Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The University of Madras on Wednesday honoured its first Professor of Economics, Gilbert Slater, by unveiling his portrait.

Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan unveiled the portrait that was retrieved from the Presidency College by State Planning Commission Vice-Chairman, M. Naganathan. It will be kept in the university library.

In his presidential address, Prof. Anbazhagan said,“Dr. Slater served University of Madras for seven years from 1915 and had written seven books, including the well-known ‘The Dravidian element in Indian culture’. Dr. Slater focussed on agricultural economy and rural development to eradicate poverty”.

The Minister said "the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is also built on the same premise and we are still trying to accomplish what Dr. Slater had attempted.”

Prof. Naganathan said Dr. Slater was a great researcher, who spent his time on State economy, social reforms and on Tamil language. The State government will take steps to retrieve his books such as English Peasantry, Peace and War, Making of Modern England, Economic and Social Condition of South India and Village Studies, to complete its collection.

“He learnt Tamil language and in his books had described it as extraordinary, most cultured and purest one. During those days, he also stressed the importance of having good drinking water, education and sanitary conditions in villages to improve the living conditions of farmers and artisans”, he said.

“This statement holds good and was corroborated by other researchers recently,” Prof. Naganathan added.

Chris Gibson, Director, South India, British Council, and S. Ramachandran, Madras University Vice-Chancellor, spoke.