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IN MEMORIAM 2023

Compiled/ Written by Murali Kamma Email Compiled/ Written by Murali Kamma
December 2023
IN MEMORIAM 2023

 

WHO: MEENAKSHI NARAIN (Physicist)

WHEN she died: January 1, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1964)

WHAT:​ “In 2007, upon joining the faculty at Brown University, Meenakshi joined the CMS experiment at the LHC. In addition to pioneering a number of exotic searches for high-mass resonances, new heavy gauge bosons and top-quark partners, she continued to make innovative contributions to precision top-quark measurements. Her foundational work on b- and c-quark identification also paved the way for Higgs boson searches and measurements.”—CERN Courier

 

 

 


 

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WHO: BALKRISHNA DOSHI (Architect)

WHEN he died: January 24, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1927)

WHAT: “[Won] Pritzker Prize, considered architecture’s highest honor. It was the latest in a long string of awards, conferred in India and abroad, that cited his achievements as both a designer and an educator. Although he never finished architecture school himself, he founded a school of architecture in Ahmedabad, and taught there for nearly half a century. Mr. Doshi said his real education had taken place in the Paris studio of the illustrious Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier.”—The New York Times


 

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WHO: K. VISWANATH (Filmmaker)

WHEN she died: February 2, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1930)

WHAT: “During the course of his filmmaking career the themes Viswanath tackled included the Indian caste system, disability, gender discrimination, misogyny, alcoholism and the challenges faced by Indian classical performing art forms . . . He directed more than 50 films. He won at India’s National Film Awards five times. In 2017, he was accorded India’s highest film honor, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime achievement in cinema.”—Variety

 


 

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WHO: VANI JAIRAM (Author)

WHEN he died: January 29, 2022 (Year of Birth: 1934)

WHAT: “In a career spanning over five decades, the renowned singer had lent her voice to several songs across 19 languages which included Tamil Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Odiya and Bengali. Armed with a voice that lent itself effortlessly to any raga, and rasaa, she delighted audiences across the country . . . [The Padma Bhushan winner’s] big break in films came with the Hindi film Guddi in 1971, where she sang three songs for composer Vasant Desai.”—The Hindu

 


 

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WHO: PATRICK FRENCH (Author)

WHEN he died: March 16, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1966)

WHAT: “He was widely respected for his writing on India, including his chronicling of the nation’s struggle for liberation from British rule in his 1998 work, Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division . . . Among his most prominent works were The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of VS Naipaul [winner of National Book Critics Circle Award], and 2011’s India: A Portrait, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.”—The Independent (U.K.)

 


 

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WHO: VIVIAN SUNDARAM (Artist)

WHEN he died: March 29, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1943)

WHAT: “Through a practice that encompassed installation, photography, illustration, sculpture, video, and painting, Sundaram investigated social and political themes as well as those relating to popular culture and to issues surrounding perception, memory, and history. A great believer in communication and collaboration across practices, Sundaram was of the opinion that art could effect social change . . . [His mother] was the sister of pioneering painter Amrita Sher-Gil.”—Artforum

 

 


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 WHO: SALIM DURANI (Cricketer)

WHEN he died: April 2, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1934)

WHAT: “The Kabul-born Durani, who packed a punch with his bat and was also a handy left-arm orthodox bowler, played 29 Tests and was instrumental in India defeating England 2-0 in the historic five-match Test series in 1961-62, picking up eight and 10 wickets in the team’s victories at Calcutta and Madras. Durani, known for his fine dressing style and swagger, scored just one century though he had seven fifties in the 50 innings he played for the country, scoring 1,202 runs.”—Press Trust of India

  


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WHO: PAMELA CHOPRA (Singer)

WHEN she died: April 20, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1948)

WHAT: “Pamela was also a film producer and writer. She has lent her voice to songs for several hit films, including Kabhie Kabhie, Noorie, Kaala Patthar, Silsila, Chandni, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Mujhse Dosti Karoge! She has also been credited as the writer for Kabhie Kabhie and a costume designer for films like Silsila, both of which were directed by her husband Yash Chopra . . . Pamela was last seen in Netflix’s documentary series The Romantics, in which she gave several interviews . . .”—The Telegraph (India)


 

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WHO: RANAJIT GUHA (Historian)

WHEN he died: April 28, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1923)

WHAT: “[His] were stories of India from the bottom up, or as one fellow academic liked to call it: ‘insurgent history.’ Through the six volumes of Subaltern Studies that he edited between 1982 and 1989, he showed over and over how change in India had not been, as many historians would have you believe, a case of elites acting first, with the peasantry always following obediently behind. The poor and marginalised had their own ideas about the change they wanted and had always been prepared to fight for it . . .”—The Economist


 

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WHO: PADMA DESAI (Economist)

WHEN he died: April 29, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1931)

WHAT: “In a first-of-its-kind empirical analysis, she demonstrated the loss of efficiency that resulted from the misallocation of resources within the command economy, and estimated the losses suffered by each sector. Before examining the Soviet system, Desai applied the same methods to analyse different sectors in India, adapting Soviet-American economist Wassily Leontief’s techniques . . . In 2012, Desai published her inspiring memoir Breaking Out, in which she described her journey to become a free American woman . . .”—Financial Times


