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 know.

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 Mumbai!"
 =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 soul".
 =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 missed." 

=Shabtai Levy, an eminent exhibit designer and
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=
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