Prabhat Patnaik's academic insights and strong political commitment have stimulated intellectual activity and inspired personal regard across a multitude of people from all walks of life. This volume brings together contributions from some who have benefited from interaction with him over decades, in a tribute and continuing conversation. Patnaik, born 19 September 1945 in Odisha, India, is one of the outstanding economists of his generation and a leading Marxist theoretician in the world today. Versatile in his knowledge and mastery of different schools of thought but unflinching in his commitment to the use and extension of a Marxist approach, he has influenced several generations of social scientists through his extensive writing, his contributions to academic discourse, and his life as a tireless public intellectual. Born to parents who were deeply committed to the communist cause and were members of the Communist Party of India, Patnaik grew up in a commune in his early years, an experience that Ashok Mitra (his friend and comrade) believes deeply influenced who he became. His brilliance at all stages of his career is legendary.
After studying at St Stephens' College and the Delhi School of Economics in Delhi University, he received a Ph.D. in Economics from Oxford University. He taught at the University of Cambridge, England, where he held a tenured position, which he chose to give up to return to India to join the founding faculty of the Centre for Economic Studies in the School of Social Sciences of Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he taught for around four decades. He is currently professor emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Through his work as an academic, as editor of the journal Social Scientist and as a columnist in People's Democracy, Patnaik has contributed immensely to developing a theoretical understanding of India's economy and society, and the tactics and strategy needed to change it in a socialist direction. His work has been recognized widely and he has been awarded several academic honors, including the V.K.R.V. Rao Prize in Social Science Research in 1986 and an honorary doctorate by the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London in 2012.
But he is better known as a leading theoretician of the Left who has kept alive the need for advancing theory to support the struggle for an alternative society. He put into practice his ideas as a heterodox economist when he successfully served as Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Planning Board under the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala from June 2006 to July 2011.
C.P. Chandrasekhar is dean, School of Social Sciences, and professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Jayati Ghosh is professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.