Prof. Rohini Somanathan remembers Prof. Ashok Kotwal

  • Blog Post Date 09 May, 2022
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Rohini Somanathan

Delhi School of Economics


Prof Rohini Somanathan pens a heartfelt tribute to our founder Editor-in-Chief Ashok Kotwal.

I first met Ashok over two decades ago at the NEUDC (Northeast Universities Development Consortium) Conference in Ithaca. I was in the early years of my career, while he was a well-known development economist whose work on land tenancy was a classic in the field. I have only one clear image of that first encounter. He was going up the escalator and beckoned to me with his long arm and broad smile – “Come, we’re going for dinner’’. I came away from the conference feeling I had chosen the right field. I was part of a warm and welcoming club, not a tournament.

In spite of being many years my senior, Ashok was the more youthful of us. The eternal optimist. His joys and worries were of the moment and of the world. He was comfortable in his views and loyal in his emotions. His clear-headed logical mind had no trouble switching off the screen just in case he brought his beloved Indian cricket team bad luck. He loved tigers and travel, ideas and arguments, cricket and stories about cricket, and his circle of close friends – who would be drawn into a wildlife adventure or a transatlantic trip to watch a test match.

Ashok was good at keeping in touch.  This was mostly through one-liners, links, and photographs. He wrote a long message last July. He felt the end near, said he felt grateful for a wonderfully happy life, sent his love with a link to a bhajan played by Amjad Ali Khan and Bismillah Khan. And then he bounced back, and this March we made plans to meet in the Fall. He was not going to say goodbye on a sad note.

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