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

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T N Srinivasan (1933–2018)

A Spirited Polymath

T N Srinivasan was one of the most distinguished economists of post-independence India and contributed immensely to academic research and public policy. Although he is better known for his extensive scholarly work in various areas of economics, he has also written on energy policy, nuclear power, and other topics that few would associate him with. Equally important was his unflinching commitment and generosity towards students and young researchers throughout his long career.

This article has been expanded from a short obituary published in the Hindu Business Line on 16 November 2018.

T   N Srinivasan, known to friends and colleagues as TN, lived a full scholarly life until his death on 11 November 2018 in Chennai. One of India’s outstanding economists and an unrelenting champion of free trade and economic liberalisation, he was the quintessential puritan among academics. In his long and distinguished career straddling academia and public policy, he contributed significantly to development economics, statistics, econometrics, economic growth, income inequality, international trade, and human development. Although his contributions to economics are varied and enduring, TN is famously known for the work with his friend and long-time collaborator Jagdish Bhagwati, which laid the intellectual groundwork for India’s economic reforms in 1991.

TN also wrote, albeit sporadically, on topics other than his well-known forte. I had the fortune and privilege of collaborating with him briefly on nuclear policy in which I received doctoral training at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My association with TN began in the twilight of his illustrious career when we were colleagues at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for two years from 2011 to 2012. He held the Yong Pung How Chair Professorship at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in NUS after retiring from Yale University. He had a five-decade association with Yale, starting as a doctoral student in the early 1960s under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Tjalling Koopmans, becoming a tenured professor in economics in 1979, and eventually heading the department from 1997 to 2000. In between he also had a long stint at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Delhi during the 1960s and 1970s and held visiting professorships at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Johns Hopkins University.

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Updated On : 8th Jan, 2019
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