(Profile) UPSC Member: Professor Purushottam Agarwal

Prof. Purushottam Agarwal

(b. 1955 at Gwalior, India), Graduation (1974 - Maharani Laxmi Bai College, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh), MA (Political Science, 1977 - Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, MA (Hindi Literature, 1979 - Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), Ph.D (Hindi Literature, 1985, ‘The Social Meaning of Kabir’s Bhakti’; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi).

Formerly Chairperson, Center of Indian Languages, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Chief Advisor, Hindi Textbooks (classes VI-XII), NCERT, New Delhi (2005-07), Prof. Agrawal taught at Ramjas College, University of Delhi (1982-90), edited and published “Jigyasa”, an inter-disciplinary academic journal (1983-84), served as Associate Professor, Center of Indian Languages, JNU (1990-2003). Professor of Hindi Literature, Center of Indian Languages, School of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies (SLLCS), JNU (2003-07).

He served as British Academy Visiting Professor at Faculty of Oriental Studies, Cambridge University and as Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom in 2002. Conducted two seminars on the “Identity discourses in the current Indian politics” at the Center of South Asian Studies, Cambridge University. Also served as Visiting Professor at El Colegio de Mexico (National College of Mexico, Mexico City) during May-July 2002. Conducted four seminars on the themes of culture and history of Indian people. In Nov.- Dec.2004, during an academic tour of the United States of America, Prof. Agrawal lectured at the Columbia University, New York; Emory University, Atlanta; Rice University, Houston. The Halle Institute of the Emory University organized a luncheon meeting in his honor, where he spoke on the post-election political scene in India.

Prof. Agrawal won Devi Shankar Awasthy Samman for “Teesra Rukh”, 1996, and Mukutdhar Pandey Samman for “Sanskriti: Varchswa aur Pratiroadh”, 1997. Some of the  ooks written by Prof. Agrawal are Kabir:Sakhi aur Sabad (A collection of Kabir’s poetry with an analytical introduction), Shivdan Singh Chauhan (A monograph in “Makers of Indian Literature” series published by Sahitya Akademi, Delhi), Majbooti Ka Naam Mahatma Gandhi (published version of annual Gandhi Lecture, organized by Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi), Nij Brahma Vichhar:Dharma Samaj aur Dharmetar Adhyatma (Essays on religion, spirituality and philosophy), Vichaar ka Ananta (a collection of theoretical and cultural essays), Teesra Rukh (A collection of literary and cultural essays), Sanskriti: Varchswa aur Pratiroadh (a collection of cultural and political essays). His latest and much talked about book ‘Akath Kahani Prem Ki: Kabir Ki Kavita aur Unka Samay’ (2009) was awarded the First Rajkamal Kriti Samman.

Prof. Agrawal contributes regularly to academic journals and popular magazines on wide-ranging issues of culture, literature and current affairs.  Numerous articles both in Hindi and English have been published in academic journals, popular magazines and newspapers over the last twenty five years.

Prof. Agrawal served as Member in several Board of Studies; Academic, Research and Governing Council of important Universities of the Country. In many international conferences and academic events, he delivered various keynote address, presented papers, delivered lectures,  spoke on important themes besides organizing an international conference on ‘Evolution of Hindi’.

An active social activist and consultant, Prof. Agrawal served as chief advisor (2003-06) of the ‘Peaceful co-existence in South Asia’ project of the Aman Trust, Delhi. As a consultant to Oxfam, India (1998-2002), he had organized inter-faces of scholars, creative artists and social activists as part of the Violence Amelioration and Mitigation Project (VMAP). Of particular value have been the interfaces between Kabir-panthis and the scholars of Kabir, and conferences on the question of social identities and a dialogue on Spirituality without Religion. His writings have been included in a course ‘Public intellectuals of India’ offered by the College of Mexico, Mexico City.

Member, Union Public Service Commission of India, New Delhi since July 2, 2007.