A Tribute to My Guru
By Hiranya Borah
Copyright 2017 Hiranya Borah
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When my respected teacher, Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty, Retired Professor Cotton College, Guwahati telephoned me to write something on Late Jishnu Dutta sir for publishing in his obituary publication, to be published on 10th of December,2016, with a time limit of twelve hours, my mind started rolling, what should I write about him. At that time, I was driving from East Delhi to my office at Lodhi Road.
I knew many of us would be writing about sir as one of the sincerest sir we had ever come across in our lives. I am sure many of my seniors, friends and juniors will share something which will enlighten us about his unique personality. I did not want to repeat those lines once again. Then, what should I write about him?
Finally, I decided to write something on my relation with Dutta sir and his family with whom my association is little more than four decades. I was one of his students of statistics for five years, colleague for few months and a student for entire life. I learnt many things from him in the last forty years.
This is not exactly a biography of a teacher par say, though I have taken some inputs from his obituary book, but it is a tribute by a student whom he treated as his own son.
I thank all my friends and relatives for their encouraging words. I am thankful to my family members for their constant support. My sincere thanks are always due for Shakespir for their support.
Chapter I: Jishnu Dutta Sir
He was a brother per excellence, he was a teacher any student can aspire for, a dotting husband and was an ideal father for his two sons. Probably, he was a student, any teacher in the world can boast of.
He was one of the sincerest sir I had come across in my life. For sir, students are the members of his extended family. Mrs. Dutta madam was a perfect folly of our Dutta sir reminding the students of Guru and Gurumata saga of Indian mythology.
In a small town, Doomdooma of Tinsukia district of Assam, Dutta sir was born to a middle class family on first February, 1940. After his schooling, he joined Assam’s premier collegeinstitute, Cotton College, Guwahati as a student of Statistics Department. At that time, nobody had imagined this lanky boy would be one of the finest teacher of the subject for thousands of students in due course of time.
He passed out as a master degree holder from Guwahati University in 1962 and joined immediately as a lecturer in St. Anthony College, Shillong, the capital town of the then undivided Assam (later on, after bifurcation of Assam, Shillong became the capital town of Meghalaya). Shillong is known as the Scotland of the East. He spent in this beautiful city for two years. Then he was offered a post in Cotton College where he spent his fruitful 34 years of teaching life till he retired as Dean on 1st February, 1998.
But a teacher cannot sit at home for long even after his retirement. He joined Assam Institute of Management in the capacity of Controller of Examination in 2000 and continued till 2002. However, his health start deteroiting since then and associated himself in delivering lectures on honorary basis instead of joining any regular assignment.
He left for heavenly abode on 29th November, 2016 at a hospital, in Bangalore after prolonged illness leaving behind his wife and two sons and their families along with thousands of mourning students speechless.
Chapter II: His Family
He married to Sumitra Dutta, a very dignified and beautiful lady. The couple was blessed with two extremely brilliant sons. The second son Anupam had a unique record of being topper both in Class X examination and Class twelve examination conducted by Board of Secondary Education Assam. So far, I know, none other than Anupam from Assam has achieved that distinction. However, Bipin Borah, a classmate of mine, achieved this distinction with a curtailed manner (1976 and 1978, Higher Secondary where very few students used to appear this examination in our times).
Apratim is also an extremely brilliant boy. But we all see the comparative pictures; and therefore, we have to say, Anupam had been more brilliant than Apratim. What Dutta sir said about them? ‘Apratim is more studious than Anupam. But Anupam has more reacceptance capacity.’
Now both are married. Apratim settled at Bangalore with his wife Paulomi and their children Abhinav and Tanishi. Last few years, Dutta sir was living with Apratim and his family.
Anupam is living in USA with his wife Anwesha and daughter Aanya.
However, Dutta sir had an extended family in his brother and his sister-in-law for major part of his life since brother had some medical problem. He had to look after his brother’s family both physically and financially almost throughout his life without any complain. Rather, he was giving more comfort to his brother’s family than his own. Only a great man can do that! (I am told about this by a close person of Dutta sir; I am not confirming the veracity of the statements made above.)
Chapter III: His Students
He may have thousands of students of which some are glittering like diamond and some may not be as successful as those glittering diamonds. But feeling for sir for the students, irrespective of successful or not so successful students, is same; everyone has only true respect. I am citing few excerpts of some students on his obituary statements which summarize his unique personality.
‘He was a professor and Gentleman. ….. All the students whom he taught will echo my words when I say sir was one of the most dedicated teachers we have met.’
Mrs. Kamala Chaudhry, Former Head of the Department, Statistics Cotton College.
‘Sir was a man of few words. But whenever he spoke, he mostly spoke about statistics. There was absolutely nothing related to the subject that he did not know……. He had a special equation with all his students and new all of us personally. Sir was always approachable and made it a point to ensure that he was available to his students whenever they had any query.’
