Snehendu Kar | Death notice | news-gazette.com
CHAMPAIGN – Dr Snehendu Bikash Kar, 89, from Champaign died at 7:07 p.m. on Monday, December 13, 2021, at the Carle Foundation hospital in Urbana. After an increasingly complex set of health complications, he passed away comfortably with his family by his side 24/7 for the previous five days.
Dr Kar – affectionately known as “Kar” – was born in Rangoon, Burma, but raised in Kolkata, India, and was particularly devoted to his Indian Benglai heritage. He completed his graduate studies with a master’s degree in psychology at the University of Kolkata and a doctorate. in public health at the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated at the top of his class.
In Berkeley, he met his wife, Barbara, who survives him with their two sons, Sanji and Robin, the latter being a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Last year, Kar moved to Champaign with Barbara and Sanji to be closer to Robin.
Kar has lived a busy life dedicated to promoting public health, especially among the underprivileged. Kar’s career in public health spanned five decades and included academic research, graduate and academic leadership positions at three world-class universities and schools of public health in the United States. As former Associate Dean and President of UCLA’s One-Department School of Public Health, he was responsible for the direction of all academic programs across the eight academic divisions of UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. , with over 90 faculty members and over 620 graduates. students. He ended his career as Fulbright-Nehru Distinguished Chair of Global Health and Professor Emeritus of Public Health and Asian-American Studies at UCLA. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles and six books.
Prior to joining UCLA, Kar was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Public Health and Population Planning at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (1969-79). He was also Acting President of Population Planning. Prior to that, Kar held several government posts in India. Within the Central Office of Health Education of the Ministry of Health and Family Planning, he was Deputy Director General of Health Services (Research and Evaluation); a deputy deputy director general; and a senior research officer (1960-1969). From 1958 to 1960 he was Senior Research Fellow at the Bihar Tribal Research Institute in Ranchi.
Kar was particularly interested in the social determinants of health, the empowerment of women to promote health and quality of life, multicultural health communication, leadership development and health promotion in multicultural populations and underserved. During his career he has been a consultant to many leading global organizations including the United Nations / World Health Organization, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Fulbright Commission, the Smithsonian Institute, the East-West Center (Hawaii), Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, International Medical Corps, Western Consortium for Health Professions, Public Health Leadership Institute, Engineers Without Borders, Association of Schools of Public Health and international universities and research institutes.
He has led several multinational collaborative projects in Brazil, Egypt, India, Japan, Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, United States and Venezuela.
Towards the end of his life, Kar became increasingly interested in spirituality as a means of empowerment. He defined “spiritual empowerment” as a “sustained quest to seek truth and liberation through righteous actions”. He believed that spirituality could be distinguished from all religious beliefs that might divide us, and that different religions discern different parts of the same spiritual truth. In the few days leading up to his death, he had a number of spiritual experiences, declaring that he was in a state of absolute “bliss” (despite his obvious physical discomfort) and repeating that “all is one” .
Themes of spirituality and women’s empowerment were particularly central to her two most recent books: “Empowerment of Women for Promoting Global Health and Quality of Life” (Oxford 2018) and “Coming and Going: Poems and Songs of Rabindranath Tagore “(Bee Books 2015). This latest book features Kar’s translations of spiritual poems by Indian Nobel Prize-winning poet-philosopher Tagore, as well as award-winning photos of Kar. Kar was an avid photographer and won numerous awards for his creative photography. He was also a great admirer of Tagore.
Although Kar planned to bring together the topics of spirituality and women’s empowerment in a future book, he was aware that every project in life remained partially incomplete. One of his translations of Tagore’s poems, titled “Unfinished Prayers,” states:
The things in my life that I left behind
My songs that remain unrecognized,
Thoughts that still remain unexpressed,
I know, yes I know, they weren’t in vain.
The very last translation of a Tagore poem that Kar wrote included reflections on death as a form of spiritual reunion. This poem says:
At noon, I stopped my chores
When I heard a seductive call from afar
I don’t know from whom or from where.
May the flowers of spring paint my garden,
Let the bees roam and hum their tunes.
I spent my life in bookish debates
On what is real and what is not.
Now I hear my playmate’s call from afar
Pulling me away from my mundane chores,
And tempting me to a peaceful shore.
One of Tagore’s favorite poems states: “There is sorrow. Death is also there. But beyond these, there is always endless peace and quiet.
Over the course of his life, Kar received numerous scholarships for his work, including the Fulbright Commission, the Kellogg International Fellowship in Health, the Ford Foundation Population Communication Fellowship, the East-West Center Population Fellowship, the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health, Fellow of the Public Health Leadership Institutes (CDC / University of California) and elected member of three divisions of the American Psychological Association. He has presented several guest speeches at international scientific and professional conferences.
The “Rescatando Salud” (“Save Health”) project – which empowered poor women to promote childhood immunization in Latin American communities and was led by Kar and his colleagues – won the National Award for Excellence in Addressing Health Disparities in the United States in 2001.
Kar was devoted to his family in the United States and India; to its many students; to his colleagues; to his teachers and mentors; and to his neighbors and friends – many of whom he was able to recognize in his writings.
Kar was cremated at 10:13 a.m. Central Standard Time on Thursday, December 23, 2021. Services will be held in Jadavpur, India on Sunday, December 26 at 10 a.m. India Standard Time and in Champaign on Tuesday, December. 28, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Central (tours) and 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (services) at Sunset Home & Cremation Center, 710 N. Neil St. These latter services (6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) can be attended via Zoom, with a meeting ID of 894 9190 8081 and a password of 057237.
Please join her family in sharing memories, photos and videos on her tribute wall at sunsetfuneralhome.com.