(As described by Professor Shubhoshekhar Bhattacharjee, Worldwide Head, Asia Development Intelligence Unit, and Faculty at IIPM, through his various interactions & talks with Dr. M. K. Chaudhuri)
"What does a rich country mean? Does it mean a country where a majority of people live above the poverty line? Or a country where even though many might die of hunger, the per capita GDP is high?"
"Would you say that India needs strengthening of the current democratic parliament for proper planned growth, or does India in reality need a government like that of China that borders on dictating changes required for coordinated economic development?"
No, these are not just any economic quiz trivia! These are, in fact, real examples of a question-answer session from a class on Comparative Planning conducted by Dr. M. K. Chaudhuri that I attended as a student at The Indian Institute of Planning & Management.
It would take umpteen number of interactions to really understand the expanse of knowledge that lies beneath that serious disposition. Knowledge that comes with a frustrating desperation at the slow or negative pace of improvement of human life in India and of India 's economic growth! Meet Dr. M. K. Chaudhuri, Professor of Comparative Planning at IIPM, who is known amongst international economists & his inspired students for his mind moving development models, some of the most innovative country comparison economic meters, and most importantly, irrefutable logic while analyzing situations. If these are what make interacting with Dr. Chaudhuri so lively, they also set him miles ahead from the rest of the breed of 'economists'.
"Rather than attempting to ape China and equal its national income, India should own up to its deficiencies and try to now reach the economic levels of probably a country like Malaysia," says Dr. Chaudhuri, a Ph.D & D.Sc holder from Berlin School of Economics, Germany, "Because I believe that with its present policies, India can never reach anywhere near China, even in the next 100 years..."
Born in a small city of Assam , an eastern state of India , Dr. Chaudhuri was always focused on education as a stepping stone for knowledge. Recalling the days while completing B. Sc from Presidency College in Calcutta ("We had a very visionary system of teaching"), the former IIM Bangalore & XLRI Jamshedpur professor also recommends that the reason for existence of every individual should be to support survival of the weakest, rather than survival of the fittest.
Quoting from his own example - he went through a very different experience while working with HLL (Unilever Group) as the Chief Economic Advisor in the initial years after completing the D.Sc from Berlin - Dr. Chaudhuri says that he decided to start IIPM because this was "an institution that could truly contribute to educating the management graduates of today that economic growth could occur only by coordinated & planned efforts between the government owned public sector and the private enterprises". In fact, during the time Dr. Chaudhuri founded the management courses department at IMT Ghaziabad, his experiences while interacting with the Indian Government's bureaucratic processes further strengthened his resolve to develop a totally government independent institution that could function without political prejudices.
Dr. Chaudhuri is credited with formulating the concept of Life Style Parity that is different from the concept of Purchasing Power Parity and looks at how two individuals living in different countries need not purchase the same items to get an equal level of satisfaction. His endeavours in developing the rural belts of India have developed into the most famous and massive Manav Vikas Kendras (Human Development Centers). With more than a hundred such centers running in various rural belts of India , Dr. Chaudhuri has provided a stepping stone to future promises like the Great Indian Dream Foundation.
Even with so many achievements behind him (though he modestly gives all the credit of his success to the people around him), Dr. Chaudhuri says that it's the future that holds greater accomplishments and promises. And in his own words, "If by giving away everything, I could rid India of its various misdemeanors, I would be privileged to give away everything many times over".
With the least surprise then that most of his students want to join him back in his various programs for national economic development, I hope and believe that what Dr. Chaudhuri has set out to achieve, would be obtained sooner than later...