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

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G S Bhalla: A Tribute

All through his life, G S Bhalla was a strong believer in growth with equity and his contributions to understanding the dynamics of Indian agriculture are relevant even in the changed climate of post-reform India. The failure of land reforms and the sorry plight of small and marginal farmers faced with few alternatives in the non-farm sector was a recurring concern of his. A genial person, he will be fondly remembered by numerous students, research collaborators, and a large circle of friends.

With the sad demise of G S Bhalla last month, India has lost a distinguished economist, an influential policymaker, and a visionary social scientist. His knowledge of Indian farming and insights into the country’s farming community were unparalleled. A man of unbending principles, he was forthright in expressing what he believed was right. He enriched agricultural economics with his pioneering, in-depth, and empirical studies that distinctly captured the diversity of the subject on a vast canvas of space and time. He was known for his hard work in meticulously scrutinising data and abstracting the essential through rigorous analysis and reasoning.

His academic pursuits were ably supported by his wife, Sheila Bhalla, also an eminent economist. Bhalla was always liberal with time and attention to students and academic colleagues. He was ever willing to support young aspirants and was a quintessential team leader. His participation in academic discourses was always lively. His company in pre-dinner sessions was most unforgettable for its warmth and friendship. He was very fond of children and made it a point to spend some time with them whenever he visited friends. Undoubtedly, Bhalla was of a rare species. He endeared himself to everyone who came in contact with him. I first met him at an annual meeting of the Indian Econometric Society held in Patna in the early 1970s. Since then, I had the privilege of having frequent interactions with him in academic discussions and official committees. Even in recent years, not deterred by his deteriorating health, he never liked missing field visits, and travelled with us to far-flung villages across the country. He had a very warm way of discussing and eliciting useful information from people. Old age was never a barrier to his pursuit of learning.

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