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Regular-article-logo Friday, 19 April 2024

Scholar Amaresh Datta passes away

A stalwart of modern education in India: Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 07.08.20, 03:02 AM
Professor Amaresh Datta

Professor Amaresh Datta File picture

Professor emeritus Amaresh Datta, a noted scholar of English from Assam who evoked awe and respect in equal measure from his students and admirers, passed away at his Dibrugarh residence at 7.50am on Thursday.

He would have been 102 in November and is survived by his wife and five sons.

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Datta was cremated with full state honours at Chowkidinghee, about 2km from his Naliapool residence in the Upper Assam town. In attendance were Dibrugarh MP and Union minister of state Rameswar Teli, Dibrugarh MLA Prasanta Phukan, Dibrugarh deputy commissioner P.G. Jha and SP Sreejith T, among others.

Glowing tributes and the heartfelt condolences poured in from all quarters, an indication of the impact Datta had on people he came in touch with. Apart from being an authority in his subject, he was simple, caring and an inspiration, his former students said.

An ex-student and former head of the English department, Dibrugarh University, Udayon Misra, 75, said Datta was the “doyen of teachers” of English Literature in the region and in his long career he “inspired” several generations of students who have left their mark in diverse fields.

Misra said “poet and scholar” Datta will be “greatly missed” by the large family of students and admirers that he had created. “I will always fondly recall my relationship with a great teacher,” he added.

Datta had a long and eventful career, starting his teaching journey at Sagar University in Madhya Pradesh in the early fifties before moving to Gauhati University from where he retired as professor and head of the department of English.

He joined Dibrugarh University as head of the department, English, and then moved to Delhi as chief editor of the Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, a project of the Sahitya Akademi.

Another former student and former Assam DGP, Deepak N. Dutt, said, “His sterling contribution to the overall educational scene in Assam will remain etched in the minds of all his students. A towering figure in more ways than one, Dr Datta exuded simplicity in deportment and impressed one and all with his incandescent scholarship.”

Datta was an authority on Shakespeare. His book, Shakespeare’s Tragic Vision and Art published in 1963, received appreciation from eminent scholars and critics like professors G. Wilson Knight, E.M.W. Tillyard and A.G. Stock.

His collection of poems, Captive Moments (1952), bagged a prestigious award from the International Association of Poetry in Rome. Some of his other published works include Time’s Harvest and Lotus and the Cross.

Datta was the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree by Assam University, Silchar, the title of Professor Emeritus by Gauhati University, the Kamal Kumari National Award in 2010 and the Krishna Kanta Handique National Award in 2018.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal described Datta as a “stalwart of modern education in India”.

AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya said the demise of the “scholar” has created a big void in the field of education.

Former student Kashi Nath Hazarika, a member of Assam State Innovation and Transformation Aayog and former chairman-cum-managing director of NEDFi, said, “…these rare and diminishing breed of revered teachers reflected the values of their times... simplicity, integrity, passion and sheer joy of teaching. I lament the vanishing breed of such stalwarts like Datta Sir and values they espoused,” Hazarika said.

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