Dr. Khalakdina epitomised India’s plurality. She was born on New Year’s day 1930 in Hyderabad, to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother (who decided jointly to convert to Catholicism as a meeting point), her godmother (and well-known educationist and Director of Lady Irwin College, Dr. Durga Deulkar) was Hindu and her husband was a Muslim from Mumbai. About her mother, Asheena informs me that “she was God-fearing and enjoyed intimate ceremonies that were mixed and matched from all our religions”.
She was kind, generous and graceful, and highly regarded by all her students. Her Stats lessons were peppered with comic descriptions of field-work encounters between student researchers and rural families. However lighthearted, these stories bore important relevance to our training in research methods and family studies. Her home was always warm and welcoming as so many of us, her students, will testify.
Rest in peace, Ma’am. I’ve had the honour of knowing you, and I have so many things to thank you for, especially the affection that we (my family) received from you. Thanks also for the lovely vase you gave me on a recent visit, I shall always keep it filled in your memory. Oh, before I forget, I’m sorry about the time I took young Asheena for her first haircut without telling you. You loved her long, thick braid; but she was a teenager then, and I wasn’t old enough to understand.
Brief overview of her career
Dr. Margaret Khalakdina received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from Syracuse and Cornell Universities respectively. She taught at Lady Irwin College in the 70s and then moved to Haryana Agricultural University as Dean before joining UNICEF. She has several books to her credit, among them:
Human Development in the Indian Context, Two volumes by Sage https://books.google.co.in/books?id=eezZAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y
Early Child Care in India https://www.bookdepository.com/Early-Child-Care-India-Margaret-Khalakdina/9781138243620
Dr. Khalakdina was also a contemporary of Prof. Mohan Ram, also a friend of Lady Irwin College. He too passed away recently, and I want to take this opportunity to also post this tribute to him here.
“I wish I could be like a tree; deep rooted and firmly fixed, bearing a lofty bole and a broad canopy, continuously absorbing, synthesizing and renewing, bearing fragrant flowers and delicious fruits, unmindful of stresses and insults, resilient to changes and perpetually giving and not coveting. To this I must add tenacity, based on the remarkable example of a gingko tree,almost at the epicentre of the 1945 Hiroshima nuclear explosion, that sprouted from the root after its trunk had been completely demolished along with everything around it.” Prof. H. Y. Mohan Ram An extract from “Turning a new leaf” Link: https://ia800205.us.archive.org/…/Turning_A_New_Leaf_Part_1…
Rest in peace Prof., you will be dearly missed, as much by the trees as us.