Hendra Esmara, Aristides Katoppo, Heru Cahyono
Yayasan Arsari Djojohadikusumo, 2014
xix, 464 hal., 22 cm
Sumitro Djojohadikusumo (1917-2001) was a towering figure in 20th century Indonesia, who played a major role as a patriot struggling for his country’s independence, as the doyen and elder statesman of Indonesian economics and one of the principal architect’s of post-independence economic policy, and as beloved teacher who pioneered social science education and was instrumental in shaping the careers of several generations of economists. A team of writers and researchers led by respected journalist Aristides Katoppo spent months interviewing the late Prof. Sumitro and others who knew him in producing this important biography, now finally made available in English.
This portrait of Sumitro’s life is seen against the panorama of Indonesian history in the 20th century: The son of a public servant in the Netherlands Indies administration (who would himself go on to found the first state bank of Indonesia), the prodigious young Sumitro obtained a doctorate in economics in wartime Rotterdam, after reading philosophy and history at the Sorbonne in Paris.
During the Indonesian struggle for independence, he was active in the Indonesian delegation to the United Nations lobbying support for the nascent nation’s cause. He became Minister of Trade in 1949 at the early age of thirty-three and later twice served as Minister of Finance during the Sukarno period. Reacting to the excesses of ‘Guided Democracy,” he joined dissidents in Sumatra and Sulawesi in setting up a rival government in 1957. When this fell, he went into exile abroad with his young family, only to return during the New Order period under General Soeharto, for whom he served as Minister of Trade and Minister of Research. Eventually he fell out with Soeharto when he dared to question and publicly point out the trends of nepotism and corruption, one of the few to dare to do so.
His real love was teaching and research, though. He was one of the founders of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Indonesia, taught at many other universities throughout the country, and even during his exile and while a sitting minister made time to develop the faculty and set up other educational and research institutions. He was also an important economic theorist and prolific author. His biography is filled with colorful personal and professional observations of great value for understanding the turbulent history of the country and extraordinary social and economic changes he witnessed and helped to bring about.