Visual images are powerful mediums in understanding people and the society. They help us memorialize the events of the past from the present. Last Friday (January 17), I was in North Bengal University, Siliguri, to attend International Seminar on State-Society Relationship in the Himalayas—organized by Centre for Himalayan Studies. There I presented a paper on the trajectory of anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista and his seminal work People of Nepal, published in 1967. Along with my presentation, I had planned to display some of the photographs of Bista. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do so due to a technical hitch that occurred during my presentation.
We would have been celebrating 94th birthday of Prof Dor Bahadur Bista on Magh 4 (January 18) if he had not gone missing in 1995. He is known to many as someone who critiqued the prevailing socio-cultural norms and values of Nepali society as enshrined in the value system that was defined by the religious Pundits. He called it “fatalism”. He is also known to some others as a person who talked about caste-ethnic differences so as to ‘disturb’ the tranquility that was supposed to be prevailing in socio-cultural and economic relations and interactions among the hierarchically arranged formation—Brahman, Chhetriya, Vaisya and Sudra people in Nepal.
Departments under Tribhuvan University are often chided for their inability to spur academic environment. But the separated Central Departments of Sociology and Anthropology seem to be doing otherwise. Just last week Central Department of Anthropology (CDA) organized its annual Dor Bahadur Bista memorial lecture which was delivered by Prof Dilli Ram Dahal.