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

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Renaissance Man

A tribute by a close friend and associate of Ashok Mitra reveals the academician, politician, columnist, littérateur, and the affectionate friend he was. Having an equal flair for academia and policymaking, the notable economist and inimitable columnist was also perfectly at home in the world of arts and letters

Ashok Mitra passed away on May Day earlier this month, soon after he turned 90. He was not quite 20 when India became independent. The next 70 years turned out to be an extraordinary life in our times, of a remarkable person who contributed to economy, polity and society in so many different ways. He will be sorely missed not only by family, peers, colleagues, friends, and admirers who knew him, but also by readers and citizens who read what he wrote and heard what he said. It has been difficult for me to find the words that would provide a fitting tribute to his life and work because we were such close friends for more than four decades.

Mitra was a man of many parts: academician, administrator, politician, minister, parliamentarian, columnist, littérateur and, above all, a concerned citizen. As an academic, he was a distinguished economist. In administration, he was an influential policy practitioner. In the world of politics, he was an exception for his ideological beliefs, impeccable integrity, uncompromising nature and plain-speaking. As the finance minister of West Bengal, he served with commitment, passion and distinction. In Parliament, he worked tirelessly for good causes and the public interest without fear or favour. As a columnist, he wrote with elegance and wit, but could be trenchant and devastating in criticism. In the world of letters, he wrote extensively in Bengali, poetry and prose, to engage with literary criticism. As a concerned citizen, his voice was always audible and influenced people across the nation. He was, indeed, a renaissance man, always among the few in his time, but now a vanishing breed.

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Updated On : 18th May, 2018
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