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

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From 50 Years Ago: Obituary John Matthai.

Editorial from Volume XI, No 45, November7, 1959.

What was it that led John Matthai to leave the cloistered life for which he was so eminently suited by temperament, training and mental endowment? Though possessing the best aca-demic qualifications of his times in the com-paratively new subject of economics, it was not as a teacher that Matthai began his life... He joined the Cooperative Department from which he drifted into teaching first as Profes-sor of the Presidency College, Madras and lat-er at the University of Madras. The record he left in his short five years as a teacher is princi-pally one of kindling the flame of enquiry in youthful minds and of instilling in them a love for economics...Matthai left teaching to join the Tariff Board, of which he rose to be the President. He left the Tariff Board and was ap-pointed Director General of Commerce, Intel-ligence and Statistics which post he left to join the House of Tatas and he remained with the Tatas for the rest of his working life, except for a brief interval when he was called upon to join the Central Government first as a Railway Minister and later as the Minister of Finance. After retirement from Tatas, Matthai devoted himself actively to public service and to educa-tion, his prime love, first as the Chairman of the State Bank and then as Vice-Chancellor to the Universities of Bombay and Kerala. Was it a series of accidents which led him away from the pursuit of knowledge for which he had been cut out or was he actually tempted to test the hypothesis of science against reality and practical experience?... Perhaps his most outstanding contribution while he was with the Tata Sons was his work on the Bombay Plan which gave concrete shape to the urge for eco-nomic development and made a vast advance on the very tentative work of the pre-war Na-tional Planning Committee of the Congress.

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