written by: Prof. Abdur Razzque

Homage to Prof. Muhammed Hussain

[The Vice-Chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) Prof. Dr. Muhammed Hussain was killed in a tragic road accident on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway on 4 February morning. The whole nation was shocked at the sudden and untimely demise of an eminent educationist and brilliant scientist of his stature. With him the country lost a great humanist, a progressive intelligentsia, and a man of strong commitment- whose life-long endeavour had been directed towards advancement of agricultural education and research of Bangladesh. This note of salutation in memory of late Prof. Hussain was presented in a condolence meeting held recently at BAU campus.]

In a drizzly winter morning he rushed into an unknown land covered with dense fog and was lost for ever. Instantaneously he was taken to a pinnacle where no call or outcry of the nearest and dearest ones could ever reach. A tragic road accident had snatched away his life turning his mundane body motionless and still. One who always so intensely liked to go ahead in order to get hold of truth and beauty in himself. One who believed so earnestly that the human life was nothing but going ahead to illumine one's own existence and surroundings. And he had thus built for us a new road by focusing light on the darkness of our social perception and conscience. It was he who dragged us on the road to light. But, alas, our guide is no more today.

Prof. Dr. Muhammed Hussain is no more with us. He was our beloved Vice-Chancellor, our reverend teacher and mentor, our trusted friend, philosopher and guide. This man with a great heart is no more amidst us. He has set a new ideal before us by investing the best hours of his life for furtherance of this noble institution Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) since its inception. This lion-hearted man with his surging zeal of a missionary is all on a sudden lost for ever plunging all of us into a deep sea of sorrow and pain. Prof. Hussain will never come back amidst us, yet we all feel today his glittering presence in the core of our heart.

Born on 16 August 1939, he came of a noble muslim family of the village Barabkund-Mahmudabad under Sitakund thana of Chittagong district. He was the second child of his father Mvi. Emdadul Haque and mother Mst. Hazera Khatun. During his childhood he proved himself to be a meritorious and assiduous student and was awarded scholarship. While in school he took active part in the language movement and thus had the first lessons of patriotism. All along his life he adhered to a conscience based on a triad of Bangla language, Bangalee nationhood and Bangladesh which had added to his personality a new dimension and dignity. In course of time he turned out to be a living symbol of non-sectarianism and humanism based on the ideals of language movement and the great war of liberation. He got scholarship in recognition of his brilliant result in I.Sc. examination of 1956 and as recipient of faculty scholarship he obtained the degrees of B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Dhaka in 1958 and 1960 respectively. Later in 1967, he was conferred Ph.D. degree of the Texas A & M University. It may be mentioned here that the President of Texas A &M University had honored him with the best foreign student leadership award in 1965.

The Bangladesh Agricultural University came into being in the month of September 1961 and its recruitment process of new teachers began in the month of January 1962 -- when Prof. Hussain joined as the first Lecturer in Biochemistry of this University. The department of Biochemistry at BAU was as good as the inseparable part of his life and he made tremendous contributions to all phases of its growth and development. Very rightly he often liked himself to be known as the father of biochemistry at this University. He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor on 22 February 1967, that of Associate Professor on 27 June 1970 and Professor on 21 May 1977 in the same department.

Prior to taking over of the office of Vice-Chancellor, BAU he served the University in various capacities as Head of the department of Biochemistry, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Provost of Shaheed Shamsul Haque Hall, Convenor, Council of Deans, Member of the Selection Committee for appointment of Professors and Associate Professors and so on. Prof. Hussain had the inborn leadership quality much needed to steer an organization. He was President of BAU Teachers' Association twice, Vice-President of University Teachers' Association Federation, Executive Vice-President of BAU Club and President of Ganotantrik Teachers' Forum, BAU. He also played key role in organizing extracurricular activities of the University and acted as Treasurer of BAUCSU, President of Sangeet Sangha and President of Science Club of TSC. Besides, he was the founder-president of Debaters' Forum and Shatabdi, a socio-cultural organization of BAU. He had played a pioneering role in organizing a Science Club named as 'Anusandhani' and he took personal care in the publication of 'Niriksha' - a popular scientific journal. As an ardent follower of the ideals of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he played the vital role in protecting and upholding the values derived from the great war of liberation, and he had been the Chief Patron of the BAU command unit of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad.

Prof. Hussain was an internationally reputed biochemist and applied nutritionist who had enriched these disciplines by undertaking a series of basic and applied research. He worked at the University of Hawaii as the United Nations University Fellow, at the Nottingham University as a Commonwealth Staff Fellow and at the NDRI, Haryana as the IARI Visiting Scientist. He was team leader of the Bangladesh-Belgium collaborative research project on Lathyrus and Lathyrism. Besides, he conducted a number of research projects on crop cultivars like lathyrus, blackgram, aroids, sweet potato and HYV rice and succeeded in making tremendous contributions to the development of a few high yielding cultivars of sweet potato, aroids and rice. On a number of occasions he visited many universities and research institutes of USA, UK, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Pakistan and India. He has to his credit a total of 50 research publications. Besides, he has written a large number of essays on education and popular science all published in various magazines and national dailies. He is author of a book entitled 'Sabji Theke Pusti' (Nutrients from vegetables) and editor of the 'Brochure on the Faculty of Agriculture, BAU.'

