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

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A True Teacher and Comrade

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It is difficult to come to terms with the abrupt and untimely death of our colleague, teacher, mentor, and above all, affectionate friend, Sharit Bhowmik in Bangkok. He was on his usual trips to various workshops, seminars and policy consultations to ensure the protection of rights and justice for workers in informal employment, the most vulnerable section of the workforce. He was scheduled to return from Bangkok on 28 August 2016, to go to South Africa for yet another meeting. He spoke about meeting me for a longer chat, but it was not to happen. He passed away on 8 September 2016. Sharit’s—he insisted I address him by his first name—unassuming and friendly persona just refuses to fade away into the realm of memory—the “was.”

As one of the pioneers in the field of sociology of labour, Sharit made leading and resolute contributions to bring to the fore the debates around the issues of marginalisation and injustice confronted by the most vulnerable sections in our society. Sharit started his scholarly academic engagements with studies of workers in the organised sector, the tea gardens for instance, as they represented the militant force involved in workers’ movements. His first book, Class Formation in the Plantation System and his later study on the “Rural–Urban Link of Industrial Workers” in the context of the Bokaro Steel Plant, represented this concern.

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