Arbind Kumar Lal (01-01-1966 to 07-03-2021), Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, IIT Kanpur, left this mortal world after suffering a heart attack while walking to a research discussion with colleagues. Born at Uttara (Madhubani district, Bihar) to Smt Sushila Devi and Shri Lekh Narayan Lal, he completed his schooling from Sainik School, Tilaiyaa in 1983 and then proceeded to obtain BA (Math, Honors; 1983-86) from Hansraj College, Delhi. Following this, he did an M Stat (1986-88) and PhD (1988-93), both from ISI Delhi. After brief stints at TIFR Mumbai and HRI Allahabad, Arbind joined IIT Kanpur as a faculty in the Department of Mathematics (since renamed as Department of Mathematics & Statistics), in 1996. That year, he also married the love of his life, Niyati Padhi, with whom he has two children, Ayanesh (born 8th August 2001) and Nilisha (born 7th February, 2003).
Arbind served IIT Kanpur in an exemplary manner till his sudden demise. His research expertise was in areas related to linear algebra, graph theory and combinatorics. He made seminal contributions to algebraic connectivity and distance matrix of graphs and also introduced weakly quasi-threshold graphs. He was deeply committed to mathematics education and conducted several summer schools and workshops across the country for faculty and students alike. His linear algebra notes are widely used and appreciated for their lucid exposition of fundamental concepts. Arbind ably conducted mathematics UG institute core courses for very large classes multiple times and received several Senate commendations for outstanding teaching. In addition to his crystal clear lectures, students universally loved him for his genuine concern and support for their well-being. He also contributed liberally to Institute administration, prominent mentions including Head of the Department (Mathematics and Statistics), Chairman of the Senate Undergraduate Committee, President of the Staff Gymkhana, Games Counsellor, and Vice-chairman, GATE.
Arbind was an embodiment of sportsmanship and excelled as a badminton player. Popularly known as “net Samrat”, his net play and drop shots with pin-point accuracy took the breath away of the best of players. He was a regular sight in the early mornings at the courts, even during the last months before his sudden tragic demise.
Arbind possessed a brilliant intellect that rested on the foundation of a soft, generous and genuine heart. He brought a contagious intensity and passion to all that he did, regardless of whether it was mundane or lofty work. So much so that everyone took it for granted, that if Arbind is doing it, it shall be a job well done. The gentlest of souls with an ever smiling disposition and willingness to help, he treated all as his own and was the epitome of sincere, honest, selfless service to the profession and the society at large. He was accommodating to a fault, both in life as well as in passing away, leaving behind a panorama of cherished memories for all who came in touch with him. The smile, the full hearty laugh along with the words “khush raho”, shall remain etched forever in our memories.
While Arbind may have left this mortal world, his spirit lives on in all beings of goodwill and those who cherish him deep in their hearts. Rest in Peace, dearest Arbind, for you are now the beacon reminding us of all that makes life worth living and dying for.
Dheeraj Sanghi (wrote on 19th March 2021)
I am deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Prof. Arbind Lal. IIT Kanpur has lost a great academician and I have lost a great friend. We have worked very closely in multiple roles. Most prominent among them was when he was the Chairman of Senate Under-Graduate Committee and I was the Dean of Academic Affairs. He was totally immersed in the ethos of IIT Kanpur of flexibility and always supported students in whatever they wanted to do. Always smiling, so full of life.
This is one void that even time would find difficult to fill. May his soul rest in peace.
Bhaba Kumar Sarma (wrote on 17th March 2021)
It was really difficult to come to the terms that Arbind is no more with us. The warmth of his heart for one and all was so conspicuous and spontaneous that he will live close to the heart of everyone who came across his way. I had never seen him saying no to a call for a help, academic or otherwise, as long as it would benefit a needy. Though we were batch-mates in Delhi University during eighties, we met closely in around 2002, and instantly became good friends. I wished we could walk some more distance together?
Goodbye Arbind, my friend.
Ranveer (wrote on 12th March 2021)
Prof. AK Lal was my Ph.D. thesis examiner. He came earlier than the scheduled time in the hall where my thesis defense was to be done. I didn't know him by the face at that time. As I was anxiously roaming around the podium of the hall, he asked in a loud voice, who taught you Economics at IIT Kanpur? I told him that I forgot the name of the faculty, but it was a female faculty. 'She is my wife!!', he said with a big smiling face. Then we talk for few minutes before the defense presentation begins, the talk lowered my nervousness. When the presentation finished, and the question-answer session was completed, he asked me a question. 'Ok, so you invested long 5 years in Ph.D., which result (theorem) of yours you enjoyed the most?' I happily told him the result I enjoyed the most. The defense was done, clapping started. He made the defense so easygoing, and that last question I always remember. Last year, I saw him at a conference at ISI Delhi on the retirement of Prof. RB Bapat, he made the conference so lively and delightful. Since then I was in touch with him for guidance, and also working with him. I can't believe he is no more. RIP sir.
