Remembering Prof. Deb Kusum Das
The Department of Economics, Ramjas College grieves the loss of Professor Deb Kusum Das, a cheerful and valiant personality, with immense love for Economic theories and concepts. Professor Das had a 35-year association with Ramjas, which the Department will cherish forever. An eminent economist and an excellent professor, he has touched the hearts of many and made indispensable contributions to the field of economics. His area of research focused on Labour, Trade and Indian Economics and was associated with the KLEMS project. He has made significant contributions to the study of jobs and labour market, empirical international trade, Indian Economic Growth and productivity. He is also accredited for being an editor of multiple economics and academic books. He received the EXIM Bank IEDRA Award 2004 for his doctoral dissertation, "Some Aspects of Productivity and Trade in Indian Industry". He was the driving force behind the annual South Asian Economics Meet (SAESM). We hope that the departed soul rests in peace and pay our sincere condolences to his family members, friends and students for their immense loss.
Messages from Beloved Ones
I am an old friend, from Delhi School days, and live in London. Deb was one of the few friends from university days who had stayed in touch most of these intervening years. My sincere condolences to Deb’s family, and to all his friends, colleagues and students here. Best wishes, Mukulika.
- Mukulika Banerjee
London School of Economics
An old friend of DKD.
I would always remember DKD as a very welcoming, pleasant and supportive friend. Despite being many years senior to me, he was very warm and approachable for all kinds of advice. He had an awesome personality which instantly inspired people. I’m grateful I had the chance to know him as both a colleague and a cherished friend.
- Madhur Ajmani Sethi
Ex Faculty, Ramjas College
It was heartwarming to hear everyone’s memories of DKD sir. His impact and legacy were immense. As part of the first SAESM batch, DKD sir gave us an opportunity to go beyond our borders and make lasting friendships across the region. I will miss his love for life and joy and warmth. Rest In Peace sir…
- Snigdha Dewal
Alumna, Ramjas College
We mourn the untimely death of Professor Deb Kusum Das, popularly known as DKD, a dear friend, a motivational teacher, a great researcher, and a true South Asian personality. Our relationship with DKD was built with a vision of an integrated South Asia and evolved to share many gatherings and other activities together over the years. With his passing, DKD is leaving behind a legacy of leadership, kindness, compassion, and generosity. DKD was of the founder of SAESM (South Asia Economics Students' Meet) – the only regular South Asian event in the contexts of turmoil and uneven relationships among the South Asian countries. Since 2003, over the years, SAESM has become the ‘symbol’ of an ‘Integrated South Asia’. This is the unique platform where young aspiring economists from South Asia meet, interact, and exchange ideas with each other. For SAESM, DKD would be willing to drop anything to lend a hand. He was a rock of stability and a source of strength in the long journey of SAESM. We can’t imagine how empty it feels to spend time in any SAESM event without DKD by our side. The young combatants of SAESM need to carry forward DKD’s vision of an integrated South Asia in all spheres of their lives. DKD shared good humour and a big smile with everyone he met. He was an integral part of creating a solid foundation of friendship in South Asia. When times were difficult, he could always put smiles on our faces. He held his head high until the end, showing what it looks like to finish strong. He had a magical way of bringing joy every time he walked into the room. No one who met him could forget his smile. We will never forget the advice and the lessons he taught us. His wisdom will forever guide us. We love you, DKD!
- Dr Selim Raihan, Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Executive Director of SANEM.
I first heard about DKD when I was teaching in the Delhi School of Economics, as some of his papers were a part of the reading list for the course on Economic Development and Policy in India for the students of the MA Final. In Ramjas college we had a close association through many things. Both of us had a keen interest in research and teaching econometrics. He was the first one to teach the two courses on Econometrics but in both cases, he quit those courses and advised me to teach them. One thing I admire about him is that he would mince no words whenever he disagreed with some position being taken by some colleague.
- Dr Lokendra Kumawat
Colleague, Ramjas College
Before getting to know DKD personally, I was copied in many emails between him and colleagues. Already from the tone of these emails, I was very curious to get to know him. I will never forget our first coffee: he was so friendly and interesting, so open and engaged, and all with great humour! Above all, his enthusiasm and optimism for SAESM were catching. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to interact with him to organize the World Bank’s support for the recent events and will forever cherish the opportunity to join the 2020 SAESM in Nepal. South Asia has lost a great character and academic; his commitment to the region and the youth will be missed.
- Robert C. M. Beyer, macroeconomist at the South Asia Office of the Chief Economist at the World Bank.
DKD sir was always very proactive in all the departmental activities and as a person, he was always very helpful and approachable to students. His econometrics classes were very interesting. It was always good to be around him as he shares knowledge and experiences. I have learnt a lot from him and that contributed a lot to my personal as well as professional life. I am glad that I attended the alumni meet of 2021 and got a chance to listen to him once again. Sir, you will be missed. Sir, Please apply some permutations and combinations and come back.
- Vani Agarwal
Alumna, Ramjas College (Batch 2006-09)
Assistant professor and Program Co-ordinator
Amity Business School
Deb and I met for the first time in June 2016. Back then I was serving as Chief Economist for South Asia at the World Bank, based in Delhi. Together with his friend and colleague Mihir Pandey, Deb was seeking support to bring together students in economics from across the region. His enthusiasm was contagious. I immediately saw the potential of his initiative and started exploring ways to mobilize resources for his beloved network, the South Asia Economic Students Meet (SAESM). Teaching and mentoring were Deb’s vocation, and he had no doubt that helping the brightest students of each cohort mingle with each other, listen to lectures, participate in debates, and build networks was key for them to grow professionally. In a region divided, SAESM was also a wonderful vehicle to support mutual understanding and analytical partnerships. As progress on formal regional integration stalled, building strong peopleto-people links was, no doubt, the right way to go. Ever since that first meeting, I became a committed SAESM advocate and supporter. I participated in almost all its annual encounters until I took on another assignment at the World Bank in 2019. And those meetings were among the most gratifying experiences of my tenure in the region. There was substance in the presentations, eagerness to learn among all participants, and warmth in the air that made each of the SAESM meetings memorable. That is without even mentioning the joy of the farewell dinners, that inevitably ended with everybody dancing together to the contagious tune of Bollywood songs! I feel a debt of gratitude to Deb for having invited me to be part of this extraordinary journey he had put in motion. But in addition, I was absolutely convinced that he was right in devoting himself to his cause. I grew up in Latin America, at a time of military dictatorships and heavy censorship. Back then, together with fellow young economists from across the region, we were actively building networks that could foster an open exchange of ideas and become a source of mutual support. Today, many of the top Latin American academics and policymakers are part of such networks. We know each other, we trust each other, and even if we may disagree on specific issues… at a deeper level we think alike and share the same goals. This is not to say that the economic problems of Latin America have been solved, far from that! But so much progress has been made thanks to those committed young economists who got together year after year, in the same way as SAESM participants do nowadays in South Asia, thanks to Deb’s drive and generosity. Along the way, Deb and I collaborated in many other ways. We discussed economic issues together, he invited me to give talks at Ramjas College, we exchanged books and articles. Deb was not only substantive as an economist: he was exceptionally warm as a human being. And very humble too, as the many students who travelled long journeys by train with him to attend SAESM meetings can testify. Through those qualities, Deb exemplified what a role model is. Deb’s untimely departure came as a shock to all of us. There was still so much more he had to contribute, so much energy to be tapped in him, so many laughs to be had together. He will be sorely missed, for sure! But through the legacy of his beloved SAESM, and through the successes of the many students he taught and mentored, he will continue to be with us.
- Martin Rama
Dr Rama is the World Bank Chief Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.
The whole country including Ramjas College and Delhi has not only lost a great economist but a great man who can never be replaced. Whenever I met Sir, I always got the inspiration to do hard work with positive thinking and honesty. Sir, popularly known as DKD, was always in discussion among students and teachers. In the last time meeting, he talked about voting for Adhoc mate this time in the DUTA election, then I was really surprised.
- Dr Bharat Lal Meena
Colleague, Ramjas College
Prof. Deb Kusum Das, or DKD we used to call him has been a humble, composed, educated person with a great sense of humour. He has been a rare combination of ‘intellect’ and a ‘good human being’, His death is a big loss not only to the teachers or researchers at Delhi University but far across in India and abroad. His guidance on the personal and professional front has always been remarkable. I will always admire his contribution to the unity and integrity of the department. DKD, we miss you......
