Malcolm S Adiseshiah


Dr Malcolm S Adiseshiah was born on 18th April, 1910 in Vellore, where he had his early education at Voorhees School and College. He then moved to Loyola College in Chennai from where he took a B.A.(Hons) degree in Economics. After teaching at St. Pauls College, Calcutta for a brief period, he went over to England for his M.A at Kings College, Cambridge and then to London School of Economics (1937-40) for pursuing his doctoral research with specialization in Economics. After attaining his doctorate, he returned to India in 1940 and joined as Professor of Economics at the Madras Christian College. He left the college in 1945 and worked with the World University Service in Geneva. In 1948, he joined UNESCO and retired as Deputy Director in 1970. His 22-year stint with UNESCO was the highpoint of an illustrious career in which he planned and executed many projects of great cultural and social importance throughout the world.

On his retirement from UNESCO in 1970, he returned to India and settled in Tamil Nadu and determined to devote the rest of his life in the service of his country, especially in the spheres of economic development and education. In 1971, Dr. Malcolm S Adiseshiah and his wife Elizabeth founded the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) and later it was reconstituted in 1977 as National Institute jointly sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi and the Government of Tamil Nadu.

He served the Tamil Nadu Planning Commission for many years. As its Vice-Chairman during 1971-76, he was instrumental in the preparation of Perspective Plans for Tamil Nadu, including one on education. He was also a member of the Steering Committee to the Union Planning Commission during this period. From then on, he was associated with the planning process in various capacities both in Tamil Nadu and at the Centre.

In 1975, Dr. Adiseshiah became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Madras. In his tenure (1975-78) he started new departments such as econometrics, education, adult education, area studies, molecular biology, polymer sciences and defense studies. Recognising his outstanding contributions, the Government of India conferred on him the Padma Bhusan in 1976. Adiseshiah was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1978 for a six year term. He had been decorated by some 40 countries and has had honorary doctorates conferred on him by 15 Indian and Foreign Universities.

Dr. Adiseshiah was also associated with a number of professional bodies both in India and abroad. He was the Chairman of the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Council for Social Development, New Delhi; Institute of Social Science, New Delhi; Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; International Association of Social Science Institutions, New Delhi; Bharat Gyan Gigyan Samithi, New Delhi; International Literacy Jury, Paris; International Institute of Educational Planning, Paris.

Dr. Adiseshiah was also the President of International Council of Adult Education; Indian Adult Education Association; Tamil Nadu Board of Continuing Education and State Resource Centre. He also served as President of the Tamil Nadu Council for Science and Technology from 1984 till his death.

Dr. Adiseshiah was instrumental for the setting up of Asian Social Science Research Council in New Delhi and became its first President. He was the founder of Tamil Nadu Board of Continuing Education in 1976 and was its President for four terms. In 1988, he became the Advisor to National Literacy Mission, Government of India.

Despite his associations and contributions to many institutions, MIDS was his favourite child. He built MIDS almost single-handedly and created a vibrant, rigorous and liberal atmosphere for advanced research in the economy, society and polity. He gave the entire part of his later life to MIDS and ultimately bequeathed his estate to its growth and well-being. He was the Chairman of the Madras Institute of Development Studies from its inception till his death in 1994.

MIDS now stands as a fitting memorial to Dr Malcolm S Adiseshiah. Madras Institute of Development Studies is celebrating the Centenary of Professor Malcolm S. Adiseshiah during April 2009 - April 2010. Throughout this Centenary year, MIDS plans for several events and publications to celebrate the memory of Professor Malcolm Adiseshiah.

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