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NEW DELHI: The body of Arjun K. Sengupta, a developmental economist of repute and Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal, was cremated at the Lodhi Crematorium here on Monday. He was 73.
Dr. Sengupta, who died on Sunday evening at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences after a brief illness, is survived by his wife Jayshree and daughter Madhura.
Born in Kolkata on June 10, 1937, Dr. Sengupta finished high school at the Mitra Institution, Bhowanipur, graduated from the Presidency College, did his master's in economics in the University of Calcutta, and obtained a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He went on to have a distinguished and multifaceted career as academician, economic policy administrator, bureaucrat, diplomat and parliamentarian.
After teaching stints at the London School of Economics and the Delhi School of Economics, Dr. Sengupta served as Special Secretary (Economic Advisor) to Prime Minister India Gandhi (1981-84), as Executive Director and Special Advisor to the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (1985-90), as India's Ambassador to the European Union (1990-93). He was a Member and Member-Secretary of the Planning Commission (with Minister of State rank) from 1993 to 1998. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in August 2005.
As Chairman of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector in 2004, Dr. Sengupta's most important contribution was the initiation of the government's ongoing struggle for more inclusive development and welfare of the downtrodden and the marginalised.
Analysing National Sample Survey data in its voluminous report, the commission highlighted that 836 million Indians still remained marginalised, and Dr. Sengupta argued that maximisation of profits should not be the sole objective of economic growth.
The report pointed out that though enormous funds had been allocated and spent on social development programmes, the benefits largely bypassed the poorest of poor. It suggested designing special schemes for these vulnerable sections through better targeting and social engineering.
The commission's recommendations on social security resulted in the enactment of the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008.
Recalling Dr. Sengupta's contribution to identifying the cross-linkages between extreme poverty and the downtrodden, C. Rangarajan, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, said: “He had a good understanding of social problems and was deeply involved in finding solutions for people at the bottom of the population pile.”
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