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

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A Quiet Scholar

Amitava Bose (28 July 1947–13 January 2017) was known for his intellectual prowess in the field of macroeconomics and being a true gentleman.

The name of Amitava Bose who passed away in Kolkata on 13 January may not be known to many people outside of a small circle of scholars, students, and friends, but he was in formal terms the finest macro-economist in the country, and among the best anywhere in the world. My colleagues at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) tell me that he was also, in formal terms, the finest micro-economist in the country, and in every other branch of economic theory. I can well believe what they say, but my direct first-hand knowledge relates to his intellectual prowess in the realm of macroeconomics.

I first met Amitava in late 1974 in Kolkata, shortly after he had come back with a PhD from the University of Rochester and joined the faculty of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in that city. (He was to spend the rest of his academic life at the IIM Kolkata and to become its director eventually.) He was organising a seminar at the IIM Kolkata, which still had not moved out of its old premises at the Emerald Bower, to which I had been invited. This was my first academic seminar in Kolkata, and, like all seminars in Kolkata then, an occasion for great excitement as well as a cause for much nervousness. Kolkata had a brilliant and active group of theoretical economists at that time, led by Ajit Biswas and Mihir Rakshit, and including Sanjit Bose, Arup Mullick, Amitava Bose, and Dipankar Dasgupta, who met regularly, often in a room in one of the upper floors of the College Street Coffee House. The group organised periodic seminars, and generally created an extremely vibrant academic ambience. Presenting one’s idea in Kolkata at one of the seminars organised by this group was the ultimate test of its robustness: if they okayed what one said then one could be sure, at least technically, that one’s argument contained no loopholes and that it could be presented to the world with confidence. This explains both my excitement and my nervousness at attending the first seminar organised by Amitava which also was my first in Kolkata.

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Updated On : 2nd Feb, 2017
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