Historian Hari Vasudevan passes away in Kolkata aged 68, after contracting coronavirus

Best known for his expertise on European and Russian politics and history, Hari Vasudevan had tested positive for the coronavirus two days after being admitted to the hospital on 4 May.

FP Staff May 10, 2020 15:32:44 IST
Historian Hari Vasudevan passes away in Kolkata aged 68, after contracting coronavirus

Historian Hari Vasudevan, best known for his expertise on European and Russian politics and history, passed away on Sunday around 1 am, at a private hospital in Kolkata.

The 68-year-old had tested positive for the coronavirus two days after being admitted to the facility on 4 May. Soon after, he was put on ventilator on account of developing respiratory distress. According to attending doctors, Vasudevan had other chronic conditions as well.

The historian held a doctoral degree from Cambridge University, and was affiliated with several institutions, like Calcutta University (Professor Emeritus), Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, Cornell University in the US, and London's King’s College, among others. Besides, Vasudevan had also served on various government educational panels, the most noteworthy among which was his stint as the chairman of the textbook development committee for the social sciences of the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training), from 2005.

Historian Hari Vasudevan passes away in Kolkata aged 68 after contracting coronavirus

Hari Vasudevan. Image via Twitter.

Later, in a 2012 article, the academic had condemned the Manmohan Singh government's move of expunging a satirical cartoon from one of the textbooks. In June 2018, he expressed his concerns on the modification of content in textbooks under the government led by Narendra Modi.

Vasudevan was also a widely-published author and columnist. His latest book, Footsteps of Afanasii Nikitin: Travels through Eurasia and India in the Early 21st Century, published in 2015, traces the route of the 'Nikitin Expedition' (named after the 16th century Russian merchant) organised in 2006-2007 by the Adventurers and Explorers Society in Delhi. It builds on the research in his preceding book titled Shadows of Substance: Indo-Russian Trade and Military Technical Cooperation (2010), which explored India's relationship with Eurasia.

The scholar was the director of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (an autonomous establishment under the Ministry of Culture) till 2013. He was also the president of the Institute of Development Studies in Kolkata, besides being a Visiting Distinguished Fellow at the Observer's Research Foundation.

In a statement issued on Sunday, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar condoled the passing of the historian. “A multifaceted person, he made his mark while being involved in a formal consultative capacity with projects/institutions of the Ministry of Culture, MHRD, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India and was Chairman of the Textbook Development Committee for the Social Sciences of the NCERT from 2005. His contributions to society will be ever recalled. May his soul rest in peace."

Hari Vasudevan's brother is renowned film scholar, Ravi Vasudevan. He is survived by his wife, historian Tapati Guha-Thakurta, and daughter Mrinalini.

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