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In memoriam: Scholar of Indian history Damodar SarDesai

Damodar SarDesai

Professor emeritus Damodar SarDesai of the UCLA Department of History died on Jan. 16, following a battle with cancer. 

SarDesai’s scholarship focused on the history of India. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1965 for his dissertation, “India’s Relations with Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia: 1954-1961.” Soon after, he was invited to join the UCLA faculty. He was the author of the books, “Southeast Asia: Past and Present” (Westview Press, seventh edition, 2012) and “India: The Definitive History” (Westview Press, 2007).

DeSai served in many leadership roles at UCLA, including chair of the history department as well as of South and Southeast Asian Studies. He also served as director of the University of California's Education Abroad Program in New Delhi.

A well-known figure in Southern California’s Indian-American community, he was instrumental in raising funds for an endowment to create the the Sardar Patel Award, which is given annual to a Ph.D. student at any university in the United States for the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of modern India. He was also responsible for bringing the endowed Navin and Pratima Doshi Professor of Pre-Modern Indian History Chair to UCLA’s history department.

SarDesai is survived by his wife, Bhanu; two daughters, Dr. Vandana SarDesai and Dr. Archana Bindra; son-in-law Sanjay Bindra; and grandson Arnav Bindra. 

Learn more in this obituary published by the India Journal.  

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