A tribute to Prof. Ashok Kotwal by Prof. Pranab Bardhan

  • Blog Post Date 05 May, 2022
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Pranab Bardhan

University of California, Berkeley


Prof. Pranab Bardhan pens a heartfelt tribute to our founder Editor-in-Chief Prof. Ashok Kotwal.

I have known Ashok for nearly four decades. When in the 1980s, he started writing his well-known papers (many of them with Mukesh Eswaran) on agrarian structure; contractual relations in land, labour, and credit markets; and the endogenous process of class formation; I interacted with him a great deal as those were also topics of my own active research interest those days. In 1989, I edited a book titled The Theory of Agrarian Institutions, for which, at my request, he contributed a chapter. In my 18 years (1985-2003) of the editorship of the Journal of Development Economics, I think I got him to publish at least six articles in the journal, apart from his frequent refereeing for me. Ever since those days, my interaction with him has been continuous as we shared a general interest in issues of political economy, apart from our specific interest in Indian Politics and Economics. At his invitation I contributed some pieces to Ideas for India, culminating in our long 'Conversation' there in September last year, on multifarious aspects of political ideology, in today's polarised society, in a globalised world.

In addition to these acts of public interaction, we used to talk a lot on the phone on various issues of public life. California and Vancouver being in the same time zone was helpful for those long phone conversations. In recent years when his health deteriorated, he'd say that he'd call me earlier in the day as by late afternoon he tended to 'fade away'. Before getting involved in our political discussion, I'd ask him about his health and he'd give me a detailed account. In the last few years, our conversation sometimes had a darkening timbre, both in view of his health and the gloomy subject of Indian politics these days, that preoccupied us. Yet he'd always be lively, with his intellectual curiosity and friendly warmth.

I'll sorely miss him in my remaining days.   



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