ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Remembering Arvind Das

Arvind Das's career was marked by his balancing act, carried out over many years, between academia and media. He needed academia for reflection and introspection; the media enabled him to address a much wider audience and appealed to his urge for immediacy. Global-local, history-sociology, praxis-theory, academia-media, in Arvind's perception these labels were not mutually exclusive. Rather than separating them in his work and writings he sought linkages among them.

Arvind N Das is no more. He died in Amsterdam on August 6 at the far too young age of 51. He hadn’t been in good health for some time but had underestimated, as we all did, the seriousness of the rare disease that affected him. His mind worked as usual, so why complain about bodily afflictions? They would go away again but, unhappily, he went instead. In his usual style, while on the move. He had reassured me only a day earlier that all was well and under control. Some pain once in a while, he conceded, and then to his chagrin he had to stop reading Romila Thapar’s latest, and that was bad because he had promised to review it for Biblio’s next issue. Arvind, you must change your way of life, I told him, and how will you do that? Ah, we shall see, he smiled dismissively. Only now we know that he was living on borrowed time and that his lifespan was about to be cut short.

Arvind’s career was marked by his balancing act, carried out over many years, between academia and media. He needed academia for reflection and introspection; the media enabled him to address a much wider audience and appealed to his urge for immediacy. Sitting in a university department or research institute soon made him restless, but as a media professional he mourned the lack of time in which to elaborate, substantiate and follow-up. Consequently, he commuted between the two and networked across both. The intellectual and social capital that he built-up in this way made him the ideal anchor man for Biblio, the magnificent bi-monthly review of books of which he was a founder member and which he edited from the first issue in 1996. But this brings me close to the finale, while there is so much to be said about the earlier stages of Arvind’s life and work.

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