 

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WHO: KAVITA SINGH (Historian)

WHEN he died: July 30, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1964)

WHAT: “Singh served at the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Arts and Aesthetics, where she taught for nearly two decades . . . She was the recipient of numerous accolades including the Infosys Prize for her study of Mughal, Rajput, and Deccan art. Her work highlighted the significance of museums in creating the social impact of art and, thereby, related visual culture to large contemporary questions of secularity, modernity, and political conflict.” —Hindustan Times

 


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WHO: V. S. R. ARUNACHALAM (Scientist)

WHEN he died: August 16, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1935)

WHAT: “His distinguished career spanned across Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), National Aeronautical Laboratory, and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory. Arunachalam helmed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister from 1982-92. He was conferred the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (1980), Padma Bhushan (1985), and Padma Vibhushan (1990) for his contribution to engineering science and technology.”—India Today

 


 

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WHO: C. R. RAO (Mathematician)

WHEN he died: August 21, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1920)

WHAT: “Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao was awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics in recognition of his pioneering contributions to statistics research and education dating to 1945. Research published that year in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society, according to the international prize organization, underpinned three theorems that ‘paved the way for the modern field of statistics’ . . . [It] was the latest in a long line of honors Rao had earned.”—The Buffalo News


 

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WHO: JAYANTA MAHAPATRA (Poet)

WHEN he died: August 27, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1928)

WHAT: “Mahapatra, a distinguished contemporary poet of India, was renowned for his unique poetic style and was considered one of the founders of Indian English Poetry. His literary legacy encompasses an impressive collection of 27 books, including seven written in Odia and the remainder in English. Reflecting on his decision to return the [Padma Shri] award, Mahapatra shared, ‘It is a personal decision.’”—The Statesman 

 


 

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WHO: ADITYA ‘DICKY’ SINGH (Conservationist)

WHEN he died: September 6, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1966)

WHAT: “After quitting the IAS, Singh took a government property on lease. He continued to buy the adjacent farming land of nearly 40 acres to turn it into a reserve on the edge of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. This land later became the Bhadlav Tiger Reserve, an extension of Ranthambore Park. Apart from his conservation efforts that included guided safaris through the vast richness of Ranthambore National Park, Singh co-authored a book titled Noor: Queen of Ranthambore . . .”—The New Indian Express

 


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WHO: GITA MEHTA (Author)

WHEN he died: September 16, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1942)

WHAT: “The daughter of an Indian aviator and daredevil freedom fighter, Ms. Mehta spent years moving between three continents, living in New Delhi, London and New York . . . Warm and irreverent, with a cutting wit and a vast range of literary touchstones (Jane Austen, R.K. Narayan), she was a leading interpreter of modern Indian life, charting the complexities of a country that, as she once noted, was putting satellites into space even as its streets were clogged with ox carts.”—The Washington Post

 


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WHO: SAROJA VAIDYANATHAN (Dancer)

WHEN she died: September 21, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1937)

WHAT: “The classical dancer was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013. Vaidyanathan was known for her extensive contribution to Bharatnatyam and Carnatic music in the form of 10 full-length ballets and as many as 2,000 choreographies. Rama remembered her mother-in-law and guru for leaving a 50-year-old legacy behind in the form of Ganesa Natyalaya, a classical dance school in the national capital.”—Tribune India

 


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WHO: M. S. SWAMINATHAN (Agronomist)

WHEN he died: September 28, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1925)

WHAT: “On returning to India, Swaminathan collaborated with Borlaug in crossing Japanese and Mexican dwarf varieties of wheat, which led to the high-yield, disease-free crop strains that revolutionised world agriculture . . . Because of Swaminathan’s efforts, India went from being drought-stricken and dependent on US imports in the 1960s to being declared self-sufficient in food production in 1971. He was awarded the first World Food prize in 1987 for his work. He then turned his energies towards supporting India’s beleaguered farmers.”—The Guardian


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WHO: BISHAN SINGH BEDI (Cricketer)

WHEN she died: October 23, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1946)

WHAT: “Bedi, regarded as one of the world’s finest ever spin bowlers, captained India in 22 of his 67 Tests and took 266 wickets. He made his debut against West Indies in 1966 and played his last Test against England at The Oval in 1979. Bedi also played English county cricket for Northamptonshire and finished his career with 1,560 first-class wickets, the highest by any Indian bowler. Bedi was an integral part of a famed quartet of India’s world-beating spin bowlers in the 1960s and 70s . . .”—BBC

 


 

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 WHO: PRITHVI RAJ SINGH OBEROI (Hotelier)

WHEN he died: November 14, 2023 (Year of Birth: 1929)

WHAT: “Oberoi was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2008 for his exceptional service to the country in the fields of tourism and hospitality. Business India magazine awarded PRS Oberoi with the Businessman of the Year 2008 title for building world-class hospitality brand. He was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for redefining standards in luxury hotels.”—Business Today

 


 

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