Dr. Bandana Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Cotton College.
‘ Great teachers don’t just teach you; they change you- This is the line came to mind when I started to pen down few lines for the memory of our most respected teacher Jishnu Dutta sir more precisely JD sir……’
Dr. Jonali Sarma, Gauhati Commerce College, Centre of Management Studies.
‘ I still remember our first class in statistics with sir- a stern looking man deliberating on probability with loud voice. However, to my awe, outside the class room, his voice was extremely soft. His classes demanded attention and in no time, I developed a great love for the subject, especially probability theory. The amount of care I received from sir at that nascent stage needs to be seen to be realised…….’
Dr. Sangeeta Barthakur, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Cotton College.
‘It is his inspiration and teaching that I could complete my education upto Ph.D (statistics), reached upto the senior position in Government and now a visiting faculty to number of educational institutions in India and abroad. Such type of teacher is hardly available in this world. I can never forget him till the departure of my soul……..’
Dr. Dilip Kumar Dey, ISS, Additional Director, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
‘———My second lesson was when he refused to take up formal tuition when my dada approached him, instead offered his help when and whenever possible and as how long. His notes have been used till the fag end of my statistics education…….’
Dr. Lipi B. mahanta, Associate Professor-I, Centre for Comutional and Numerical Sciences, IASST.
‘….After his retirement, Sir and his family members became quite close to me and it was when I witnessed his sacrifice towards his family members and society. Somewhere I read, minimum requirements and maximum adjustments are two important steps towards happy and successful life. But his life had more share of sacrifices than adjustments which summarizes him as a great human being…..’
Prof. Labananda Choudhury, Department of Statistics, Gauhati University.
‘…He was the most dedicated teacher in the Department of Statistics of Cotton College during our student life(1984-87)……’
Dr. Gautam Choudhury, Associate Professor, Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology.
‘….Sir was very disciplined in nature and knew his subject in and out. He was methodical in his teaching and was an unbiased individual. He was and is respected one and all who have known him….’
Ms. Muktamala Choudhury(PMP<CSM), Manager, Software Development, Ellucian Higher Education Systems India Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore
‘….He was very passionate about teaching and loved going into the depth of the topic that he was teaching. Apart from being an admired and highly respected teacher, Sir was also a very supportive colleague……’
Dr. Padma Sharma Goswami, Department of Economics, Cotton College Guwahati.
‘… .JD sir was very busy person with all his assignments. But he never forgot to enquire about our doubts in any topic.------- JD sir was a kind of teacher who never forced us to do something. But we loved him so much that we loved to do everything he asked to do….’
Ms. Monimala Neog, Department of Statistics, Dibrugarh University.
‘…..Sir was a man of few words but he could convey a lot to the students which helped make a mark in their lives…..’
Dr. Runjun Phookan, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, K.C. Das Commerce College, Guwahati.
‘…..I feel myself very fortunate to have him as my teacher in Cotton College and as colleague in Statistics Department in the same college later…..’
Pradip Bhuyan, (A student of Dutta sir)
‘ I was a student of JD sir, first in school for a very brief period, then in cotton college. Then I became his colleague in Cotton College…..he remained a teacher for me, not just in academic matters but in matters of life as well………’
Mr. Biswajit Chakrabarty, Retired Professor Cotton College.
‘…Dutta sir was a teacher in true sense……….’
Dr. Aditi Das, Assistant Professor, Gauhati Commerce College
‘ All Gurus imart knowledge but some really to be Guru through out ….. Jishnu Dutta sir reains an example of such Guru……….’
Pradip Sarma, 1975 batch.
And many more………
Chapter IV: Dutta Sir: My Guru, My Mentor
For me, who was he and for him, who was I? Let me start with our last conversations before I was transferred from Guwhati to Delhi. ‘Hiranya, you are becoming less shameless now a days. Why?’
‘May be due to my age, sir.’ I quipped with a grin. He smiled back with that innocent smile which all of us wanted see in his face. Why he asked me that question?
On that day, I said an unconventional ‘No’ for tea to Baidew. Baidew and sir used to give me tea and snacks whenever, I visited them since 1976 as a Pre-University student.
I do not know how many students can boast to exchange light talks with sir. I was one of the most privileged students who was given the liberty to ask a few questions, of course not during my student days (1976-81).
During one of my visits to his home at professor colony, Cotton College, I asked him, ‘Sir I know, I had never been a ‘most favoured student’ of you. But do you like me sir?’
With his trademark smile he countered the same question to me. I immediately answered, ‘I did not like you and my own mother for both of yours over serious approach to life. But without iota of doubt, I love you as my teacher and my mentor.’
‘Probably, that is the reason why I love you also. You are never serious to your life. You never tried to achieve anything using your full potential. But still I love you.’ Sir thoughtfully told me.