- Dr Pawan Kumar
Colleague, Ramjas College
The winter economics conference was the wild brainchild predecessor of Saesm in 2002. That’s how I got to know DKD. Wild because nobody in their right mind could imagine that a purely academic conference could be pulled off in DU. But he made it happen. He brought out the best in us. It was the foundation of my professional career as a manager and injected me with confidence that serves me till today. DKD was a friend and a father figure. Thank you DKD !!!
- Kshitij Rai
Alumnus, Ramjas College.
DKD – my real-life Mark Thackeray Dr Deb Kusum Das, or as we all know him – DKD (not ‘Sir’, just DKD – because he often became one with his students and peers) was a third parent to me. Having known him for two decades now, he often had more influence on my thoughts and decisions than my own parents. I have now lost with him – a father figure, an inspiring mentor, someone I have taken for granted because he was there, always. DKD (Sir) was never just a professor for most of us at Ramjas, or even beyond Ramjas. The vision for SAESM started during one of the many latenight parties at his (then) bachelor pad in the autumn of 2003 since other ‘bigger’ colleges were always having ‘bigger’ economics fests. Like always, he followed through and immediately put together a modest and motley crew of students to start working on this massive dream, ‘bigger than the biggest we could concoct in our young minds. As a small part of that motley crew, today I look back and reminisce about what was indeed the first flavour for many of us - of what it meant to dream with one’s eyes open and manage a project of near-astronomical scale. This was just a few years after Kargil ’99 and South Asia was still healing from fresh wounds. Even imagining a project like this was laughable! But that was then, and now we are here – with SAESM having just turned into a formidable 18- year-old adult! He literally got pregnant with the idea of SAESM, birthed it and saw it to its adulthood. But it will never be the same again. I will never again receive a call in the middle of the night with DKD (Sir) on the other side speaking excitedly and mandating me to rope in Myanmar or Thailand or Singapore into SAESM. I will never again be reprimanded for not getting a meaty sponsor for the next convention. I will never again be sent pictures from the valedictory sessions and being asked to (still!) pursue my PhD in Economics one day. He was at my marriage, at my child’s first birthday, at my own father’s cremation – and I always took him for granted. Imagining a life ahead without him being ‘there somewhere’ will take some processing. I will try my best to be an iota of the person he always saw in me. Thank you, sir, I miss you.
- Anirban Basu, Ramjas College Alumnus
This has not sunk in yet. The department of Economics Ramjas college will forever remember his contribution. He was always full of life. Whenever I happened to call him over the phone, his energy was something that always stood out and I would ask myself why am I not that excited and energetic. we will
Really miss you, sir. Rest in peace Sir 🙏🏻
- Mr Pawan Prakash
Colleague, Ramjas College
Professor Deb Kusum Das set a high bar for his students and peers. His teaching started in the classroom but went far beyond economics. While he encouraged us to work tirelessly to meet the high expectations he had for his students, he valued compassion, humanity, and friendship above all else. His values in life and rigour of research will continue to inspire his students around the world.
- Kartik Mishra
Alumnus, Ramjas College
It is sad that Prof. DKD left us quite soon. I had the privilege of knowing him beyond the classroom during discussions regarding the RER or AWC. Apart from being the serious thinker and academic that we all know him as, he was a kind, funny and encouraging mentor who helped me in many ways. I'm grateful for his lessons and the limited interaction I had with him. He will be dearly missed.
- Rijul Alvan Das
Student, Ramjas College
It’s not easy to capture the essence of someone like DKD sir, who had such a massive impact on so many lives yet lived with such ease, simplicity, and joy. The reality of his absence hasn’t sunk in. He seems just a quick phone call or a coffee at Habitat Center away. He was part of my Ramjas College experience from Day 1. His classes were a blast, hanging out and chatting with him after class was even more fun! But it was the idea of SAESM that was his most audacious one. I remember thinking what a crazy notion this was, the logistics of organizing a huge international event with an inexperienced bunch of college undergrads like us. But his belief and never say die spirit just somehow made us all work that much harder to make his vision a reality. I was proud to be part of the organizing team for the inaugural SAESM in Delhi, and then part of the India delegation to Lahore for the second SAESM. I made friends and memories for life each time. DKD sir’s encouragement in doing the research for SAESM paper presentations was the catalyst for my pursuing doctoral studies and charting out a career as a researcher. But beyond academia and conferences, he was the best friend and mentor one could ever ask for. From the legendary parties at his house, bringing in the baarat at his wedding, the raucous house-warming for him and Shoma di, we felt like we were a part of his family. And as life moved forward, he became a part of our families and I would look forward to meeting him in all corners of the world, wherever our travels and work would take us. He was the most wonderful human being I had the privilege of knowing. Farewell sir and miss you so much.
