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

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Remembering Asok Sen

A tribute to the economist and Marxist Asok Sen, mentor to an entire generation of young scholars of Calcutta/Kolkata who went on to make their mark in a diverse set of fields. Asok Sen also edited the journal Baromas with distinction for 37 years.

Even though Asok Sen, who passed away in Kolkata on 10 December 2015, was a towering personality in Bengal’s intellectual life, his work is little known elsewhere. A Marxist closely associated with the undivided Communist Party in the 1950s and 1960s, he was one of the first scholars in India to take a serious interest in the writings of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and inspired a generation of younger scholars in Bengal to think critically of the inherited tradition of Marxist scholarship and political practice. A university teacher and social science researcher, he wrote on a wide range of subjects in both English and Bengali. The journal Baromas, which he founded in 1978 and edited (reading the last set of proofs of its latest number just two days before his death), became the most prestigious literary and intellectual magazine in Bengali.

Born in 1927, he studied Economics at Presidency College but came under the spell of Susobhan Sarkar, the eminent Marxist historian and teacher. Sen’s literary and cultural interests also drew him into the circle around the poet and critic Bishnu Dey. In the 1950s, Sen worked as an economist in the Planning Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute where P C Mahalanobis was leading a large team of Indian and foreign experts engaged in the task of preparing the Second Five Year Plan. In the 1960s, Sen taught Economics at Burdwan University. From 1973 until his retirement in 1992, he was professor of Economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.

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