I told to my friends and acquaintances, may be thousand times why I am here today. It was a silly morning of January, 1981 when I was taking sunbath, a classmate of mine from economics honours passed a message from Dutta sir in a bitter coated capsule. As per his version, he asked Dutta sir, how many students from statistics department would be able to secure first division. On his question, Dutta sir mentioned few names. The list of probable first class holders did not figure my name. When my friend asked him why my name did not figure in the list his answer was very candid.
‘How Hiranya will get first class? Has he any time for his studies? He is doing all the sundry works other than the work he is supposed to do. He has saddened me by his activities!’ At that time, being Editor of Cotton College magazine, ‘Çottonian’, I was involved in many activities which were detrimental for excelling in studies.
Those few sentences carried by the friend of mine from my respected Dutta sir, galvanised my attitude towards my studies. Unfortunately, only three months were left for the final examination.
Few years later when I referred about the bitter pill he had sent through my friend, he said, ‘Is it? Still I am not happy with you. You could have achieved much more than what you have achieved today.’ He told me with his usual seriousness.
As I grew older, sir sometimes treated me as a friend of him also. Sometimes he allowed me to discuss on some lighter topics as well. Believe it or not, sometimes he used to indulge some leg-pulling also with me. In one such occasion he poked me, ‘Do you know—-? He was a very good student of mine. He wanted someone from Government of India to deliver a lecture on NSSO. He knows that you are in NSSO. But I told him not to invite you. I told him to invite some serious officer for delivering the lecture.’ With a twinkle in his eyes he finished his version.
As expected, I got the invitation to deliver the lecture on Dutta sir’s recommendation.
So far, my relationship with Dutta sir is concerned, it was based on truthfulness on the part of Sir (No, I am not claiming I was always truthful to him; but I always tried to be). He was always candid in his reply to any of the queries raised by me on general studies, on statistics or on social life. One day, when I asked him according to him among the intelligent students where I stand, his answer was frank:
‘I have met many more students who happen to be more intelligent than you. Some of them are holding very good positions. However, some could not excel in their professional lives. That is a part of life.’
His opinions are always revered to me.
But what was the most touching statement he had made for me? Obviously, not those statements what I had mentioned above.
A few years back, I confronted sir, ‘I am not your best student; I have not achieved anything what many of your favourite students achieved; then why you are tolerating my nonsense for hours when we met after few months or so?’
‘You will get the answer when your son will be in the hostel, away from you, knowing that he was not the most intelligent boy in the world, not the most handsome boy in the world, not the best achiever in the world, but still you will be waiting for him to hear his nonsense!’
Probably that summarise my relation with Dutta sir. I shall always miss sir as a true mentor for a boy who came to Cotton college from a small non-descript village of Assam with a dream in his eyes to make something big.
I am extremely happy that both his sons are extremely successful in their professional life. I pray to God, Baidew will able to withstand the loss and will have a healthy and peaceful life.
The author is a Government servant and a man of vivid experiences derived from his official postings across the country, travels across India and numerous visits outside India. He is presently placed at New Delhi.
His earlier publications are:
1.Random Thoughts through a Coloured Prism
2. Dilemma of a Young Mind
3. Funny Statistics and Serious Statisticians
4. Melody of Fragrance
6. Few Cities through the Lens of Hiranya Borah
7. Guilt: Gift of Winter Spring
8. Beautiful Ghost
9. Great Fighters: Grace of God
10. All Blurred
11. Putting kids to sleep
12.How to become unpopular
14. My grumpy Face
15. Love and Worries
16. Discussion of own Birth: A Taboo
18. Indecent Love Affairs
19. My Fair Lady
21. Two Stories
22. My Mother: Dashami Borah
26. First Attempt
27. A father
28. The Portrait
29. Snapped Thread
30. Only He Knows
31. The Stupid Mother
32. The Same Old Story
33. The Old Scoundrel
34. Third Attempt
35. Some of my First Days and First Nights
36. Snubbed Twice
37. Have You Met the God
38. Frequent Flier
40. Forgive and Forget
41. To Win or to lose
42. Call Girl
43. Beyond Blood Relation
44. Lady with a Black Car
45. My wife
47. Diwali Gift
48. Romance with a Lady
49. Open Hear Surgery
50. My First Love
52. Pebbles on My Way Home
53. My First Bengali Book
54. Murder Mystery
57. Make a Habit to Thank God
58. Killing of A Bird
59. The Hero
60. Fantasy versus Reality
62. Road Rage
63. Death of a Friend
64.Cannot Live with Memory Only
65. None Cares for Me
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He was a brother per excellence, he was a teacher any student can aspire for, a dotting husband and was an ideal father for his two sons. Probably, he was a student, any teacher in the world can boast of. He was one of the sincerest sir I had come across in my life. For sir, students are the members of his extended family. Mrs. Dutta madam was a perfect folly of our Dutta sir reminding the students of Guru and Gurumata saga of Indian mythology.