This book presents a historical and political survey of have their roots in the disruption of Indian society caused by colonization. The countrys 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.
The book highlights that there is a common explanation of how a handful of British could conquer 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 Macaulays 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, 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 independents 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.
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 dis-juncture 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.
Author Bio: 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 (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 citizens 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.
This book was added to South Asia bookstore on Monday 03 June, 2013.