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Issue No.: 559 | January 2014
 

Dr. Sheryar Ookerjee

S.V. Raju
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Professor Sheryar Ookerjee passed away peacefully on 3rd December 2013. He was a student of Philosophy at Wilson College, Mumbai, winning the Telang Gold Medal at the M.A. examination of the University of Bombay in 1949. His Ph.D. thesis was entitled ‘F.H. Bradley’s Approach to Logic’. He joined the Philosophy Department at Wilson College and retired 36 years later as its Head in 1985, but continued to give post-graduate lectures at the Department of  Philosophy of Mumbai University. 
(24th February, 1925 - 3rd December, 2013)

Professor Sheryar Ookerjee passed away peacefully on 3rd December 2013. He was a student of Philosophy at Wilson College, Mumbai, winning the Telang Gold Medal at the M.A. examination of the University of Bombay in 1949. His Ph.D. thesis was entitled ‘F.H. Bradley’s Approach to Logic’. He joined the Philosophy Department at Wilson College and retired 36 years later as its Head in 1985, but continued to give post-graduate lectures at the Department of  Philosophy of Mumbai University. 

As a UGC Scholar, he worked on the political thought of Plato and the Arthashastra. In 2001 Professor  Ookerjee was invited to lecture on Plato, Bradley and political philosophy at City College, New York. He read papers at numerous conferences in England and published a number of essays in learned journals. Though Freedom First is not an academic journal he was always happy to write for us. He was the author of three books: Human Reason and Its Enemies: A Rigorous Critique of Post-Modernism, Plato and the Arthashastra, and The Limits of Reason and Other Essays.

He was the chairman of Alexandra Girls English Institution, a top-drawer school in Mumbai founded by his great-grandfather Maneckjee Cursetjee 150 years ago to impart education in the English medium of instruction to girls, and was the first school in Western India to do so.

A keen aficionado of Western Classical Music Professor Ookerjee was a well-respected music critic.

Despite poor health he would occasionally drop in at our office. The last one was almost a year ago. For me as the editor every moment of a conversation with him left me better educated. His humility and soft spoken exteriors hid a man of firm resolve and someone who knew his mind – qualities that came out in his writings. On the occasions I sought his guidance on some aspect of our publication his advice was clear and unambiguous.

Our tribute will be incomplete if we do not share with our readers brief extracts from a couple of his writings in Freedom First.

During a a debate on Secularism when there was a reference to the Ramayana and Mahabharata, he wrote (in 1994): "To the average and even many educated Hindus, Ramayana and the Mahabharata the epics are not just great literature but are highly charged with emotive power… In this context, it is instructive to recall what Plato had to say. More than two thousand years ago, giving his blueprint for an ideal republic in The Republic, Plato said that epic poets like Homer and Hesiod should not be allowed in such a republic. His reason was that epic poetry as the Greeks of his time knew it and on which the young were brought up were full of morally dubious stories about gods and goddesses and that, though these were poetic fictions, they had a harmful moral effect on young or immature minds. ..

... While we and our Hindu brothers do not believe that the Greek epics depict the truth, the average Hindu does take his epics very seriously and believes that what is written therein has historical truth. If so, they have enormous emotional potentiality and the capacity to influence thought and action. In expelling the poets from his republic, Plato knew his onions”.

Coming across an article on so-called miracles by holy men in India he retorted:

"We may draw unfavourable conclusions when the guru refuses to take tests to prove his powers under scientific conditions. Abraham Cavoor and, I believe, others have offered big prizes to anyone who claims such powers to demonstrate them under controlled conditions. Not a single guru has come forward to face the challenge. When a much-troubled believer asked another guru how a man like Sai Baba could refuse the challenge, the guru said that the Sai was entirely right, because if he is convinced about his powers why should he take tests to convince himself. "The point, sir,” he wrote”  "is not whether he is convinced it is the doubters who have to be convinced

We shall miss him. We convey our deepest sympathies to his daughter Pervin and to the management, teachers and students of the Alexandra Girls’ English Institution.
 
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Other Articles in this Issue

Editorial

The Good New and the Bad News

 

Obituary

Dr. Sheryar Ookerjee

S.V. Raju
 

Perspective

Winds of Change Presage Hope of New Political Order

H. R. Bapu Satyanarayana
 

Can We Legislate for a Better Society?

Rca Godbole
 

High Time to Abolish Governmental Awards

Kashinath A. Divecha
 

Elections to Parliament: Participation of Veterans

Ravindra Waman Pathak
 

Comments

Indictment of Justice Ganguly: To What Avail?

Keshav Rau
 

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting - 2013 (CHOGM)

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Reflections

Poverty and Humble Beginnings Are No Impediments to Success in Life

B. M. N. Murthy
 

The Rural Perspective

Social transformation in Rural India

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Point - Counter Point : Every issue has at least two sides

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Snoopgate

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Feet of Clay

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Cornucopia

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Tarun Tejpal: How Have the Mighty Fallen

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Foreign Relations in the 21st Century

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National Security

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Book Review

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A Triangle of Deceit: Onions, Gold and Black Gold

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Special Republic Day Pull Out

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Nostalgia

State Control of Films

This day in 1957
 

Between Ourselves

Editorial in Freedom First December 2013

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Leader and the Law

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In Case You Have Not Heard This One

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A Sad Story of Corruption in the Armed Forces

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Constitutional Method of Demonstration

 

Aam Admi Party

 

A Man Who Cared for the Poor

 

C. N. R. Rao Conferred Bharat Ratna

 

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Marshal Zhukov on Alexander’s Failed Invasion of India

 
 
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