- Snigdha Dewal, Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2002-05
DKD had a huge influence on my formative years in college! I joined Ramjas in 2007 and he took a couple of courses for us. But more than this, it's my association with him through SAESM. I was part of the organizing team in 2008, a participant in 2009 and again an organizer in 2011. The experience of being involved in SAESM, meeting people and organizing events independently influenced the personality hugely. I was not in touch with him for around 6-7 years now but I would always remember his childish smile and infectious enthusiasm. He used to often so lovingly talk about his experience of teaching at LUMS and how that led to the idea of SAESM. I will miss him and my condolences to Soma ma’am and the kids.
- Akshat Agarwal
Alumnus, Ramjas College (Batch 2007-10)
DKD Sir remains the most influential person in my life since the day I first met him in Ramjas College corridor asking for the economics department. I have lost my mentor, teacher, and friend who went beyond being the teacher and made me fall in love with the subject. His invisible hands always supported me to succeed and were constantly nudging me to strive for something more. I wish we can touch a fraction of the lives that DKD could influence in his lifetime. I wish our dreams are as big as DKD’s big-budget movie canvases. I wish we all can feel the romance that DKD wished to write in his script. He was a dreamer and I hope I could play a small part in his dream.
- Gunajit Kalita, Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2002-05
It was only last December that I was beaming with the joy of spotting Prof. Deb Kusum Das’, or DKD sir as we called him fondly, book on productivity dynamics alongside Prof. Turab Hussain’s work on weak institutional environments at a Delhi winter booksale. And unsurprisingly, it reminded me of the warmth and camaraderie that I’d felt at SAESM – something that DKD sir helped create and foster. He was full of love and strength and was in many ways instrumental in my decision to pursue an academic career in Economics. Thank you, professor, for your wisdom and kindness. The SAESM fraternity will miss you dearly and may we continue your great legacy with many more years of SAESM, bigger and better like you'd always dreamt.
- Rohit James Joseph, PhD. Student, Department of Economics, Ashoka University
I remember professor Deb Kusum Das more from after I left college than before. He was our neighbour at Sahyog for many years and I remember interacting with him as well as his mother.
It is difficult to describe DKD, he was sweet and affectionate to say the least. I think he was like water, the impact he made, he was making, was ever so subtle, you did not feel pressured, but you ended up doing what he was suggesting in any case and at some later stage in life, you realized how your roots had enriched through that experience...
I was sort of part of the team when the first SAESM happened even though I was out of college by then... I loved his interaction with the first batch of SEASM students - Anuraag, Deepankar, Homagni, Gunajit, who through him often visited us as well - I think their bond grew such that he brought out the best in them, lest they disappoint him... I think that is one of the best ways to become better, you internalize the process this way, it becomes a part of who you are…Our interaction dropped to near zero once he left Sahyog... And then suddenly, post-Papa, he called twice or thrice, asking me to think about institutionalizing Papa's memory... Saying that Suresh's personality, his impact was much larger than normal and must be remembered as such, I was always moved by his love towards Papa...
I think I would very much like to be a part of institutionalizing Papa's memory, but also now DKD’s... And I know it's different in some many ways, for one he was so much younger, it's most unfortunate ... and I know they were very different men, they belonged to very different eras, to different ethos, very different schools of thought, were emotional in completely different ways, they belonged to different 'isms' and very different points in the Marxian analysis of social change... And yet...
Both stood for individual thought and growth, both imagined the seemingly impossible and worked to make it happen and succeed despite the odds being against them...
