Abhijit Sen, was a former member of the now-defunct Planning Commission and an economist who passed away on the night of August 29 after suffering a heart attack at the age of 72.

Over the course of his 40-year career, Sen taught economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in addition to holding several notable government positions.

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Who was Abhijit Sen?

Born on November 18 in Jamshedpur, Sen attended the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya school in New Delhi before attending St. Stephens, graduating with a Physics Honors degree. He later went on to study at the University of Cambridge where he earned a PhD in 1981.

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He taught economics at Sussex, Oxford, Cambridge and Essex until he returned to India in 1985 to join the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. At the Centre, he joined other economists like Prabhat Pattnaik, Krishna Bharadwaj, Amit Bhaduri, C.P. Chandrashekhar as well as his wife Jayati Ghosh in making the department the country’s leading centre for development economics. 

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In 1997, Sen was appointed as the chairman of the  Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices, the ministry that was involved in deciding the minimum support prices of farm commodities, according to The Wire.

After his three-year term ran out in 2000, he was asked to head a committee called the High-Level Committee of Experts on Long Term Grain Policy. A universal public distribution system for rice and wheat was one of the many recommendations made by the committee. For the rest of his life, Sen would be an supporter of the PDS. 

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From 2004 to 2014, Sen was a part of the Planning Commission. After his first five-year term, he was reappointed in 2009 and while there, continued to argue for a universal PDS and for farmers to receive a standardized payment for their products. His policy positions often deviated from the Manmohan Singh-leg government’s policies at the time.

Throughout his storied career as an economist, Sen’s expertise was often called upon by the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, as well as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Asian Development Bank. 

He is survived by his economist wife Jayati Ghosh and his daughter Jahnavi Sen, who works at The Wire.