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Remembering Professor Arvind M. Shah, a Genial Doyen of Sociology

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The news that Professor Arvind M. Shah had passed away on September 7, following a heart attack, came as a shock.

This, even though he was 89 and had lived a full life. He continued to be active in doing what he loved best – sociology.

His mind was sharp and his engagement intense. A couple of days earlier he had spoken on the phone to discuss comments he had generously sent a young colleague on an article she had written and pressed an author to submit her contribution to an edited book he was putting together, reminiscent for me of the long period I was working on my doctoral thesis under his supervision.

Professor Shah started his life in sociology as an undergraduate student at the MS University, Baroda. After a brief stint there as a teacher, he was among the first faculty members recruited by his teacher, Professor M.N. Srinivas, when sociology was started as a discipline in the University of Delhi.

When I joined the department as a young research student, Professor Srinivas had retired and there was a quartet of professors at the core – Professor M.S.A. Rao (who sadly died much before he was ready to even officially retire), Professor Uberoi, Professor Shah and Professor Beteille. The professor I had the most association with was, of course, my supervisor – Professor Shah.

The personality and work of each of the four professors were substantially different. Interactions with them, along with the many others on the faculty – if not already illustrious sociologists, certainly so in the years to come – shaped the tenor of research life. Conversations on the lawns, in the library, the corridors and stairs, in one of their rooms, in the canteen or sitting on the parapet nearby, questions and answers in the research colloquium and other seminars. Of course, at times we........

© The Wire

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