Jul 16 2020

In memory of Mr Ashok Desai

The LSE community is extremely saddened to hear of the passing of former Attorney General of India and distinguished LSE alumnus, Mr Ashok Desai.

Desai graduated from the LSE with a BSc in Economics in 1956. Prior to this, he studied at the prestigious Fergusson College in Pune and received the LLB degree from the Government Law College in Bombay. Shortly after graduation from the LSE, Desai was called to the English Bar in Lincoln’s Inn.

Desai went on to teach at both the Government Law College and the Bombay College of Journalism, and also worked as the legal correspondent for the Times of India. The Bombay high court designated Desai as a senior advocate in August 1977. He then served as Solicitor General of India from 1989-1990 before he was appointed Attorney General of India in July 1996. He remained in office until May 1998, through the governments of Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral.

Desai was also a member of the former LSE India Advisory Board which is chaired by Professor Lord Nick Stern, IG Patel Chair of Economics and Government at LSE, and NK Singh, politician and economist. NK Singh, a colleague and personal friend of Desai, commented ‘…he always had creative ideas on what could be done to enhance the academic reach of this prestigious institution in India. Fostering interchanges of students, faculty members and joint research projects were some of the ideas which he had put forward persuasively.’ Professor Lord Nick Stern added ‘Ashok was a very fine person and a wonderful friend of LSE. His scholarship, wisdom and fundamental integrity made a great contribution to LSE, India and the world.’

Outside of his law career, Desai had many eclectic interests. He had a passion for literature, history, politics and music; particularly Hindustani and Western Classical, and opera. Dr Ruth Kattumuri, Co-Director of the India Observatory at LSE, said ‘Desai and his wife Suvarna would often host get-togethers with senior alumni and friends at their home. The most recent being when they hosted LSE Director, Minouche Shafik, during her visit to New Delhi in September 2019. During these dinners he would regale his guests with fascinating stories from his vast experience’.

Desai is survived by his wife, Suvarna Desai.

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