Thursday, 3 December 2015

Prof. A.K. Biswas, 1934-2015

Professor Arun Kumar Biswas, a distinguished faculty member of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur from 1963 to 1995 passed away in Kolkata on November 30th after a difficult battle with leukaemia for the past couple of years. He used to teach a popular basic undergraduate course in mineral engineering. Professor Biswas was one of the founder members of IIT Kanpur and served this prestigious institute with distinction for more than three decades.
Born in 1934, an alumnus of Kolkata University (Silver Medallist, MSc Tech in Applied Chemistry, 1955 and PhD, 1955) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA (S.M. in Metallurgy in 1962), Dr. Biswas was professor at IIT Kanpur from 1963 to 1995. After superannuation, he served as the Mahendralal Sircar Research Professor in History of Science at the Asiatic Society, Kolkata (1995-2001), as the AICTE Emeritus Fellow at the Jadavpur University (2001-2004) and INSA Research Fellow in Kolkata. He was a member of the INSA National Commission for History of Science and also its editorial board.
Author of 150 technical papers and 25 monographs, some edited multi-authored volumes, Professor Biswas built his international reputation in diverse fields: History of Science, Applied Chemistry, Mineral Engineering, Languages and Literature, Linguistics, History of Religion and Archaeo-metallurgy.
His sterling contributions in the field of history of minerals and metals and archaeo-metallurgy, available in the form of several monographs and a series of publications in the INSA periodical, Indian Journal of History of Science are most well known internationally. He had also written extensively on the pioneers of science education and research in India, for example, Mahendralal Sircar and Eugene Lafont.
In the field of Mineral Engineering, Professor Biswas was one among the foremost in the MIT tradition led my his mentor, Professor AM Gaudin. He was a founder member of the Indian Institute of Mineral Engineers (IIME) and remained passionately devoted to this field till the end. He guided more than 20 Masters and PhD students while at IIT Kanpur.
Professor Biswas was a prolific writer. Some of his well known books and monographs either authored or edited by him include - Science in India (1969), Frontiers in Applied Chemistry (1989), Minerals and Metals in Ancient India in two volumes (1996), History, Science and Society in the Indian context (2001), Minerals and Metals in the Pre-Modern India (2001), Father Lafont of St. Xavier's College, Kolkata and the Contemporary Science Movement (2001), Science in Archaeology and Archaeo-materials (2005), Mineral Processing to Elemental Science in the Medieval World: India and Europe (2011) and Mineral Engineering in India - Reflections (2012).
Amongst the many conference he participated while at IIT Kanpur, it is worth mentioning that he had attended and presented a paper during the IMPC held in Prague.
Professor Biswas was not only a great teacher but one of the father figures in mineral engineering in India. Professor Biswas was very passionately and intensely dedicated to mineral engineering all his life. He lived a rich and contented life. He was soft-spoken but stern, principled and an extremely sensitive human being.
We convey our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Sulekha Biswas, their son, Sandipan Biswas and all the members of the Biswas family.
Kindly submitted by Dr. Pradip, Chief Scientist and Head, Process Engineering Innovation Lab, Tata Research Development and Design Centre, India
Dr. Pradip is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and Professor Biswas taught him during his undergraduate days.


  1. Sad news indeed. May his soul rest in peace.

    DMR Sekhar

  2. I cannot describe how I feel to read this very sad news that my beloved Professor Biswas is no more. I had known him very closely at IIT Kanpur during the period 1967-1975. I took several courses taught by him. He was so affectionate that I always felt drawn to him. We shared a beautiful Guru-Disciple relationship. He contributed immensely as a teacher, guide, researcher and author of numerous articles and books. I feel proud I had the privilege of knowing such a great one. May his soul rest in peace and bliss and receive a shower of the choicest blessings of the heavenly Father.

    V. K. Gupta

  3. Oh sad news, may his soul rest in perfect peace!


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