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Demise of acclaimed botanist Anda Chandra Dutta mourned

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  18 Jan 2016 12:00 AM GMT

From a Correspondent

JORHAT, January 17: Botanist Anda Chandra Dutta, a well known figure in the world of plants and their identification, breathed his last in Jorhat on Saturday at the age of 92. Dutta’s ability to identify more than 3,000 species of trees and plants while ming them botanically and scientifically had earned him recognition.

Born on February 8, 1923 to Bholaram Dutta and Hoonmai Dutta, Anda Chandra Dutta could not afford quality education because of his father’s low income of six an per month derived from his work in the Borbheta sugarcane farm near Rowriah, Jorhat. But mother (Boiti) who knew of his son’s capabilities, with all the hardship made Anda pass the matriculation exam from the Government Boys’ School under the University of Calcutta in 1943. While describing his mother as a devoted and pious lady, Dutta once recalled, “I could see her work on the loom all night to weave clothes to help run the family.” Nevertheless, quality as education was in those days and after the formal completion of his minimum education as a matriculate, Anda Dutta found a job as a teacher in a school in Mariani. After a year he left the job and joined the Botany department of Tocklai Experimental station in 1947 in the scientific cadre as a junior technical assistant under Dr William Wight, a renowned botanist. It was while working under Dr Wight that Anda developed a keen interest in plant atomy.

AC Dutta began conducting his own experiments and on one fateful day made a breaking discovery of tea chromosomes which brought him intertiol acclamation. His findings were published in the Intertiol Jourl of Phytomorphology. Ever since than that it was no looking back and everyday seemed a new day of discoveries and research for this young vibrant man full with energy and mental will, besides following a strict routine which had made him famous. And despite being only a matriculate, Anda Chandra Dutta was conferred the Degree of D.Sc., honoris causa by Dibrugarh University at the 13th convocation in April 2012, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of science.

Dr HP Bezbaruah, Head, Botany department, Tocklai Experimental Station in his remark of Anda Chandra Dutta’s retirement in 1983 wrote, “During his tenure, A C Dutta worked for atomical, morphological and cytological investigations. He could cut paraffin embedding section of delicate tea tissues, count chromosomes by smear method. He has good knowledge of systematic botany and could identify the plant specimens very easily. He also maintained the Tocklai Herbarium. Besides, he is an excellent photographer and a fine artist. He did all the photography and microphotography works including slide making for the whole station. He made all the drawings and diagrams for publication of this institute along with the establishment of a dark room. He was transferred from the botany department to the Advisory department in 1976 to establish the tea museum at Tocklai which he made according to his own design and display technique.” Similar certificates of appreciation were written by Dr W Wight, Melvin Calvin (Professor & Nobel Prize winner in 1961) at the University of California, Berkeley in recognition of his book, Dictiory of Economic and Medicil Plants.

Dutta was a man with versatile talent who authored books and memoranda of immense value. The most outstanding of these are, Some Common weeds of the Tea Estates in North East India, Shade Trees, Green crops and cover crop plants of the Tea Estates in North East India, Dictiory of Economic and medicil plants and their medicil use, Bonowsodhir Guun aru Rog Arogya, Asomor Goch Gochoni and Chah Gochor itihas aru Bikash. AC Dutta doted about 485 books to the Cinmora College for greater help of the student community interested in Botany. Interestingly, the books doted were from a lot of 1,800 books gifted by Dr William Wight and his wife Jessie Wight. That gift also included an almirah and box of water colours. It was with this box that AC Dutta started drawing the picture classification of plants and trees that were later to be found as diagrams in the books he authored. Few years prior to his demise, AC Dutta authored yet another book in collaboration with leading jourlist and writers from Assam and India.

In his persol life AC Dutta who was in his 90s, always felt two decades younger. An early riser, Dutta refrained from using any transport other than his cycle or walk in Jorhat. It kept him fit. Dutta, who left behind his son and three daughters, preferred to stay alone in his abode with pigeons, cats, ducks, crows, swans, dogs and prepared his own meals besides feeding birds with rice and grains that he preserved in a separate container in his home. Despite his age, he could do 40 push-ups non-stop, reads without spectacles, never had an injection in life or used medicines other than herbal. Associated with art and culture, Dutta played the sitar, vee, pepa and the harmonium. Pepa was his most favourite musical instrument. With 800 to his me, 286 have been published in a popular Assamese magazine Prantik.

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