In Conversation with Prof K S Chalam

(Samaj Weekly)

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Dr. K. S. Chalam, Ex-In charge Chairman, U.P.S.C a Constitutional position (equivalent to Supreme Court Judge)  during 2005-2011, is a well-known Political Economist, Educationist and a Scholar of Dravidian Studies. Prof K.S.Chalam is known throughout the country as the facilitator of Academic Staff College concept and was likewise recognised for his Studies on Higher Education, Political Economy of Development. At UPSC, he was in-charge of several states like U.P, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, J&K etc for conferring of IAS, IPS, and IFS and had processed around 1000 disciplinary cases of All India service officers. He was the first Director of Swamy Ramananad Tirtha Rural Institute (SRTRI), Bhoodan Pochampally funded by NCRI, Government of India and produced the plan of action for the institute during 1997-98. He was Member, NCRI during 2006-10. He is actively pursuing academic work after retirement from UPSC and helped NHRC to produce study reports on important national issues including MDM ,NMHS etc. His book on “Governance in South Asia: State of the Civil Services” by Sage, is commended as a valuable contribution to promote excellence in the system. His latest book on Social Economy of Development in India, published by Sage 2017 has received critical acclaim. He is founder Editor of ‘South India Journal of Social Sciences’ (Estd 2002). He regularly contributes to University News, on invitation from AIU columnist for Visalandhra , Andhra Jyothi, Leader etc Telugu dailies .

It was Prof Chalam who as a PG student during 1971-73 at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam first realised the problems of North Coastal Andhra or Kalingandhra (present Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and Visakhapatnam), raised his voice while his contemporaries like Sri M. Venkaiah Naidu( present Vice-President)  and others were agitating for jai Andhra. He published a paper in Telugu about the disparities between regions in the united Andhra Pradesh. After he became lecturer, reader and professor of Economics in Andhra University, he continued his pursuit of studies on underdevelopment and discrimination against the region. Interestingly this is the region during  the British regime (as part of Madras presidency) had recalcitrant movements including Alluri and later Srikakulam struggle. But none of the experts looked at the root cause of the discontent. As a native of the region born in Pathapatnam in the district of Visakhapatnam in 1948 ( later Srikakulam was created in 1950) he knew the kind of discrimination the people of the region faced. He started a study group Uttarandhra Adhyana Vedika and involved leaders of the region like late Gouthu Latchanna, late Dronamraju, D.V Subbarao etc and published papers and books both in Telugu and English. His efforts were recognised and leaders of the region including the chief ministers and the B.N.Srikrishnan Commission on the bifurcation of the state in 2014 cited that Uttarandhra is backward and is separate from that of other coastal districts of Andhra. It is his sole contribution in getting popular recognition for the region as underdeveloped and neglected though it has all the resources.

Prof K.S.Chalam is a versatile scholar with flair for social and human rights and secular activities. He was National Secretary, Amnesty International, Indian section during 1984-85 and represented India at the Helsinki conference.  He has attended the World conference against Racism at Durban. His popular weekly column in ‘The Hans India’ English daily, from Hyderabad and Janata weekly from Mumbai earned him a niche among the Intellectuals. He served as Vice-chancellor, Dravidian University, Kuppam Andhra Pradesh.  He has contributed to the development of Academic or Human Resource Development  programmes through his publication of books and scores of papers on the subject. He had worked in close association with late Dr Aram, Chairman, NCRI in establishing SRTRI at Bhoodan Pochampally A.P. He was the recipient of the UGC young social scientist award in Economics in 1984, Kalinga Seema Award etc. He taught in the Department of Economics, Andhra University as a Lecturer, Reader and Professor during 1974 to 2005. He has supervised 12 scholars in Economics for obtaining their Ph.Ds. He was on the Planning Board of the Madhya Pradesh government as Member during 2002-2004.He has published 25 books in English, including ten books on Education , 8 in Telugu and more than 100 research papers in reputed journals and around 200 edit page articles in Telugu. Most of his books are used as textbooks and widely discussed and reviewed. He has obtained a diploma in planning from Central School of Planning and Statistics, Warsaw, Poland in 1981.He has travelled extensively in more than 16 countries and participated and chaired sessions at International conferences. He has specialised in Economics of Human Development, Political Economy and Dravidian studies. Prof K.S.Chalam was an academic activist in the area of education, culture, human rights, Environment etc. He has delivered the Presidential address at the 32nd annual conference of A.P Economic Association in 2013 and the valedictory address of the Annual conference of Indian Political Economy Association held at University of Hyderabad, November 2013.He has delivered several memorial lectures on important themes of contemporary relevance at different universities. He is an active participant of public debates on contemporary issues and literary and cultural activities.

He served as Joint secretary, A.U Teachers Association, Secretary Visakha Writers Association, President APTF, VoluntaryAction for Sustainable Environment etc and is being associated with several international organisations like DFID, CA, PiC etc. He is founder Chairman of Mahendra Degree College, Pathapatnam ,the first Degree College in a semi-tribal area in his native place in Srikakulam district, A.P.He passed out from ZPH School Pathapatnam in 1964 with first class and school second and joined SKCG College Parlakimidi and got his Economics Honours degree as the first Telugu person from Utkal/Berhampur University in 1968 Dr Giridhar Gamang Ex-CM of Orissa was his classmate and both are still in touch with each other. He later completed M.A Economics in First class and Ph.D. B.Ed, from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam where he taught for three decades. He is the first from the district of Srikakulam and Andhra University to have occupied the constitutional position (equal to Supreme court Judge) at the centre. He was Special Rapporteur for South Zone, National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi. He is now Chairman, Institute for Economic and Social Justice, Visakhapatnam of the Pancha Shila Foundation Trust, Hyderabad.

This is a detailed conversation with him on various issues confronting our society particularly the farmers and Bahujan communities. You can listen this conversation here :

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