South Asian academic and community leader Hari Sharma died on March 16 at the age of 75 after a long battle with cancer.
Sharma, the Indian-born son of a railway station manager, inspired many young activists during his career as an SFU sociology professor and as the long-time president of the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy.
His nephew, Sameer Sharma, described him as an “extremely dynamic” person with an incredible zest for life.
“He was a very people-oriented person,” Sameer Sharma told the Straight by phone. “He was always for the underdog.”
Sharma, a left-wing intellectual, once told the Straight that the Congress-led government of India under former prime minister Indira Gandhi wouldn’t give him a visa to visit the country for a while because of his political activism.
In another interview, Sharma described how his Hindu mother once saved a Muslim boy’s life after Partition in 1947 by nursing him back to health and dressing him in Hindu clothes so that he could safely leave the area. He said that this incident, which occurred when he was a teenager, contributed to his lifelong opposition to religious communalism.
During his academic career and after he retired, Sharma retained a keen interest in how communism developed around the world and particularly in China.
On November 15, there was a celebratory dinner for Sharma in Surrey, which attracted people from across the region, to mark his 75th birthday.
A service will be held on March 21 at 3 p.m. at Riverside Funeral Home in Delta.
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