Lord Meghnad Desai is a renowned Gujarat-born, UK-based economist, writer and politician, whose eventful life as a House of Lords peer and academic has been packed with engaging anecdotes. In his latest book, ‘Rebellious Lord: An Autobiography’, he takes a nostalgic trip down memory lane and recently, during a session with the Nehru Centre in London, gave readers a sneak-peek into what they can expect from what promises to be an absorbing memoir.
The economist and former Labour politician was born in Baroda, now Vadodara, where he spent some of his childhood before his family relocated to Mumbai. Growing up in a highly educated family, books and political arguments were the centrepiece of many conversations in his family home.
“The nice thing was I had a very nice and loving family, we would meet every day and it was very nice and friendly,” he reflects.
And after completing his Masters in Economics from the University of Bombay, he headed off to the US to pursue a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.
In reference to his journey abroad, he recalls: “I think it shaped me quite a lot, being myself without the support circles I would have had in India. I had my fellowship and $200 a month. I managed and it made me become very independent.”
In 1965, he joined the London School of Economics (LSE), where he headed the Development Studies Institute and became Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance. As with his academic life, when it came to his writing career, it has been equally prolific. He has published 35 books till date, all across a wide variety of topics – from politics and economics to Bollywood and fiction.
Asked how he manages to do it all, he declared: “It is slightly shameless, but I am not worried if I write a book. I just write it. I have a very different mentality; once I write, it is away from me. I do not worry if it is selling or not, nor do I worry about the reviews.”
Amish Tripathi, the Director of the Nehru Centre who navigated the discussion, said: “Lord Meghna Desai is far more than just a brilliant economist, a sharp politician, and a fabulous author. He is a trailblazer. A trailblazer for the Indian community in the UK.
“He, through the example of his life, has showcased what the Indian British are: a capable, law-abiding, culturally vibrant, and hard-working community that is an asset to the UK. It was a delight to read his autobiography. It was an even bigger delight to interview him on the Nehru Centre platform. And it was the biggest delight to make him sing his favourite song.”
*Info: The Nehru Centre session with Lord Desai can be accessed here