Noted sociologist Meera Kosambi, the youngest daughter of the great historian and mathematician D.D. Kosambi, passed away at a private hospital in Pune on Thursday after a brief illness aged 75.
Ms. Kosambi, who did not marry, had an illustrious academic pedigree. Her father, a polymath, was India’s pre-eminent Marxist historian, while her grandfather was the renowned Buddhist scholar and Pali language expert, Acharya Dharmananda Damodar Kosambi.
Ms. Kosambi, who did her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Stockholm, wrote, co-wrote or edited more than 15 books which reflected a lifelong preoccupation and passion for with the notion of the modern, emancipated Indian woman.
While all her works are shot through with brilliant and incisive scholarship, Ms. Kosambi’s crowning achievement was to turn the light on Pandita Ramambai, the great 19 century Indian reformer and educationist and early pioneer of women’s emancipation in India.
Through her splendid translations of Returning the American Gaze: Pandita Ramabai’s the people of the United States (1889) and a volume of Ramabai’s Selected Works, Ms. Kosambi was instrumental in salvaging the great reformer’s reputation from the debris of time and restoring Pandita Ramabai to the pedestal of one of Modern India’s most illustrious figures.
A wide-ranging writer and intellectual, she authored numerous essays and books on topics ranging from Marathi theatre to the social ecology of Mumbai.
She retired as a professor and director of the Research Centre for Women’s Studies, a post that she held for a decade, at the SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai.