Bhagabat Panda was born on 16 March 1929 in Orissa, India. He obtained his Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree (with Honours) in 1953, together with the Best All-rounder Award. He worked for Orissa Department of Animal Husbandry and Orissa University of Agriculture and technology, Bhbaneswar before joining the University of Maryland where he received his MS degree in 1960 and PhD in 1963. His postgraduate work on vitamin A nutrition and resistance to coccidiosis infection received international acclaim by the feed industry and poultry scientists.
Following a brief assignment on behalf of the government of Venezuela, he returned to India in 1963 to be appointed Scientific Officer at the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. Here he developed six technological processes in the areas of egg preservation and the utilization of agro-industrial products. These were released to the industry by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for commercial exploitation.
In 1969 Dr Panda moved from CFTRI to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) at Izatnagar, as head of the Division of Poultry Research. Under the auspices of a United Nations Development Programme/Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) project, he transformed this Division into a "centre of excellence" in poultry science - the first of its kind in the country. Dr Panda developed different disciplines in poultry science, attracting postgraduate students to work for higher degrees from within and outside the country. His untiring efforts contributed to the establishment of separate poultry science departments and poultry science curricula in many agricultural universities and some Institutions in India. Poultry science education grew in size and scope to keep pace with the developing industry and its need for qualified technical staff. It is not surprising that Dr Panda is popularly known as the father of poultry education in India.
In 1970 when ICAR launched the All India Co-ordinated Poultry Breeding Research Projects for eggs and for poultry meat, aimed at making the country largely self-sufficient for stock, Dr Panda took on the additional responsibility of Project Co-ordinator. He made major contributions to establishing these projects and in planning and executing the breeding programmes. His dedication to poultry research, development and education was, in large measure, responsible for the "upgrading" in 1979 of the Poultry Science Division at IVRI to the Central Avian Research (CARI). He served as the Founder Director of this institute from 1979 to 1990.
Under Dr Panda's leadership CARI grew from strength to strength. It gained wide recognition and attracted a number of National Awards to the Institute and its Director for outstanding contributions to poultry science research, education and organization. As well as educator, examiner and technical expert, Dr Panda became closely involved in the appointment process for senior academic staff in food science and poultry science at most agricultural universities in India.
Amongst Dr Panda's other achievements can be included the publication of 320 research papers together with six textbooks on poultry science and a number of technical bulletins and popular articles. For a number of years he was Chief Editor of the Indian Poultry Science Journal and is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the WPSJ. In addition to identifying and helping to preserve and utilize indigenous domestic fowl germ plasm, Dr Panda was largely responsible for the introduction and popularization of Japanese quail in India and helped to develop systems of production for guinea fowl.
In 1965, together with a few poultry scientist colleagues, Dr Panda founded the Indian Poultry Science Association. He has been its President for the past 15 years. Since 1962 Dr Panda has been a Life Member of the World's POultry Science Association and was a founder member of the WPSA India Branch, currently being its Vice-President. He played a prominent role in the organization of the XXth Poultry Congress, and particularly its scientific programme. It is not surprising that, even in retirement, Dr Panda continues to be active in promoting the causes of research, education and organization in the poultry industry.