As I said, Harish Chandra was a serious candidate for the medal and the grapevine has it that he was passed up only as result of the intellectual prejudices of the Committee’s chair. That year, two medals were awarded, one to the British mathematician, Roth and the other to the Frenchman Thom.Carl Ludwig Siegel, the Chairman of the committee was undoubtedly one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century but he was intolerant of mathematical styles and philosophy different from his own; and in his reckoning Harish Chandra’s mathematics was of the degenerate Bourbaki kind, of which he disapproved. Ironically enough , in in the opinion of Bourbakis themselves , Harish Chandra was the true successor of Siegel as a mathematician. Harish Chandra not getting the Fields Medal is no reflection on his mathematics;on the other hand , it shows how problematic it is to devise good mechanisms for deciding awards and prizes.

Harish Chandra

In 1963, Harish Chandra was invited to become a permanent member of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton and in 1968 , he was named IBM Von Neumann Professor of Mathematic. He was Fellow of both the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1973 and later to other academies as well . He gave invited plenary addresses at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam in 1954 and in Moscow in 1966. For a man of his accomplishments, he received relatively few awards and honors though.

I had the privilege of a little personal acquaintance with Harish Chandra . During the year I spent Princeton, I met and talked to him several times. Unfortunately, I never interacted with him mathematically, but had numerous interesting conversations about mathematics. He made a strong impression on me and came through as an intense person with an austere outlook. He had strong views on mathematics and the mathematical scene in India. He was forthright in expressing them. After that year in Princeton, my meetings with him were far and few between.