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With Deep sorrow and sadness, from Recent Current Science Journal issue article, I came to know about the news of our beloved Teacher and Mentor Prof. R. Kumar. Sir had visited CSIR-CLRI along with Prof. K.S. Gandhi for Chemical Engineering Department Review meetings. In which, I also made presentations, when I was doing Ph.D. on the topic Ultrasound Application to Leather Processing. Sir, has provided me valuable suggestions regarding the Research work. I recollect that he gave the explanation about the effect of Temperature on Ultrasound assisted enhancement in Leather Dyeing Vs Control and correlated the same with Ultrasonic Cavitation. He has also provided Study materials for my Research work through Prof. K.S.G. I am very much indebted regarding those valuable suggestions and gesture. But feeling that this kind of Scientific discussions with Sir is no more, makes me dejected. He is a great human being. Thanks and Regards, Yours Sincerely, V. Sivakumar CSIR-CLRI
It goes without saying that Prof. Kumar along with Prof. Gandhi have trained and influenced a generation of engineering scientists that have built successful and impactful careers across the world. I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with Prof. Kumar during the peak of his career and Prof. Gandhi during the time he just moved to IISc. These two gentleman have left a deep and enduring impression on me and encouraged me to explore my interest in research and higher studies. Without this guidance and encouragement it is unlikely that I would have proceeded to get a PhD and spend a lifetime in R&D and in some small way trying to keep trying for reaching the goal of excellence that was imparted. I should also say that I had great fun working in the lab and probably the only one in the group who had full freedom to barge into his office and chat whenever I felt like and make fun of him and made fun off in equal measures. He was everything for me. Many years later i visited IISc with my two young daughters on a Christmas day not expecting to find anyone there. To my surprise both Prof. Kumar and Prof. Gandhi were at work and we had wonderful conversation, with Prof. Kumar sharing some anecdotes from my time at IISc with my daughters. He showed us a picture of Sri Krishna that I drew for him when I was leaving IISc all those years ago, placed safely under the glass plate on his desk. While his loss is immense and as Prof. Gandhi said that can’t be filled, we can all strive to be and encourage the next generation of scientists that we are training to reach the ‘Everest’ and play it forward to keep his memory and contributions alive.
That smile, the simplicity, and the joy you see as he teaches and the lab atmosphere, he and Prof Gandhi had is a gift beyond what I ever knew was possible. Special thanks to Prof Gandhiji (my co guide) and Shrihari (my Mentor), and others for putting down your thoughts – it certainly helped me reminisce and assimilate my fading memories and realize how fortunate I am to be his student. A few of my most memorable interactions - His radiant expression (he literally turned red, and almost jumped) when he realized we understood what he taught us. - The amount of red ink on my “first draft” – It had 10 times more red ink than the type material I gave him (those days we printed on wide printer paper and leaft space for his comments). I was obviously a bit taken a back… he actually put his arms around my shoulder and said “Don’t ever be scared of being proven wrong – the only way some one can prove you wrong is for you to first do something. Just make sure you make it really hard for others” - As time passed, I got distracted, and he noticed…. With a loud booming voice everyone in the lab heard “Hi young man – How are you?” – yes a second “warm” hand over my shoulder made me realize I was not making progress and am just going through motions. I am sure all of you would agree that he made us think, simplify and get rid of the “awe” – I mean, once you took his class, you knew no one could make up stuff we can’t immediately break-up in to fundamental modeling steps. Lessons from my ME days always stay with me, although I never took to the academic rigor needed for research. But I know that no one can throw a fast one around me; I was trained by Prof Kumar, Prof Gandhi, and will ultimately break it down into verifiable logic. I have not met him since I left Bangalore in 1992, but always feel blessed to be his student, and grateful for his kindness.
I can't imagine IISc without Prof. Kumar. The first time I visited IISc in 1972 (to give a talk) it was Prof. Kumar who greeted me with his characteristic smile. He was always warm and kind, his conversation was always thought-provoking. I have had the privilege of being in numerous meetings with Prof. Kumar in the Chair. Both his depth and breadth of knowledge were impressive. His questions in selection committees were always very interesting and out-of-the-box. His common sense was indeed uncommon. His joie-de-vivre was infectious and it was always a pleasure to spend time with him. The department and Prof. Gandhi and you, in particular, will miss his dignified presence and the comfort of having a very wise colleague that one can reliably turn to in all emergencies.
I was well-acquainted with Professor Kumar's research work prior to my visit to the Indian Institute of Science in 1989. I was fortunate to receive a Fulbright Fellowship to work with Professor K.S. Gandhi at the Indian Institute of Science during which time I had the pleasure to interact with Professor Kumar. His legacy is not only his significant research work but also his mentorship of many students and faculty. He will be very much missed by many people that span the globe who had the wonderful opportunity to interact with him.
