Ashutosh Mukherjee: Banglar Bagh (Tiger of Bengal)

Ashutosh Mukherjee: Banglar Bagh (Tiger of Bengal)

He was known as “Banglar Bagh,” meaning the “Tiger of Bengal” for his high self-esteem, courage, and academic integrity. Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was the first student to be awarded a dual degree (MA in Mathematics and Physics) from Calcutta University and today’s story is about his contribution to science and education in India.

Ashutosh Mukherjee was born on June 29, 1864. His dad, Gangaprasad, was a well-known doctor, and his mom, Jagattarini Devi, was a homemaker.

Brought up in an atmosphere of science & literature at home, young Ashutosh Mukherjee went to the Sisu Vidyalaya at Chakraberia, Bhowanipore, and showed an early aptitude for mathematics.

In 1879, Asutosh passed the entrance exam and got the second position. He then joined Presidency College (now Presidency University) in Kolkata in the F.A. class. One of his classmates was Narendranath Dutta, who later became known as Swami Vivekananda.

In 1881, he passed the F.A. examination and ranked third. In 1884, he came in first in the B.A. examination, earning scholarships and prizes. He also excelled in the M.A. examinations in both mathematics and physics in 1885 and 1886. Asutosh was the first student at Calcutta University to pass the M.A. examination in more than one subject.

During his time in the F.A. class, Ashutosh Mukherjee wrote a paper about a mathematical concept known as the 25th proposition in the first volume of Euclid’s Elements. Asutosh focused on geometry and elliptic functions in his research, publishing several papers between 1887 and 1889, mainly on differential equations of conics.

In 1888, Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar, the founder of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), invited Asutosh to give lectures on scientific topics to post-graduate students. Asutosh continued this until 1891 when he got busier with his work in law.

Ashutosh Mukherjee established the University Law College in Kolkata in 1909. Then, in 1914, he founded the @Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) to promote scientific research in India.

Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was responsible for the foundation of the Bengal Technical Institute in 1906 and the College of Science of Calcutta University in 1914. The Calcutta Mathematical Society was also founded by Mukherjee in 1908 and he served as the president of the Society from 1908 to 1923. He also established Asutosh College in 1916.

In 1910, he became the President of the Imperial (now National) Library Council. He generously donated his personal collection of 80,000 books, which are now organized in a dedicated section.

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