Since his taking over of the office of the Vice-Chancellor in November 1996, quite a good number of development activities were completed including holding of two Convocations - the Forth General Convocation on 20 December 1997 and the First Special Convocation on 18 April 1998 in which the Nobel Laureate Scientist Dr. Norman E. Borlaug was conferred the Degree of D.Sc. (honoris causa). With the holding of elections of BAU Central Students' Union and the hall unions the extracurricular activities of the University were geared up. He believed in the theory of survival of the fittest. He felt it urgently that the academic and research programmes of BAU should be so redesigned as to meet the challenges of 21st century. His thoughts and actions had always been around BAU and its speedy development and enrichment. In order to attain these goals he took personal initiatives in establishing linkage programmes for BAU and had signed MOUs with the following Universities : Texas A &M University, Brooklyn College and Research Foundation of the City College, New York, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Ghent University of Belgium, University of Sindh and Sindh Agricultural University of Pakistan, Olds College, Canada, Agricultural University of Hebei, China, Nagoya University of Japan, King Mongkuts' University of Technology, Thailand and Chonbuk National University, Korea.

His long-cherished dream was to establish of a central research laboratory and to equip it with the latest facilities where research on genetic engineering and biotechnology could be conducted in a planned manner. He fought for it relentlessly and succeeded in getting necessary allocations from the government. The University has meanwhile accorded approval to institute the department of Genetic Engineering and Technology under the Faculty of Agriculture and the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology under the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering & Technology. A brochure in English language under the title "BAU : An Information' containing information on academic and research programmes of the University was published under his direct supervision. Establishment of an agricultural museum has already been included in the University development program. Construction of the sculpture of freedom fighters named as 'Sonar Bangla' is almost completed. Very recently the BAU library has been connected with internet web-site.

It needs to be especially mentioned here that during his period as Vice-Chancellor, the routine-wise academic classes and examinations were held regularly and the University did not have any experience of unscheduled closure for a single day. Prof. Hussain, a man of vision and mission, had many dreams in his mind with regard to the development of this University. Of these, quite a few are yet to be materialized. He wanted to develop a 20-minute video film highlighting the academic and research activities of BAU. He also extended his hand in making a few souvenirs engraved with BAU's name and monogram. He used to call this evergreen campus as the exquisitely beautiful daughter of nature. And he continued all his efforts to add to her beauty.

Prof. Hussain was out and out a teacher of uncommon qualities. His fatherly disposition had made him dear to friends and colleagues alike and specially he was highly popular amongst his students. Although he had to pass very busy hours in looking into the routine affairs of the university as its Vice-Chancellor, he never missed taking classes, conducting research projects or supervising research-works of Ph.D students.

Prof. Hussain as the convenor of the sub-committee on agricultural education of the Committee for formulation of National Education Policy made significant contributions to the formulation of effective policy-guidelines relating to higher agricultural education and research to meet the challenges of the new millennium. He also played vital role in strengthening the process of agricultural research and development of Bangladesh as member of Board of Governors of various research institutions under the national agricultural research system (NARS).

He was cordial, kind-hearted and highly sociable person and he enjoyed diffusing his spirit amongst all. A large-hearted man he was and he knew best to honour and appreciate the talented ones. He always tried to enrich himself through regular studies and was a passionate reader of the literary works of Tagore, Nazrul and Jibanananda Das. He had easy access to all branches of knowledge, be it social, literary, philosophical or scientific works. So, whoever had an opportunity to come to his personal contact felt simply enchanted by his attracting personality. His speeches used to make all of them spell-bound. In fact, his pursuit of knowledge had always been directed to human welfare. The ideals that have been set before us by Prof. Hussain as a committed teacher, as the most successful academic executive and above all, as an honest, pious and courageous individual will go a long way to inspire us in the days to come.

The whole country including Mymensingh and Sitakund had at once been stunned at the unfortunate death news of our beloved Vice-Chancellor on 4 February. Elaborate programmes of condolence were chalked out simultaneously at BAU, Sitakund and BSMR Agricultural University, Salna. Condolence messages started pouring in from the honorable President, Prime Minister, Members of cabinet and chief executives of all universities, research institutes, professional and socio-cultural organizations and leaders of all major political parties of the country. We have been receiving condolence messages from home and abroad till now. His first namaj-e-janaja was held at Sobhanbag, Dhaka on February 4, the second one at the BAU campus on 5 February and the last one at the Barabkund High School premises on 7 February. He was laid to eternal rest at the family graveyard of his home-village Barabkund-Mahmudabad in presence of a large number of tearful and grief-stricken friends, realtives, colleagues and students. We fervently pray to Almighty Allah for His mercy and salvation of the departed soul.

Prof. Hussain left behind his widow, a son, two daughters, grand children, and many relatives, colleagues, friends and students in home and abroad to mourn his death. We pay our highest esteems and our tearful salutation to this great man of rare qualities.

I look afar :
Lost is the traveler for ever.
His mistress could not keep him, neither the kingdom,
Neither could he be stopped by the ocean or mountain.
His chariot is now moving
At the call of night and Songs of stars
Toward the gate of golden dawn.
So here am I Lying laden with his memory
While the freed one is far away.

[Professor Abdur Razzaque is the Head of the Department of Languages and Officer on Special Duty, Vice-Chancellor's Secretariat, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh.]



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