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V N Kothari

Letters

V N Kothari

V
inodchandra Nagndas Kothari died on December 10, 2005, aged 71. With his death, MS University of Baroda has lost one of its most competent, devoted and upright professors of recent times.

Kothari obtained his BA, MA and PhD degrees all from the University of Mumbai (then Bombay). After his studies at Mumbai, he joined the MS University of Baroda as a lecturer in economics in 1961, became a reader in 1964, and a professor in 1968 – a post he held until his retirement in 1994. In-between he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago during 1962-64, and along with his position as professor at the MS University, he was head of the department of economics during 1968-83, coordinator of the special assistance programme of the UGC to the department during 1985-95, and dean of the faculty of arts during 1980-81.

During the period of his service for nearly three and a half decades, Kothari taught generations of students for their BA and MA degrees, and guided 20 students to PhD in economics. A number of his PhD students are presently in high positions in academic institutions. To name a few: at Ahmedabad there are Bakul Dholakia (director, IIM), R G Nambiar (director, Sardar Patel Institute), Sudarshan Iyenger (vice-chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth), Ravindra

Dholakia and Archana Dholakia (professors, IIM and Gujarat University); at Vadodara there is Bhavana Kantawala (head, economics department, MS University) and at Surat B V Acharya (head, economics department, South Gujarat University).

Apart from being a first-rate teacher, Kothari was also a productive researcher and a good writer. His publication list includes eight books (three edited and five authored) and about 50 articles and papers in professional journals and financial dailies. These include, among others, Economic Journal, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Economic and Political Weekly, Indian Economic Journal and Economic Times.

As a teacher, Kothari taught a number of subjects. He was knowledgeable and comfortable in several branches of economics. But his forte was development economics and its employment aspects, taxation, and economics of health, nutrition and education – areas on which he researched and published.

He was president of the Gujarat Economic Association and chairman of the board of trustees, D T Lakdawala Memorial Trust. The association and the trust benefited immensely from his wise counsel. This work gave

(Continued on p 288)

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Letters

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him an opportunity to interact widely with economics teachers of colleges and the universities of Gujarat. He was easily available and always ready to help them in their professional activities.

Gentle, soft-spoken, self-effacing and a good listener – that was Kothari. No wonder, he was highly regarded by all who came in contact with him, whether for a short while or for a long period.

The Kotharis’ home was an open house. One could easily drop in there for a chat as well as for professional work. Their hospitality was legendary. I know of no visitor or guest who had turned his or her back from their home without the treat of a delicious ‘nasta’ (high tea) or a meal offered by Mrs Kothari (Sarojben to many), and affectionately served by her, urging him or her to have more of this item or that.

My contact with Kothari was for 56 years. Over time, we became close and our friendship strengthened. As a result, I knew him very well from near and far – for nearly 19 years from 1949, first when we were students in Ahmedabad and Mumbai and then as colleagues at Vadodara. And from far for 37 years, from 1968 onwards, during which time we worked and lived in different cities, he in Vadodara and I in Mumbai. Even then we continued to be in close touch through correspondence, during and after our joint professional assignments and at social and family functions. Kothari’s death is a great personal loss to me – a loss I am learning to live with.

J C SANDESARA

Mumbai

Correction

The correct title of the special article by C J Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan, published on page 258 of this issue is ‘Engineering Colleges, ‘Exposure’ and Information Technology Professionals in Tamil Nadu’ and not as published.

The error is regretted.

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