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Make Kerala’s CDS deemed university: chairman


Thiruvananthapuram : The Centre for Development Studies (CDS), a premier social science research institution here, should be recognised as a deemed university now, its chairman Madhava Menon said Saturday at its first alumni meet.

"It is time that CDS gets out of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) tag and is made a deemed university. Over the years, this institution has done tremendous work in various areas and its students are leaders in several sectors," said Menon, considered a doyen of legal education in India.

The centre, which is affiliated to JNU in New Delhi and is also known for its design by Laurie Baker, is engaged in interdisciplinary research on development problems in India.

The two-day alumni meet is being organised to celebrate the 84th birthday of their guru and eminent economist K.N. Raj Sunday. Around 150 former students have arrived to attend the meet.

Talking about his experience at CDS, V. Ramachandran said he was initially opposed to then chief minister C. Achutha Menon's idea of starting the institute in 1970 when he was finance secretary.

"My logic then was that instead of starting new institutes, the need was to strengthen existing institutions like Kerala University. But Menon who had invited Raj was adamant," said Ramachandran, who is still on the CDS governing board.

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, a former student and faculty at the centre, said he owed his entire career to CDS.

"After my masters, I met eminent teachers like Raj at the funeral of a CDS student who had died in a car accident. That meeting and my later discussions with them cleared the way for my entry into CDS," Isaac reminisced.

Ramachandran also pointed out that the bureaucracy had tried to scuttle the construction of the campus after Baker was given charge of the construction.

"They said that the Baker style of construction, where building walls are unplastered, would not stand the course of time and would collapse. Now even after three decades, the buildings are in perfect condition," he said.

The two-day birthday celebrations would also include academic sessions, discussions and a policy note by the former students.

Raj shot to fame soon after India's independence when he was invited by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his drive to reorganise the states and lay the country's economic foundation. Raj took the lead and established the Planning Commission in 1950.

He was also vice-chancellor of Delhi University and a member of the prime minister's Economic Advisory Council for several years.

The CDS is often referred to as Raj's institute, though he never took up the post of CDS director. In 2000, Raj was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in literature and education.