Arjun Kumar Sengupta, eminent economist, Rajya Sabha MP and the man who stunned policy makers with estimates that 77 per cent of India’s population live on less than R20 a day, passed away in the Capital on Sunday, leaving behind a policy footprint that changed the way poverty alleviation programmes are discussed in India.
He was 73 and survived by his wife and a daughter.
The cremation will take place at the Lodhi Road crematorium at 11 am on Monday.
In the last few years Sengupta’s rich body of work has significantly influenced India’s policy-making, particularly in the areas of poverty, food management and social security for unorganised sector workers.
Sengupta, who has had a very distinguished and multi-faceted career as an academician, economic policy administrator, diplomat and a parliamentarian, will perhaps be best remembered for his seminal work on estimates of poverty in India.
National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, which he chaired, estimated that 836 million people – about 77 per cent of the population—of India were “poor and vulnerable” and survived on R20 or less per day.
The Sengupta Commission report forms a core component of the debate on the proposed Food Security Bill that the government plans to introduce.
A PhD from MIT and an M.A. in Economics from the Calcutta University, Sengupta has also had distinguished academic career. He has taught at the Delhi School of Economics, London School of Economics and The Institute of Social Studies, The Hague among others.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari said “Sengupta report on the unorganised sector is a guiding force to provide minimum social security for all unorganised workers.”
Amit Mitra, secretary general, FICCI said Sengupta would always be remembered for his “path-breaking report on the informal sector of India.”
Former director of Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations Rajiv Kumar said Sengupta’s work was not restricted to just the Indian economy.
“He was also a tall international policy maker. His work on Latin America which included handling the public debt of that area is seminal,” Kumar said.