Pradhan Harishankar Prasad: A Personal Tribute
Utsa and I were among the last persons to speak to Pradhanji. We were in Patna from March 24 in connection with the Annual Conference of the Bihar Economic Association of which Utsa was the President this year; and Pradhanji, despite his poor health, not only attended her Presidential Address, even walking up with great difficulty to the podium to congratulate her publicly, but also insisted on our visiting him at his home so that he could discuss some points. Next morning on his way to the hospital for a check-up he again dropped in briefly to the conference and repeated his invitation. When we reached his home that evening, we found to our concern that he was in great physical discomfort and in no condition to converse; but despite this he insisted on our staying on and kept requesting his wife, who was already rather distraught about his condition, to look after us and in particular, our son who had accompanied us. We enquired whether a doctor had been sent for, and were there with him until he was removed to the hospital, from where, although we did not know it then, he was never again to return alive.
I mention all this because it brings out two prominent aspects of his personality which are regrettably rather rare these days: his extreme generosity, and his total partisanship for the progressive cause and sense of solidarity which made him abandon his sick bed to attend and applaud Utsa's lecture. Both sprang from the fact that he was a man of class (in the good sense of the term). If there existed a word to describe the total negation of "a man on the make", that word would be an apt description of Pradhanji. He was very decisively not "on the make". He was true to his convictions; and in countries like ours if you remain true to your convictions as an economist, you are ipso facto not "on the make".
Social Scientist, Vol. 29, Nos. 5 - 6, May-June 2001