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

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A Tribute to Aparna Basu

She Recovered Many Histories

Aparna Basu had all the credentials of a high-flying scholar—a PhD from the University of Cambridge, a job as professor of history at the University of Delhi, membership of the editorial board of several academic journals like the Indian Journal of Gender Studies and Indian Economic and Social History Review, to mention only a couple. She was the University Grants Commission (UGC) convener of the national subject panel on history and archaeology and was on the governing body of colleges, schools and institutions. In the last couple of decades, Aparna curated exhibitions and wrote biographies and life stories of interesting people, including members of her illustrious family. She passed away on 3 December 2018 at the age of 87.

The meticulousness and brilliance of Aparna’s scholarly works can be evinced from the fact that her doctoral thesis grew into a published and significant book called The Growth of Education and Political Development in India, 1898–1920. The book, which is the scholarly production of her lively and enthusiastic mind, is thoroughly documented in both unpublished and published primary sources, and is buttressed with maps and tables based on the public and private papers of the administrators, and four important leaders of the national movement. It has two major themes: the Government of India’s attempted control of education, and the development of education under the social pressures of the time. Arising from these two are the effect of will, or the lack of it, upon governmental projects, and the deadening effect of bureaucracy upon all creative activity. Her thesis and the book are significant contributions to the study of the links between education and politics in India about which there are far too many myths, and too little systematic research.

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