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

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Commitment of a Scholar and Teacher: A Personal Tribute

Tapas Majumdar, who passed away on 15 October 2010, had an apparently paradoxical personality. He was a very private person, but intensely committed to the public purpose of eradicating illiteracy and promoting rigorous research in the arena of higher education. All his life, he also followed certain norms of treatment of students and colleagues that are unfortunately too o ften breached in academia, in India and abroad. As far as I know, he was closest to a T H Green-style liberal in his political beliefs. So while he accepted the necessity of a market mechanism, he refused to allow the necessary elements of a fully human being to become mere matters of profit-seeking exchange in the marketplace.

I had the good fortune of having been taught by him at the undergraduate level, becoming a colleague of his when I joined the teaching profession and enjoying his affection even when he moved away from Kolkata and settled down in Delhi. My account may be biased by the glow of warmth I felt in his company and correspondence, but I believe that most of his students felt a similar glow when they came into contact with him. When I joined the third year economics (honours) class in Presidency College, Calcutta, Bhabatosh Datta and Tapas Majumdar shared the teaching of microeconomics. After Bhabatosh Datta’s departure to join the International Monetary Fund (imf) as head of the South-East Division, Tapas Majumdar and Dhiresh Bhattacharya shared the teaching of economic theory. Majumdar also briefly lectured on Indian economic problems. This will show that even in a supposedly elite institution like Presidency College, teachers were expected to teach almost any subject that was included in the honours syllabus. (At that time, economics and political science were combined in the same honours course. I have always thought that the bifurcation has harmed the students of both economics and political theory.)

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