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Remembering A Vaidyanathan (1931–2020)

A Vaidyanathan was a stalwart among social scientists. He has made distinguished contributions to several branches of economics. These include agriculture and irrigation, water management, data analysis and development policy. He has contributed to policymaking as an academic and an interlocutor. Decentralisation and participatory governance were his principal interests. He also played an important role as a mentor who encouraged and promoted young talent.

Professor A Vaidyanathan (hereafter, AV) who passed away on 10 June was the quintessential social scientist. ­Although he will be remembered for his outstanding contributions to various branches of economics, AV was a true ­social scientist. Over the past year or so, he was engaged in writing his intellectual reminiscences. The text was practically ready and efforts were on to entrust it to a publisher. This will, hopefully, but most unfortunately, be published posthumously, and is sure to fascinate any serious social scientist. He has traced his intellectual evolution from his graduate student days in Cornell University through his early research work in India to his days in the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) and later the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS). Not to be forgotten is the rich experience AV had in the Planning Commission. What stands out is his constant attempt to seek answers to the problematique of development unhi­ndered by disciplinary boundaries. AV’s reminiscences open a window to his personality of which a major component was a certain restless, untiring focus on seeking answers to new questions. Quite literally, he lived on his toes. Except for the last few weeks of his life when he was physically exhausted, AV thought, ate, slept and talked economics, policymaking, and development.

It should be made clear right at the start that what follows is not intended to be a summary, much less a discussion of the entire corpus of AV’s work. It is selective and the thrust is more on presenting him in his multifaceted roles as a rese­archer, interlocutor, mentor and a critical but concerned student of society. This is an apology in advance for omissions.

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Updated On : 23rd Jun, 2020

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