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Obituary: Prof. Bipan Chandra

Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

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Prof. Bipan Chandra, Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, passed away on August 30 2014. The following is a tribute to his memory by the faculty of CHS. “Bipan”, for that is how staff and students at CHS will always remember him, was one of the most inspiring historians of his time and an educationist in the widest sense. There was never anything halfhearted about him. As teacher, scholar and public citizen he crackled with energy. He made generation after generation of students at the CHS believe that history really did matter, and that it shaped individual and collective possibilities in unique ways. “Bipan’s” ability to appeal to a range of students, irrespective of gender, caste and region, and to demonstrate a profound and sincere affection for them will never be forgotten. He wrote his history with a firm eye to contemporary relevance and made his studies of nationalism engaging and vivid. His historical concerns were crafted by a strong commitment to a non-dogmatic Marxism, coupled with a great belief in the uniqueness of India’s anti-colonial and nationalist movements, and the absolute necessity to battle against communalism. Appreciative of theory though firm in his concern with ‘specificity’ , “Bipan” gave us themes we could take into the archives, a set of questions we could debate tempestuously, and which would follow us into our futures wherever they led. These concerns have stood firmly with the CHS-family irrespective of whether individuals agreed or disagreed with him on the finer points of the discipline or on specific themes. “Bipan”and his generation made CHS a space where staff and students found it impossible to lapse into indifference about the design and content of what was on offer.The CHS undoubtedly became a better place because he was there.

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