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Dhruba Kumar obituary: A towering scholar

Pratik Ghimire

Pratik Ghimire

Dhruba Kumar obituary: A towering scholar

Prof Kumar was a leading authority on South Asian politics, foreign affairs and strategic studies

Birth: 1949, Kathmandu
Death: 16 March 2022, Kathmandu

At a time when most Nepali professors, intellectuals and civil society leaders like to attach themselves to political parties to curry favors, Prof. Dhruba Kumar, who died aged 73 on March 16, was a rare exception.  

He was an inspiration for the advocates of democracy and human rights. Prof Kumar was among the few intellectuals in the country with vast knowledge in foreign, defense, geopolitical and strategic affairs. Crucially, he possessed the rare knack of explaining these complex topics to the public with clarity and simplicity. 

All his life, Prof. Kumar was an ardent champion of equality and social justice. He was against all kinds of discrimination and never used his surname in his journals, books and columns.

Despite being a profoundly learned man, he never had an air of self-importance. 

A retired professor of Political Science at the Center for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS), Tribhuvan University, he was a passionate researcher on the politics of South Asian countries. 

More recently, Prof. Kumar’s columns focused on relations between Nepal, India and China, where he discussed India’s ‘hegemonic tendency’ and China’s ‘silent tactics’.

Prof Kumar began as a China scholar at CNAS and gradually expanded his study and research in other South Asian countries, becoming one of the authorities on the region’s strategy, diplomacy, security and geopolitics. 

His fellow professors at CNAS remember Prof. Kumar as an inspiration for all scholars.

“He was the one to start the culture of academic research on security affairs,” says Krishna Khanal, who had worked with Prof. Kumar at CNAS. “He was also a pioneer in the study of Chinese politics.”

In his academic career, Prof. Kumar wrote many books on foreign affairs, conflict and security. He also participated in fellowship professor exchange programs in universities around the world. He was a FCO Fellow at the Department of War Studies in King’s College London, England; Ford Visiting Scholar at the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security in University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Illinois, USA; and Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Asian and International Studies in Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

Prof Kumar worked as a full-time professor at the School of International Development and Cooperation (IDEC) in Hiroshima University, Japan. In 2002, he was a member of the SEAS 2002 Conference that was jointly sponsored by the US Commander-in-Chief Pacific (USCINCPAC) and the Department of State for Security Professionals of the Asia/Pacific Region.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters.