Dr. Nirmal Kumar Choudhury
Vidya Bharati Purvottar Kshetra
Dr. Nirmal Kumar Chaudhury was born in Niz Pakowa village near Nalbari town and grew up there in a joint family headed by his grand father Kalicharan Chaudhury, a learned person who left his teaching job to join the freedom movement and was jailed in 1921 and 1942. From his childhood he learnt about mythological and moral tales from his grand-father who’s patriotism and sacrifice inspired him. He imbibed a spirit of nationalism and public service from his grand-father.
Dr. Chaudhury had his school education in a number of placs in Assam as his father had a transferable job. He studied in Assamese medium schools and also learnt Hindi from Rashtrabhasa Prachar Samity. He was a brilliant student and was among the top ten in his Matriculation and Intermediate Science examinations of 1952 and 1954 respectively.
He obtained B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Physics of Gauhati University in 1956 from Cotton College. He was the General Secretary of the Students’ Union Society of the college for 1954-55, in which capacity he helped in the movement for liberation of Goa and appeared before the State Re-organisation Commission for preservation of Assam’s territorial integrity.
Dr. Chaudhury studied Civil Engineering in Banaras Hindu University and obtained B.Sc.(Engg.) degree in 1960 with a First Class. In the Engineering College he took part in co-curricular activities including model making. He later obtained MSc.Tech and PhD degrees of Manchester University, UK in Structural Engineering in 1964 and 1966 respectively. He topped the list in the examination for his Master’s degree. He obtained Assam Govt. Scholarships for all his studies after school education.
University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya conferred Honorary D.Sc. degree on Dr. Chaudhury in 2019.
Dr. Chaudhury joined Assam Engineering College Guwahati in 1960 as a Lecturer. He spent one year in educational administrative service before going to UK in 1963. He rejoined Assam Engineering College in 1967 as Astt. Professor and served as Professor from 1971 to 1982. He was instrumental in facilitating post graduate studies in Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok for students of Assam Engineering College.
Assam Government sent him in 1982 to Regional Engineering College (now NIT), Silchar as the Principal. The new college which was in a poor shape was developed by him and made stable during the years he worked there.
Dr. Chaudhury was appointed the Director of Technical Education in 1986 and he worked in that capacity for five years. During this period two new Polytechnics, one for girls, were started and a number of courses on emerging disciplines were introduced in the Engineering Colleges and Polytechnics of Assam. The courses include MCA, B.E. in Computer Science, B.E. in Instrumentation and Diploma in Computer Science, Electronics, etc. He also acted as a member of BOG, IIT Kharagpur.
In 1987 Dr. Chaudhury went to the USA for a six-week study tour on vocational education under the Indian Educators Programme of USEFI. He also attended a two-week International Conference on Technical Teachers’ Training in UK in 1990, sponsored by the British Council.
Dr. Chaudhury became the Vice-Chancellor of Gauhati University in 1991 at a time when the university was in a highly disturbed state. He succeeded in bringing normalcy and brought significant academic and infrastructural development during his tenure. It goes to his credit that despite the crisis he faced he was able to start Master’s degree programmes in Electronics and Bodo. He earned widespread praise for his performance in the University. While in the University he acted as a member of the UGC Committee for Vocational Education and as an Adviser of UPSC in Personal Test for Indian Civil Services candidates.
After retirement from service Dr. Chaudhury devoted himself to voluntary social work, particularly in the field of education. He joined Vidya Bharati and played a leading role in its activities in the North-east for many years. He was a Vice President of Vidya Bharati and President of its Purvottar Kshetra. He laid stress on participation of more women in its activities and continues to take special interest in education in Janajati areas of Assam, for which he has been offering financial assistance through a Foundation created by him.
Dr. Chaudhury was actively associated with the development of IIT Guwahati for a number of years as member of BOG and as member of various committees. He helped in the establishment of National Law University and Judicial Academy of Guwahati, Assam Kaziranga University of Jorhat and University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya. He also helped in the development of Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology, Assam and Assam Institute of Management.
Dr. Chaudhury acted as member of Administrative Reform Commission and as member of a number of committees constituted by Assam Government.
He also acted as a member of the civil society group formed for facilitating talks between the ULFA and Government of India.
Dr. Nirmal Kumar Chaudhury achieved reputation as an excellent teacher of Assam Engineering college and as one who could inspire the students. His initiative in establishing contact with Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok enabled many students to undergo post graduate education there, some with scholarship.
As Principal of Regional Engineering Cottage, Silchar he brought overall development of the college to lift it from its moribund state and place it on a growth trajectory.