Dr Sushnata K Pathy (wrote on 12th March 2021)
During my few interactions with Professor Lal, I observed him as a very jolly and cordial nice gentleman. My deepest condolences to Niyati madam and family. I wish God may give her the courage to bear this huge loss. May the soul rest in peace. Om Shanti.
Dr. Ashutosh Tripathi (wrote on 12th March 2021)
Shocked to hear the news. May his soul rest in peace. May his family gets strength to bear the loss. My condolences. Om Shanti Om. Regards
Gautam Sengupta (wrote on 12th March 2021)
Still unable to come to terms with the sudden and tragic demise of my colleague, friend and neighbour for last 19 years Prof. Arbind Kumar Lal. For my family and myself it is like losing a member. It is unbelievable that such a kind and caring individual so full of life could be snatched away so cruelly from us. We stand by the bereaved family in their hour of grief and irreparable loss.
Rajat Gupta (wrote on 12th March 2021)
I am very sad to hear this news.
I am sharing one memory which will never fade:
remember, I was a M.Sc student and I did really bad in my first semester and he was teaching us Linear Algebra. He was one to whom I approached first. He told me don't worry about the grades just learn the subject. His famous line, which I will never forget "Just write down the things while reading."
He was the true motivation for me throughout my MSc.
Whenever I came to IIT Kanpur, I always went to his office, and he always ask about my academic life, where are my other batchmates, what they are doing, and the best thing was, he knew almost every one of us by our names. Few days back, I was thinking to meet him, and wanted to thank him for all the support.
I really lost a friend, a mentor, a true motivator.
We will miss you sir! You will always be remembered among your students.
Dr Sabyasachi Sarkar (wrote on 11th March 2021)
We served together as wardens in one of the hostels of IITK long ago and I remember his help for smooth operation.With pleasing personality and smiling face of Arbind I feel sad that the left us. My condolences to all his family members. Om Shanti.
Deepa (wrote on 11th March 2021)
Lal Sir's office never intimidated us. Sometimes we used to display overtly entitled behavior in our demand for help. No matter where we were placed on academic scale, we could accost him with ease, and he never failed us. An epitome of patience for his students, he was always available to help and guide in personal capacity. Failure to express this gratitude while he was with us, feels like a reprehensible behavior now. It is a lifelong aspiration-to imbibe his zeal for life and love for humanity. His memories are going to guide the course of our lives.
Sukanta Pati (wrote on 11th March 2021)
I am unable to accept his absence. He has always shown his support for me. We have collaborated as a team in many articles. Even now also, some work is still pending at my desk. I wish I could have completed it quickly. He was always there for me. Be it research discussion, family visit or anything.
Nitin Kaistha (wrote on 11th March 2021)
Rest in Peace, O dearest one. It has truly been a privilege to have shared your company. May you keep smiling into eternity and may we meet again and share a laugh in the hereafter...
Sayantan Roy (wrote on 11th March 2021)
I learned Subject Algebra MTH 204 from him and I also admire the problem-solving techniques of him. I use some of his techniques in my teaching as well. I lost my two Teachers Dr Sudipta Dutta and now Dr A.K.Lal. My sincere condolence to his grieved family. Rest in peace Sir.
Pankaj Jain (wrote on 11th March 2021)
I interacted with Arbind a lot through badminton. We had some memorable tournament wins as a doubles team.
As with everyone else, I had differences with Arbind also. These ended with a hug which is forever embedded in my memory.
J Sarangi (wrote on 11th March 2021)
The untimely tragic death of Prof A K Lal is unbelievable to me. I met him HC one hour before his death. His smiling face I still remember. He was fully active and smiling. I sometimes wonder why Almighty recalls such nice individuals who work to give His creation happiness.
May God help all his family members to over come this irreparable loss.
(wrote on 11th March 2021)
Every time we met, generally over walk in the evenings, he appeared full of energy. He would laugh loudly after sharing a joke. He was a good friend. I will miss him.
(wrote on 10th March 2021)
Irreparable personal loss.
(wrote on 10th March 2021)
I am finding it difficult to come to terms with this harsh reality. I have lost a well wisher and a dynamic young colleague. Our bonding with Arbind has been so strong that we always took him for granted for any help during crisis or even for trivial matters. Arbind did not have the word "NO" in his dictionary when it came to helping others. Students are going to miss him in a big way as he was always available to them for any kind of help (academic or personal). Institute has lost a dedicated academician and an academic leader having extraordinary passion for teaching and improving overall academics.