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Amlan Datta was an intellectual and scholar, born on 17 June 1924 at Bagichagaon in the Comilla district of Bangladesh. His father was Ashwini Kumar Datta and mother was Sunitibala Devi. He finished his school at the Ishwar Pathshala at Comilla, took 1st class first in B.A (Hons.) in economics from the Presidency College, then affiliated with the University of Calcutta and earned a first class fourth in MA from the same university, both with distinction. His wife Mrs Kitty Datta was a professor of English at the Scottish Church College.
After finishing his education in 1946, he started as a lecturer in Asutosh College, of the University of Calcutta, and went on to be a lecturer at the University of Calcutta in 1948. Though the youngest of the professors of Economics department, he took classes of three of the twelve compulsory half-papers. His three half-papers were Public Finance, Economic Development of selected countries and Thoughts of three Eminent Economists, one of them being Marx. Subsequently he was the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University during 1972–74. He also served as the Vice Chancellor of the University of North Bengal (1974–77). Then he joined the Gandhian Institute of Studies as Director in 1978 and thereafter, as Vice Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan. He also taught as Visiting lecturer at Banaras Hindu University and the University of Brussels.
As a prolific writer on socio-economic, political and philosophical subjects, Datta’s works drew inspiration from Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. His ideas on the Soviet enigma, the riddle of Gandhism, East-West blended Nehru’s contribution to democracy and secularism and Tagore’s aesthetic mysticism and universalism. However, his writings fall to note the grave global danger of thanatological terrorism as another aspect of post Marxian materialist dialectics. His collected essays attempt to assess their merits in many proposition and make positive suggestions. He begins: “In theory, Marxist give primacy to economics; in practice, to politics. This, they will protest, is a mechanical distinction; what matters is political economy. How far does that take us? The Indian economy is not homogeneous whole. Nor far that matter are the industrially developed economics one whole.”
An opponent of parochialism and dogmatism, Datta evaluated prevailing political and economic doctrines including Marxist communism. He wrote along these lines for The Radical Humanist, The Economic Weekly, and Thought. One of the stalwarts of the Radical Humanist movement he was also one of the last survivors of those who had been in the company of M N Roy and Ellen.
He lectured in the United States of America, talked about Mahatma Ghandhi in Australia and lectured about Rabindranath Tagore in China. He talked about economic development and education challenges at many forums in India and abroad (Japan, Denmark and the West Indies). He also represented India at the United Nations Social Development Commission in 1979. He was invited to the “kamala Lecture Series” in 1982 by the University of Calcutta.
Amlan Dutta's broad field of study and research encompassed not only economics, but also literature, politics, sociology and education, although his views and opinions often became the subject of heated arguments and controversies.
His first book was published in 1953, titled “For Democracy” and copies of the book were sent to Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russel who were then busy preparing the anti-war resolution which was later circulated among the heads of the States. Russell sent a congratulatory letter to the young lecturer. Professor Datta authored 21 books in English and Bengali. He was the joint editor of Quest magazine along with Abu Sayeed Ayub. He was conferred the Ananda Puraskar (1972), Jagattarini Award, Kamala Award and Vidyasagar Award (1999), Desikottam Award (2008).
He died of a massive heart attack at his Salt Lake residence on 18 February 2010.
Awards and recognitions
- Desikottam Award from Visva Bharati University
- Jagattarini Award and Kamala Award from Calcutta University
- Ananda Puraskar from Anandabazar Group
- Datta, Amlan (2005). Probondho Shangroho 2. Ananda Publishers. ISBN 81-7756-452-8.
- Ganatantra O Ganayug (1967, Ananda Publishers)
- Teen Diganta (1978, Ananda Publishers)
- Byakti, Yukti, Samaj (1978, Ananda Publishers)
- Kamala Baktrita O Anyanya Bhashan (1984)
- Gandhi O Rabindranath (1986, Ananda Publishers)
- Dwanda O Uttaran (1989, Ananda Publishers)
- Bikalpa Samajer Sandhane (1994, Ananda Publishers)
- Anya Ek Biplab (1999, Ananda Publishers)
- Je Katha Balite Chai (2009, Ananda Publishers)
- Mukti Tore Petei Hobe
- Religion, Education and Development (1968)
- The Third Movement (1987, Ananda Publishers)
- A New Radicalism and Other Essays (1989, Minarva – Calcutta)
- For A Quiet Revolution (1997, Papyrus – Calcutta)
- On The Edge of A Century (1999, Subarnarekha – Santiniketan)
- Towards The Good Life (Subarnarekha – Santiniketan)
- Socialism, Democracy and Industrialization (Allen & Unwin)
- Perspectives of Economic Development (Macmillan)
- Beyond Socialism (Popular Prakashan)
- The Gandhian Way (North Eastern Hill University)
- Transitional Puzzles (Sage Publication)
- Towards an Alternative Economic Order (Aksharmudra - Pune)
- "Noted economist Amlan Datta passes away in Kolkata". The Economic Times. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "‘HOW MANY OF US WOULD TAKE OUR KNOWLEDGE TO THE VILLAGES?". Tehelka.
Surajit Chandra Sinha
|Upacharya, Vishwa Bharati
Nimai Sadhan Bose