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

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Arjun Sengupta: A Tribute

Arjun Sengupta, the economist who held many positions in academics, government and international organisations, and was chairman of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector died on 26 September. Two tributes, the first by a fellow economist who was Sengupta's student in the mid-1960s and the second by a more recent younger colleague, who worked with him in the last decade of his life.

Arjun Sengupta led such a varied life, played so many different roles, that it is as if there was not one but several different Arjun Senguptas. Each person who knew him knew only one of the Arjun Senguptas, but had little idea about the others.

I, for one, knew little about the Arjun Sengupta who was an economic adviser to Indira Gandhi, or the Arjun Sengupta who advised International Monetary Fund Managing Director Jacque de Larosiere, or the Arjun Sengupta who was a membersecretary of the Planning Commission. But I did know the Arjun Sengupta who was my teacher at the Delhi School of Economics and who took upon himself the role of acting like a bod-da (elder brother) to me, invariably bantering, and often giving me gratuitous advice about what I should do with my life, which was generally infuriating but always affectionate. (On one occasion when I was a junior faculty member at Cambridge, and like others of my generation dreamt of the revolution, he visited me, and to my intense fury, advised me not to waste my life on “all this radical stuff”.) Whenever we met, after a lapse of months or years, he would pick up this role from where he had left it, no matter what he or I had been doing in the interim.

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