Meghnad Desai

From Powerbase
(Redirected from Lord Desai)
Jump to: navigation, search
Revolving Door.jpg This article is part of the Revolving Door project of Spinwatch.

Meghnad Desai (Lord Desai) (born July 10, 1940) is a British economist, writer and a Labour peer in the House of Lords, having joined on the 5 June 1991.

Early life

Born in Vadodara, Desai grew up with his four siblings — two brothers and two sisters. He went straight to secondary school at the age of five, matriculated at 14, was an Honours student before he was 18, had a master’s degree before age 20, and a PhD at age 22.

After he secured a master's degree from the Mumbai School of Economics (then Bombay School of Economics), his parents wanted him to become an IAS officer. But the qualifying age was 21, and he was still 19. In between, he won a scholarship to University of Pennsylvania. He left India in August 1960. From Pennsylvania, where he completed his PhD in 1963, he served as an intern at the London School of Economics and got a job there in 1965.

In 1989 he married fellow-economist Gail Wilson. He has been both Chair and President of Islington South and Finsbury Constituency Labour Party in London and was made a life peer as Baron Desai, of St Clement Danes in the City of Westminster in April 1991.


Desai has written extensively on a wide range of subjects. From 1984-1991, he was co-editor of the Journal of applied Economics. In 2002 Professor Desai wrote a book Marx's Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism which states that globalization would tend toward the revival of socialism. He published a biography of Indian film star Dilip Kumar titled, "Nehru's Hero: Dilip Kumar in the life of India" (Roli, 2004). He has described the book as his 'greatest achievement'. Examining Kumar's films – some of which Desai has seen more than 15 times – he discovers parallels between the socio-political arena in India and its reflection on screen. He discusses issues as varied as censorship, the iconic values of Indian machismo, cultural identity and secularism, and analyses how the films portrayed a changing India at that time.

During the course of writing this book he met Kishwar Ahluwalia, his second wife who worked as an editor for this book. On July 20, 2004 he married Ahluwalia. Desai, then 64, and 47-year-old Ahluwalia, were both divorcees and married at a registrar's office in London.

In 2005 he retired as Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, which he founded in 1992 at LSE, where he is now Professor Emeritus.

Neoliberal advocate

Although Desai has written widely on Marxian economics, he is regarded as an advocate of neoliberalism. According to Mick Brooks:

Desai is regarded as a significant Marx scholar. As a Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Labour member of the House of Lords, he has written two books on Marxist economics (Marxian economic theory and Marxian economics as well as editing a version of Lenin’s economic writings. He is also a prolific writer on economic and political issues, and an influential figure in Labour Party circles.
Desai’s book raises major debates in Marxist political economy. He marshals all the basic criticisms that have been formulated within bourgeois economics. That is why we are dealing with it at such length. Our exposition assumes a basic understanding of Marxist economics.
Orthodox neoclassical political economy is called ‘bourgeois’ economics by Marxists not as an insult, but because we believe it provides an ideological justification of the capitalist system. These apologetics ‘trickle down’ to become pervasive throughout society, not just locked up in economics text books. And Desai’s pessimism for the socialist project exists because, as a professional economist, albeit one who has written extensively on Marxist economics, he is immersed in a neoclassical world outlook that takes capitalism for granted.[1]



  • Intergovernmental Organisations Committee, Lords, 2007-08
  • Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee, Lords, 2003-04
  • Committee on the Speakership of the House, Lords, 2003-05
  • Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee (L), Lords, 2001-05
  • EU Sub-Committee A, Lords, 1995-99
  • Sub-Committee I, Lords, 1992-94
  • Select Committee on Science and Technology Sub-Committee 2, Lords, 1991-92
  • Science and Technology Committee (L), Lords, 1991-94[3]


External links


Address: House of Lords,
Phone: 020 7219 5353


  1. Mick Brooks, Marx' Economics and Lord Desai's "revenge": A response to the book "Marx's Revenge" by Meghnad Desai - Part One In Defence of Marxism, Friday, 05 August 2005.
  2. National Secular Society Our Honorary Associates. Accessed 20 September 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lord Desai Parliament.UK, accessed 18 December 2014