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A great intellectual
By Marcus Dam
Barun De (who died on July 16 after a protracted illness) cannot just be considered a fountain of knowledge on the history of colonial India. He was a teacher who believed in the oral intellectual tradition of Bengal and one who provided a larger perspective on events, thanks to his training as a historian. So, his students, who had the opportunity to hear him speak, benefited the most from his deep erudition.

Personally, I feel Barun De was a great conversationalist and fully enjoyed a typical Bengali adda (informal chat sessions). I was never his formal student but I learnt a great deal from him in informal settings.

His work focussed on the British colonial rule during the 18 century and early 19 century. In the early part of his life, he wrote about the British colonial period particularly about a military leader, Henry Dundas. In the latter part of his life, he wrote essays on Bengal Renaissance.

His D.Phil thesis in Oxford was on Dundas, better known for his role in Britain’s wars against France. It was Barun De who highlighted Dundas’s role in the British colonial conquest of India in the late 18 and early 19 century.

Barun De edited an important collection called “Perspectives in Social Sciences” and wrote essays in honour of Sushobhan Sarkar, who was his teacher at the Presidency College. Yet, he did not write or publish as much as he might have. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge and, as a teacher, was helpful to many budding historians.

In the latter part of his life, he wrote essays on the Bengal Renaissance. In Bengal, we tend to celebrate the great Renaissance of the 19 century. However, Barun De had a critical perspective on its colonial context from a Marxist point of view.

He had a sterling presence in the city’s intellectual circle. In addition to being a fine academician, he was also an institution builder, a rare quality among teachers. He was founder-director of two important institutions — one, the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, which he set up in 1973 and that we used to refer to as “Barun De Centre”; the other, the Maulana Azad Institute of Asian Studies, set up in 1993.

I have heard stories of how in the late 1950s, four major academic personalities — economist Amartya Sen, historians Tapan Raychaudhuri, Partha Sarathi Gupta and Barun De — travelled together in a ship headed to England. With the demise of Barun De, we have lost a key member of a galaxy of great intellectuals of that generation.

My first association with Barun De was when I was an undergraduate student at Presidency College. The last time I saw him alive was in January 2013 at the Sisir Kumar Bose Memorial Lecture, an annual lecture in the name of my father. He had come to listen to a lecture by the British historian Robert Travers on “Post-Plassey Bengal”.

As usual, Barun De stood up from the audience and asked the most intelligent and perceptive question and made the most insightful comment after the lecture.
(As told to The Hindu by historian Sugata Bose)

Prime Minister mourns Indiresan's death

The Prime Minister has mourned the death of Prof. P. V. Indiresan.

Dr. Manmohan Singh in his condolence message to Mrs. Jaya Indiresan described Prof Indiresan as a respected educationist, an admired teacher and an exceptional human being.

The following is the text of the Prime Minister's condolence message:

"It is with a deep grief that I learnt of the passing away of your husband, Prof. P. V. Indiresan.

Prof. Indiresan was a respected educationist, an admired teacher and an exceptional human being. His contributions to higher technical education and policy issues related to innovation and education, in the country were invaluable. During his long and illustrious career, especially the period of working at the IITs, he served the nation with great distinction. The awards and citations, both national and international, that he received are testimony to his unique qualities as a researcher and teacher. His passing away has left a void that would be very difficult to fill.

In this hour of your bereavement, please accept my heartfelt condolences. I pray that God grant you and the family the strength to bear this grievous loss."

 

 

 Obituary : Economist G K Chadha is no more

NEW DELHI : Noted economist, Pof G.K. Chadha died here on March 1 following a heart attack. He was 73.

 

Carrying an enviable clout in the PriG K Chadhame Minister's Office, he mentored many Punjabi dons who now grace vice-chancellor's post in various universities. He was appointed first president of the SAARC-established South Asian University here and was associated with it since its inception in 2008.

Born in 1940, Chadha was also the former vice chancellor and professor emeritus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Chadha had also served as member of the Economic Advisory Council to the prime minister and chaired the UGC Pay Review Committee (Sixth Pay Commission) for university and college teachers.

He has written 16 books besides contributing 98 research papers to national and international research journals on various development issues relating to India and other developing countries of Asia, notably South-Asia, Indonesia and China.

Despite his ill health lately he was appointed a member of the search committees for central universities of Rajasthan and Punjab.

He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

His death was mourned in Chandigarh by Panjab University (PU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Arun K Grover, teachers and students who expressed grief over his sudden demise.

Prof Chadha did his Masters and Doctorate in Economics from the PU, where he also served as faculty member and chairman of the Department of Economics. Later, he joined Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Historian Barun De is no more

CALCUTTA : Barun De, the eloquent historian who specialised in India’s social and economic history in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Bengal Renaissance and British constitutional history, died in Calcutta on July 16, 2013 after a prolonged illness.Barun De

He was 81 and is survived by wife Rama Bai, son Bikramjit and daughter Urmila.

De, who was born in October 30, 1932, into an illustrious Brahmo family, studied at Presidency College, where his teacher was eminent historian Sushobhan Chandra Sarkar. Years later, his son, Professor Sumit Sarkar, studied under De in the same college. After his graduation, De went to St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, to complete a second BA in history, and later obtained an MA from the University of Oxford.

