Renowned anthropologist and social scientist B.K. Roy Burman, 90, passed away here on Tuesday morning.
A former visiting Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Professor of Visva-Bharati University and ex-officio Director of the Council of Social Development, Prof. Burman also served as a visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Considered an authority on the northeast, Prof. Burman stoutly opposed the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Manipur and Operation Green Hunt, and had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh several times.
Prof. Burman served as chairman of several international, national and State-level committees. He associated himself with non-governmental organisations working among and for the Scheduled Tribes. He worked as chairman of the Futorology Commission of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences.
He was the founder-president of the Network of Practising Anthropologists, and served as Deputy Registrar-General of the Census and Officer on Special Duty heading the Social Studies Division of the Registrar- General of India. He chaired the Union Planning Commission’s Study Group on Land Holding Systems of Tribals and the Union Home Ministry’s Committee on Forest and Tribals Backward Classes Unit.
Prof. Burman was born in Bangladesh in 1922. After his schooling there, he joined the City College in Kolkata. During his college days, he joined the freedom movement. He received his doctorate in anthropology from Calcutta University before joining government service in West Bengal, where he served as Director of the Tribal Research Institute.
“… he was invited by other countries to discuss tribal issues,” Beena, his wife of 48 years, told The Hindu. He travelled to Sweden for the Sami people and spent three months in the Soviet Union and visited almost all countries in the world. “Even when he was 80-plus, he would walk for miles in tribal areas to discuss and resolve tribal issues.”