Mizoram has been left with a large void with the passing away of scientist and innovator C Rokhuma. Rokhuma died at the age of 99 at his Mission Vengthlang home here on Wednesday morning. It is to be noted that Rokhuma suffered from bronchitis since sometime back, but recovered from the illness recently. He breathed his last around 11.30 am and is survived by six children, several grand-children and great grand-children.
He was born in Reiek village in Mizoram in 1917. Due to the World War brewing, he could only study till Class VII. However, that didn’t prove to be a hindrance in his scientific pursuits as he had amassed a huge treasure of knowledge by reading books. After serving in the British-Indian army, he joined as a sub-inspector of schools in the then Mizo Hills district under Assam Government.
Notable works and recognition
In Mizoram, the cyclic bamboo flowering triggered a rodent population boom. These rodents would attack the paddy fields and would ultimately lead to famine. To counter this issue, the scientist formed an Anti-Famine Campaign Organisation in 1951. He undertook a lot of scientific research on bamboo flowering and its consequent multiplication of rodents during this period.
All this research led to him coming up with an insecticide which he named the ‘RK Mixture’. This helped the orange farmers fight insects attacking their crops. Not being content only doing scientific research, he took to writing. He wrote a lot of books, articles and translated many of them from English to Mizo.
In the mid-2000s, it was predicted that the bamboo flowering cycle would recur again. This led him to be one of the most sought after person in local, national and even international media. He then suggested that the Government pay Rs 2 as cash award to villagers for producing every tail of a killed rat as evidence. The campaign was a huge success making him the toast of the people of Mizoram. This also earned him the moniker ‘Mizoram’s Pied Piper .
In 1992, the Government of India awarded him Padmashree in recognition of his tireless battle against the rodent population. Till the last count, over four lakh rat tails have been deposited with the agriculture department.