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Baviskar, B

B. S. Baviskar Late of University of Delhi, India

B S Baviskar was born in 1930 and grew up in Pilkhod village, Jalgaon District, Maharashtra. His father was a small farmer. After five years of primary school in Pilkhod, he attended high school in Chalisgaon, the nearest market town. He went on to complete a BA at Fergusson College in Pune and an MA in economics at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. He then joined the new Department of Sociology, where he studied under M.N. Srinivas and M.S.A. Rao, two giants in the field.

For his PhD research, he pioneered the study of cooperatives in India. While many of his peers focused on village studies, he recognized the importance of institutions that were creating new linkages between local, regional, and national politics. He wrote about cooperative sugar factories, whose activities spanned dozens of villages, and also studied electoral politics involving competition for seats in the state assembly. Thus he also helped pioneer ethnographic research on politics at multiple interlocking levels.

Following his initial field research, Baviskar was appointed to teach in the department where he was trained, eventually becoming a professor and head of the Department of Sociology. He was elected president of the Indian Sociological Society and at various times held visiting appointments in Britain, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Canada. He was invited to study rural development in Britain by the Arkleton Trust and was the first Indian director of the International Rural Network. In 2000, after retiring from the university, he became a senior fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences (New Delhi), where he continued working until his death.

Baviskar and Attwood were friends and then research collaborators for more than forty years. They organized binational and multi-national team research projects on cooperatives and published the results in Who Shares? Cooperatives and Rural Development (1988) and Finding the Middle Path: The Political Economy of Cooperation in Rural India (1995).

Baviskar also collaborated with others, including his distinguished colleagues, A.M. Shah and E.A. Ramaswamy. Together they edited a five-volume collection of papers in honour of M.N. Srinivas: Social Structure and Change (1996–98). With his student, Shanti George, he studied dairy cooperatives in Gujarat and raised questions about Operation Flood, India’s giant dairy development scheme. With George Mathew, director of the Institute of Social Sciences, he organized a team research project on the seventy-third constitutional amendment, published as Inclusion and Exclusion in Local Governance (2009). With Tulsi Patel he co-edited Understanding Indian Society (2010) in honour of A.M. Shah. He was also the series editor of Themes in Indian Sociology in seven volumes (2003–05).

Baviskar passed away in April 2013. He is survived by his wife, three children, three grandchildren, a sister, three brothers, and a large extended family.