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

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Remembering M N Srinivas

His ethical stance toward thinking and knowing and a basic fascination with exploring the boundaries of human thought made M N Srinivas, forever, a child of ideas. His most biting comments were reserved for ideologues and ideologies, those that refused to participate in the play and pleasure of new ideas and expressions.

It is not an accident that the The Re-   membered Village is one of the semi-   nal books by M N Srinivas. This book stands as a monument to the many beliefs he cherished: the power of memory and the importance of remembering, the need to possess the eye of the novelist in understanding people and society, the honesty of the intellect in any intellectual process, and simplicity of expression that is itself so complex to achieve. This book is not just an ethnographic account of Rampura – it is also about the sensitivity of memory and the ethics of re-membering. It is this ethics of honesty, simplicity and integrity that allowed him to re-member Rampura, an ethics that marked his approach to intellectual thought until the end. In our re-collection of Srinivas, in the texts we create of the “Remembered Srinivas”, it is these qualities of remembrance that we need to hold and cherish.

Remembrance is not always an act that we enter into when a person is no longer with us. Remembrance is primarily about presence and absence. It is the creation of a narrative of that which is absent. It is the quality of the void, of an absence, that incites the move to remember. This absence is not marked only by life and death. We remember the absent and in the process of remembering construct a presence of the absent. We remember the living as much as we do the dead but our stories and memories of the living are fundamentally different from those of the dead. Our remembrance of the living is one that is always potentially open to a response from the person who is remembered, always open to the potentiality of acceptance and rejection. The memory of the dead, the re-membering of the dead, carries within it the angst, the acceptance that this response can never be had. This remembrance is a voice offered to the void and because of this, those of us who remember the dead have to invest in ourselves the ethics of speaking for ourselves as well as the person who is no more with us. It is this ethics of remembrance, of speaking both for oneself and the other, that Srinivas so elegantly exemplified in his intellectual life.

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