Remembering Ishwar Modi (1940-2017)

Leisure Studies was his Passion

It was early morning on Tuesday, May 23 in Ahmedabad (India) when I received a distressing call from Professor B.K. Nagla about the sad passing of Professor Ishwar Modi at the age of 76. There are certain personalities who never die even after death because their ideas, memories and affectionate actions live on forever. Professor Ishwar Modi was one such personality. For global sociology in general and Indian sociology in particular the year 2017 will be remembered for two sad departures: first we lost Professor D.N. Dhanagre and now Professor Ishwar Modi.

Professor Modi began his academic career as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India in 1974. I followed two years later. From the beginning Ishwar Prasad Modi was one of faculty’s and students’ favorites in the social sciences. He completed his PhD in the field of Leisure Studies under the guidance of the distinguished scholar, Professor Yogendra Singh. His academic career embraced multiple achievements. He served sociology as President of the Indian Sociological Society and President of the Rajasthan Sociological Association. His engagement with global sociology began in 1986 when the ISA World Congress was held in Delhi. He motivated a large number of students of sociology to participate in the World Congress as well as in other international conferences, and encouraged young faculty members to join the International Sociological Association.

Professor Modi was deeply committed to distributing global knowledge of sociology to Hindi-speaking students. He was instrumental in publishing Global Dialogue, the multilingual magazine of the ISA, in Hindi. For him producing Global Dialogue in Hindi was a mission but also an academic challenge. I had the opportunity to work with Professor Modi in this venture and observed his dedication. He always acted with the members of his team with a sense of equality and democracy. Since I am not a disciplined person, several times the Hindi publication of Global Dialogue was slightly delayed. But he always appreciated my translations. He also appreciated the commitment of the other members of the editorial board, Dr. Rashmi Jain, Dr. Jyoti Sidana, Dr. Prabha Sharma, Dr. Nidhi Bansal and Mr. Uday Singh. Similarly he also made determined efforts to introduce a research journal in Hindi under the auspices of the Indian Sociological Society – a quality journal now published regularly. All these efforts of Professor Modi have brought great academic benefit to sociology students who work in the Hindi language. I hope that, despite the sad demise of Professor Modi, the show will go on and Global Dialogue’s Hindi edition will continue to be published with the same academic commitment.

With his many interests, Professor Modi made contributions in many areas, including child welfare, youth activism, gender justice, working class issues and marginal peoples. During his extensive travels within and outside India, he spoke with a sociological voice on matters of health, poverty, ecology, demography, social movements, voting behavior and human rights. Besides leisure, tourism and mass media, which were his areas of specialization, Professor Modi made significant contributions to social theory. Within the ISA his deep commitments will always be remembered by members of RC13 (Research Committee on Leisure). He made academic trips to almost every country of the world. He was a prolific writer of books and research articles. His involvement in the teachers’ movement and in other social issues established him as a public intellectual and a critical sociologist.

Professor Modi will also be remembered for his exemplary affection. He and his family treated every visitor with deep love, care and regard. They are rare people indeed. To treat everyone as a family member was, for him, a defining principle of leisure.

The passing of Professor Modi is a great personal loss to his family and friends. The world of sociology will miss his physical absence, but his inspiration will always be with us. Goodbye Professor Modi, the community of sociology will miss you a lot, but you will always remain here in our memory lane.

Rajiv Gupta, President of the Indian Social Science Association

India, Volume 7, Issue 3

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