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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 15, March 28, 2009

Smitu Kothari Is No More

Thursday 2 April 2009

Distinguished environmentalist and prominent scholar-activist Smitu Kothari is no more. He passed away at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on March 23.

Smitu, 59, was attending a Delhi Solidarity Group meeting at the Indian Social Institute in the Capital on March 20 when he suffered severe chest pain; he was rushed to the AIIMS but later discharged from there as his ECG was found to be normal. However, according to a release issue by the Delhi Solidarity Group, “the next day doctors did a detailed investigation, where it was found that he had developed a serious rupture on his main artery” necessitating immediate surgery. During the surgery there was intense bleeding—while the complication stemming from this development was finally tackled and the bleeding eventually stopped, Smitu collapsed during the post-operative care to a cardiac arrest in the morning of March 23 and breathed his last soon thereafter.

Through Lokayan (Dialogue of the People) and Intercultural Resources, the two centres of which he was among the founders, Smitu strove to promote exchange and understanding between non-party political formations as well as concerned scholars and other citizens of the country and from abroad. Trained in physics, communications and sociology, he taught in the US. He was intimately connected with ecological, cultural and human rights issues and deeply involved in efforts to evolve an alternative development paradigm which was both socially just and eco-friendly.

He leaves behind his wife, Bindiya, and his daughter who is in the US.

A large band of friends and associates attended his funeral at the Lodhi electric crematorium on March 23 to share the grief of his irreparable loss with his father, Prof Rajni Kothari, and brothers, Miloon and Ashish. (His mother died a few years ago.)

A memorial service, held at the Chinmaya Mission on May 26, was also widely attended. Speaking on the occasion, Miloon recalled how Smitu had developed compassion and love for music from his mother and a lifelong commitment to stand by the downtrodden and the dispossessed from his father.

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