Eminent economist and Dalit thinker Dr M Kunhaman was found dead in his residence at Sreekaryam in Thiruvananthapuram on December 3, on his 74th birthday. He was a professor of economics at the University of Kerala for 27 years. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled his death, calling him “a genius who overcame social conditions with determination.”
Kunhman had recently made headlines after he rejected the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award in 2021, which he had won for his autobiography Ethiru. Declaring that he did not want to be a recipient of such honours in his academic or intellectual life, he said, “I am writing for my satisfaction, not for the awards.”
Ethiru, his autobiography which was published in 2020, sheds light on Dalit lives in post-independent Kerala. The book offers a glimpse into the layers of caste discrimination and oppression he experienced throughout his life.
Kunhaman was born in the Palakkad district in 1949, and completed his Master’s degree in economics from the Government Victoria College of Palakkad with first rank. He also completed MPhil and PhD from different universities in Kerala. He was a professor at the University of Kerala from 1979 to 2006, before moving to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Tuljapur campus, where he taught for approximately nine years.
His published books include Development of Tribal Economy, State Level Planning in India, and Globalisation: A Subaltern Perspective. He has also written several notable essays.