Rich tributes paid to K.N. Raj

THRISSUR, OCT. 2. A galaxy of prominent economists from across the country, including the former Reserve Bank Governors, I.G. Patel and Bimal Jalan, MP, today converged in Thrissur to pay tributes to the eminent economist and multifaceted personality, K.N. Raj. The function was organised at the St. Thomas College, Thrissur, to honour Dr. Raj.

Setting the tone for the moving eulogies that were showered on the distinguished economist, Dr. Patel said that Dr. Raj, a brilliant scholar of international repute and an influential economist, used to maintain a warm relationship with his colleagues and friends, and that he took pains to maintain those relationships.

Spotting talent

Dr. Raj had the talent and the ability to spot talent and to encourage it. His contributions to the First Five-year Plan document are remarkable, and that document continues to be one of the most important articulations of the country's developmental issues, Dr. Patel said. He said one of the refreshing aspects of Dr. Raj's personality was his capacity to be enthusiastic even about small things, and this was a major factor that attracted people to him.

Sense of humour

Dr. Jalan, in his address, said that apart from his scholarship and erudition, Dr. Raj had an "infectious sense of humour, simplicity and an ordinariness in that he was interested in us as much as we were interested in him.'' He said Dr. Raj's most important contribution in policy prescription was his analytical rigour and methodology that were used by him to arrive at the assumptions, which formed the basis of his recommendations. Although, there could be differences in the prescriptions made by him at a particular point of time, there had never been any differences on the tools used by him to arrive at those assumptions, Dr. Jalan said.

Dr. Raj was candid enough to concede that developmental issues were complex and that it would be difficult to find final answers to all the issues. Similarly, when he found his assumptions were wrong, he had no problems in admitting that and in revising those assumptions. But he maintained his concern for achieving equitable development. He believed that there could be no ideological certainty about the outcome in developmental issues, though there could be ideological certainty about the underlying positions.

The former Planning Commission Member, Hiten Bhayya, recalled that although Dr. Raj is very affectionate and humble, he could be tough when the situation required it.

For example, during the Emergency, when some wrong decisions were taken by the Director Board of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) Limited at the behest of the top leadership then, Dr. Raj resigned from the Director Board.

Inaugurating the function, the Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath said that development had a necessary economic dimension, but it was not only that. "It must be measured and oriented according to the reality and vocation of man seen in his totality, according to his interior dimension.''

The Professor Emeritus of the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), A. Vaidyanathan, said that Dr. Raj recognised the fact that knowledge alone was not sufficient in resolving social issues, but there would have to be active involvement in the real decision-making process. The economists, Sudipto Mundle and A.V. Jose, were among those who spoke at the inaugural session.

Several leading economists like Prabhat Patnaik, C.P. Chandrasekhar, and K.S. Krishnaswamy were among those who participated in the technical sessions.

Manmohan's message

The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has had a long-standing relationship with Dr. Raj, said in his message that Dr. Raj was never an ivory tower intellectual. "In the best traditions of classical economics, he (Dr. Raj) believed that economics was both about understanding and changing the real world,'' Dr. Singh said.

The former President, K.R. Narayanan, who could not attend the conference because of ill-health, had also sent a message.

Replying to the felicitation, Dr. Raj said that he was deeply moved by the various observations made by others about him and by the memories of his association with them.

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