Dr. Bal Raj Nijhawan, 98, Sun City Center, Fla., formerly of Kokomo, entered into rest Sunday, April 6, 2014, following a brief illness, with his family present. He was born in Lyallpur, India, to Lala Sukh Diyal and Rajwanti (Kochar) Nijhawan. He married Pushpa (Puri) Nijhawan on Sept. 26, 1944, and she survives.
Bal Raj was a man who lived a life full of new beginnings. He has been described as a legend, and a visionary leader who experienced the joy and inspiration of the founding fathers of India. He was the first Indian director of the CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), an internationally acclaimed institute. At the NML he hosted leaders and royalty from several nations. He held over 55 patents and nearly 500 hundred technical publications. He left in 1966, to become the senior inter-regional adviser (Metallurgical Industries) with UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), based in Vienna, Austria. The Iron and Steel industries in South America, South Korea, India, Middle East and Far East, Central & Eastern Europe, Mexico and many others benefited from his personal expertise. He has been honored in India with the Padma Shri (1958) and the Bhatnagar Award (1964), as well as honors and awards from several countries. During World War II, his internationally acclaimed research and development of armor plate technology saved countless lives among tank crews, and he was honored by Great Britain for this work. In the 1960s he led the development of nickel-free stainless steel. He also piloted the development of the low-shaft ironmaking/steelmaking technologies now in use in several countries, as well as the sponge-iron techniques in steelmaking. During his tenure in the United Nations, he led the development of 25 internationally renowned “Centers of Metallurgical Technology.”
He retired from the United Nations in 1986 and immigrated to the United States to live in Kokomo. He humbly assimilated himself into the Kokomo community that he grew to love, and spent many an hour with friends at the local bank, doctor’s offices, financial institutions, and Indiana University-Kokomo, where he once sponsored Chiyoe Tabatha, an acclaimed international pianist. He enjoyed the friendships of the Kokomo India Association. In January 2013, Bal Raj and Pushpa moved permanently to Sun City Center, Florida.