Late Sri Rathindra Mohan Chakraborti
Former Chairman of INC-ICOM
A Garland of Flowers
Rathindra Mohan Chakraborti, a legend in the science museum
profession in India, was born in 1936 at Kolkata. He graduated
in Electrical Communication Engineering from Jadavpur University
in 1956 and joined the Birla Industrial & Technological Museum
at Kolkata in 1961. Later he became the Director of Visvesvaraya
Industrial & Technological Museum in Bangalore and Nehru
Science Centre in Mumbai before retiring from the National Council
of Science Museums as its Deputy Director General in 1998.
Mr Chakraborti specialized in design and development of
participatory exhibits through which the people could discover
science by themselves, and mobile science exhibitions for carrying
the message of science to the deep interior of the country. In
addition to the large science museums in Bangalore and Mumbai,
he was instrumental in developing regional science centres in
Gulbarga, Dharampur, Bhopal, Nagpur and Calicut. He had a prominent
role in the design of exhibits for India's first two story-telling
museums Kolkata Panorama in Town Hall and Ramakrishna Museum
in Belur Math.
He was a true perfectionist in his thought, approach and
work. A very active member of ICOM for a long time, Mr. Chakraborti
served as the Chairman of Indian National Committee of ICOM during
the period '96-'99. After he left this mortal world on 26 October,
2002, flowers were laid in his memory by his admirers from all
over the world. On the occasion of the institution of R M Chakraborti
Memorial Lecture we are laying this garland in memoriam of a
great museologist of our time.
This write up on Late Sri Rathindra
Mohan Chakraborti is by Dr. Saroj Ghose, former DG, NCSM, former
President of the International Council of Museum (Paris) and
a life long friend and colleague of Shri R.M. Chakraborti.
Compiled Condolence Messages(published
in the INC-ICOM website when Late Sri Rathindra Mohan Chakraborti
left us all in Mumbai):
"50 years ago I met you, for the first time,
standing in a queue for admission in an engineering college at
Calcutta. It was a brief meeting; we exchanged pleasantries,
and left for home immediately after our admission. Little did
we know that it was just the beginning of a life-long close association
- a friendship or something much more than that, I still do not
For 50 years we studied together, worked together, shared a dream
together. We joined hands together for sharing sorrow and joy
of life. You stood firm by my side at the hour of my need; I
extended my hands to you whenever you needed. Together we enjoyed
the warmth of life.
Never in your life you shirked any responsibility, be it a challenging
task of developing the VITM in Bangalore or starting from scratch
the first hands-on science centre of India in Mumbai, or developing
the first high-tech story-telling Calcutta Museum. You have
fulfilled your mission before calling it a day.
My friend, my dearest friend, you will ever be remembered along
with your creations."
=Saroj Ghose, his life-long friend=
"Thank you for sharing your sentiments with us. He was
a truly good Man who enjoyed life and enjoyed helping others
to do the same.
I first met Chakraborti when I came to India in 1977. After
visiting you in Calcutta, I went to Bangalore and spent several
delightful days in his company, learning about the museum but
also about that part of the country and the people in it. Subsequently
I saw him as director of the museum in Bombay and at some of
the meetings that you organized. A memory that has been etched
into my mind for many years is when I arrived in Bombay in the
early hours of the morning after one of those interminable flights,
uncertain about where I was to go or even where I was staying,
only to see this slightly rotund figure with (what I considered)
its Mayan-like profile, with an enormous smile on his face.
One of my regrets was that I was never able to get him to
Washington, to show him this city and its museums.
I am one among many who will miss him".
=Bernard S Finn, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C., USA=
"Thank you for sharing your eulogy for Chakraborti. I remember
him warmly, especially the day he helped me understand the essence
of outdoor science parks in India. I had not understood the
importance of the esthetic value, of making something of beauty
for everyone. He made the point as we strolled in his rose garden
=Bonnie VanDorn, Executive Director,
ASTC, Washington, D.C. USA=
"Your Eulogy for RM Chakraborti brought sadness in my mind
but soon that was overtaken by some happy recollections of more
than four decades. He was a dedicated museum man devoted not
only to the building of institution but ever ready to help his
colleagues and friends whenever needed. The first time I met
him at the VITM in Bangalore ICOM CIMUSET meeting in 1969 in
the company of Amalendu Bose, Sachin Roy, Samar Bagchi, Nagaraju,
Josef Kuba, Messalam, yourself and many others initiated a permanent
friendship of mutual appreciation that lasted forever. I am looking
forward to seeing his last contribution in the Calcutta Town
Hall Museum which has already been recognized as a new creation.
