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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 10 New Delhi February 27, 2016

Prof Randhir Singh, Teacher with a Difference

Sunday 28 February 2016


by Ranbir Singh

The passing away of Prof Randhir Singh of the University of Delhi on January 31, 2016 has resulted in an irreparable lost to the discipline of Political Science. He was, indeed, a teacher with a difference in many ways.

Firstly, he was one of those rare teachers who gave priority to the interests of their students instead of getting higher posts through research manipulating their promotions. So much so that he concentrated on teaching instead of doing Ph.D or publishing books and papers for advancing his career. He taught with a passion and communicated his lectures in a very powerful manner. He kept his students spell-bound by his skill and his deep understanding of the subject.

Secondly, Prof Singh could be placed in the category of the vanishing tribe of organic intellec- tuals or public intellectuals or academi-cians as activist. He not only used his intellect for performing his professional duties but also worked actively for the cause of the peasant, the workers, the Dalits, the tribals and the women and the minorities.

Thirdly, he was a one-man army who stopped the juggernaut of American behviouralism which had hypnotised the political scientists of India in the 1960s. He made them realise that bahavioural approach is not helpful for under-standing the political reality of India. Prof Singh also convinced them that the concepts of political development, political socialisation, political culture and political communication too are of any use for this purpose. As a matter of fact, he convinced them that it is only the Marxian approach based on class analysis which can help us in comprehending the character of the power structure in India.

Fourthly, he was an unconventional Marxist, and was not at all dogmatic in his approach. Prof Singh was not a ‘Sarkari Marxist’ who supported authoritarian regimes and state repression.

Lastly and above all, he was an excellent human being who changed the lives of all those who cared to come in his contact by encouraging and helping them from time to time. For me, who had the good fortune of coming in contact with him in 1973 when he visited Kurukshetra University on an invitation from Prof V.S. Budhraj, the then head of the Department of Political Science, for delivering a lecture. I also had the good fortune spending with him a week when both of us had gone for an on-the-spot evaluation in the Department of Political Science, Himachal Pradesh University. Prof Singh advised me to do Ph.D instead of remaining confined to teaching. He told me that it took him a long time to get recognition because of his decision to not do so. Hence his demise is a personal loss to me. So it is for a large number of his students and colleagues in Delhi and other universities of India who came into his contact during his long and never-ending innings as a great teacher even after his formal retirement.

Prof Ranbir Singh is a former Dean, Social Sciences and Academic Affairs, Kurukshetra University.