Year : 2020 | Volume
: 69 | Issue : 2 | Page : 116--117
Prof. Asim Kumar Datta (1927–2020)
Department of Anatomy and Principal, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar, India
Prof. Ranjit Guha
Department of Anatomy and Principal, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar
|How to cite this article:|
Guha R. Prof. Asim Kumar Datta (1927–2020).J Anat Soc India 2020;69:116-117
|How to cite this URL:|
Guha R. Prof. Asim Kumar Datta (1927–2020). J Anat Soc India [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 14 ];69:116-117
Available from: http://www.jasi.org.in/text.asp?2020/69/2/116/288669
Dr. Asim Kumar Datta was born on January 1, 1927, at Brahmanbaria of erstwhile East Bengal (now in east-central Bangladesh). He was the eldest son of Mr. Sushil Chandra Datta and Mrs. Kalyani Datta. His father was a highly reputed advocate in the district. However, it was Dr. Datta's grandfather, Mr. Gokul Chandra Datta – attorney and philanthropist, who was the moving force behind his academic pursuit.
Dr. Datta grew up in a primarily rural environment as an extremely hardworking and dedicated student with the singular ambition of becoming a doctor as inspired, encouraged, and motivated by his grandfather. He was a student of Annada Government High School, Brahmanbaria. Later, he shifted to Vidyasagar College, Kolkata, to complete his higher secondary education.
Thereafter, Dr. Datta got admitted in R. G. Kar Medical College, which was then called Carmichael Medical College (affiliated to the University of Calcutta), and passed MBBS in 1949. As an undergraduate student, he received the first certificate of Honor in Anatomy. He worked as a junior and senior medical officer between 1950 and 1952, in the Department of Surgery at R. G. Kar Medical College with Prof. Mr. L. M. Banerjee, who had the distinction of having operated on Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur and Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
In 1953, Dr. Datta started working as a demonstrator in the Department of Anatomy in Calcutta National Medical College, where he soon gained immense popularity among the undergraduate students, who were mesmerized by his unique style of teaching. Thereafter, Dr. Datta completed MS (Anatomy) in 1965, from the Dr. B. C. Roy Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University College of Medicine in Kolkata. He was awarded the Gold Medal from the university for his performance.
Dr. Datta, later, joined Dr. B. C. Roy Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences as a lecturer and eventually became a professor and Head of the Department of Anatomy. He served this institute as a very popular teacher of postgraduate students of different disciplines from various medical colleges of West Bengal. Many medical faculties also used to attend his classes. He continued teaching there as a visiting faculty for a couple of years after his superannuation due to the demand of the postgraduate students from across disciplines and various parts of the state. During his service at this institute, he developed different disciplines in the department of anatomy. He guided a host of postgraduate (MD/MS) and PhD students. He was the principal investigator in several extramurally funded research projects and published a series of research papers and review articles in various peer-reviewed, indexed medical journals of international repute. He also started conducting coaching classes for anatomy. His private tuition in anatomy was extremely popular and famous and attended by numerous medical students (mostly undergraduate) from various medical colleges of West Bengal.
In 1996, Dr. Datta joined as a professor of Anatomy in College of Medical Sciences, Bharatpur in Chitwan District of Nepal. Here too, he was extremely popular among both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Here, he was made Emeritus Professor of Anatomy. However, he had to leave this institution in 2015 due to his health issues. Prof. Datta completed 50 years of teaching in 2003. His total teaching experience covers a period of more than 60 years.
Dr. Datta wrote as many as nine books on human anatomy which gained much popularity in India and abroad. In these, he covered all facets of anatomy with wonderful sketch diagrams, lucid language, recent advances, functional correlation, and clinical integration. These books are being utilized by the students of medical, dental, and allied biosciences, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels across the globe.
Prof. Datta was teacher of teachers, a legend who infused romance into learning anatomy among four generations of students. He was a stalwart, a perfect amalgam of honesty and modesty; a calm and composed, yet a towering personality, an iconic figure in the fraternity, with unfathomable knowledge, and yet a sempiternal quest for it. He was an author of international repute and a magnanimous human being. He was very down to earth by nature, easily accessible and approachable by the students, and always ready to clear any doubts in the subject. Till the last day of his life, Prof. Datta maintained relentless efforts to study anatomy in the pursuit of collecting updated information and including these in his books. He was a lifelong learner.
Dr. Datta was a recipient of several professional awards, honors, and distinctions. In the late 1980s, Prof. Datta delivered orations to the learned bodies of the United States on Clinical Anatomy of Coronary Circulation. In 1988, he worked as a visiting professor of Anatomy on invitation from the University of Papua New Guinea. In 2001, he was honored as Fellow of State Medical Faculty of West Bengal for academic excellence. In 2008, West Bengal Chapter of Anatomical Society of India honored Dr. Datta with Pandit Madhusudan Gupta Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award in Anatomy during the bicentenary celebration of Pandit Gupta. In 2011, the Asim Datta Distinguished Chair in Clinical Anatomy, and Surgery was created in KPC Medical College, Jadavpur, Kolkata. In September 2013, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, named its Anatomy Department as Datta's School of Anatomy.
The vacuum created following the demise of Prof. Datta will take a long time to be filled up. However, his philosophy will be cherished and fostered by all his students across the globe. He was a loving husband who always praised his wife, the late Gayatri Datta for her tolerance, permissiveness as he has to curtail many social and family commitments while writing the books. He is survived by his son Kaustuv and daughter Kausturi and three grandchildren.
We pray to the almighty to give solace to the soul of this great teacher.