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Akshaykumar Ramanlal Desai

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Akshaykumar Ramanlal Desai (26 April 1915-12 November 1994)was an Indian Sociologist[1], Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology in Bombay University| in 1969[2] [3] and was President of Indian Sociological Society| (1980-81).[4]His most notable work is Social background of Indian Nationalism in which he offered a Marxist analysis of the genesis of Indian Nationalism during the British rule which created an impact regarding path to socialism in India.[5]He was honored with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru National Award Social Sciences by Government of Madhya Pradesh, India in 1987.[6]He was President of the fifteenth All India Sociological Conference held at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh , India in 1981.[7]

Early life[edit | edit source]

He was born in Nadiad in the state of Gujrat in India in a Nagar Brahmin| Family.His father Ramanlal Desai| was an eminent author in Gujrati language and civil servant of the Baroda state whose nationalistic views influenced him in his early years.As a teenager he participated in anti-imperialist movements in Baroda,Surat and Bombay and also as he pursued higher education.[5][3].He was member of the Communist Party of India(CPI)in 1934 and the Revolutionary Socialist Partyin 1953 . He was also influenced by the writings of Karl Marx , Engles and Leon Trotsky and became a Trotskyist Marxist in his ideology.[5].He joined in 1932 the labor movement and in 1936 joined the peasant and Trade Union|movement [3]

Education and career[edit | edit source]

He completed his graduation in Political Science and Economics in 1935 and after completing LLB became a practicing lawyer in 1943 to help those in movements.He got his PhD under Dr G S Ghurye in 1946 and began his career in Sociology as a college lecturer in Bombay in 1946 .In 1951 he became a faculty member in the department of sociology in Bombay University.During his tenure in Bombay University he guided about 28 researchers in various subjects. He wrote both in Gujrati and English and many of his works have been translated into other languages.He was invited to participate in the first world congress in Rural Sociology held in France in 1964.In 1971 he visited the Soviet Union as a senior fellow under Cultural Exchange Program , participated in a seminar in Columbia Universityin 1976 after his retirement from the University and 1977 and visited Bangkok for a seminar on Population growth and Economic Development in Sub-national areas He was deputed to Canada in 1980 by the University Grants Commission to the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute| Foundation.[3]

Honors[edit | edit source]

He was ICSSR Senior Fellow(1973-1975) and was its National Fellow (1980-85). He was member of various academic bodies and visiting committees approved by UGC and ICSSR. He was President of Gujrat Sociological Society in 1980 [3]

Perspectives and contributions[edit | edit source]

He consistently advocated and applied the dialectic| model in his sociological studies.He may be regarded as one of the pioneers in introducing modern Marxist approach to empirical investigations involving bibliographic and field research.Desai's works included a number of edited volumes on rural sociology, urbanization, labor movements, peasant struggles, modernization, religion and democratic rights and he also developed the field of political sociology in the 1960's.His study of the inherent contradiction and class character of the Indian National Movement was his important contribution of the pre 1950 era and his edited volume on Rural Sociology was a major turning point and pacesetter in the field of agararian studies. In an anthology he also included studies on peasant struggles carried out by historians and social scientists of diverse orientations. In many of his works he was vocal about the repressive role played by the post-independence capitalist state in India which violated the democratic rights of women ,slumdwellers, minorities,press, as also of Adivasis and Dalits while protecting the propertied classes [8] Desai viewed Indian society from a macro and meso perspective, much differently from the micro (village) perspective by studying structures like nationalism ,agrarian structures, classes, state,capitalism and peasant struggles.[9][3].He documented the history of the working class in India unknown or unrecorded before to which he included the entire oppressed sections of society selling their labor powers to the market to which he also included the struggles of unorganized workers.He also questioned mainstream sociology's conservative positions and presented an interdisciplinary viewpoint[10] He gave notice to the mainstream that Marxism had a place in sociology and also provided a forum for radical minded scholars to broaden their horizons of research.[11]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

