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Prof M N Srinivas

16 November 1916 - 30 November 1999

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A pioneering, world-renowned sociologist who is credited as the father of modern Sociology and Social Anthropology in the country, Prof Srinivas began his affiliation with NIAS as the Institute’s first JRD Tata Visiting Professor. Educated at Bombay University and Oxford, he was recognised both in India and abroad for his work and held visiting positions at many international universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford, and Cornell. He was also Joint Director at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore. His 1978 book, The Remembered Village, is considered a seminal work that greatly furthered field research in Indian Sociology. Cited as having coined terms like ‘vote bank’ and ‘dominant caste’ that have become part of everyday language, his contributions to Indian sociology (that included his training and mentoring of many of India’s prominent modern sociologists) remain invaluable.

Prof Srinivas introduced research in Sociology and Social Anthropology to NIAS, and believed that the institute should undertake sociological research that encompassed inter disciplinary activities, thereby underscoring one of the tenets of NIAS - to further inter-disciplinary understanding and action. During his tenure, he was Chair of the Library Committee, and instrumental in policy making for the then fledgling Institute. Prof. Srinivas was a beloved figure at NIAS, and was known for his simplicity of speech and manner, as well as his tremendous dedication to any activity, writing, or lecture. With a ready wit, and a willingness to engage in conversation on any number of topics - for his interests varied from food and malt whiskey to cricket, pipes, detective novels, and art - Prof. Srinivas was an espouser and champion of ideas and new ways of thinking and doing. Weeks before his death, Prof. Srinivas spoke at NIAS on “Obituary on Caste as a System”, setting out his view that the old economic and social relationships that were characteristic of the caste system had broken down, but that caste had survived as a means of securing access to resources of different kinds. He was an integral part of NIAS until his death in November 1999, and his work and legacy live on.


Fellow of the British Academy, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Padma Bhushan, the T N Huxley Memorial Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1976, the Kannada Rajyothsava Award in 1996, and the M.V. Pylee Award for being the “Distinguished Academician of India for the year 1996” given by the Cochin University of Science and Technology

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