Satish Chandra, veteran historian, dies at 95
New Delhi: Historian Satish Chandra, who brought a radically fresh perspective in understanding the causes of the Mughal Empire’s downfall, and whose textbook on medieval India was almost compulsory reading for students as well as civil service aspirants, passed away on Friday. He was 95.
“He had been hospitalised a few weeks ago,” posted JNU historian R Mahalakshmi on Facebook. The news was confirmed by historians Irfan Habib and Mridula Mukherjee. “He was on dialysis for over a decade. Yet he remained wedded to work,” said Mukherjee, a former student and colleague at JNU.
Along with S Gopal, Bipan Chandra and Romila Thapar, Satish Chandra was one of the stalwarts of JNU’s Centre of Historical Studies. His most important works include the seminal, ‘Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, 1707-1740’. But, it was his NCERT textbook ‘ Medieval India’, which earned him instant recall nationwide.
“A distinguished historian of medieval India, Prof Chandra highlighted the crisis of the jagirdari system and the collapse of the mansabdari system as the main reasons behind the downfall of the Mughal empire. His works shifted the focus from the earlierheld view which largely attributed the fall to a Hindu reaction against Aurangzeb’s religious policy,” Habib told TOIon phone from Aligarh.“Chandra was also a man with courage of conviction. He was the UGC chairman during the Emergency when the government came up with the idea that teachers should have “a code” — a potentially restrictive measure.
“Prof Chandra then issued a circular that teachers’ rights should also be included,” said Habib, adding that “he protected the Central universities from undue government intervention.”