya was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1997 New Year Honours[20] and knighted in 2003.[21] On 3 June 2004, he was created a life peer as Baron Bhattacharyya[1] of Moseley in the County of West Midlands.[22] He sat on the Labour benches in the House of Lords.[4]

In 2014, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).[3][23] He was also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering[2] and a number of other professional bodies including the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Indian National Academy of Engineering and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

Kumar Bhattacharyya was a past member of the UK Council for Science and Technology and a past board member of Advantage West Midlands, the West Midlands Regional Development Agency (RDA).[24] He also served as a scientific adviser to the government of South Africa. He sat on the Policy Advisory Council of the Institute for Public Policy Research[25] and served on the National Consumer Council from 1990 to 1993.

House of Lords[edit]

Kumar Bhattacharyya sat on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. His focus was on policy areas such as business and industry, economy and finance, education, international affairs and science and technology. Throughout his career, he was a passionate advocate for engineering innovation and the revival of British industry.[26] Lord Baker paid tribute to his enormous contribution to technical education in the UK as "quite remarkable".[27]


In 2002, Andrew Lorenz wrote a book about Bhattacharyya's career and the growth of WMG, entitled Kumar Bhattacharyya: The Unsung Guru.[28]

Awards and honours[edit]

His nomination for the Royal Society reads:

"Kumar Bhattacharyya is the founder and leader of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) whose mission is to improve the competitiveness of industry through innovative collaborative research, educational and knowledge transfer programmes WMG employs over 300 staff with a similar number seconded from industry. It has a global reputation in automotive research, the built environment, digital technology and healthcare systems. Kumar Bhattacharyya was the primary architect of the Integrated Graduate Development Scheme, now considered best practice in CPD by many Universities, and was the first to run the Eng Doc programme on similar principles. In 30 years, the Education programmes have involved over 25,000 individuals and over 500 UK companies. Bhattacharyya has received many international honours, awards and honorary doctorates."[3]

Named after Lord Bhattacharyya

In November 2018, Coventry City Council deputy leader Abdul Khan announced that the council had asked the University of Warwick to rename part of University Road as Lord Bhattacharyya Way. The university agreed, and additionally announced that the UK's National Automotive Innovation Centre building, which will be sited on Lord Bhattacharyya Way, would be named The Lord Bhattacharyya building.[48]

Personal life[edit]

Bhattacharyya and his Irish wife, Bridget, had three daughters, Anita, Tina and Malini.[1] As well as Bengali and English, he either spoke or understood Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.[49] He wrote a regular opinion column for the Birmingham Post.[50][51]


Professor Lord Bhattacharyya died on 1 March 2019 following a short illness.[52]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Bhattacharyya, Baron, (Sushantha Kumar Bhattacharyya)". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U7480. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "List of Fellows". Royal Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Kumar Bhattacharyya". Royal Society. 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2018. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies at the Wayback Machine (archived 2016-11-11)

  4. 4.0 4.1 "Lord Bhattacharyya". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  5. "Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya: Chairman of WMG". University of Warwick. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  6. "Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya :: Chairman of WMG". Warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  7. "Engine for change: Industrialist and educator Lord Bhattacharyya". Financial Times. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  8. Amit, Roy (1 May 2004). "Kharagpur to House of Lords". The Telegraph - Calcutta. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  9. Aditya, S. (1987). "Sudhir Kumar Bhattacharyya 1909–1987" (PDF). Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Indian National Science Academy. 1: 194–204.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Morgan, Oliver (19 June 2005). "A Brahmin of business". The Observer. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  11. Bhattacharyya, Kumar (1970). Characteristics of wheel wear in precision surface grinding. Bham.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of Birmingham. Template:Copac.
  12. "Kumar Bhattacharyya". Times Higher Education. 24 March 2000. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  13. "Jaguar Land Rover "at start of great revival"". BBC One, The Politics Show West Midlands. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  14. "JLR at start of a 'great revival'". BBC News. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  15. Brown, Graeme (14 June 2013). "Jaguar Land Rover backs hi-tech campus with £45m". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  16. "Speech opening Warwick University Advanced Technology Centre | Margaret Thatcher Foundation". Margaretthatcher.org. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. "Tony Blair visits University of Warwick". Warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  18. "WMG :: Gordon Brown unveils foundation stone of Warwick Digital Lab". Warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  19. Gilbert, Simon (28 April 2017). "Government wants Coventry & JLR at heart of global car industry". Coventrytelegraph.net. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  20. "No. 54625". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1996. p. 8.
  21. "No. 57391". The London Gazette. 24 August 2004. p. 10694.
  22. "No. 57312". The London Gazette. 9 June 2004. p. 7176.
  23. "Professor Lord Bhattacharyya elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society". University of Warwick. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  24. "Hansard Written Answers: Advantage West Midlands". TheyWorkForYou. 7 November 2002. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  25. "Kumar Bhattacharyya". Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  26. "Hansard – Lords – Houses of Parliament – Archives (26 April 2013): Lord Bhattacharyya: Spoken material by date". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  27. "Lords Hansard text for 23 October 2014 (pt 0002)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  28. Lorenz, Andrew. (2002). Kumar Bhattacharyya : the unsung guru. London: Random House Business. ISBN 0-7126-7244-3. OCLC 50526920.
  29. "IET Viscount Nuffield/Mensforth Lecture". The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  30. "The Sir Robert Lawrence Award". Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK). Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  31. "Padma Bhushan Awardees". Government of India.
  32. "Honorary Graduates of the University of Birmingham since 2000" (PDF). University of Birmingham. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  33. "The Duncan Davies Medal". The Research & Development Society. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  34. "Honorary Members". Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  35. "Royal Society elects new Fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  36. Gibbons, Duncan (24 September 2015). "'Saviours of Jaguar Land Rover' honoured as Freemen of the City". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  37. "Minister for the Constitution presents University of Warwick with Royal Warrant". UK Government. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  38. "Major award for Lord Bhattacharyya". Machinery Market News. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Mancarini, Leigh (3 October 2017). "WMG chairman 'surprised but honoured' by double award presentation in China". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  40. "Foreign experts receive "Great Wall Friendship Award"". People's Daily. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  41. "50 foreigners win Friendship Award". China Daily. 30 September 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.[permanent dead link]
  42. "January 2018 University of York to award Honorary Degrees – Electronic Engineering, The University of York". York.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  43. "USTB 2018 student graduation ceremony and degree awarding ceremony". News.ustb.edu.cn. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  44. "Professor Lord Bhattacharyya receives an honorary degree from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology". Shaping the future. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  45. "Professor Lord Bhattacharyya receives an honorary degree from the Indian Institute of Technology". Shaping the future. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  46. "WMG Chairman delivers memorial lecture".
  47. "Zienkiewicz Lecture". www.swansea.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  48. "Vice-Chancellor announcement".
  49. "The Kumars at Number 10". The Telegraph - Calcutta. 9 May 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  50. "Kumar Bhattacharyya". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  51. "Birmingham Post: Business news, local news, expert opinion". Birminghampost.net. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  52. Mullen, Enda (1 March 2019). "Professor Lord Bhattacharyya dies aged 78". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2019.

 This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

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