You can watch the livestream on May 30th, 4pm Eastern time. Shortly after the memorial, the stream will be archived and you can watch it below.
Padma Desai, Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor Emerita of Comparative Economic Systems and Director of the Center for Transition Economies at Columbia University, received her PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1960, where she began her teaching career. She was a Professor of Economics at Columbia from 1980 until her retirement in 2015. In 2001, she served as President of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies. Professor Desai also received honorary degrees from both Middlebury College and Columbia University.
Professor Desai published extensively in professional journals on issues of economic planning in the Soviet Union before she switched her research agenda to economic reforms in Russia and the emerging market economies. Her later writings focused on the globalization of these economies and their exposure to financial crisis.
Among her publications are Planning for Industrialization – A Study of Indian Industrialization and Trade Policies (with J. Bhagwati), OECD Development Center, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970; second printing; paperback edition. The Bokaro Steel Plant – A Study of Soviet Economic Assistance, Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Company, 1972. Estimates of Soviet Grain Imports in 1980-85: Alternative Approaches, Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute, February 1981. Weather and Grain Yields in the Soviet Union, Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute, 1986. Marxism, Central Planning and the Soviet Economy (Editor) (The MIT Press, 1983); The Soviet Economy: Problems and Prospects (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1987, a collection of her econometric essays subsequently published in 1990 as paperback); Perestroika in Perspective: The Design and Dilemmas of Soviet Reform (Princeton University Press, 1989, subsequently published in its fifth printing in 1990 as a revised paperback edition (Indonesian and Korean translations); Going Global: Transition from Plan to Market in the World Economy (Editor) (The MIT Press, 1997; second printing in 1999; Chinese translation); and (jointly with Todd Idson) Work Without Wages: Russia’s Nonpayment Crisis (The MIT Press, December 2000). Her Financial Crisis, Contagion, and Containment: From Asia to Argentina (Princeton University Press, 2003; Chinese translation and Indian edition) was described by Paul Krugman as the “best book yet on financial crises.” Her Conversations on Russia, a collection of interviews with distinguished Russian and Western policymakers and analysts on Russian reforms from Yeltsin to Putin, published by Oxford University Press in April 2006, was selected by the Financial Times among a few select books as “pick of 2006.”
Her From Financial Crisis to Global Recovery was published by Columbia University Press in the Spring of 2011. The book was published in India by HarperCollins in November 2012. Her memoirs, Breaking Out: An Indian Woman’s American Journey were published by Penguin/Viking (India) in April 2012. They were brought out by the MIT Press in September 2013 with wide recognition. Her From England with Love: An Indian Student Writes from Cambridge 1926-1927 was published in 2014 by Penguin Enterprise, New Delhi, India. The book was presented at a celebratory lunch organized by Nicola Padfield at Fitzwilliam College on November 20, 2014.
Professor Desai was elected member of the prestigious PEN America Chapter (which has 600+ members) consisting of academics, writers, historians, novelists and poets.
Professor Desai combined her scholarly activity with frequent writings in the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and appearances on the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, CNN, BBC, Debates-Debates, Jim Lehrer News Hour, and the Charlie Rose Show.
Professor Desai was married to Jagdish Bhagwati, University Professor at Columbia University. Their only daughter, Anuradha Kristina, is a writer. She was a United States Marine Corps officer and pioneering advocate for women in the military.
Obituary on Financial Times website
Obituary on Harriman Institute website
On Tuesday, May 30th 2023, 4-6pm, we will celebrate the life and career of Padma Desai, at St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University.