ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pramit Chaudhuri A Personal Account

Amiya Kumar Bagchi As an economist who had absorbed the best of the Keynesian revolution, macro-economic balances remained the grid on which Pramit Chaudhuri laid out his building. But his passion as a social scientist analysing an economy with perhaps the largest burden of poverty in the world came out in the fierce Brechtian quote which he used as an epigraph for his book The Indian Economy Those who have eaten their fill speak to the hungry of the wonderful times to come.' PRAMIT CHAUDHURI, who taught in the University of Sussex for nearly 30 years, and whom a very large number of Indian and British economists and historians regarded as his(her) particular friend, died at Lewes, Sussex on July 19. Pramit's contributions to the analysis of the problems of the Indian economy, and of third world economies in general, and to the understanding of the process of economic growth will live on in the pages of his published books, and articles in journals and anthologies. But what will perish with his ail-too mortal body is the uniqueness of his personality. However, it will leave an imprint as a fragrance and a resonance in the hearts and memories of his bereaved family and his friends scattered all around the world. In the English language perhaps there are only two words that can capture the essence of his personality, unfailing elegance elegance of intellect, tastes, behaviour, dress and pattern of living. It would be diminishing the quality of Pramit's achievement to call his elegance effortless, because I know how much thought- fulness and consideration for others went into the penning of every small article or spare paragraph that he thought fit to publish, or every gesture of welcome or mild, but firm, correction he offered to his friends. Pramit was born on December 4, 1935 in a family of zamindars from today's Bangladesh, reputed to be enlightened though conservative in its social demeanour in the 1930s and 1940s. He did his Intermediate Science in Presidency College, Calcutta, and then went over to Britain, apparently with the objective of training as an accountant. But he soon deserted accountancy for economics, and graduated from the Cardiff campus of the University of Wales, when Brinley Thomas, the acknowledged authority on the economics of migration between Europe and America, was the professor of economics at the campus. After graduation he joined the Cardiff faculty of economics but' took two years off to do a Master's degree in economics at Cambridge, with Robin Matthews as his supervisor. He followed up Matthews' work on trade cycles in Britain in the 1830s and analysed trade cycles in the British economy in the mid-19th century. It was charactenstic of Pramit that despite the urging of his supervisor and his friends he refused to upgrade that Master's thesis into a PhD dissertation because (a) he did not think that there was enough meat in the thesis for it to try and grow up into a doctoral dissertation and (b) even if he could upgrade it that way, it would be cheating. I still believe that later scholars lost something because of Pramit's modesty.

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