Ex-director of TISS S Parsuraman dies at the age of 70

Professor S Parsuraman, former director of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), passed away on Friday after a long illness. He was 70 years old.

In his 14-year tenure as Principal of TISS, he was considered the main force behind the institute’s growth. Many of his students remember him as an academic who did not shy away from taking a stand and giving inspiring examples. He is survived by his wife, daughter and family.

Parsuraman had worked for over 25 years as a teacher, coach, activist, administrator and development worker. After joining TISS as a professor in the 1980s, he also served as a senior adviser to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, UNESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand. He was responsible for the audit of all UN specialized organizations that have been programming development work in the rights framework in Asian countries. He returned to TISS in 2004 as Principal until 2018 when he retired.

“When Mr. Parsuraman joined, the student strength was not quite 200 and when he left, more than 2,000 students were missing from the institute every year. He was a rare breed of leader with strong institutional commitment and a unmatched care and concern for the people who constituted the institute,” said PK Shajahan, dean of academic affairs at the institute. He added: “He has been phenomenal in developing a second layer of leadership by identifying potential and motivated individuals.”

Sunil Yadav, a BMC disinfection worker, who received a master’s degree from TISS, said he will dedicate his PhD to Parsuraman. “He was instrumental in my academic journey with his motivation,” said Yadav.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MP Stalin also tweeted his condolences. Parsuraman was from a village in Tamil Nadu but settled in Pune after retiring from TISS in 2018. He was associated with MIT Pune as Dean of the School of Sustainable Development at MIT World Peace University Pune .

TISS Principal Dr Shalini Bharat said, “We would like to remember him as someone who inspired generations of students. He always stood by the marginalized and believed in social intervention. He was committed to social change and he was not an academic focused only on theory.” The institute will hold a condolence meeting on Monday.

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