Rajni Kothari, a political scientist of commanding stature and one of India's top think tanks passed away on 19 January 2015. He was 86. A known face, he wrote extensively on intellectual history, political theory, law, India’s social transformation and world affairs. An institution builder, Kothari was recipient of many national and international awards. His death was mourned by many eminent personalities and his colleagues.
Born in 1928 Kothari was the only son of his parents. His mother died early and so he was brought up by his father, a Jain trader of repute. Married in 1947, his wife died in 1999. Rajni Kothari during his eventful lifetime contributed a lot in the fiend of social and political research. An eminent scholar and political thinker Kothari also served as member of the Planning Commission during the national front Government led by V P Singh. Noted for his works like Politics in India, Caste in Indian Politics, Rethinking Democracy, Kothari was recipient of Right Livelihood Award, also known as the People’s Nobel Prize.
Kothari began his career as a lecturer at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Baroda University). A prolific writer his essays series, "Form and Substance in Indian Politics" published in Economic and Political Weekly (then Economic Weekly) brought him into limelight. At the same time he also wrote for various journals and newspapers. His writing in Seminar, a journal published by Romesh Thapar on various topics was well appreciated. During this time he was also invited by noted Professor Shyama Charan Dubey to become the Assistant Director of the National Institute of Community Development, Mussoorie. After moving to Delhi in 1963 he used his personal grant of Rs. 70,000 started Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). During initial years CSDS was located within the premises of the Indian Adult Education Association at Indraprastha Estate before moving to its present location in Civil Lines, Delhi. It was here that he alongwith others like Ashis Nandy, Ramashray Roy, D.L. Sheth, Bashiruddin Ahmed and others delivered pioneering works in social sciences like Politics in India (1970), Caste in Indian Politics (1973) and Footsteps into the Future (1975).
After his brief association with Indira Gandhi in during the early 1970s, he came close to Jaya Prakash Narayan and the Janata Party. Post emergency, he moved away from active politics. His career as an activist saw the foundation of Lokayan - Dialogue of the People in 1980 which is a forum for interaction between activists and intellectuals. Kothari was also associated with number of prestigious institutions like People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), and International Foundation for Development Alternatives. An avid writer he wrote numerous scholarly articles, columns, and in 2002 published his memoirs titled, Memoirs: Uneasy is the Life of the Mind.
Illness and Death
Suffering from urinary tract ailment he died on 19 January 2015 at his residence at Patparganj in East Delhi. “He was not keeping well for the last two years. He died of old-age,” a family member said. He was survived by his two sons Miloon and Ashish.
Sreenivasan Jain: Sad to hear of the death of Rajni Kothari, political scientist, and one of the foremost public intellectuals of an earlier era.
Pritish Nandy : India's greatest living political thinker died last week. Rajni Kothari's passing away was hardly noticed.
Kavitha Kalvakuntla: Rajni Kothari who died yesterday was a renowned political scientist. He encouraged alternative thinking. RIP Professor Kothari.
Prof. Kothari dedicated his life towards understanding the socio-political scenario of India. Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and Swami Pranavananda Award in Political Science he has number of books to his credits. With his demise the country lost a great political thinker and an analyst.
Children: Miloon and Ashish
(FAN OF Shri RAJNI KOTHARI)
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