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J.C. Kumarappa

(1892 – 1960) – (Tamilnadu)

J.C. Kumarappa (Aged 68) the son of Joseph Chelladurai Cornelius, was born on January 4, 1892. He was an Indian economist and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Kumarappa is credited for developing economic theories based on Gandhism and is a pioneer of rural economic development theories. He coined the term “Gandhian economics” to describe this school of economic thought.

S.D. Cornelius, one of the famous old boys of William Miller, the Principal of Madras Christian College, sent his illustrious sons JC Cornelius and Benjamin Cornelius to Doveton School and later to Madras Christian College. After becoming followers of Gandhi, the brothers adopted their grandfather’s name, Kumarappa, and were hailed as the Kumarappa brothers. Kumarappa’s older sister, E.S. Appasamy, became a notable educator and social worker in Madras.

After returning to India, Kumarappa published an article on the British tax policy and its exploitation of the Indian economy. He met Gandhi in 1929 and prepared an economic survey of rural Gujarat at Gandhi’s request, which he published as “A Survey of Matar Taluka in the Kheda District” (1931). He strongly supported Gandhi’s idea of village industries and promoted Village Industries Associations.

Kumarappa worked as a professor of economics at the Gujarat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad and served as the editor of Young India during the Salt Satyagraha from May 1930 to February 1931. He helped found and organize the All India Village Industries Association in 1935 and was imprisoned for more than a year during the Quit India movement. He wrote two books during his imprisonment.

Kumarappa argued that forests should be managed with the goal of water conservation rather than revenue maximization, but the British and Nehru governments paid little attention to this. Historian Ramachandra Guha called Kumarappa “The Green Gandhian,” portraying him as the founder of modern environmentalism in India. Kumarappa passed away on January 30, 1960. After his death, the Kumarappa Institute of Gram Swaraj was founded in his honor.