Christopher Alan Bayly, an expert on post-18th-century Indian history and British imperial history, passed away over the weekend in Chicago, the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge announced today.

Bayly was well-known to a generation of history students in Indian universities, as his book Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars. North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1780-1870, was standard recommended reading, in the introduction to the third edition of which he linked the rise of Mukesh Ambani from “a two-roomed flat to a luxurious private residence” to a pattern of wealth and political influence.

Bayly, well-respected for his nuanced views on imperialism, stood out in the current polarised debates on colonialism and refused to get into simplistic formulations such as "empire good or bad". He was the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History and the Director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Swami Vivekananda, who helped to raise awareness of Hinduism and Indian culture in the United States, Bayly was appointed in 2013 to the Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professorship at the University of Chicago.

Last year, he delivered the inaugural Indian Ministry of Culture Swami Vivekananda Visiting Professor lecture: "Making Hinduism a 'World Religion': Before and After Swami Vivekananda".

His publications include:

*The Local Roots of Indian Politics. Allahabad 1880-1920 (1975)
*Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars. North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1780-1870 (1983)
*Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire (1988)
*Imperial Meridian. The British Empire and the World, 1780-1830 (1989)
*Empire and Information. Intelligence gathering and social communication in India 1780-1870 (1996)
*The Origins of Nationality in South Asia (1997)
*The Birth of the Modern World. Global Connections and Comparisons 1780-1914 (2004)
*Forgotten Armies. The Fall of British Asia 1941-45 with Dr Tim Harper (2004)
*Forgotten Wars: revolution and the end of empire in British Asia, 1945-55 with Dr Tim Harper (2008).
*Recovering Liberties. Indian thought in the age of liberalism and empire (2011)

The news of his passing evoked a warm outpouring of tributes on Twitter from some of his students, readers and colleagues. Some of the first reactions: