Renowned political scientist and Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) C P Bhambri (87), known as much for his staunch secular and Marxist stance as his roaring laughter, passed away in the early hours of Sunday.
One of the founding faculty members of JNU’s Centre for Political Studies, Bhambri was born in Multan in pre-Partition Pakistan on March 28, 1933, and moved to Kanpur with his family post Partition. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
“He was battling pulmonary issues for a long time, it got worse in recent days… he passed away at 2 am. As a teacher, he went to JNU even on weekends and never missed a class,” his wife Krishna Bhambri told The Indian Express. Their son stays with them at their Vasant Kunj home. Their daughter lives in the US with her family.
He did his BA, MA and PhD from Agra University before moving to University of Michigan for his post-doctoral training in 1969-70. He had 45 years of teaching experience including in JNU, University of Rajasthan in Jaipur, and Meerut College. He served as Chairperson of CPS for three terms and was also Dean of JNU’s School of Social Sciences from 1984-86.
His prominent work, including 25 books he authored, was on Indian politics. He focused especially on Hindutva politics seen through a critical lens.
In the aftermath of the 2016 incident on campus when three students were arrested for sedition, Bhambri was among those who spoke against the attack on JNU and demanded their release.
Prof Kuldeep Mathur, who taught with Bhambri in Jaipur and JNU, said his academics was linked with current affairs: “He had discussions in class, and always asked me every morning if I had read the newspaper, if I was aware of what was happening in the political scene… He was a committed secularist and was critical of the Rightist, Hindutva movement.”
Retd JNU Prof Anuradha Chenoy, who was Bhambri’s student, said he was a “friend” to students, had a great sense of humour and a loud laugh: “… He put life into whatever he taught us. His humour was great… Once in our classroom, only one fan was working, so he said — ‘let’s have socialism, put off all the fans’.”
Bhambri was cremated Sunday. A virtual memorial meet by CPS is scheduled for Monday.
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