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

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U R Ananthamurthy: Writer, Iconoclast, Public Intellectual

U R Ananthamurthy (1932-2014) was the quintessential public intellectual, combative on matters of public interest and unafraid to run counter to popular opinion and prejudices. He won the admiration of many and the hatred of regressive forces and one suspects the latter would have pleased him. His most lasting legacy was in focusing public attention on the perils of political Hindutva.

Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy (1932-2014), URA for short, died in the fullness of his years on 22 August, bearing with fortitude and quiet stoicism the severe pain and discomfort of several chronic illnesses during the last few years of his life. He also remained intellectually alive and active till almost the very end.

Born in a village near Tirthahalli in Shimoga district on 21 December 1932, URA had his initial education in a village school nearby, and later in Tirthahalli and Mysore. He got his BA (Honours) degree (1955 and 1956) and MA degree (1957) in English language and literature from Maharaja’s College, Mysore. Later, while working as a college teacher, he secured a PhD from Birmingham University (1966) where he studied under a Commonwealth grant. He followed the usual career trajectory of many English teachers of his generation in the old Mysore state starting as a lecturer in English in an undergraduate college in (if I am not mistaken) Hasana and in due course, after working in one or two other colleges, returned to his alma mater, Maharaja’s College, as an English teacher. Later, he joined the postgraduate department of English, which for long had been located along with other postgraduate humanities faculties in Maharaja’s College, to Manasagangotri, the centre for all postgraduate teaching and research of Mysore University.

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