What is wonderful about their memories is that you never see them without a smile...In DKD’s case, even when one remembers him whining in his characteristic childlike manner, there's always a smile around that, always a twinkle in his eyes... He shall indeed be missed...
- Shweta Rao
Alumna, Ramjas College
An enthusiastic academic and a friendly person, DKD sir was always at the forefront of trying something new and better for the economics department at Ramjas. I remember he would always encourage us to go beyond textbooks and get ourselves engaged in some good academic papers. I hope his soul Rests in Peace. He will forever remain in our hearts.
- Udit Sawhney (Batch 2015-18)
Alumnus, Ramjas College
We come around various types of people, we learn about the life, we learn about their mastered disciplines, with all of that DKD sir shared a different perspective to see things. In the department, he was the youngest by his heart. I am really grateful for his guidance, love and teaching.
- Chaitanya Keshav
Student, Ramjas College
Dear DKD sir, we are writing this message together as you might remember us quickly as we worked with you jointly as the President and Vice President of the Economics Society for the Annual Winter Conference. We will always remember the love and affection you had for all of us. You guided us, scolded us, advised us, took care of us and made us better leaders. You taught us a valuable lesson of our lives. We hope you are in a good place now and looking at all of your friends, colleagues and students. Everyone will miss your existence. You will always be here, in our hearts.
- Sushant (Batch 2013-16) and Ujjwal (Batch 2014-17)
Alumni, Ramjas College
It has been over a month since our much loved DKD Sir was taken away from us - suddenly and untimely, but it still hasn’t sunk in me yet that he is not with us anymore. As I write this, it is a crisp and chilly winter evening in London, already dark at 5:30 pm and I am wishing that my mobile phone would buzz with a WhatsApp message from DKD Sir saying ‘Call’. Often, we would talk at this time after he had finished his day and before he went to bed – we would talk about everything – life in general, research, SAESM, people, movies, food recipes and the list goes on. It is difficult to express in words the pain and grief I feel today in coming to terms that I will never ever receive those messages and have those conversations with DKD Sir again. I first met him at Ramjas College in the summer of 2002 and last spoke to him on the night before the fateful day he was taken away from us and in between these two dates, DKD Sir had been a friend, philosopher and guide to me for two decades – he bestowed on me his unconditional love like a parent would to their child, he provided me career-shaping advice like a Guru would to their Shishya, and has been by my side in times of crisis and celebrations alike just like any true friend would do. The void he leaves behind cannot be filled. As the founding father of the SAESM movement, I cannot even begin to describe the impact DKD Sir has had on a multitude of students and colleagues of economics in the wider South Asian Region. From having conceived the idea of SAESM in 2003 following his delightful experience of hospitality and friendship of Pakistani students and colleagues in LUMS, and inspiring a group of young students at Ramjas College with his vision and dream of a united South Asia to help him launch the first SAESM in 2004, to making SAESM the much-awaited annual event for UG economics students in South Asia, DKD Sir has led and steered SAESM to grow from strength to strength. I was privileged to be part of that group of young students at Ramjas in 2003 who gave mind and soul to turn DKD’s dream into reality – such strong was his encouragement and mentorship that we never doubted for a second that we will be able to deliver the mammoth task he had us got into. Even after I had left Delhi, he always kept convincing me to come back to contribute to SAESM – he got me to judge student presentations at 2012 SAESM in Kathmandu and again in 2021 to supervise students in the Joint Group Projects. DKD Sir wanted SAESM to grow beyond South Asia and constantly discussed with me his vision of how he wanted to bring the UK and the US to the fold of SAESM, especially the huge South Asian diaspora attending British and American universities. The SAESM community will always remember DKD Sir as the passionate teacher, mentor and colleague he has been to many. We will miss his open, friendly and dynamic personality, and always cherish how he selflessly devoted his time to empower his students and colleagues by encouraging them to be aspiring for monumental things and enabling them to achieve those, and most of all, welcoming them as part of his family. As we mourn this enormous loss as a SAESM community, I am pretty sure that DKD would have said to us (as he did to me in all my crisis) quoting the famous lyrics of one of his favourite songs by ‘Queen’: ‘The show must go on The show must go on I'll face it with a grin I'm never giving in On with the show’ Likewise, SAESM must also go on although it will not be the same without DKD. As a community, we will try to live up to DKD’s ideals and values and keep his legacy alive. His warmth, love, laughter and zest for life filled the spirits of everyone he knew with joy and enthusiasm, and we will eternally miss him.
