Prolific scholar of South Asian politics: The Tribune India
Paul Brass, an American political scientist who knew Hindi and traced the evolution of politics and communal violence in post-independence UP, has died. He was 85 years old.
His three-volume biography of former prime minister and farmer leader Charan Singh, which has been translated into Hindi, gives a clear idea of how intimately he knew post-independence politics in then-unknown hamlets such as Chapprauli and Garh Mukteshwar.
“Paul Brass does not hesitate to criticize the community side of his subject. In the first volume, he pulls some very uncomfortable nuances from Charan Singh. In hindsight, some of his remarks on the community issue sound an uncanny familiarity with the kind of vitriol that passes in the name of majority identity politics-dominated nationalism these days,” recalls journalist Prabhat Shunglu who translated the first volume. (1937-1961) in Hindi.
Future political scientists of this era in India remember his seminal work on community politics such as his lucid articles in “Economic and Political Weekly” on “institutionalized systems of riot production” and his books “Riots and Pogroms” ( 1996) and “The Politics of India since Independence” (1994).
“Paul was a prolific and original scholar who explored comparative and South Asian politics, ethnic politics, and communalism,” wrote his lifelong friend Frank Conlon, professor emeritus of history at the University of Washington.