How do I react hearing the sad demise of my teacher and beloved Sir, Padmabhushan awardee, Late Professor R. Kumar? Do we want to remember him with heavy heart as he has left for heavenly abode or celebrate his journey in the earthly world! When I joined IISc, I had no idea what it means to be a perfect person, a perfect researcher, a perfect investigator, how one does critical thinking, how one expresses ideas, what academic integrity means and much more… He showed us and in a way taught us how one carries himself or herself in these respects. He taught me how to think differently, how to have clear idea about the physics of the problem and how to translate it to simple yet rigorous mathematical model and then validate using simple experimental arrangements or understand physics through simple experiments and then mathematically model it to bring in-sight in to the larger problem. Most importantly, he could see a phenomenon through Sherlock Holmes like eyes, an instinct and sixth sense worked for him dissecting and solving the problems. In the mathematical modelling course he taught us how simple thinking and correct assumptions can lead to solve a complex problem easily. He taught us how to write a technical write-up in a logical sequence in simple language. I have never seen him being angry at any students and yet he was very witty and subtle to point out our faults. He was mentally and physically very strong as I have seen and knew him for the past thirty-five years. After joining CSIR, I get all-round vibes from CSIR fraternity about his contribution to the community. Many of the young scientists came to his association being Research Council Chairman of the Lab and now in a leadership role in CSIR Labs re-call how they learnt from him in different areas of their work. Many of them proudly say I was selected by the committee chaired by Prof R. Kumar, such is his influence in everybody’s life. With this, I say good bye to Sir to his earthly existence, but he will continue to live on in our hearts. Our sincere condolences to bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace. Om Shanti!
Met Prof. Kumar for the first time on 31st July 1991 in the faculty hall as part of joining formalities when I joined IISc as an ME student. I wasn't expecting a personal remark from dean, engineering "Hey you came here to Maaza Maaro with your friend Jhansi?" But that affection only grew over time with chocolates and flowers/prasad from Sai Baba temple being the tangible forms. How much ever we tried, Girija and me were caught each time we went to coffee board and he will never miss the chance to embarrass us by telling us the count for the day! I particularly enjoyed accompanying to JNCASR in the bus..my picnic with him in the name of visiting the library there 🙂 I was not fortunate to benefit from his academic excellence like his students, but every interaction with him has been a great learning experience. I am sure he is having 'Maaza time' wherever he is!
I fondly remember the time when Professor Kumar interviewed me for the post of Principal at Sona. I found him very knowledgeable, yet simple and down to earth. I was fortunate enough to interact with him during the Research Advisory Board meetings of our institution. He used to give many innovative and thought provoking ideas and throw open many workable scientific problems. He has always appreciated and encouraged others' ideas. I shall greatly treasure the lessons I have personally learnt from him and also adopt the values he has imparted to Sona. Our Group of Institutions owes a lot to Professor Kumar. Being Sona's most respected mentor, he has guided the Sona family for more than five decades. We will certainly follow his principles and take the institution to great heights.
My first contact with Kumar ji was an affectionate letter dated 1983 which began, "Dear Kaza, It warms my heart to hear that you will be joining our department". From the day I joined, he was a dear colleague, friend and mentor. I was impressed with his keen intellect and ability to develop simple models for complex systems such as bubble formation, foam bed contactors and sonication reactors. He did elegant experiments too, and it was a delight to see that the model predictions invariably fitted the data very well. He had an open mind and liked to discuss with colleagues about topics with which he was not familiar. One would often see various faculty in his office, engaged in animated discussion. Like his Punjabi compatriot Kapil Dev, he was undoubtedly the finest all-rounder our department produced, excelling in everything he did, such as teaching, research, mentoring, consultancy, serving on selection committees, and guiding multiple CSIR labs on various projects. The image of him coming to the department on his moped with one leg dangling because of a hip problem is vivid. Despite other ailments, he never let them come in the way of his work. The office was more like his first home, and his residence his second. General MacArthur said, "old soldiers never die, they fade away". In a similar vein, Kumar ji continued to come to the department long after his retirement, until almost the end. Borrowing a quotation from Shakespeare, "the elements were so mixed in him, that nature might stand up and say, "here was a good man" ". When comes another Kumar? I pray that his soul will be freed from the cycle of birth and death.
I was shocked and extremely sad to hear the news of the demise of Prof. Kumar. I did my PhD under him being a student from 1967 to 1971. I joined Chem Engineering Department under Prof. Kuloor and after his death I joined Prof. Kumar. I must say I am extremely fortunate work with him. He was very young at that time almost fresh from his own PhD. However he had exceptional analytical thinking with tremendous grasp on Heat, Mass & Momentum transfer. A great teacher who believed in transferring his Chemical Engineering knowledge in a simple, uncomplicated and lucid manner to his pupils. I enjoyed attending his Transport Phenomena classes again and again in all my years of stay as he mastered the art of exposing the same theory in a different method with a different example every time. I whole heartedly acknowledge that I am immensely benefited with my association with him. I am also fortunate to associate with him in his contribution to Advances in Chemical Engineering on Bubbles & Drops in 1971. I was proud to be his student then and continue to be proud even now that he was my guide during my formative period. He wanted me to continue in academics but I believed in using R&D for development of process/designs for industrial use. I am on my own from 1971 and his ideas & thoughts inspired me even today. Though I am away from academics as such following his footsteps, I continue to guide and teach principles of Chemical Engineering to one or two students, who join our company for their Project work. In his death, we the students & colleagues associated with him and India as a whole lost an outstanding Chemical Engineer. I have lost a well-wisher personally. I pray for his sole to rest in peace. Condolences to his family and his wife in particular. Condolences also to the family of Engineers who get inspired by him.