New Delhi, Feb 10 (Calcutta Tube) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday condoled the death of eminent economist K.N. Raj, and said he was a close friend and a great economist who devoted his life to serving the country and the cause of social justice.
Raj died at a private hospital here Wednesday, an official said. He was 86.
Raj was ailing for some time. His last rites would be conducted Thursday, said a spokesperson of the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) that Raj founded.
In his condolence message to his son Gopal Raj, the prime minister said K.N. Raj’s passing away was ‘a great personal loss’ and recalled his contributions to the nation as a teacher, a researcher and an institution builder.
‘It is with great sorrow and a profound sense of personal loss that I learnt of the passing away of your father Prof. K.N. Raj,’ he said in a statement here.
‘I had the privilege of knowing Prof. Raj for over four decades. He was a very close friend and a great economist. His contributions to the science of economics as a teacher, a researcher and an institution builder are immense,’ he added.
The prime minister said that at a young age of 27 Raj was invited by the then prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to help draft India’s First Five-Year Plan.
‘In his long and illustrious career, he served the government and many institutions with great distinction. Prof. Raj was a moving force behind the setting up of the Delhi School of Economics and the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum,’ said the prime minister, who himself taught at the Delhi School of Economics.
The prime minister said that the work Raj and his colleagues had done for the United Nations in the early days of the CDS helped shape the contours of what later came to be called the ‘Kerala model’ of development.
‘The numerous awards that he received are a testimony to his exceptional talent. Prof. Raj was also a very fine human being. He devoted his life to serving the country and the cause of social justice. He will be deeply missed by all those whose lives he touched,’ he said.
Raj shot to fame soon after Independence when he was invited by Nehru to lay the country’s economic foundation. He took the lead and established the Planning Commission in 1950.
He was also vice-chancellor of Delhi University and a member of the prime minister’s economic advisory council for several years.
In 1971, C. Achutha Menon, then chief minister of Kerala, asked Raj to set up an academic research institution. Raj took up the challenge and with Rs.3 million from the state government laid the foundation of the CDS, often referred to as Raj’s Institute, though he never took up the post of CDS director.
In 2000, Raj was awarded Padma Vibhushan for his contribution to the fields of literature and education.
Some of Raj’s well-known students at CDS are Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, veteran journalists Ram Manohar Reddy (editor, Economic and Political Weekly) and Sanjaya Baru (former press secretary to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), Planning Commission member Mihir Shah and several senior officials serving the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.