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

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Remembering Tapas Majumdar

Tapas Majumdar (1929-2010) was a firm intellectual rebel in his own way, evident in his initiative to set up the multidisciplinary Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies in the School of Social Sciences of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and in his book Investment in Education and Social Choice, which provoked the proponents of the "rate of return approach" then dominant in the economics of education. One tribute and another a set of personal reminiscences, both by two of his students who later became his colleagues in Kolkata and Delhi.

I had the privilege of being closely associated with Tapas Majumdar right from the time I first set foot in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 1976, i nitially as his young graduate student at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies (ZHCES), and later as a colleague till the last day of his life on 15 October 2010 when he left us all for his solitary last journey.

In trying to sketch Majumdar’s personality one would be reminded of a polite, soft-spoken, kind person, a man of few words who paid particular attention to those with a disadvantage of any kind. Behind the veil of a polite and restrained demeanour, however, he was a firm rebel in his own way, extremely rare to come across. His intrinsic intellectual rebellion was evident in his initiative to set up the multidisciplinary ZHCES in the School of S ocial Sciences of the JNU in 1972. In this he took a conscious step away from the e stablished norm, that of characterising education departments in Indian universities as primarily teacher training entities. It was similarly evident with the publication of his book Investment in Education and Social Choice (Cambridge University Press, 1983), provoking the proponents of the “rate of return approach” which dominated the existing literature on the economics of education. Both these endeavours of Tapas Majumdar had drawn severe criticism from established practitioners, to which he reacted only with silence.

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