Khundkar, Mukarram Hussain

Khundkar, Mukarram Hussain (1922-1972) scientist and educationist. Born in Faridpur district, he passed matriculation examination from Barisal Zilla School, ISc from Jagannath College, and BSc (Honours) and MSc in Chemistry from Dhaka University. He obtained PhD degree in Chemistry from Durham University.

Mukarram Hussain began his career as a lecturer in Chemistry of DU in 1944. He became Reader in 1949 and Professor in 1960. From 1954 to 1972 he served simultaneously as Head of the Department of Chemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Professor Hussain was a specialist in various fields of chemistry. He was particularly specialised in inorganic and analytical chemistry, processing and reactions of minerals, and chemistry of cellulose and jute. He studied solid state chemistry involving the mechanism of solid state reactions and various related properties of solids, metal borate and absorption of gases on the solid matrix. He developed a technique for producing crystalline metal borate and studied decomposition and sulphidation of transition metal oxalates and graphite-sulphur intercalation compounds. He also developed analytical methods for the determination of a metal ion from complex and mutually interfering mixtures, development of new ion-exchangers from indigenous materials.

Mukarram Hussain studied mineral processing and reactions of various minerals to find new applications for them. He conducted research on sulphide minerals like iron pyrites, stibnite, chromite and bauxite; extraction of elementary sulphur from metal sulphides; recovery of elementary sulphur and hydrogen sulphide; and synthetic ferrites, and electrolytic processing of minerals for extraction of metals, particularly copper and antimony. Mukarram Hussain contributed to discoveries of newer uses of jute such as oxidative studies, phosphoryliation and nitration of cotton and jute cellulose, production of carboxymethyl cellulose. His works are recorded in over a hundred original research publications in national and international journals.

Professor Hussain was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (FRIC) of Great Britain, Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), London, and Pakistan Academy of Sciences. He was chairman of the Pakistan Branch of the Royal Institute of Chemistry. He was also a member of the Society of Chemical Industry, London; Council of Pakistan Association for the Advancement of Science; National Committee for the International Union of Crystallography; Pan-Indian Ocean Science Association (PIOSA); Permanent Council of the International Congress on Corrosion; and Pakistan Central Committee on Jute. Professor Hussain was also a member of the sub-committee for science and technology of the Bengali Academy (now bangla academy) and chairman of the Paribhasa Committee for Chemistry of the Central Board for the Development of Bengali.

Mukarram Hussain was honoured as a Raja Kali Narayan Scholar and was the recipient of the University gold medal of Dhaka University; Academy gold medal for Research in Physical Sciences, Pakistan Academy of Sciences; Independence Day Award of the Government of Bangladesh (posthumous, 1973). To perpetuate his contributions in the field of chemistry, Dhaka University established the 'Professor Khundkar Chair' at the Department of Chemistry and newly built science building of DU has been named as 'Mukarram Hussain Vijnan Bhaban'. He died in Dhaka on 30 November 1972. [Md Mahbub Murshed]