A Brief history
(Based on the proceedings of the Executive Committee meeting from 1946 to December 2011)
On the initiative of some teachers of the Zoology Department, Calcutta University and some Biology teachers of different affiliated Colleges, a provisional committee was constituted to form a Zoological Society for the Zoologist and lovers of Zoology. For this purpose a meeting was convened by late Prof. S. P. Ray Chaudhuri on December 11, 1945 which was presided over by Prof. T.C. Nandi of Bangabasi College. The Society was named “The Zoological Society of Bengal”, to be located at the Department of Zoology, 35, Ballygunge Circular Road, Calcutta-700 019.
The object of the Society was “ to form an association of workers in the field of Zoology for furtherance of the cause of Zoology and Zoologists. The Society shall achieve this purpose through the presentation and discussion of new and important facts and problems of Zoology and through the adoption of such measure as shall tend to the advancement and popularisation of Zoology, specially in its applied aspect. The Society shall co-operate with other societies of similar nature for purposes of common interest.
A detailed constitution was drafted and passed in the inaugural meeting of the Zoological Society of Bengal on 27.01.1946. This meeting was presided over by the renowned Zoologist late Dr. S. L. Hora, the then Director of the Zoological Survey of India. In this meeting the first Executive Committee was formed where late Prof. H. K. Mookherjee was elected the first President of the Zoological Society of Bengal, the position which Prof. Mukherjee held till his untimely death in 1955. The First Annual General meeting was held for two days on 25th and 26th April 1948 – one day was exclusively programmed for holding a Scientific session. The Second Annual General meeting was honoured by the presence of H. E. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Governor of Bengal.
Like all new organisations a reserve fund was a problem for the Society also. This was initially overcome by a generous outright donation of Rs.1,000/- from late R. C. Banerjee through an eminent physician late Dr. Ajit Nath Raychaudhuri, father of late Prof. D. N. Raychaudhuri. Incidentally Prof. D. N. Raychaudhuri was the first student Asst. Secretary of this Society. Similar donation of Rs. 1,000/- was received from Dr. S. C. Law, one of the leading Ornithologists of our country. In the formative stage, the Society could proudly highlight names of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Latifur Rahman, Maharaja Srish Ch. Nandy of Cossimbazer, Dr. S. C. Law, Mr. M. L. Shaw and others as its life members.
The Executive Committee was very active in trying to raise the financial position of the Society. For this purpose the members took immediate steps for the publication of a Practical Note Book for the Intermediate Science Biology Course (Zoology portion) of the Calcutta University. This laboratory note book helped all the students of Biology to maintain an academic standard throughout Bengal and also helped the Society to shoulder its financial burdens. Publication of such laboratory note books for the students of Zoology under the University is still being maintained by the Society at undergraduate level.
The Executive Committee in 1948 decided to establish co-operation with the Managing Committee of the Zoological Gardens, Alipore. The Secretary, Zoological gardens agreed to it. Subsequently a representative of the Society was coopted in the Managing Committee of the gardens. The Board of Wild life also coopted a member of the Society. But this representation to both Zoological garden and the Board of wildlife did not last long.
After the establishment of the Society, the newly elected Executive Committee at a meeting on 11.5.1946 felt the need for the publication of a journal exclusively for zoological researches which, indeed, was not existing at that time. The publication was named as Proceeding of the Zoological Society of Bengal (Proc. zool. Soc., Bengal) and acted as an organ of the Society. The first issue (Vol. I, No. I) was published in March, 1948 under the editorship of late Prof. J. L. Bhaduri. The name of the journal, however, was changed to “Proceeding of the Zoological Society, Calcutta, as the name of the Society was changed from ‘ The Zoological Society of Bengal ‘ to ‘The Zoological Society, Calcutta in 1954. In the monthly meetings original scientific research papers were read which were subsequently published in the Proceedings of the Society. Lectures by eminent scientists, both from home and abroad, were arranged from time to time. This arrangement of lectures is still being maintained; only departure from previous practice is that papers published in the Proceedings are not read in the ordinary meetings. Uptil now the Society has been publishing two issues per year and has been able to publish the Volume 64 in 2011. However, presently the proceedings is being published in collaboration with the Springer India (Pvt.) Ltd.
Apart from the publication of the regular ‘Proceeding’ the Society has published a prestigious volume entitled “H. K. Mookherjee memorial volume in May 1957 where original scientific articles from India and abroad have been incorporated. This volume contains articles of noted scientists like J.B.S. Haldane, H. Spurway, P. C. Koller, M. J. D. White, H. Mossman, G. S. Carter and C. H. Waddington. In 1976 the volume 29 of the proceedings was dedicated to the memory of late Prof. M. M. Chakravarty. The contributors to this volume were C. A. Hoare, N. D. Levine, J. O. Corliss and J. Weiser. Two volumes of “Annual Review of Zoology” (1970-75) were published in 1974 and 1976 containing a number of interesting articles. Society also published a prestigious monograph on “Aphids of North- East India & Bhutan”. On the occasion of the Birth Centenary of Prof. J. B. S. Haldane, the Society has published the J.B.S. Haldane Commemoration volume. Prof. Haldane was associated with the Society as an honoured member. Contributors to the commemoration volume are the world-renowned scientists in their respective fields, and included of E. Mayr, W. J. Bock, K. Vickerman, G. F. Bennett, R. L. Hazelwood, F. Accordi, N. D. Clark, J. Y. L. Yu, K. Harula, H. Kobayashi and H. A. Bern. In a dignified gathering, Mr. D. J. Sloan, First Secretary, British Deputy High Commission, British Council Division released the volume on June 13, 1994 at British Council auditorium, Calcutta.
