Leading Economist of Indian Agriculture Abhijit Sen passes Away
Leading Economist of Indian Agriculture Abhijit Sen passes Away

NEW DELHI:  A prominent expert on the rural economy and a former member of the Planning Commission, Professor Abhijit Sen,   died here on Monday night after a brief illness. He was 72 years old.

Sen taught economics at Sussex, Oxford, Cambridge, and Essex before joining the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1985. His academic career spanned more than four decades. Along with economists like Krishna Bharadwaj, Prabhat Pattnaik, C.P. Chandrashekhar, Amit Bhaduri, and his wife Jayati Ghosh, he contributed to making the department known as a premier hub for the study of the Indian economy and development economics there.

In addition to his work in research and education, Sen was also a key player in policy. He was appointed chairman of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices, a ministry of agriculture commission entrusted with suggesting minimum support prices for a range of farm commodities, by the United Front administration in 1997. Three years after his term ended, he was asked to lead the High-Level Committee of Experts on Long-Term Grain Policy by the National Democratic Alliance government. One of the suggestions the committee made was to establish an all-Indian public distribution system (PDS) for rice and wheat, as well as to give the CACP statutory authority.

Professor Abhijit Senwas appointed to the Planning Commission in 2004 for a five-year term and reappointed in 2009. The Planning Commission was at the time the top authority for formulating national economic policy. Even though it went against the official policy of the Manmohan Singh government, he continued to advocate there for universal PDS and fair prices for farmers, among other things. He also addressed the issue of commodity futures trading in India. The Niti Aayog took the role of the Planning Commission in 2014 under the Narendra Modi administration.

Sen, who was born on November 18, 1950, in Jamshedpur, attended the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in Delhi before enrolling at St. Stephen's College at Delhi University to study physics. Sen then turned to economics, where he worked with Suzy Paine to get his PhD at Cambridge with a thesis titled "The agrarian limitation to economic development: The case of India."

Sen's knowledge was frequently utilised by the UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Asian Development Bank in addition to his work with the CACP and Planning Commission.

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