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Aruna Michie

Aruna Michie Aruna Nayyar Michie, aged 77, retired KSU Political Science faculty member passed away 5 September 2021 at Good Shepherd Hospice, Manhattan, after a five-week siege stemming from several long-standing illnesses.

Aruna was born 9 August 1944 in the Naval Hospital, Bombay. Her father was Pran Nath Nayyar, at the time seconded from the British Indian Army to the Navy and serving on the signals ship, INS Talwar (actually shore based) for WWII. Her mother was Kusum Prasad, journalist and internationally known scholar. She was predeceased by her parents, her Michie father and mother in-law with whom she was very close, and younger brother, Kapil, her only sibling.

Her parents were intimately involved for years with the Indian Nationalist movement and knew all the top leaders. They also instilled her with a deep social conscience that she retained throughout life. Among other things her parents were main instigators of the several weeks long February 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny (they called it a strike) beginning in Bombay and spreading to the whole fleet and into other service branches as well. Her father’s signals ship was central to communications. The mutiny was a result of widespread discontent among Indian ranks about living conditions and ill treatment. They made the point that although Indian military personnel remained loyal during WWII, the Brits could no longer count on their loyalty. It was time for the Brits to leave, thank you very much! The mutiny ended peacefully and without retribution, a hiccup along the way to Independence that came the next year in August 1947 when Aruna was three. Importantly, the mutiny gave a strong attention-getting and unforgettable message to the Brits.

When Aruna was ten, the family moved to New Delhi. Her father became a consulting engineer. Her mother was earlier well established professionally as Kusum Nair, journalist and internationally known author on rural development based on research in India, China, Japan and the US. Her family home became an intellectual salon for meetings with friends in the international diplomatic corps, Indian politicians and officials, international scholars, authors, artists and others. Quite a rarified environment for a young girl.

As a young girl Aruna attended a top end international boarding school in the lower Himalayas with primarily American ex-pat students and teachers, the reason she spoke with an American accent. Whenever the topic of Woodstock would come up in US conversation she would say “Oh, I was at Woodstock”, much to everyone’s amazement, and furthermore “I was there from first standard through graduation from high school in 1962.”, further occasioned by listeners’ confusion. And then she would have to explain that Woodstock is the name of her school …always good for a laugh.

Aruna was a 1966 graduate of Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts, finding summer work in New York with the Ford Foundation. Finishing her undergraduate degree in Government Relations, she returned to India where she became a local hire for the American Peace Corp as an associate director in the Northern Regional office in charge of programs and volunteers in the state of Rajasthan. It was there she met Barry Michie, a volunteer serving in Rajasthan. They were married in New Delhi at her parents’ home in an Arya Samaj ceremony 3 July 1968.

Growing up a very urbane city girl, Peace Corps was her first experience with village India and culture, a venture highly supported and encouraged by her parents. Despite a bit of initial trepidation of stepping into the unknown, she readily took to it and continued so during married life of fifty-three years with rural projects and research in rural Rajasthan of her own and her husband’s. So, she became both a village and a city girl.

Newly married both she and Barry entered graduate school together in 1968 at Michigan State University, supporting each other and completing PhD degrees, she in Political Science and he Anthropology. Both luckily found appointments at Kansas State, initially temporary replacements for faculty on sabbatical. Her position became tenure track and her husband eventually in International Programs. So, they did not suffer a commuting marriage common for many academic couples.

Seventeen years into marriage a son Chetan was born in 1985 in Manhattan, welcomed with much joy and love. Chetan spent a year in India in the mid 1990s, also attending Woodstock, when Barry had a project with the Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur, investigating traditional agro-forestry practices in Rajasthan” . Chetan is now a restaurateur in Lawrence, Kansas.

Aruna was proud of her Indian heritage, so indelibly part of her identity that she never gave up her Indian citizenship despite living in the US for fifty-three plus years as a green card holder. This put her in the curious situation of being a political scientist who never voted as she had no Indian constituency from which to vote; as a non-citizen voting in the US was out of the question.

Aruna had a remarkable career at Kansas State, mentoring junior and other faculty and students including those applying for and many winning prestigious scholarships (Rhodes, Trumans, Marshalls) helping to put K-State on the map. She also received recognition for excellence in teaching. She served two terms as Faculty Senate President representing faculty to KSU administration and the Board of Regents putting her weight behind winning changes to health insurance, family leave and the KSU Handbook for both staff and faculty. For a number of years, she was an ombudsperson mediating disputes between faculty and administration. She touched many lives across K-State and is well remembered as someone kind, helpful and who readily stood her ground, making her point cogently, articulately and without rancor.

In the last stages of her final illness Aruna became increasingly aphasic that started several years previously with Parkinsons that never affected her mind. Near the end she rarely could make herself understood, quite frustrating for her and most uncharacteristic to those who knew her in her prime. Unforgettably, three days before she died while still in hospital, she was able to find the words. Slowly, deliberately and with great effort she enunciated her last intelligible words when Barry and Chetan went to see her, “I…Iove…you…both. Don’t…worry”. She was not afraid of death and died painlessly and peacefully with both Barry and Chetan at her side to her last breath
Although a secularist and not religious, a simple, powerful Yogic mantra is appropriate with her passing.

Ohm signifies the all-encompassing cosmological essence of reality and consciousness, past, present, and future from which all things emanate and to which they return. Ohm is the primordial word present at the very beginning, not unlike “The Word” in the Book of Genesis. Shante signifies, peace, harmony and love.

For years she was adamantly against a memorial service. No services are planned. The family is, however, planning an informal gathering to be announced for friends and colleagues at the Manhattan City Park – open air and conscious of the Covid threat. Please contact Barry Michie at or at 565-0270 if you would like to attend for exact venue, date and time.

Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at

Cards may be sent in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at

Cards may be sent in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

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