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About S. K. Mukherjee
Dr. K. V. Raman, 
Former Professor of Soil Science, G B Pant University of Agriculture & Technology
Former Director, NAARM, Hyderabad


SK Mukherjee joined Pantnagar as a National Science Talent Scholar after his Higher Secondary School at Jamshedpur. As I was Academic Advisor for most Science Talent Scholars, he was assigned to me. Mukherjee was no doubt very bright but it took him quite a while to get adjusted to being away from home (perhaps for the first time) and get into the mainstream of a University atmosphere. Another student, A. R. Pastakia, also from Jamshedpur. was too my advisee. Since they were from the same place and school, and were childhood friends, they used to move together; but they were two different personalities. While Pastakia, who was also a guitar player, was outgoing and bubbly, Mukherjee was reserved, very shy and inward looking and would talk only in measured tones. He had minor physical diability, but never showed it. After a few months or so, he got over his shyness, and joined many of the general activities.

For the Higher Secondary stream students, B. Sc. (Ag. & AH) was a four year program. Mukherjee was undoubtedly one of the most talented students who came under my tutelage. He was not only academically good, but also had many other interests. He did well in all the courses that he took, but sometimes used to feel that the program was not challenging enough. I used to have a large collection of books on various aspects of science and society, and he used to borrow them frequently. He was good in cultural activities and participated regularly in skits and debates, and became a member of the College Debating Team. Though he was not a forceful speaker in the conventional sense of the term, as a debater, he had a subtle sense of humor, which always drew applause. I remember that in one year, his team won a prize in the Annual Agricultural Week Celebrations, when several teams from many Universities participate.

When he was close to graduation, Mukherjee asked me where he should continue for PG. I knew that his interests were in Genetics and Plant Breeding, so I suggested IARI for M. Sc. with possibilities of Ph. D. in an American University. He joined IARI, and met me several times during his stay there whenever I was at IARI. He had an insatiable thirst for further knowledge and research, and knew he was finding the programs there too not challenging enough. But he did very well, and much later, when I learnt that he was joining Mahyco, I was quite happy. He was probably the youngest Research Director of a Company. I was extremely glad to know from my colleagues like Dr. Siddiq that he was very well-versed in the subject, was innovative and making significant contributions. When I was at Hyderabad, and later at Delhi, he had visited me and discussed with me some of his current research interests. They were always stimulating discussions.

Mukherjee was a well-rounded personality with several interests, focussed views, clear goals and a passion for science. He always wanted to achieve something and was demanding of himself and felt restless. I was indeed shocked to hear of his sad demise at such an young age, when he was so full of life and vigour. Strange are the ways of God who takes away people with such great potential so early in their lives.