Remembering B B Bhattacharya
Known to be a gentle, composed, benevolent, pious yet firm person, Barid Baran Bhattacharya breathed his last on 14 February 2017 after a brief illness. It brought a wave of shock to all those who knew him. He was gifted with a creative mind and an in-depth knowledge and understanding that spread far and wide, from macroeconomics to literature, education, art, music, and spirituality. His presence of mind and sharp ability to comment and disseminate knowledge on any subject made him extremely popular among the academic fraternity, policymakers and media. Having worked closely with him as a colleague in the Institute of Economic Growth and having completed my doctoral research under his able co-guidance in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, I have always perceived the deep admiration and respect held by his colleagues and students.
B B Bhattacharya completed his education from the University of Allahabad and Delhi School of Economics. After teaching in Delhi University for a brief period, he joined the Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi in 1970. He worked as a full-time professor for almost 20 years, and subsequently became the institute’s director in 2000. His contributions towards teaching and research in the field of economics have been well-acknowledged and he received immense recognition for carrying out a rigorous econometric analysis on the macroeconomic problems of India during the last 40 years based on various economic theories and policy prescriptions. His hard work, intelligence, and perseverance made him India’s leading macromodel builder and forecaster, with many forecasts on the Indian economy being used in policymaking. He was a frequent commentator in the print and electronic media on economic and education policies.
Being a prolific researcher, educationist, speaker and visionary par excellence, he was chosen to serve as vice chancellor of JNU from 2005 to 2011. He was the 10th vice chancellor of the university. Apart from bringing many laurels to the university, he managed to bring in massive amounts of funds for scientific research which was unprecedented. He is remembered to have not only initiated these projects but also made efforts towards their timely completion and success.
Since my interaction with him was frequent due to my doctoral and other joint research, I could observe how he associated with students, faculty and administrative staff in a straightforward manner, and his ability to amicably resolve day-to-day matters through internal committees. More than his services, his positive thinking and balanced approach as a teacher and an academic administrator gained him appreciation and popularity among the students. It was amusing to hear students wishing to raise slogans against the vice chancellor, but not their revered teacher. His busy schedules never held him back from teaching and I believe he will always serve as an example to the academic and non-academic community in the university.
Those who were closely associated with him for a much longer period feel that he always possessed an enormous and unparalleled calmness. Even if he felt anger, it was accompanied by affection and eagerness to extend help. There was an incredible sense of divinity in and around him which possibly kept him much above the daily trifles even while going through them.
His seminal works, several offices that he occupied, and contribution to institution and capacity building have made us and the whole academic fraternity proud. His sudden and untimely demise is deeply felt by his students, researchers, colleagues, and family members. The profound memories that I have of him as a teacher and colleague, his deep insights on economic issues, his keenness to disseminate knowledge, and above all his grace, honesty, simplicity and genuineness as a human being will always be in my heart. I feel privileged to have known and worked with such a great and noble personality, who for me and many others will continue to be a source of inspiration. May his soul rest in peace.
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