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In SN Talukdar, India has lost a great geologist In Samarendra Nath Talukdar's [814 K '43] death, the world of Indian geology has lost a doyen. Talukdar was one of the foremost geologists of the ONGC and was its exploration director and vice chairman at different points of time during some of the crucial years of its growth. "The credit for the discovery of the elephantine Bombay High field should rightly go to his uncanny interpretative skills," says Dr. A Rehman, a fellow geologist and long time colleague. Talukdar had suffered brain hemorrhage after a nasty fall at home and had been ailing for quite some time. He was in the Max multi-speciality hospital for two months, and moved in and out of the ICU. His son -' Dr. Rudranath Talukdar, a medical oncologist, who had been in the US for the past 23 years, relocated to Dehra Dun and consented to set up a new cancer department at Max to be able to look after his ailing father. Born in the family of an ICS officer in 1928, he had the best of education. After acquiring a BSc degree in Geology from Calcutta's famed Presidency College, young Samarendra went to Trinity College Cambridge from where he did his Tripos in Natural Sciences. He joined the Associated Cement Company (ACC) as a geologist. Subsequently, he joined a Standard-Vacuum Oil Company (STANVAC) team that was then exploring oil and gas in West Bengal. As ill-luck would have it, Talukdar took offence to some racial invectives used by the American supervisors against the Indian workers and angrily put in his papers. Thereafter, he did a brief stint with Indian Statistical Institute of Prof PC Maholanobis. He joined the ONGC in 1956 around the time of its inception. From 1956 till 1986 when he finally called it a day, Talukdar's journey in the Indian oil patch had been historic in many ways. He was one of the few ofthe earlier pioneers joining ONGC to have had some acquaintance with petroleum geology. In fact, the first assignment that his then boss AMN Ghosh gave him was to train the rookie geologists who had joined ONGC just a few months earlier. It was here in Mohand and the foothills of Mussoorie that Talukdar ran his training school in the wilderness and trained a large number of apprentice-geologists; some of his trainees like LL Bhandari, PK Chandra, Iqbal Farooqi, PK Srivastav later rose to some of the higher positions in the ONGC; Bhandari officiated as chairman and Chandra vice chairman ofONGC. On his retirement, Talukdar took an active interest in Dehra Dun's socio-cultural life. He was a prominent member of Welham Boys' Trust and took a keen interest in its activities. Paying rich tributes to Talukdar, the Trust chairman Darshan Singh called him "a very upright man, knownfor his integrity and probity. He has had tremendous command over geology. " LL Bhandari was more effusive in his tribute to him. "Talukdar was the most dedicated geologist I had come across. I might have differed with him on some of the issues but nevertheless respected him all the more for his frankness and firm beliefs. In Talukdar, we have lost one of the great geologists. " Talukdar had enjoyed an iconic stature as a geologist and was presented the lifetime achievement award in 2002 by the Association of Petroleum Geologist and AAPG, USA. Another lifetime achievement award came his way from PETROTECH 2005. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had then described him as "the pioneer and living legend for his undaunting pursuit of hydrocarbon exploration including energy alternatives and abiding commitment to develop, nurture systems, processes and people in the upstream petroleum sector of free India. " A richer tribute could not have been paid to a geologist. Talukdar was a voracious reader and subscribed to many magazines and journals. Reading was his staple diet; he would sit in the verandah of his EC Road home and spend a few hours reading every day. Those of us who knew him will mourn his sad demise. His wife Monica, an accomplished artist in her own right, has a large number of friends. She has been greatly instrumental in contributing to Dehra Dun's variegated cultural richness. A few years ago, Monica had set up Doon Art Society that attracted a large number of artists. His son Rudranath is an eminent oncologist while elder daughter Indrani is a creative writer now working in Gujarat. The youngest Shashwati is a highly talented film maker and lives in Taiwan with her husband Dr. Philip K. Friedman, a professor of anthropology. He lived a rich and glorious life, invariably traveling on untrodden paths and did not care about what others said. On several occasions I had seen him indulge in heated arguments with his fellow geologists on geological interpretation. But it must be said that as a professional, he was true and dedicated to his cause. It is said that many of the earlier discoveries made by ONGC has had their origin in the mind of this great geologist. [Raj Kanwar is a veteran journalist based in Dehra Dun and the author of the official history of the ONGC published under the title UPSTREAM INDIA.] Rose Bowl January 2014109

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