He married late Dr.Neera Desai in 1947. Their only son Mihir Desai is a human rights lawyer.[3]

Selected Publications[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • DesaiA.R.(first published 1948) Social Background of Indian Nationalism,Popular Prakashan BombayISBN 9386042258
  • DesaiA.R.(2005) Rural India in transition,Popular Prakshan, BombayISBN 9788171540167
  • DesaiA.R.(1984)India's Path of development - A Marxist approach.Popular Prakashan, BombayISBN 9780861320646
  • DesaiA.R.(1976)Essays in Modernization of Underdeveloped Societies ,Humanities Press,OCLC 6247475
  • DesaiA.R. Wilfred De'costa(1994)State and Repressive Culture-a case study of Gujrath, South Asia BooksISBN 8171547028
  • Desai A.R.Devidas Pillai(1990) Slums and urbanization in India.
  • DesaiA.R.(1986) Agrarian Struggles in India after Independence,Oxford University PressISBN 978-0195616811
  • Desai A.R.,Uday Mehta(1993) Modern God men in India- A Sociological Appraisal, Bombay Popular PrakashanISBN 8171547087ISBN 9788171547081
  • DesaiA.R.(1960)Recent trends in Indian nationalism -supplement to social background of Indian Nationalism. Popular PrakashanISBN 8171540422
  • Desai A.R.(1990) Changing profile of rural India and human Rights of the agrarian poor-an assessment of strategy of rural development since independenceOCLC 831288893
  • Desai A.R.(2008)state and society in India -Essays in dissentASIN B073WYLW4F(First published 1975)
  • DesaiA.R.(1980) Urban Family and Family Planning in India.
  • Desai A.R.Sunil Dighe(1988)- Labor Movement in India-(1928-1930)vol.9,10,11ISBN 8173070881
  • DesaiA.R., Punekar, Vericayill, Savur, Dighe, Ganesh Labor Movement in India vol 5(1923-27)-Indian Council of Historical Research ISBN 8173070954


Edited volumes[edit | edit source]

Selected journal articles[edit | edit source]

Felicitation volumes[edit | edit source]

  • Desai A.R.,Shah Ghanashyam(1990) Capitalist Development-Critical Essays-Felicitation Volume in Honor of Prof.A.R.DesaiISBN 0861322703
  • Desai A.R.(ed.)Manorama Savur, Indra Munshi Contradictions in Indian Society- Essays in honor of ARDesai(1995)Rawat Publications.

External link[edit | edit source]

Professor Desai's Curriculum Vitae


Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. "Desai Akshaykumar Ramanlal". Library of Congress Name Authority File. 
  2. Momin, A.R. "University of Bombay , Department of Sociology". Sociology at University of Bombay. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Chattopadhyaya, Kaushik. "Akshay Ramanlal Desai- an anti-imperialist Indian Sociologist". Academia.edu. 
  4. "Office bearers over the years". Indian Sociological Society. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kar, Samit (2015). "Remembering ARDesai- Marxist Approach to Sociology". Economic and Political Weekly. 50 (17). 
  6. "Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru National Award Social Science" (PDF). Government of MadhyaPradeshAwards. 
  7. "A Report of the All India Sociological ConferenceHeld Meerut". Sociological Bulletin. 30 (1): 89–94. 1981. JSTOR 23619213. 
  8. Mondal, Puja (2014-04-11). "Akshay Ramanlal Desai-Biography and Contribution to Indian Sociology". Your Article Library. 
  9. Patel, S. "Anthropology in the East-Founders of Indian Sociology and Anthropology". Academia.edu. 
  10. Patel, Sujata. "Social Anthropology or Marxist Sociology Assessing the contesting sociological visions of MNSrinivas and ARDesai". Academia.edu. 
  11. Dipankar Gupta, Mohammad Talib (1994). "Obituaries". Sociological Bulletin. 43 (2): 265–267. JSTOR 23620395. 
  12. Desai, Akshaykumar. "Articles - EPW". Economic and Political Weekly. 



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