On 28 January 2022 in the wee hours, our country lost a great Professor, an erudite scholar and kind-hearted down to earth person, popularly known as Professor R. Radhakrishna. Prof. Radhakrishna is a prolific researcher, respected teacher, able academic administrator, and notable institution builder. I had the opportunity to interact on many occasions for academic matters. I felt lucky enough when he included me in a Government of India Committee namely “Report of the Committee on Credit Related Issues under SGSY” (published in February 2009). He was an erudite scholar with immense knowledge in Social Science in general and Economics in particular. Undoubtedly, he was a down to earth human person and such a great personality seldom can be seen.
Prof. Radhakrishna did his post-graduation in Economics and Statistics from Andhra University and subsequently completed Ph.D. in Economics from Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune University). He was a scholar par excellence as his Ph.D., thesis on indifference surfaces won acclaim from world-famous Econometrician Prof Gerhard Tintner.
Prof. Radhakrishna held several important positions inter alia of which were Chairman, Commission on Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural Development of AP(2015-16); Chairman, National Statistical Commission, (2009-12); Director/Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (2001- 07); Vice-Chancellor, Andhra University (1998-2001); Member Secretary, ICSSR (1994-97); Director, CESS (1985-1994); Professor of Economics, University of Hyderabad (1980-85); Professor, Sardar Patel Institute of Social Economic Research (1973-80) and Visiting Fellow, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, U.K. (1976-77). He served as an expert in numerous international organisations such as the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 1997; Management of Social Transformation (MOST), UNESCO, 2004 and UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific, 2005. Professor was also a Consultant to several international bodies including Internal Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNDP, and FAO.
It is pertinent to mention that based on the recommendations made in the Committee on ‘Credit Related Issues under SGSY’, the Ministry of Rural Development; Government of India launched the National Rural Livelihood Mission popularly known as NRLM in 2011. He was also a member of the three important Planning Commission Expert Groups related to Poverty –a) Task force on projections of Minimum needs and Effective Consumption Demand, 1977-78; b) Expert Group on Estimation of Proportion and Number of Poor, 1989-93 (Lakdawala Committee) and c) Expert Group to Review the Methodologies on Estimation of the Poor, 2006-08 (Tendulkar Committee). He was also Chairman of UGC Committees to review Universities and ICSSR Review Committee to review its research institutes in north-west India.
He was associated with many academic and research institutions in his lifetime. Some of which were Chairman or Board Member: Chairman, Madras Institute for Development Studies; Board Member, Madras School of Economics; Chairman, Centre for Development Alternatives, Ahmadabad; and presently Chairman, Institute for Development Studies, Andhra Pradesh. Till his death, he was President of the Indian Society of Agricultural Marketing and Chairman, Indian Association of Social Science Institutions. He was President-elect of the Indian Society of Agriculture Economics (2019). He was the Conference President of the Indian Economic Association (2016), Indian Econometric Society (2008), Indian Society of Labour Economics (2002), Indian Society of Agricultural Marketing (1996), and Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (1995).
He served in the editorial boards of several peers reviewed academic journals inter alia of which are Journal of Quantitative Economics, Asia Pacific Journal of Rural Development, Journal of Asian Economics and IASSI quarterly etc. He successfully guided 25 doctoral students. He published a large number of books and more than 100 original research papers in national and international journals. Some of his publications which were appreciated inter alia are ‘India’s Public Distribution System: A National and International Perspective (1998)’; ‘Empowering Rural Labour (1998)’; ‘India Development Report 2008 and Handbook of Poverty in India’: ‘Policy Perspective (2005)’. In recognition of his huge academic contributions, he was awarded VKRV Rao Prize in Economics in 1985, and Telugu Atma Gaurava Puraskaram for his eminence in Social Sciences by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1998. He was Jawaharlal Nehru National Fellow (ICSSR) during 2009-11.
His compendium of books published by Academic Foundation in 2017 is on the themes of Indian Economy, Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition; Growth, Poverty and Well-being; Econometrics of Consumer Behaviour; and Inflation, Consumption and Welfare was highly appreciated.
Prof Radhakrishna will be remembered generations after generations by the academicians, research scholars, and others who are in the field of Social Science in general and Economics in particular for his immense contribution in the fields of Economics, poverty, agriculture, food security, employment and rural development.
(The author is grateful to Prof. E Revathi, Director, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad for providing necessary information about Prof. R. Radhakrishna)