I sincerely regret his passing away and pray for his departed
=Enamul Haque, former Director
General, National Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh=
"Indeed I am very sad to hear of this unhappy news. I will
always remember Mr. Chakraborti as one who was extremely committed
to ICOM and who, when he was Chair, exerted all efforts in ensuring
that the National Committee be involved and active in international
activities. Please convey my sincerest condolences to his family.
I will see to it that his name is included in our obituary column
in a future edition of ICOM News".
=Eloisa Zell, Membership Officer,
International Council of Museums, Paris=
"I am so sorry to hear the sad news about
R M Chakraborti. I feel very fortunate to have known him and,
for a few brief but very rewarding periods of time, to have worked
with him both in India and in the United States. He will be greatly
=Shabtai Levy, an eminent exhibit designer
collaborator of Indo-US science centre programs in India=
"I was very sorry to hear that Mr. Chakraborti passed away.
He was a very nice man. In the few times that I met him, both
in the US and in India, I really enjoyed his company. I especially
remember the Circles and Ellipses trip that we all took to Ooty.
That was very special. I will miss him."
=Eddie Goldstein, an expert in
popular science demonstration in the USA=
"With great sorrow I am informing you that Shri R.M.
Chakraborti is no more. Our best efforts in last two weeks could
not improve his kidney failure and related complications. He
expired today the 26th Oct. at about 2.45pm IST in Jaslok Hospital
Mumbai. I am sending this message from our Goa Office and I hope
to be present for his cremation tomorrow morning in Mumbai. Shri
Chakraborty had arrived at Mumbai on 3rd October with some prostate
complication and he was admitted in hospital on 15th."
=G S Rautela, then Director of
Nehru Science Centre in Mumbai,
currently Director General of Science City at Kolkata=
"I was shocked to receive the sad news of sudden and untimely
demise of Mr R M Chakraborti. I had an opportunity to work with
him for more than 15 years and that was the period we were learning
our profession while setting up the Nehru Science Centre. Mr
Chakraborti always treated us like his children. His fatherly
attitude and patience really was the driving force for all of
us. We really learnt a lot from him while working together. It
was really a treat for us to be under his guidance while setting
up NSC Mumbai, DSC Dharampur, RSC Calicut, RSC Bhopal, RSC Nagpur
and many more projects. What we are today is definitely an outcome
of constant encouragement from some people like you and Mr Chakraborti".
=A S Manekar, then Director of
National Science Centre, Delhi,
currently the Director of Nehru Science centre in Mumbai=
"Through this untimely loss all of us have lost a soul
who lived and worked till his last breath for the cause which
is so dear to all of us. No words can describe his contributions
to the development of science museums and centres movement in
India. He stood like a rock behind you, the driving force, in
building a massive network of Science museums in India.
In this hour of grief I would like to inform you that entire
Nehru Science Centre joined hands in bidding the final farewell
for him. He started his long and untiring journey of building
the NCSM most of part of which was spent at NSC Mumbai and it
was Gods will that he bid his farewell from this centre which
he established all by himself with your support. Every animate
and inanimate things at NSC Mumabi the trees, herbs, exhibits
and all the staff members remember him and joined his final farewell."
=S M Khened, then a Curator in
Nehru Science Centre in Mumbai,
currently the Director of National Science Centre in Delhi=
"Just now I came to learn from Mr. D. Basu that our most
beloved and respected R.M.Chakraborti is no more. I don't know
what to tell you, what to ask from you and what I should do.
I just contacted Dr. Shyamal Chakroborty and passed on this sad
message to him. Knowing you and R.M.C. as I do, I could realise
how deeply this affects you all. I like to pay my respect, regards
and gratitude to R.M.C. I know all the choicest blessing of Thakur
and Ma will always be with him.
= T K Ray, retired Secretary,
National Council of Science Museums=