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

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A Tribute to Sushobhan Sarkar

The birth centenary of one of India's foremost historians and teacher of history at Calcutta's Presidency College for 24 years, Sushobhan Sarkar was observed in December last year. Sarkar's contributions to the study of Indian history and its historiography remain of enduring significance - especially his writings on what after him, came to be called the Bengal Renaissance. Though a Marxist historian, Sarkar never flinched from criticising aspects of Marxism that disturbed him, as seen in his assessment of Joseph Stalin and his protest over the Soviet military occupation of Prague. The best way to pay tribute, the author feels, is to fight for democratisation in Marxism and in history writing.

In December 2000 Calcutta celebrated the birth centenary of Sushobhan Sarkar who was a legendary teacher of history. The Calcutta intellectuals highlighted his long teaching career in paying tributes to him [Hiren Mukherjee 2000; R Mukherjee 2000]. Sarkar himself was proud of his teaching career. To put it in his own words: “Of course I have written scores of historical reviews and articles, but mostly in my own language (Bengali) unfamiliar to the majority in the world of scholarship. I have been fairly successful as a teacher for four decades...” [Sushobhan Sarkar 1972].

Sushobhan Sarkar taught history in Presidency College, Calcutta from 1932 to 1956. And many of India’s best historians hailing from Calcutta have been his pupils [R Mukherjee 2000]. Ranajit Guha, the noted historian of our time, dedicated his seminal work on Permanent Settlement of Bengal to his teacher: “To my teacher Professor Sushobhan Sarkar who stoked so many of my first doubts” [Ranajit Guha 1982].

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