Satish Chan­dra, veteran his­to­rian, dies at 95

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION - Avi­jit.Ghosh@ times­group.com

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.”

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