- Homagni Choudhury Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2002-05
DKD is not a name, DKD can easily be the synonym of the student mentor relation which God might have envisioned. If not for anything else, DKD Sir would be missed for his magnificence, benevolence, kindness. He selflessly curated one student at a time and created an impact only a few humans can ever. He has left behind a Cult named "DKD students". Just like any religion, the students will worship DKD. It seems DKD has just moved to a different world to spread the Cult. We can’t see him, but he can. We can’t feel him, but he can. We can’t reach him, but he can. We can’t touch him, but he can. Like always we could never understand his ways, but he could. For a moment close your eyes, just like you remember your God, visualize DKD, you will see him smile at you. He has just moved to a different world to heal many many lives there just as he did in this world. Like all good things come to an end, so did his presence around us. We will meet him when we reach the other world even if we can’t find him now, we know he will find us somehow.
- Deepanker, Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2002-05
- Yashu, Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2003-06
I would describe DKD Sir as an enlightener to me. Initially, I spent four semesters in the classroom understanding the Indian economy and econometrics. With the enthusiasm and clarity with which he discussed the issues of the Indian economy, it became difficult not to think about them beyond the classroom. His teaching of econometrics wasn’t restricted to derivations and proofs; he would always compliment it with a real-world application of technique. After spending my good two years at DSE amidst game-theoretic models and Greek alphabets, I decided to take a plunge with research. I could do that because I knew DKD. Subsequently, he became a research mentor, giving me space and freedom as a researcher. Even if things went south, you could count upon him as a pillar of support. His passion for research brought him to his research desk, even on Saturdays and Sundays when the entire office used to be empty. DKD pushed people to become better tomorrow than they were yesterday. You will always be missed DKD Sir.
- Kumar Abhishek Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2011-14
I knew about DKD from my friend Alok Dash. It is a great loss to his colleagues and his students and the world of economics. My condolences to his family..
- Santosh Kumar
I knew Deb sir from multiple sources via his active academic life.
My condolences to his family.
- Amit Kumar
I really am not in a position to say very much. I remember watching the 1983 World Cup final with him and my parents were made wonderfully welcome in his tiny den when I was leaving for my PhD and his twins' first birthday. We never worked together - I always thought of him as a friend and never as a colleague. That's my loss.
Deb was what I call a WYSIWYG - what you saw is what you got - person. He related to others as genuinely he related to me. For him, everyone was worth equal attention at the time he was engaging with them. It is a quality few people I have met have had. It is what keeps him alive in so many hearts.
- Partha Mukhopadhyay
In the professional world, there is a belief that if you want to build a perception about someone, then don't try to go through any documents, but just look from the eyes of an observer. I never imagined that the assumption of DKD sir being my observer would be proven unrealistic in such a manner that we are witnessing today. Once in the staff room, I overheard DKD sir, talking to someone, about the responsibilities as well as the performance of his younger colleagues with tremendous confidence and assurance. I, being the youngest in the economics department, felt very excited and eager to shoulder any responsibility that would come my way, but with a condition that there was someone in the stature of DKD sir, whose hand I can hold if I would lose my balance. I never knew that I have to prepare myself to shoulder responsibility along with my senior teammates without Sir's physical presence. Hope I can gather the expertise and strength to carry forward the legacy of the Economics department in Ramjas College which DKD sir has set with several examples: Hope his children would face this world with courage keeping him in their hearts.
TAKE REST DKD SIR; KEEP OBSERVING ME; I WILL WHOLEHEARTEDLY WORK BASED ON THIS UNREALISTIC ASSUMPTION.
- Mr Ashutosh Dash
Colleague, Ramjas College
DKD taught us in1994-96. Its been more than 25 years since he taught us. I still remember when I heard from another student that a new teacher has joined and he is really good and fun! My first impression of him, which has not changed even though I met him only a couple of times more after leaving Ramjas - was this infectious smile and cheerfulness.
