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Arun Kumar Indian Economy since Independence : Arun Kumar : Vision Books : Book (ISBN: 8170949068)
Pages: 816
Price: Rs. 799
Format: Paperback
ISBN13/10: 9788170949060 / 8170949068
Availability: Yes
Published in 2014
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Table of Contents

This 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 backward-ness 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.

The 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.

This 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. 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.

There 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.

Why does India remain poor and backward?

This book paints on a wide canvas seeking answers to a host of questions and issues about India’s development since independence, including:

  • Is India's persisting poverty due to a lack of resources or a result of following wrong policies?

  • Is poverty the poverty of mind?

  • Can growth alone take care of poverty, irrespective of distribution of incomes?

  • Why and how are economics and politics intertwined and inseparable?

  • Why has India's leadership deteriorated rapidly after independence?

  • What are the implications of India's ruling elite having little value for ideas?

  • Why does copying from the West result in non-solutions?

  • Do disruption in society and black economy reinforce each other?

  • Why has globalisation been a one-way street for the last 250 years?

  • Why does current globalisation benefit only the elite?

  • Is the faster growth of the Indian economy from 1980 the result of sectoral and compositional changes or is it just due to opening up?

  • Is the "growth at any cost" strategy unstable given its dependence on the impulses of a small elite class?

  • Has indiscriminate adoption of technology hurt society and environment?

  • How consumption has turned into consumerism.

  • How the financial system both facilitates investment and leads to growing disparities.

  • What is the nature of India's fiscal problems?


"Unusual in scope and method, (this book) is an enquiry into social history of a kind, broadly conceived, of contemporary Indian economy in the mirror image of 'colonial disruption'. The wide-ranging nature of the work cannot be missed . . . . The question under investigation is: Why has India failed to realize its basic transformative agenda in six decades of freedom?

"The study avoids the stock-in-trade framework of state versus market . . . . Instead, the author traces the essential phenomenon of dichotomous development to colonial disruption . . . . Disruption is to be seen in broader terms than dichotomous growth. In addition to all-round economic stagnation it connotes a decay of democracy, cultural cynicism or what the author calls 'poverty of the mind'.

". . . the book dissects virtually every aspect and sector of the Indian economy since independence. Arun Kumar’s book fascinates as a study of the contemporary Indian economy through a historical triangulation of colonialism, elites and educational system."

  G. Omkarnath, Professor of Economics, University of Hyderabad

"A serious work . . . makes us re-think our assumptions."  Mani Shankar Aiyar

"Raises diverse and fundamental questions . . . . It is a tour de force of insights, a panoptic view, and a documentary of the ingredients behind the underlying processes of change that are dominating the Indian landscape today."  Errol D'Souza, Professor of Economics, IIM, Ahmedabad in Vikalpa

Arun Kumar

Arun Kumar is currently the Sukhamoy Chakravarti Chair Professor in the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He has been teaching Economics in this Centre since 1984. He has a Ph.D. in Economics and a Masters degree in Physics.

His earlier book The Black Economy in India (Penguin, India), broke new ground in thinking about the Indian economy. He has specialized in Development, Public Finance and Public Policy and Macroeconomics. He has edited a book titled Challenges Facing Indian Universities and has published extensively on public finance, problems of higher education in India, globalisation and the global economic crisis set in motion in 2008.

Arun authored the Alternative Budgets for 1993-94 and 1994-95 which proposed alternative economic policies for India. These were presented before a citizen's parliament consisting of some eminent citizens of the country. He has been a member of the Group producing the Alternative Economic Survey for the last fifteen years. These documents provide an alternative analysis of the official data. He has also been associated with movements such as Right to Housing and against corruption.

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