does India remain poor and backward?
this over-arching central issue, this book paints on a wide canvas seeking
answers to a host of questions and issues about
India's development since independence, including:
does poverty persist in
India? Is it due to a lack of resources or a result of India's
ruling elite uncritically following wrong policies?
poverty the poverty of mind?
growth alone take care of poverty, irrespective of distribution of
and how are economics and politics intertwined and inseparable?
are the causes of a rapid deterioration of India's leadership after independence?
are the implications of
India's ruling elite having little value for ideas?
is important but is its content any less important?
Indian elite's belief in Western superiority lead to Gandhi’s
copying from the West result in non-solutions?
disruption in society and black economy reinforce each other in a
has globalisation been a one-way street for the last 250 years?
is globalisation currently globalisation only of the elite?
the faster growth of the Indian economy from 1980 the result of
sectoral and compositional changes or is it just due to opening up?
the "growth at any cost" strategy unstable given its
dependence on the impulses of a small elite class?
there a disadvantage of a late start rather than an advantage?
indiscriminate adoption of technology impacted society and
consumption has turned into consumerism.
does the financial system both facilitate investments and lead to
is the nature of India's fiscal problems?
book presents a historical and political survey of India's economic development since independence. It
analyses the post-independence developments in the context of the preceding
British rule. It is argued that the major
economic and other problems of post-independence India
have their roots in the disruption of Indian society caused by colonisation.
The country’s persisting poverty, illiteracy, and general backwardness can be
traced to the poor quality of political leadership because of its elitist roots,
low investment due to the drain of the surplus, and the Indian society's loss of
value for original and relevant ideas and knowledge.
book highlights that there is a common explanation of how a handful of British
and rule over it for two hundred years and why independent
has not been able to overcome its problems over the last six decades. The
colonial rule following Macaulay’s prescription created an elite class that
mediated between the British rulers and the common Indian. The resulting gap
between the elite and people at large persists till today leading to a weak
leadership, endemic corruption, policy failure and poor governance.
Thus, for example, India
remains trapped in a one-way globalisation, mindlessly copying irrelevant
solutions from the West. Then, too, material progress since independence has
been largely concentrated in the "modern" sectors, dictated largely by
the stage of the world economy. Two separate circles of development got created,
the rapidly developing modern one uncomfortably co-existing with the
marginalised and crisis-ridden traditional sectors.
is a magisterial, seminal work on independent India's economy by a renowned economist. It stands out because it probes
various aspects of the Indian society in a holistic manner, including key
events, the changing institutional setting, the evolving political economy and
its theoretical understanding, the role of the black economy in policy failure
and the stunting of societal dynamism due to the inadequacies in knowledge
generation. Further, it integrates issues ignored by most analysts, such as the
environment, the marginalised, sectoral imbalances, poor infrastructure, fiscal
crisis, monetary policy difficulties, persisting under-employment, growing
regional disparities, trade imbalances, the continuity with the pre-independence
period, international developments, the role of knowledge generation through
education and science and technology, and the hierarchy of policies, all of
which are germane to an understanding of the progress and hiatus in India's
economy since independence.
is no gainsaying the fact that the Indian economy has achieved much in the
period. The point, however, is that it is too little compared to what was needed
to be achieved and that the nation is headed in the wrong direction,
highlighting the disjuncture between the short run and the long run — a
running theme in the book. The approach adopted in the book leads to newer
questions and answers.