Eminent economist, Marxist intellectual, political and social activist Dr. Sulabha Brahme passed away after a brief illness at her residence on December 2, 2016. She was 84 years old. She was active till the last moments of her life. A week before her death she attended a meeting at Purandar with local residents to oppose the proposed airport. Her last article was about the devastating impact of the demonetisation on ordinary people.
Born as daughter of eminent economist and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission D. R. Gadgil and eminent social worker Pramila Gadgil (Kale) she finished her schooling at Huzurpaga in Pune. She then went on to study at the S.P.College and did her PhD from the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics, Pune where she was later Reader and also Registrar. During her tenure at the GIPE she conducted a large number of socially relevant studies including two important reports on the Regional Development Plan for Marathwada and Land Use in Western Maharashtra.She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Maharashtra.
She founded the Shankar Brahme Samaj Vidnyan Granthalaya which became a centre for left, progressive and secular tendencies in Pune and Maharashtra conducting research, publishing important pamphlets on topical issues and organising activities to create awareness. The range of her passionate involvement in people’s movements and issues was staggering – from economic development, environment, organic farming, peace, anti-nuclear movements, people’s science, women’s equal rights, casteism, communalism, education, secularism, culture, etc. She co-founded many platforms to further these causes, including the Lok Vidnyan Sanghatana, Maharashtra Dushkal Nivaran and Nirmulan Mandal,Purogami Mahila Sanghatana, Lokayat, Jagatikikaran Virodhi Kruti Samiti and Bayaja Trust. She was actively involved in experiments to promote organic and sustainable agriculture in the Konkan area. She authored more than 50 high quality booklets in Marathi and monographs on these topics to create people’s awareness and for the education of activists. She maintained close links with all the different shades and strands of progressive people’s movements.
Some of the booklets she authored in Marathi include (titles translated from Marathi by RUPE) The Noose of the New Economic Policy (1992), Dunkel Draft – Attack on India’s Agriculture (1994), Who’s Afraid of Rising Population? (1999), Diesel Price-Rise (2000), Enron – King of the City of Darkness (2000), Cuba’s Militant Revolutionary Struggle (2002), Destruction of the Public Sector Oil Industry (2003), Imperialism – The Real Face of Globalisation (2002, 2014), Nuclear Power – Illusion, Reality, and Alternative (2008), Confronting Price-Rise (2014), The Craze for English Medium Education (undated), Kashmir – Reality and the Alternative (2015), The Dalit Panther Manifesto – Yesterday and Today (2014), The Secret of the Ban on Cow Slaughter (with Advait Pednekar, 2016).
She lived an extremely simple and frugal life, devoting all her time and personal material resources to support progressive movements and activists from the trade union, peasants, students, youth and other social and political organisations. Fiercely independent, she lived alone for several years, but her house was open to all at any time. She leaves behind a huge family of activist friends and comrades across the country.