In the late 1950s, De was lecturer at Calcutta University. He completed his D.Phil in Indian history at Nuffield College, Oxford, in 1961. His Oxford thesis, completed under the supervision of Dr C.C. Davies, was entitled Henry Dundas and the Government of India: A Study in Constitutional Ideas.

De has held several prestigious academic positions since, and was a member of many organisations. He set up institutions like the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences and the Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies.

He was senior professor of social and economic history at IIM Calcutta and director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences for two terms from 1973 to 1993. He was Maulana Azad Fellow at the Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies.

De was also chairman of the West Bengal Heritage Commission from 2008 to 2011, on the board of trustees of the Victoria Memorial Hall and a member of the governing body of Indian Museum.

His former student, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a former vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati, said: “In a simple word he was a veritable fountain of knowledge.” Calcutta University VC Suranjan Das, another former student of De, spoke of De’s ability to inspire students to think afresh and the ability to set up institutions.

Tapati Guha-Thakurta, director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, said De was an inspiring figure and a scholar with a wide range. He was an important academician who looked for people from diverse disciplines to join the centre.

P V Indiresan passes away in Pune

NEW DELHI : Top educationist and a professor of electronics and electrical engineering Dr P V Indiresan passed away in a Pune hotel room on SundayP V Indiresan February 24 morning. He was 84, but quite active.

His son-in-law in Vasant Vihar here said that he had gone to Pune to chair the Election Commission’s technical committee meet on EVMs. He is survived by his wife Jayalakshmi, two daughters and a son.

His last rites were performed on February 26 at Delhi, family sources said.

Former director of IIT Madras, he fought and won a couple of landmark cases in country's technical education history and headed some of the most important committees in higher education.

Indiresan taught for forty years in the IIT system and was Director, IIT Madras. He was a past President of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers and of the Indian National Academy of Engineering. Among his several awards are the Padma Bhushan, Honarary Member ship of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers, US, and the Honorary Doctorate from the Karnataka Technical University.

A graduate from the Indian Institute of Science, Indiresan did his doctorate from Birmingham University and began his teaching career at Rourkee University (now an IIT). After serving as Director, IIT Madras, for five years (1979-84), he stayed on as a Professor at this IIT for a year, before going to Germany on a teaching assignment for another year. He then moved to IIT Delhi where he retired at the age of 65 after teaching for 40 years.
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Debo Prasad Barooah is dead

GUWAHATI : Former Vice-Chancellor of Gauhati University, Debo Prasad Barooah, passed away here on January 28 in a city hospital. He wasDebo Prasad Barooah 83.

He was an ideologue of the anti-foreigner movement in Assam and was the vice-chancellor of GU from January 26, 1986, to January 25, 1991. Before that, he was the head of the political science department and dean of the faculty of arts of the university.

Highly regarded for his knowledge of political science and history of the region, he was admitted to International Hospital on January 23 where he was recuperating from pneumonia, but later suffered cardiac arrest. The end came around 4 pm , according to family members.

Born on October 1, 1930 in Guwahati, he had a brilliant academic record beginning with his graduation in 1954. In his postgraduation he topped his class. He did his D Phil on the thesis Indo-British Relations 1950-60.

He started teaching as a lecturer in History in 1957 and later served as a reader in Political Science.

Barooah was Professor and Head of Political Science from 1978 till his elevation as the university vice-chancellor in 1986. He served his five-year term with great distinction and contributed to the growth of the institution.

As an academic he mentored many students and researchers and acted as guide to 23 scholars. He was involved in several post-retirement assignments, including his association with the University Grants Commission. He was UGC Emeritus Fellow for two years. He was also Senior Associate of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.

Barooah, till after his retirement, produced a large number of research papers, which are highly regarded in intellectual circles. Some of those have been published in national and international journals.

Some of his published works include : World History, Indo-British Relations 1950-60, World War I and II and Other Essays, Aspects of History of Assam, Karagaror Diary, among others.

Peopled thronged his Kharghuli residence after his death, and mourners included a cross-section of people. Gauhati University VC O K Medhi said that his passing away was not just a loss for the University but for entire Assam.

Barooah was born to Taraprasad Barooah and Jibankumari Devi on October 1, 1930, at Bharalumukh. He passed Class X from Golaghat Government Higher Secondary School, graduated with first class in 1954 and got masters from Gauhati University in 1956.

Barooah played a role in organising the first political convention of the AGP in Golaghat in October 1985. But he stayed away from direct involvement with any political party.

Gaokhonor Pora Jogotkhonoi and Swadesh aru Swajatir Dostabej are two of the books written by Barooah.

AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said, “He was with us since the days of the Assam Movement. He gave us suggestions whenever we approached him. Today, we have lost a good adviser.”

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi condoled his demise.

Ramdas P Shenoy

BANGALORE : Dr. Ramdas P Shenoy, former Director of the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), a unit under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bangalore, passed away after a brief illness, on 16th Aug 2012, according to a statement issued by the DRDO.

"Considered the father of Radar research and development in the country and an internationally acclaimed expert in Radar, Dr. Shenoy was the Director of LRDE from 15 Nov 1973 to 27 April 1987" the press release states. He initiated the development of many contemporary radars in DRDO, many of which are presently in service with the armed forces.

He was also responsible for the development of many communication systems for the armed forces.

He was one of the first Distinguished Scientists of DRDO and was conferred the Padma Shri award by the Government of India in 1987. After his retirement from DRDO in 1989, he pursued his research interests as a visiting professor in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the DRDO in 2002. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

 

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