Dr Padma Desai's passing feels deeply personal. Last year, working on an essay on women liberalizers gave me a chance to engage with her peerless scholarship that she built with ambition and inspiring conviction to not conform in thought and in action. 1/n
She challenged Indian planning & controls at the height of protectionism in 1970, in Planning for Industrialization that she co-authored with Dr Bhagwati. The book endured & the Camelot of liberalizers never stopped acknowledging its influence. 2/n
She courageously & successfully addressed, as a reviewer raved, unpopular questions of political economy & technological choices in her book on the role of US, USSR, India and the firm Dastur & Co in building the Bokaro steel plant. What also stood out was her belief in her✍️3/n
But the ambitious Dr Desai had it with the breadcrumbs on offer. Returning to the US opened new doors & she built an unmatched body of work on the Soviet Economy and transition economies over the decades 4/n
She originated the modern econometric analysis of the Soviet economy & in Perestroika in Perspective, she went further and reflected on Gorbachev’s market reforms in the political, economic, and cultural contexts of Russian socialism. 5/n
In Conversations on Russia, she interviewed policymakers in Russia & US & gave rich insights into Russia's economic transition. In fact, the book serves as an inspiration for my team to record oral histories of India's economic reformers as part of the 1991 Project @mercatus. 6/n
Dr @srajagopalan in a moving tribute gives us a chance to understand Dr Desai’s mental model and why her contributions, specially to area studies is crucial. 7/n
Mr NK Singh, her former student, and Dr @APanagariya, her colleague, too have painted vivid accounts of her illustrious career & her influence on the discipline & the profession. 8/n
For those who have it in them to wade through archival collections, you can hear Dr Desai in her own voice reflecting on her work preserved in the collections of Columbia’s oral history center. 9/n
For those who can't, her memoir Breaking Out will do. It is a Goghian self-portrait that rejects perfection but commands attention to the myriad colors on surface & underlying emotional turbulence. Sharing a passage that I go back to time & again for solace & strength. 10/n
Institutional and popular memory has its failings. That Dr Desai’s name does not pop up in the lists of Indian institutions she was part of or how her name is not credited on sites where her seminal works are available is telling. 11/n
My essay from 2022 was an earnest effort at preserving her legacy with the support of @mercatus' 1991 Project. CUTS International republished the piece this year and has kept the conversation going. 12/n

@CUTS_CITEE @Psm_cuts
Ideas of individual liberty and a restrained state remain contentious. Her scholarship holds key lessons for our understanding of these issues & will therefore stand the test of time. Padma/Padmochka will live on. 13/n
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