SR Mehrotra (1931-2019)

Dinyar Patel's picture

SR Mehrotra, a prominent historian of the Indian nationalist movement and a retired professor of history at the University of Himachal Pradesh, passed away last week in Shimla. He was 88.

Professor Mehrotra was a remarkable individual. He had an unrivaled command of the archival collections of Indian nationalist leaders and an encylopedic knowledge of the development of the Indian National Congress. He is best known for his works The Emergence of the Indian National Congress (1971, republished in 2004) and A History of the Indian National Congress: Volume One (1995). He remained enormously productive through his mid-80s, publishing a book on Pranjivan Mehta (Mahatma Gandhi's friend and benefactor), working on a series of volumes of Allan Octavian Hume's writings, and writing on Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He was a familiar face at archives and libraries across India, and his passing has deeply saddened the Indian archival community, leave alone those of us who study the Indian nationalist movement.

I have written a short obituary piece here:

Best regards,

Dinyar Patel

Assistant Professor of History, University of South Carolina

Thank you for posting the brief obit of Professor SR Mehrotra in H-Asia today. It is indeed a great loss. I first met Prof. Mehrotra at the canteen of the National Archives of India back in 1997. He and his wife happened to sit at the same table as me, and when he introduced himself, I must confess that I did a little namaste out of respect, for I had read India and the Commonwealth and Towards India's Freedom and Partition for my PhD comprehensive examinations. Later, when I attended a conference on Partition, he kindly introduced me to Professors P;S. Gupta and R.J. Moore. A result of the Gupta contact was the publication of an essay of mine in The British Raj and Its Indian Armed Forces (2002), which Professor Gupta co-edited.

Dr Mehrotra and I later lost touch, but in early 2008, when I again was at the NAI to research my latest book, he was very kind. In fact, I acknowledged him in my latest book with these words:

"Professor S.R. Mehrotra very kindly urged the NAI staff to do their utmost to help me, because I was “a first-class scholar who’s come all the way from Canada!” I hope this book makes me worthy of that description."

He also praised my 2013 article on the Imperial Cadet Corps, writing that it was impressive in term of research and written in such a way so as to make military history interesting.

He shall be missed!
Chandar S. Sundaram, Ph.D., (McGill)