We meet so many people in life and very few leave an impression that never goes away. He was one of them. I was going through a terrible personal crisis when I met him and I am glad I did meet him for somewhere he had this strong positive impact on me. Probably, in some sense, I borrowed a bit of his unlimited cheerfulness to deal with my own stuff.
I know he has gone too soon but I sincerely hope that his spirit of enthusiasm and energy never dies. My sincerest condolences to his family and the Ramjas fraternity and to all of us.
- Nitesh Sahay
We, at Ramjas, could formally take courses taught by DKD sir only in the final year. For most of us this, combined with worries about what lay ahead, meant limited interactions with him. In that sense, I feel fortunate to have worked under his leadership for our journal team and the India KLEMS project. Spending such additional time with him allowed me to have a first-hand experience of his enthusiasm for our subject, which I had only heard about from some of our other professors.
From encouraging us to call for entries from colleges across the country to setting up interviews with stalwarts of our field, DKD sir did his best to ensure that our journal team remained motivated. He took our journal team to a book launch, introduced us to leading economic experts and treated us to sumptuous lunch. He would ask us to conduct interviews with leading academicians diligently and say …” Who knows? Maybe someday this could help you in your PhD applications at leading universities.” He helped Purushottam and me to land a paid internship when most internships at the undergrad level are done for “experience” as unpaid ones. While working together on this internship, he went on to help me in figuring out my preference ordering for Master’s applications.
He was proud of his vision of Pan-South Asian solidarity and its execution through SAESM. He was proud of the fact that Arvind Subramanian and Dani Rodrik cited his work on quantifying Indian trade barriers :)
I would remember him as an individual who dearly loved his subject and had the best interests of his students at heart. In what has been a difficult loss to process for me, I wish all the strength to his family. May we all carry his memories with us in our hearts and keep his legacy alive.
Alumnus, Ramjas College (Batch 2015-18)
My last conversation with DKD included me complaining that he had yet to send comments on a paper I had recently written. He asked me to send a pdf over email. I put it on my to-do list and somehow delayed it. I remember thinking, would he say he was proud or would he say, Ipshita, what is this Mahabharat you have written over something that deserved a paragraph? He was gone 10 days later and I will never know the answer to that. I am reminded of that expression if a tree falls in the forest, and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? I think of the next steps for me and for my friends, in terms of our careers, our personal lives, and our relationship with SAESM. And I have to wonder, will an achievement be an achievement if Sir isn’t there to enthusiastically approve? Will a misstep be a misstep if Sir isn’t there to vehemently criticize?
I was DKD’s student at Ramjas from 2002 to 2005 and during that time, I had the honour and the privilege of working for the first SAESM. It would be an understatement to say he taught us to dream big – he taught us that dreaming big was the only way to dream. More importantly, though, he trust- ed us with his dream, trusted that a bunch of 19/20-year-olds will successfully manage to negoti- ate the many challenges of organising an international conference in a small college – from coordinating the academics or the logistics, to liaising with the government or the media! That same faith continued in the years to come. His aspiration for us was often bigger than our own. He always believed in our abilities and futures more than we were ready to believe in them ourselves. Some- times I rationalise that that is why he left so soon – he believed that we were ready to manage on our own, to take care of one another, to go on and to thrive. This is where I disagree with him maybe we will manage but we sure weren’t ready to do it. We aren’t ready for a world where DKD isn’t chiming in or asking our opinion, pushing us or questioning us, planning the next meeting, introducing us to someone or something new, or just laughing out loud over an adda session.
- Ipshita Pal, Ramjas Alumnus of Batch 2002-05
My first interaction with DKD goes back to 1994 when I had just joined Ramjas as an undergrad student, and DKD who was the HOD at that time, welcomed us to the college and the course. He had a nice, warm and informal personality which many of us would recall later. Later on, we interacted several times when I was teaching in Delhi University, and we would meet during various course meetings. I particularly remember his energy and enthusiasm in the meetings for a major revision of the development economics course somewhere around 2005. I last met him when we invited him to speak on the KLEMS database at a workshop we organized at South Asian University about two years back, and he was as full of cheerful and youthful as when I met him for the first time.
My sincerest condolences to his family and friends. I hope that his spirit and enthusiasm leaves on, and continue to inspire us all.
- Soumya Datta