Dr. Chaudhury achieved success as Director of Technical Education of Assam by starting new technical institutions and opening new study programmes in emerging areas. His efforts enabled the students to get good jobs in the country and abroad.
Dr. Chaudhury’s greatest achievement is his able performance as Vice- Chancellor of Gauhati University. The University was in great turmoil when he joined, with student indiscipline spoiling the academic atmosphere and other elements creating problems. He restored normalcy by his administrative acumen and improved the academic environment. Also, he brought all round development of the University, including opening of Master’s degree programmes in Electronics and Bodo.
The leading role played by Dr. Chaudhury in Vidya Bharati Purvottar Kshetra brought expansion and qualitative improvement in its school education programmes.
With his expertise and experience Dr. Chaudhury helped Assam Government by providing advice on various matters. The efforts made by the civil society group of which he was a member resulted in talks between the ULFA and Government of India.
(1) Award of Honorary D.Sc. degree by University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya (USTM) in 2019
(2) Recognition as Great Teacher of All Teachers by USTM on Teachers Day 2020.
(3) Award of Citation of Honour by Institute of Advanced study in science and Technology, Guwahati in 2012
(4) Felicitation by Gauhati University in 2013.
(5) Recognition as Eminent Engineer by the Institution of Engineers (India), Assam State Centre in 2005 and by Senior Engineers Forum of Greater Guwahati in 2016.
(6) Award of “Abhijanta Siromoni” title and “Rajmohan Nath Bota” in 2018 by Rajmohan Nath Smriti Raksha Samity, Guwahati.
(7) Award of “Prajna Guru Sanman” by Asom Kabita Academy in 2019.
(8) Honoured by Bodo Sahity Sabha in 1996.
(1) National Achiever Award by K.C. Das commerce College Guwahati in 2015
(2) Selected as member of the Committee on Vocational Education by UGC.
(3) Selected as Adviser by UPSC for personal Test of Civil Services candidates.
(4) Nominated as member of BOG of IIT Kharagpur and of IIT Guwahati.
(5) Selected as Chairman of National committee for Centenary Celebration of Rani Gaidenliu.
(6) Selected as All India Vice-President of Vidya Bharati, New Delhi.
(7) Made a Fellow of Institution of Engineers (India)
(1) Selected by USEFI (Ford Foundation) under Indian Educators Programme for study four on vocational education in USA in 1987
(2) Selected by British Council for participation in International Conference on Technical Teachers Training in UK in 1990.
Contribution to the Field
Dr. Nirmal Kumar Chaudhury chose the job of Lecturer in Civil Engineering, in preference to a PWD job, thereby helping in meeting teacher shortage in the new Assam Engineering College. As a teacher there for about twenty years he educated thousands of engineers, and because of him some of them could go for higher education in Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok.
As Principal of Regional Engineering College, Silchar during 1982-85 he was one of the pioneer builders of the institution which is now an NIT.
Dr. Chaudhury who was the Director of Technical Education, Assam for the years 1986-91 considerably developed technical education facilities in Assam by opening new institutions and new study programmes in emerging disciplines enabling the students to get jobs.
The greatest contribution of Dr. Nirmal Kumar Chaudhury to the field of education is his outstanding performance as Vice-chancellor of Gauhati Univesity at a critical juncture. The University which was in great turmoil was brought back by his able efforts to normalcy and placed on the path of progress.
Dr. Chaudhury made huge contribution also for school education in Assam. As a devoted educationist and as a leading member of Vidya Bharati he helped in improvement of quality of school education and of educational environment.
Contribution to the Society
Dr. Nirmal Kumar Chaudhury involved himself in social welfare activities since his student days, when he used to take part in road repair works and in starting and running a library in his village. In Cotton College he organized student activities in the interest of the country and the state. During his service life he helped in the development of the High School in the village of his birth and he still continues to do so.
After retirement from service he helped in the development of his native city Guwahati for many years with his engineering expertise. He also offered voluntary technical service to a number of educational institutions in construction matters.
Under his leadership a group of intellectuals prepared a visionary document for future development, titled ‘Assam beyond 2000’, with financial assistance from the Assam Tribune group of newspapers.
Dr. Chaudhury helped in forming public opinion in matters of social interest by attending and presiding over public meetings. Through wittings and statements published in newspapers he raised his voice against undesirable developments and in support of right causes.
He actively participated in the civil
society effort for holding talks between ULFA and Government of India, which
ultimately materialized paring the way for peace in Assam.