Professor K.N. Raj, the founding father of CDS, was one of the most eminent Indian economists of the post-Independence generation. He was an inspiring teacher, a demanding supervisor and a brilliant economist. Above all, he was a master builder of institutions and a visionary who strived to improve the quality of teaching and research in economics in Kerala and elsewhere in the country. He played an important role in India’s planned development, especially in drafting sections of India’s first Five Year Plans. He chalked out a plan to raise India’s rate of savings in the post-Second World War period when the country was in need of foreign aid and also computed India’s Balance of Payments for the first time for the Reserve Bank of India. Raj was also an advisor to several prime ministers’ from Jawaharlal Nehru to P.V. Narasimha Rao.
The work that Raj and his colleagues did for the United Nations in the early days of the CDS, and published in 1976, helped shaped what later came to be called the “Kerala model of development”. He also studied the application of Keynesian monetary theory in the Indian context. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2000.
About the Lecture Series
Late Professor K N Raj laid the academic foundation for establishing CDS in collaboration with his very erudite companions. Due to his efforts, the Centre, right since its inception, has been focusing on a systematic empirical study of different aspects of Kerala and India’s economy, employing a trans disciplinary framework. Several elements of the Centre’s governance structure, which give importance to an inclusive and transparent decision-making process, are attributable primarily to Professor Raj’s efforts. The lecture series is thought of as a way of paying tribute to Prof Raj, as also to recall his singular, path-breaking theoretical, empirical and policy contributions in Economics, This would enable students and teachers of Economics at the Centre and elsewhere, as also policy-makers, to gain a deeper appreciation of Prof Raj’s work and gain from it in multiple ways..
About the Inaugural Lecture
Professor K N Raj passed away on February 10, 2010. Ever since the day has been observed as the K N Raj Memorial day. Every year, on that day, one of his erstwhile colleagues used to reflect on his contributions to CDS and the development economics community in general. However, in the 50th Foundation Year of 2020-21, we have decided to convert this into an annual lecture series in Professor Raj’s memory.
The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by one of Professor Raj’s distinguished students at CDS, Dr Mihir Shah, on March 10, 2021. Mihir has done his M Phil and PhD at the Centre, graduating with a doctoral degree in 1984. After a short teaching stint at the Centre, he resigned to explore fresh terrain beyond the ivory towers of conventional academia, which culminated in 1990 in the formation of Samaj Pragati Sahayog (SPS), which is today one of India’s largest grass-roots initiatives for water and livelihood security. Over the past 30 years, Mihir has lived and worked in tribal, central India. In this time, he has also been able to connect his work on the ground with academic research and has an impressive publication record of books, journal articles, and more popular writings in national and regional newspapers, rivalling his peers’ record in more organised academic settings. Mihir has admirably contributed to public policy making. He was the youngest member of the former Planning Commission during 2009-2014, handling such portfolios as Rural Development, Water Resources, and Panchayati Raj. He is also the chair of the Committee set up by the Government of India in 2019 to draw up India’s new National Water Policy. He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Shiv Nadar University, where he has designed a globally first-of-its-kind Masters Program on Water Science and Policy