Dr. Dhirendra th Borthakur, an eminent authority in the field of agriculture in India, departed for his heavenly abode on February 2, 2017. He was 91. He left behind a son, four daughters, two younger brothers and a host of relatives and friends. His death has cast a pall of gloom in Assam.
Born at Digambarchuk, Jorhat on September 21, 1926, he passed the Matriculation Examition in 1944 from Jorhat Government High School, I. Sc. and B.Sc with distinction from Cotton College in 1946 and 1948 respectively. After completing his Master’s in Botany from Gauhati University, he began his service as an Assistant Mycologist in Tocklai Tea Research Station, Jorhat but later in 152 he joined Assam Agricultural College, Jorhat. He did not like the British ambience of TRS in independent India, and that is why he left that job. He became a professor at AAC in 1959. Dr. Borthakur did his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, USA in 1963 on Plant Breeding and Genetics. He devoted his whole life to the cause of agricultural education, research and extension. In the words of Dr M.S. Swamithan, Dr. Borthakur was one of the scientific leaders of the Rice Revolution in Eastern India, particularly in Assam. He was undoubtedly one of the India’s most distinguished rice breeders and research leaders. Dr. Borthakur gave a roadmap for achieving an ever-green revolution in rice. He believed that ‘if agriculture fails who succeeds; and if agriculture succeeds who fails’.
The year 1975 was truly a historic year for the agricultural research in the Northeast India. In that year ICAR Research Complex for North Eastern Hill Region was founded with seven units in Aruchal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, galand, Sikkim and Tripura with HQ in Meghalaya under the towering leadership of Dr. Borthakur with his deep knowledge of rice breeding and tural resource magement.
Being an able administrator, Dr. Borthakur had deep understanding of integrated approach for solving farmers’ problems. In addition to the founder Director of ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, he was also Vice-Chancellor of Assam Agriculture University from March 1979 to October 1980. His retired life was not the end of scientific and administrative contribution. He continued as a key advisor with a number of important organizations such as TRA, Administrative Staff College, Hyderabad; NBPGR, New Delhi; CRIJAFT, Barrackpore; DRL, OIL, NEDFI, Rain Forest Research Institute, BARD, UNDP Project on Biodiversity etc. Dr. Borthakur was associated with Assam Rice Collection under PL 480 Project under Dr. M.S. Swamithan and over 6,000 collections of rice cultivars were made. He was instrumental in developing Rice Research Station of AAU at Titabor in modern line as a rice specialist of Assam. He co-authored the famous book ‘Breeding Asian Field Crops’ with Dr. J.M. Poehlman and also published ‘Agriculture in the North East,’ an autobiography, a book on poems, ‘Gasor Bemar aru Nibaron, ‘Dhanonie Kotha Koi’, besides more than 200 papers in tiol and intertiol research jourls. In addition to his knowledge and leadership in agricultural research, he was a great lover of music and entertainment and a great social worker. Dibrugarh University and AAU honoured him with D.Sc. for his outstanding work in agricultural research. We always consider him our real Guru and that is why I always involve myself with him till his last day. It can be said beyond any shadow of doubt that he imprinted his me in golden letters in AAU and ICAR in particular and in the NE India in general. He was upright, a real gentleman and a ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ true to the sense.
Today on the occasion of his Adyasharddha, I pray to the Almighty to grant eterl peace to his departed soul.
Dr. Birendra Kumar Sarma