Prof Rajni Kothari, a highly respected political scientist, scholar and socially concerned individual passed away in Delhi on January 19, 2015. He was 86 years. He authored and edited a large number of publications and won international recognition, especially for his work on the economic and political problems of developing countries.
Among those who attended his last rites were senior Supreme Court advocate and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan, civil rights activist Swami Agnivesh, leading scholar Pratap Bhanu Mehta, art historian Kapila Vatsyayan, former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar, social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan and politician and former journalist Arun Shourie, as well as many other well known academics and social activists.
Born in 1928, Kothari spent his childhood in Burma and completed his education from Public School, Mumbai and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He was actively involved with student and labour issues while in college and was jailed during the Royal Indian Naval Mutiny in 1946. Later he studied at London School of Economics.
He began his career as aprofessor in the M.S. University in Vadodara and in 1963 set up his own Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. a social sciences and humanities research institute, based in Delhi, and Lokayan (Dialogue of the People), started in 1980 as a forum for interaction between activists and intellectuals. Lokayan was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, also known as “Alternative Nobel” in 1985.
During his career, Kothari was also associated with Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), holding the post of Chairman for some time, the International Foundation for Development Alternatives and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). His best known books are Politics in India (1970), Caste in Indian Politics (1973) and Rethinking Democracy (2005).
Kothari was General Secretary of PUCL from 1982 to 1984, and subsequently its President. He was also a member of the Planning Commission. He was also associated with a number of UN bodies and programmes, including being Special Advisor to the Rector of the United Nations University, author of the conceptual paper on Environment and Development for the UNEP/ESCAP Workshops on Alternative Development Strategies and Lifestyles, and a Consultant to UNESCO on State and Nation Building.
In 2002 published his memoirs titled, Memoirs: Uneasy is the Life of the Mind.
Read tributes to Prof Kothari
Shiv Vishwanathan in Mumbai Mirror
Tribute - Partha Chatterjee (Columbia University)
Tributes at Cremation – Indian Express
Obituary – Livemint
Tribute by Yogendra Yadav
Obituary - Business Standard
Tribute - Jai Sen
Click here to read
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