Dr R S Deshpande is former Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, an all-India Institute of interdisciplinary research and training in social sciences. During his tenure as Director ISEC has achieved great success. He holds a Bachelor of Science and Masters’ Degree with a Ph.D. in Economics. Initially, he worked as a faculty member at ISEC till 1988 and thereafter shifted to Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune. At Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics he worked as a faculty member as well as Registrar. In 1998, he returned to the Institute and worked as Professor and Head of Agricultural Development and Rural Transformation Centre till he took charge as Director of ISEC His specialisations include, Agricultural Development Policy, Watershed Development, WTO – Agriculture & Trade, Rural Policy and Poverty, Economics of Drought-prone Areas and Rainfed Regions, Economics of Irrigation and Applied Econometrics. Professor Deshpande is a recipient of PNASF Gold Medal for his contributions to Agricultural Policy and Visvevaraya Global Leadership Award for Excellence in Education. He has been awarded the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship by the Indian Council for Social Science Research, Govt of India. He was on the Search Committee for Vice Chancellors for many Universities that included Osmania, Pune, and Bangalore Universities. He was also a member of the Search Committee for Director of Madras Institute of Development Studies and AN Sinha Institute, Patna. He is the President Elect for the Platinum Jubilee Conference of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics that was held at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana on 19th December 2015. Presently, he is a member of Karnataka Innovation Council, Govt of Karnataka and .
Professor Deshpande has authored 17 books and more that 129 research papers published in national and international prestigious journals. Among his books are: Agrarian Crisis and Farmer Suicides, Where Water Seeps, NGOs and farmers’ Movements in India, Moon in the Mirror-Farmers and MSP in Karnataka are a few. He was invited as visiting Professor to the University of Ottawa, Canada, Saskatchewan as well as to the Institute of Policy Planning, Regina. He worked as a consultant to many organizations that include the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Land Equity Australia etc. His contributions to agricultural economics have been recognized by the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics and he is awarded the “Fellow of the Society”, in 2011.
Professor Deshpande has contributed significantly as member of the many policy bodies which include Advisory Body of the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture, Planning Commission, Government of India, WTO Cell of Government of India, Committee on Farmers’ Suicides appointed by the Government of Karnataka, etc. He was the sole architect of Karnataka’s Agricultural Policy 2006 and Chairperson of Mission Group on Agriculture and Rural Development of Govt of Karnataka. He was editor of the Journal of Social and Economic Development, and on the Editorial Board of Agricultural Economics Research Review, and a reviewer of many reputed journals. Apart from all these he is a poet, a painter and social activist.