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

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T N Srinivasan’s Unfinished Work


T N Srinivasan, fondly called TN, pas­sed away on 10 November 2018. Apart from being a student at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) where TN worked, I got an opportunity to work with him on a World Bank-financed research project on which the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM–A) was collaborating. The project involved collecting data from 400 farmers in Punjab and Bihar each, for three cropping seasons in 1980–82. There were other team members from IIM–A, namely V S Vyas, Tushar Moulik, S L Bapna, and K V Ramani, but I was the lead coordinator of the project. From the World Bank, Clive Bell was the team leader and TN worked with him. The whole project was a gigantic task and this letter is not a place to delve into that massive exercise.

The data collection was planned to capture interconnected rural transactions. TN and I spent some time interviewing farmers and labourers in rural Bihar. We did find several interconnected transactions related to land, labour, input and output. We also found interconnected transactions in Punjab. All of those transactions had some form of history, which mere computer-coded numbers were unable to capture. What I learned was that one has to have an inclination for anthropological inquiry to fully understand what is going on in the markets. During our visit to Bihar, TN was reading a book on Chanakya’s Arthashastra and used to wonder why, even in ancient India, share tenants received only 40% of the produce.

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