Monday, September 28, 2009

RIP: Alok Kumar

Here is the email from IOP Bhubaneswar on the passing away of Alok Kumar

On September 26, Alok passed away at 10:45 in the morning due to a cardiac arrest. He was 48. He left behind his spouse Archana and their only kid Harshul (fondly known to us as Siddhu).

We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family. For us, in Institute of Physics, it is an irreparable loss at every front.

Institute of Physics

: Sudipta Mukherji has created a webpage in Alok's memory.


  1. It has taken me a couple of days to even put up this message on the blog -- I find it hard to believe that Alok is no more. My deepest and heartfelt condolences are towards his wife, Archana and son, Siddhu.


  2. This is a terrible news. I am really saddened to hear this. My heartfelt condolences to Archana and family.
    I dont know, however, what words can offer at terrible times like this. Did Alok have any history of heart problem at all?

    I am sure that Alok will always be remembered for his hard work, positive attitude and the large number of excellent students he trained. I am also sure
    that all of his friends at IOP, will
    be a pillar of support to Archana.

  3. This is a shocking tragedy, almost impossible to believe. Alok has been a major presence on our scene for such a long time. His enthusiasm and pro-active nature were admirable and he's also guided more students than most of us. I remember spending time with him last August in Geneva - together with some others we had a long drive in the Swiss countryside.

    Hard to accept that we won't be seeing him again. He has touched all of our lives and will long be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to the family.


  4. This has been a great tragedy. It is hard to find words to describe it.

    Alok has been a significant figure in the Indian string community for a long time. He has always been extremely kind to the younger generation and has supervised many students. But what I valued most about Alok is his honesty; he never compromised on his principles and hesitated to voice his opinion. I hope we can live up to his standard.

    I met him first in Maryland many years ago when he was a graduate student there. We were staying with a friend who shared an apartment with Alok. But we hardly saw Alok as he was always busy at work. Since then I have met him many times; at various conferences and also for an extended period during my sabbatical at IOP. Alok was always full of life and a lot of fun.

    I had close interaction with Alok this summer at Florence where we were staying in the same building. We had several dinners together and discussed many things. Then I met him again in Rome. That was the last time I met him personally. I cannot believe that I shall not see him again.

    I hope Alok's memory gives Archana and Siddhu courage to survive this loss.

  5. I cannot imagine that I will no longer have those long discussions wth Alok over tea. His enthusisam and dedication touched everyone, and his scientific contributions helped the Indian String Theory community reach the top place in the world.

    My deepest condolences for Archana and Sidhhu and all my friends and colleagues at IOP.

  6. It is really shocking and very hard to believe that
    Alok is no more and we won't be able to see his smiling
    face again. When I first got the news, I could not
    believe it and was very curious to know how and what
    happened. So, I was trying to get some information
    and after talking to Sudipta, I came to know that
    he was not feeling well for the last ten days. From
    the symptom and some blood test results it appears to
    me that he had Na+/K+ deficiency in his blood. This could be fatal if not treated in time. The treatment is simple - one needs these supplements either through IV injection or orally by some tablets. It seems to me that the doctor was misguiding and mistreating him. In fact the night before he died, his face was swollen. He had vomitted and he was prescribed antacid. But his case is a clear-cut case of Na+/K+ deficiency for which he remained completely untreated. My mother had similar problem a few years ago and that is how I came to know about it. This really made me angry with our medical system, but have no idea what to do.

    We were very good friends and I will miss him. Our families also knew each other. My heartfelt condolences to Archana and Siddhu. This is a very difficult time for them, particularly, little Siddhu who was very close to Alok. I have no words to express my feeling to them.


  7. It was really shocking to suddenly hear that Alok is no more.
    I spoke to Somen, when i heard about it, who said that a doctor
    had even seen him the previous evening, and said that there
    was nothing serious. It is unfortunate that even in a place
    like BBSR, which has comparatively better health facilities and
    doctors, that something like this can happen.

    I remember Alok in his early years in IOP, always
    surrounded by his students. He also spent some time
    in HRI. I've also visited IOP several times where
    we not only met him but also his family.
    I last met Alok in early March with Archana and Sidhu and some
    other people in his house, and last spoke to him a couple
    of months ago, in connection with another tragedy, Jaideep
    Majumdar's death of brain tumour. It seems unimaginable
    that this time, it is he who is no more.

    My heart goes out to Archana and Sidhu. When all of us find
    it so difficult to believe that a person so full of life
    has passed away, and one will no longer meet and talk to him,
    it is hard to imagine how the family will accept it.
    My deepest condolences to them and to the rest of the
    IOP community.

  8. I am really distressed that the second time I am visiting this common string webpage is to offer condolences yet again. Coming so close on the heels of Jaydeep passing away, it is really a terrible set of events that have struck our community. To see someone like Alok, in his prime, cut off just like that is cruel beyond words. If it is indeed true that it was medical carelessness that is even more shocking and irreconciliable.

    Alok was such an important member of our community. His energy and commitment are known to all of us. I keep recalling the last time I met him in IOP about six months ago where he was as usual full of questions and brimming with life. I can imagine the devastation his wife and son must be experiencing. My heart goes out to them and I wish they are able to come to terms with this void in their life.

  9. Alok was well known and universally liked, even outside the string community. I recall his cheerfulness and laughter. And I have seen how he was literally worshipped by his students.
    I hope Archana and Siddhu will take some comfort from the fact that Alok left an indelible impression on so many.
    My heartfelt condolences to Archana and his family.

  10. I was travelling with friends through a valley near Kullu, enjoying its beauty along with the old songs that played in the car when I was hit by the intelligence. Coming to terms with it was, and still is, impossible. A strange trance of numbness froze my feelings --- it was impossible to picture Alok without the radiant vivacity. Suddenly the song changed bringing me out of the spell. The new song was: yaad aa raha hai.

  11. I was shocked and devastated when I heard of the sudden and unexpected death of Alok, a former collaborator. I remember that I met him for the first time in 1999 at CERN, where, in his open manner, he directly approach me with a number of very good question concerning my work at that time.
    Impressed by his intellectual thrill and his friendly manner, I directly invited him to visit us at the Humboldt-University in Berlin. He came for a week and we had long and production discussions resulting in a paper on Type O strings.
    The last time I met him was just a couple of months ago at the GGI workshop in Florence, where we talked and had dinner together. Nothing indicated that these days were the beginning of his last summer.
    I cannot imagine that this should be the last time that I will ever see him.
    The string theory community in India and the world has lost one of its most enthusiastic members. Alok dedicated (part of) his life to string theory, a theory still very much of the speculative kind.
    His ideas are still with us.

    Even though I never met his family, my thoughts and condolences are with them in this very hard time.

  12. It is really terrible that in the last few months
    i visited this page twice, both times to offer
    condolences for colleagues who passed away at
    their primes. I will remember alok as that ever
    smiling person with that broad grin and the amazing passion for physics. he was
    just so full of life that it is difficult to
    imagine things without him. my heartfelt
    condolences for his family.

    My heartfelt condolences to the family of
    Faheem Hussein. Anyone who knew Faheem will really
    miss him. Hard to believe we will not hear that
    booming laughter in the ictp corridoors any more.

  13. Amit Ghosh, SINP

    It takes time coming to terms with reality and the hard reality is Alok is no more!!

    Now there'll be only memories: at IOP, at CERN, at SINP and at so many other places where we met. Especially in Geneva where we spent so much time together.

    Apart from an extremely committed Physicist he was a
    rare person of several other qualities. It's a great loss for the country and the Scientific World.