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In Memoriam: 

Huang I-shu (黄绮淑), 1932-2018

Huang I-shu was born on 20 October 1932 in Shanghai, China. She married Tan Chung on 9 November 1954 in China, before departing with him for India. They arrived in India (Santiniketan) in January 1955. I-shu was given an Indian name ‘Shobha’ by Indra Devi (Gurudeva Tagore’s niece), and was affectionately called ‘Shobha-di’ (elder sister) or ‘Shoubha-boudi’ (elder sister-in-law) by many friends.

In 1964 she, along with Tan Chung, started the Chinese language course in Delhi University and ran the Centre for Chinese Studies, affiliated to the Department of Buddhist Studies. In 1965, when the Department of Chinese Studies was initiated, she and Tan Chung were the only two faculty members, taking care of the day-to-day affairs of the Department under the guidance of the Dean of the Arts Faculty until Professor V.P. Dutt joined as the Head of Department in 1966. Huang I-shu continued teaching Chinese language in Delhi University for 37 years until she retired as Reader in Chinese Language in 1997.

Along with Profesor Tan Chung, I-shu was a regular member of the informal ‘Wednesday Group’ from its inception in 1969, and subsequently an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Chinese Studies (the reincarnation of the Wednesday Group) from its inception.

Huang I-shu started translating Indian literature into Chinese as early as the 1950s. She was a regular columnist of the Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报, a Chinese language daily newspaper of Singapore) for more than two decades. She and Tan Chung jointly guest-edited the special number of China Report on M.N. Roy. She also occasionally contributed papers for China Report and wrote a research report on minorities in China for the Institute of Chinese Studies. Behind the scenes, in her typical unassuming way, she made an immense contribution to Tan Chung’s published work.

In 1985, she and Tan Chung were visiting scholars of the Scandinavian (now Nordic) Institute of Asian Studies, where she lectured on Chinese women in Norway and Finland. Both were also visiting fellows (‘Academic Associates’) of the University of Chicago from 1999 to 2013.

Huang I-shu was a beloved teacher of Chinese language to several generations of students in Delhi University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University. She passed away on 13 November 2018 in Detroit, at the age of 86. Members and associates of the Institute of Chinese Studies join with her students, colleagues and many friends and admirers to express their deepest condolences to Professor Tan Chung and her son Sidhartha (Fantian).

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