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New Delhi, Apr 8:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condoled the death of noted economist Raja Chelliah, describing him as a brilliant economist and exceptional human being whose contribution to the understanding of economic policy issues in India was immense.
In a message to Mrs Chelliah, Dr Singh said Prof Chelliah's death was a great personal loss to him. "He was not only a valued colleague but also a very close friend," he said.
The Prime Minister noted that Prof Chelliah had served the government and many other institutions with great distinction.
Prof Chelliah, 86, an authority on public finance, died at a private hospital in Chennai on Tuesday. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
He started his career as a lecturer in economics at the Madras Christian College after completing his post-graduation in the subject from the University of Madras. In 1956, he went to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar and did his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.
On his return to India, he worked as a senior economist at the National Council of Applied Economic Research before moving on to the University of Rajasthan. He also taught at the Osmania University in Hyderabad before joining the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the chief of the Fiscal Analysis Division.
In 1976, Prof Chelliah became the founder-director of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. In 1982, he was appointed as a member of the Economic Administration Reforms Commisssion headed by L K Jha. In 1985, he was appointed as a member of the Planning Commission.
Prof Chelliah will be remembered, in particular, for the work he did as Chairman of the Tax Reforms Committee set up in 1991 when Dr Singh was the Finance Minister. He was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan in 2007.