Dilip Kumar Datta

Renowned educationist and former professor of Rhode Island University, USA, Dilip Kumar Datta passed away on Thursday at Kingston, Rhode Island in USA.  He was 80.

Born and brought up in upper Assam’s Jorhat, Dutta was suffering from a terminal illness.

A mathematician and a writer, Datta was very close to music maestro Bhupen Hazarika.

He had unearthed and published several unknown works, poems and songs of Hazarika, Bishnu Prasad Rabha and several other known and unknown writers.

Dutta has written several books in Assamese including Pholi Lowa Buranji, Moi aru Mor Sikshak and Mone Mor Koina Bisere.

In Mathematics Datta had eased the definition of rational numbers, which has been widely accepted by the mathematics teachers’ fraternity in the US.

His paper, explaining how rational numbers can be defined without confusing students, was published in an edition of the Journal of the Association of Maths Teachers, New York.

Dutta has also written several books in mathematics, including Concept of Geometry and Maths Education at its Best: The Potsdam Model, which draws attention to the universal problem of teaching mathematics

Datta set up a school–Phanidhar Datta Vidyapith in Jorhat in memory of his father Phanidhar Datta, who was the registrar of Gauhati University.

He later handed over the responsibility the school to Jorhat Jatiya Vidyalaya which is run by Santana Sharma and her Devabrata Sharma, principal of Jorhat College.

Sharma said that the school has been subsequently named Jorhat Jatiya Vidyalaya, Phanidhar Datta campus.

Sharma further said that they had proposed to the family of Datta that his body be brought to Jorhat and cremated at the school campus and a memorial erected.

“On January 1 this year we had bestowed the title of Sabyasachi which means Arjun because he was as adept in mathematics as he was in literature like Arjun was in shooting the arrow with both hands.  This title we had given him in a public meeting and he had been moved to tears,” Sharma said.

“His contribution to Assamese literature and culture is invaluable as is his contribution to mathematics,” he said.

An alumnus of Assam Engineering College and Calgary University, Canada, Datta retired from Rhode Island University in 2006.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com

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