Professor Papiya Ghosh
It was my great fortune to be neighbour to Papiya during six happy months at the Indian Institute for Advanced Studies in Shimla in 1995. Papiya was on leave from her home city and university of Patna. She had a very friendly and warm personality, a powerful voice and infectious laugh, and was supportive of all her many friends. She was not above putting them straight when they needed to be, without causing offence.
Papiya was born on 8th October 1953,the third of four daughters. Her father, an IAS I officer, was murdered in 1957, and she and her sisters was brought up by her mother. Papiya completed her M.A., M.Phil and Doctorate at Delhi University, in Modern Indian History, working on the Civil Disobedience Movement in Bihar, 1930-34. After Delhi, she chose to go back to Patna Women’s College. This decision was not only driven by her commitment to provide support to her widowed mother, who was now alone, but also to contribute to the restoration of academic standards in Bihar. In 1991 on promotion she moved to the Department of History in the Patna University. Her research related, inter-alia, to the impact of Partition, the plight of Dalit Muslims, Peoples’ Movements, Popular Syncretic and Culture, Secularism.
Papiya was murdered in her home in Patna along with her female servant on December 3rd 2006. The crime shocked India. Her grieving family have created a web-site www.papiyaghosh.com as a record of her inspiring life and manifold achievements, and to demand justice. The site accepts messages of condolence and stories about her from her many friends. Her last book “Partition and the South Asian Diaspora- Extending the Subcontinent” was published posthumously in January 2007, and presented to both President Kalam and PM Manmohan Singh.
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