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Vinay Kumar Srivastava Director, Anthropological Survey of India

Vinay Kumar Srivastava retired from the University of Delhi in December 2017, having served as a teacher for 41 years and 3 months. He joined Hansraj College, University of Delhi, for a BSc (Honours) in Anthropology in 1969, finishing first class, for which he was awarded the University Medal in 1972. For his master’s degree in Anthropology, which he read at Hansraj College, he specialized in Physical Anthropology, writing a dissertation on sex-chromatin bodies, a topic he was the first to work in the department. Here also, he topped the list of successful candidates, obtaining the University Medal in 1974.

Desirous of learning social anthropology and sociology, Srivastava joined the Delhi School of Economics for a master’s degree in sociology. During his two years as a student, he also received a scholarship, which he completed with a first class, being honoured with Smt Kunda Datar Gold Medal (1976) and Dr R. D. Sanwal Memorial Prize (1976). A couple of months after his second master’s degree, on 15 September 1976, he was appointed lecturer in sociology at the Hindu College, University of Delhi, where he taught for a period of nine years, before moving to the Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, as lecturer in social anthropology, on 21 January 1985. He became a reader and professor in 1986 and 1997, respectively.

Srivastava did his MPhil from the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies, as it was then called, of the University of Delhi, securing an O-grade. His dissertation was on the charisma-building process that took place in China after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in September 1976. Besides being a contribution to the political sociology of post-Mao China, this work was also a critical appraisal of Max Weber’s understanding of power, authority and imperative control. This research work yielded several articles that were published in reputed journals.

Srivastava’s first research work was based on library. For his doctorate, he carried out a piece of intensive fieldwork with a community of camel-breeders in western Rajasthan. He got his PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, UK in 1994, which later (in 1997) was published as a book. This was one of the first research works on the religious practices and ascetic ideology of a pastoral community, thus rendering a non-Brahmanical perspective on renunciation. From this lengthy fieldwork in Rajasthan, Srivastava has come out with a number of academic publications.

During his academic journey of more than four decades, Srivastava held several administrative positions. On three occasions, he was the teacher-in-charge of the Department of Sociology, Hindu College. Later, from 10 March 2010 to 7 March 2012, he was Principal of the Hindu College. He was Head of the Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, from 9 January 2014 to 21 January 2017. He is credited for having taken the initiative of introducing a master’s degree in Forensic Science in the department in 2014.

Five months prior to his retirement from the University of Delhi, Srivastava joined Anthropological Survey of India, a subordinate organization of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, on 1 August 2017 as its Director, a position he will hold for three years. From 1 September 2017 to 3 August 2018, he was Director-in-Charge of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. From 29 June 2019, he is the acting Director General of the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, Kolkata. Presently, he is a member of the National Commission set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, to sub-categorize the Other Backward Classes. He was also a member of the Second Commission set up by the Government of India for the De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Communities (2015–2018). Recently, he has been made a member of the Committee that the Government of India has founded for the inclusion of some more communities in the list of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Communities.

Srivastava is Chief Editor of the Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, a SAGE publication; and one of the two Editors of Social Change, a journal of the Council of Social Development, published by SAGE. For 15 years (from 2001 to 2016), he was one of the three editors of The Eastern Anthropologist.