I have not been able to discipline myself for genuine specialization; my interests and involvements have therefore been varied. I am an academician, but only as much as an activist! Kerala, my state in India is renowned for ‘public action’; people here perhaps more than anywhere else in the world tend to get together and act collectively. I too imbibed this legacy of collective action. I was an active participant of the student movement in 1970s and 80s. I sustained this interest since then, by working with local clubs, youth movement, teachers association, professional organizations, and the peoples’ science movement.
In the process I have also had to associate with various public institutions and also the government. I was elected to represent my college in the Kerala University Union. Later I was elected as the chairman of the Kerala University Departments Students Union. I was also a consultant of the democratic decentralization experiment in Kerala popularly known as the ‘Peoples’ Campaign for Planning’. I was also a member of the Kerala State Planning Board during 2006-2011.
I am a family man. My wife Shila, daughters Parvathy and Shalini are an integral part of everything that I do.
All through I have also been striving to do justice to my interests as well as responsibilities in academics. I did my M.A in Economics from Department of Economics, University of Kerala. I took my M.Phil in Applied Economics from Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and PhD in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
From 1990 to 2001 I worked in the School of International Relations of the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam initially as lecturer and later as Reader. In 2001, I joined the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) as Associate Fellow. I joined the Planning Board on Deputation from CDS from 2006 onwards. I enjoy my teaching, research and research guidance. I enjoy equally well my work as an activist organizing people, giving public lectures, writing popular articles and books, preparing exhibition material, pamphlets, documentaries, etc.
My M.Phil work was on buildings and builders in Kerala. It was an attempt to understand labour process in the building industry which was in transition from artisanal to capitalist production. I continue to maintain my interest even now in the larger area of capital labour relations.
My PhD dissertation was on India – EEC trade wherein the focus was on trade barriers facing India’ exports to the European Community. Trade policy has since then evolved into my main area of specialization. I have been trying to keep pace with the developments in the world trading system at multilateral and regional levels. In all this the touchstone of my analysis has always been the regional economy of Kerala. The idea was to see how global and regional developments affected the state’s economy. As a result I have always been a keen student of regional economics as manifested in the Kerala context.
I do not know whether I have chosen the right combination of things to do. But this perhaps is the best possible mix of things to do to satisfy my soul.