in memoriam - Prof. S.V. Mukherjee (1914-2006)
Professor Sushil Kumar Mukherjee, an Honorary Member and a Past President of the Indian Society of Soil Science, and the first Indian to be an Honorary Member of the International Society of Soil Science (now International Union of Soil Science) breathed his last in Kolkata on November 17, 2006 (early hour of November 18, 2006 at 03:25 A.M.). Born on the first of January, 1914 in the district of Barishal, now a part of Bengladesh, Prof. Mukherjee obtained M.Sc. degree in chemistry from the University of Calcutta in 1936, and Associateship of the then Imperial (now Indian) Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi in 1938. He joined the Calcutta School of colloid research led by Prof. Jnanendra Nath Mukherjee. His thesis, ‘Electrochemical properties of hydrogen clays’, earned him the D.Sc. degree in Chemistry of the University of Calcutta in the year 1945.
Professor Mukherjee started his professional career in 1943 with All India Soil Survey for Eastern India under the programme ‘Grow more food’ campaign of the Imperial (now Indian) Council of Agricultural Research During his service career Dr. Mukherjee held many prestigious positions. He rejoined the University of Calcutta was the first incumbent of the newly created Chair of Acharya P. C. Ray Professor of Agricultural Chemistry (1965-68). Subsequently, Professor Mukherjee became the Vice-Chancellor, University of Kalyani (1968-70), but before the completion of the term, he was invited by the Government of India to be a full-time member of the National Commission of Agriculture (1970-75). He returned to Calcutta as the Director of Bose Institute (1976), and within a year, became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta (1976-78). Professor Mukherjee retired from active service in 1978.
A Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Professor Mukherjee has own several distinctions and awards. He obtained the J.B. Chatterjee Memorial Medal (1980) of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, Acharya J.C. Ghosh Memorial Medal (1983) of the Indian Chemical Society, Golden Jubilee Award of the Indian Society of Soil Science (1984) for meritorious service to the Society and for the cause of soil science, Indian National Science Academy Silver Jubilee Commemoration Medal Lecture on Agricultural Sciences delivered at Madurai (1988), Distinguished Service Award of the Indian Science Congress Association during its Platinum Jubilee (1990), Honorary Membership of the International Society of Soil Science (1986), presently renamed as the International Union of Soil Science (the first Indian to have received such recognition), Dr. B.C. Roy Birth Centenary Oration (1992). Professor Mukherjee was conferred the Honorary (Honoris Causa) D. Sc. degrees of the University of Kalyani (1983), University of Burdwan (1988) and of the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (2006).
Even after his formal retirement in 1978, Professor Mukherjee remained involved in varied activities. He had been associated at different periods with a number of learned organizations and institutions in advisory capacities. These include the Asiatic Society, Indian Chemical Society, Indian Society of Soil Science, Indian National Science Academy, Indian Science Congress Association, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Bose Institute, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Visva-Bharati, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Technology, and Member, State Planning Board of the Government of West Bengal, President – Pharmaceutical and Phytochemical Development Corporation Limited (A Government of West Bengal Undertaking), Paschimbanga Vigyan Mancha, Association of Scientific Workers of India, President – Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan, and so on. Professor Mukherjee had discharged for long the editorial responsibilities of the Indian Journal of History of Science and the Everyman’s Science, the scientific publication of the Indian Science Congress Association.
Professor Mukherjee is survived by his wife, Professor K.K. Rohatgi-Mukherjee. Professor Mukherjee was a selfless, dedicated and very popular teacher as well as a committed seeker of scientific truth.