The Society gratefully acknowledges a grant of Rs.2000/- per year from the Govt. of West Bengal, towards the publication of the ‘Proceedings’ since 1950, which is unfortunately discontinued. The Society also gratefully acknowledges the grants from the Dept. of Science & Technology, Government of India, New Delhi, Rs.15,000/- (1990), Rs.15,000/- (1993), Rs.20,000/- (1995), Rs.20,000/- (1996), Rs.20,000/- (1997),Rs.40,000/- (1999), Rs.20,000/- (2000), Rs.40,000/- (2002), Rs.40,000/- (2003), Rs.80,000/- (2005), Rs.50,000/- (2006), Rs.50,000/- (2007), towards the publication of the Proceedings.
As per amendment of the constitution of the Society on 15th October, 1961, introduction of FELLOWSHIPS (honoris causa) was accepted by the Society as a mark of recognition of celebrated Zoologists. The selected fellows can use F.Z.S. (Cal.) after their names. This award is made at the Annual General Meeting. Subsequently, the Society has been awarding many medals and awards to promote different field of research activities in Zoology at its annual general meeting. The Society has reregistered under West Bengal Societies Act as “The Zoological Society, Kolkata” on March 27, 2003 as previous registration was lapsed.
Since its inception the Society has been facing problem of space to house its office and Library. It was due to the magnanimity of Prof. H. K. Mookherjee and later Prof. J. L. Bhaduri (both Heads of the Department) that the Society was allowed some space in the Department of Zoology. An attempt was made in 1953 by the Ex. Committee to raise a building fund for the Society. Some money has been collected up till now, but this is not enough to venture on a new building on a separate land outside the zoology department. At present accrued amount in the Building Fund remain at fixed deposit of nineteen lacs of rupees only which may be utilized for the purpose. The Office and library of the Society is at present located in the annexe of the Department of Zoology, Calcutta University. This space got an official recognition from the Ex- Vice-Chancellor, Dr. B. Mallik in 1967 through the untiring efforts of Prof. J. L. Bhaduri. For holding ordinary and annual general meeting our Society has to depend on sister departments, located at Ballygunge Science College. These lectures are arranged in the lecture theatres of the Department of Geology, Anthropology, Botany, Geography, Agriculture and Biochemistry. The Society is grateful to these departments.
From its inception, the Society started a library of its owns, displaying different journals and reprints which are received from different parts of the globe. It will not be out of place to mention here that the library has been enriched by some donations of books, journals, entire collections etc. from Late Prof. J. L. Bhaduri, Prof. S. P. Raychauhduri, Prof. M. M. Chakravarty, Prof. A. K. Bhowmick and many others. Dr. K. K. Misra has donated the collection of “Nature” from Vol.413 (2001) to 461 (2009). The Zoological Survey of India has also donated different important books on varied aspects. The Society is religiously maintaining these invaluable collections. The present increase in the number of books, reprints and journals has posed a tremendous problem for their proper display and arrangements. Recently, however, the Society has been able to purchase few almirahs and racks for proper display. The subsequent printed list will give an idea of the number and variety of publication received by the library.
The Society is now enjoy the Income Tax exemption facility under section 12AA and 80G(5)(vi) of I.T. Act, 1961. The Society has its Website – www.zskol.org
Visitors book of the Society is enriched by signatures of stalwarts who from the inception, visited the Society and delivered lectures to the members. Names of some of them are given below:
Prof. H. Munro Fox, Prof. J. B. S. Haldane, Dr. Helen Spurway, Prof. Alexander Wolsky, Prof. P.C. Koll, Prof. Sajima Makina, Prof. H. J. Muller, Prof. E. B. Ford, Prof. Curt Stern, Dr. L. P. Brongesma, Prof. R. A. Fisher, Prof. A. C. Harday, Academician A. J. Oparin, Prof. G. B. Moore, Prof. L. Gallien, Prof. Dr. H. Lettre, A team of Russian Zoologist led by Dr. J. A. L. Cooke, Dr. S. L. Hora, Prof. M. L. Roonwal Mr. Salim Ali, Mr. T. Z. Zakhidor, President of the Academy of Science of Uzbekistan, Dr. Gilhan M. King (England), Dr. Allan G. Farman (USA), Dr. Lokesh Bhattacharyya, (USA), Dr. Debdas Mukherjee (USA), Dr. Jayanti Ray Chowdhury (USA), Dr. Abhiram Sahu (USA), Dr. Kazumi Hoshide (Japan), Dr. Seiichiro Kawashima (Japan), Dr. Satyabrata Nandi (California), Dr. Somes C. Guha (USA), Dr. Mrinal K. Das (Canada), Dr. Tapan K. Banerji (Galveston), Dr. S. K. Mahata (USA), Dr. Asoke K. Mal (USA), Dr. H. Ridge (U.K.), Dr. Sen Pathak (USA), Dr. R. Natarajan (USA), Dr. S. C. Basak (USA), Prof. S. A. Huam (USA), Prof. Bon-chu Chung (Taiwan), Dr. J. H. Cooper (U.K.), Dr. John Mattick (USA), Dr. James J. Godsil (USA).
The Zoological Society has entered 66th year of its life. It has gained a lot of experience, lot of name and fame and has been able to attract the attention of Zoologists of home and abroad. Still all-round expansion is hindered due to lack of proper accommodation for the library and specially a lecture auditorium of its own. The library is positively becoming popular specially among the younger scientist by the display of current journals in the reading room and addition of reprints and other text books in the book shelf.
We can all look forward for an all out attempt for the removal of space problem bringing the publication of the journal at par with the current year, motivate all lovers of zoology to become members and such other progressive approaches. Will it be too much of an expectation ?