Doyen of sociology leaves behind void

The mortal remains of noted sociologist Hetukar Jha (73), who died at his Patna home on Saturday night, were consigned to flames at his native village Sarisab Pahi in Madhubani on Sunday.

  • Published 21.08.17
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HETUKAR JHA
1944-2017

The mortal remains of noted sociologist Hetukar Jha (73), who died at his Patna home on Saturday night, were consigned to flames at his native village Sarisab Pahi in Madhubani on Sunday.

A doyen of his subject, he had been ailing for the past three months.

"Recently we had come back from Delhi after a check-up and doctors there had told us that he was suffering from malignancy of liver and nothing much could be done to reverse the condition," Jha's elder son Tejkar Jha told The Telegraph over phone from Sarisab Pahi.

Jha's last academic book, Historical Sociology in India, was released globally by Routledge India, in 2015.

Having written 27 books in a career spanning over five decades, Jha had also written a novel in Maithili, Kakra Le Arjab Hey, published six months back.

"He was a simple soul and remained engaged in academics till his last days which narrates his commitment to the field he was associated with," said Shaibal Gupta, social scientist and member-secretary of Asian Development Research Institute (Adri).

Shaibal recalled how Jha had agreed to chair a session when Adri organised an event earlier this year to mark its silver jubilee. "No one can fill the void created by the departure of a scholar like Hetukar Jha," he added.

Jha also used to edit one rare book on Bihar every year during the annual function of the Maharajadhiraja Kameshwar Singh Kalyani Foundation, Darbhanga, with which he was associated.

Jha had got 16 such rare books released through this foundation and he would invite eminent persons for its annual lecture series, including Andre Beteille, Yogendra Singh and Dipankar Gupta.

Dipankar Gupta said: "I am very sad he has gone. We had met in Patna a few months back. He looked a bit frail but I never thought he'd be leaving us so soon. Professor Jha did not know the meaning of hauteur, or of self-importance. He treated me as more than his equal which I certainly was not. It was not just me, but this was his general attitude towards people. His commitment to scholarship was pure and unadulterated. Recognition or keeping up with the latest trends were none of his concerns. His academic knowledge of tradition was exceptional and yet he would be the last person to publicise this. He was one of the most generous, forgiving and honest persons I have met. He was genuinely committed to his culture and heritage but did not display this aspect with pride but with love - a truly exceptional trait. We shall all miss him very much."

In a rare interview to The Telegraph in December 2015, Jha had revealed that prior to joining as an undergraduate sociology student at Patna College in 1963, he was pursuing engineering but left the course midway as he didn't enjoy studying the subject. He did his post-graduation from Patna University in 1967 and later joined the university as a teacher. He had retired from service in 2004 but for him retirement never meant rest.

Right from early morning one could find him sitting on his wooden chair at home, reading some book or writing some note.

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