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Prof G S Bhalla

R Radhakrishna’s tribute to G S Bhalla (EPW, 19 October 2013) has rightly highlighted the contributions of G S Bhalla to agricultural economics and regional development in India. As a former student of his at Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, I want to mention a few of his contributions to radical political culture in Punjab.

It was only a few months of G S Bhalla and Sheila Bhalla’s joining the economics department at PU that we, a group of left­wing students in the university sympathetic to Maoism then, became aware of Bhallas’ silent encouragement to us. We organised a condolence meeting to pay homage to Ho Chi Minh and the only faculty members who joined this meeting were the Bhallas. We soon came to know that Bhalla was sympathetic to the Communist Party of India but not even once did he criticise any left-wing activity we students undertook. There was an unsaid understanding between us that since the left in general was weak in the university, we needed to support each other irrespective of the differences between us. Bhalla followed this non-sectarian approach throughout his life.

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