Monthly Archives: July 2008

D D Kosambi Birth Centennial Issue

Here is the link to the D D Kosambi Birth Centennial issue of the EPW. For those who want to know who this guy was, visit this link for some biographical information.

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India and Globalization

This is a very interesting discussion by Martin Wolf and Quentin Peel on India and Globalization.

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Bomb Blasts in India

As regrettable the recent bomb blasts in India are, there is also something new about them. The responsibility is being claimed by an obscure group called “Indian Mujaheddin” and does not seem to have a definite objective. Of course, any such kind of violence is destabilizing and creates an environment of mistrust and religious tensions. This article in the NY times gives a good summary of what happened and what is the current state of investigation.

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Global Warming and Macroeconomics

A very interesting application of the dynamic macroeconomics tools!

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Filed under current economic issues, macroeconomics

India and its Left!

The showdown ulitmately yeilded a coalition government that may be standing on even more tenuous grounds than before! But yes, the Leftists are out of the government now. What are the gains? Will the nuclear deal come through in time before Prosident Bush’s term expires? Well that needs to be seen and any cynicism on this front would not be completely out of line. Nevertheless, it remains clear that anything that augments energy capabilities of India should be welcomed.

What becomes of the Left in India? It certainly is not dead. Having continuously ruled a couple of states for quite some time now, they are anything but dead. However, the confidence vote is definitely a setback to its efficacy. The economies of the states that it rules are also not in great shape. West Bengal lost its industrial leadership long back and never really recovered since. Kerala has an amazing record of human development but probably survives on remittances more than any local economy. So there is not much to show in terms of economic success for the Left. As the EPW rightly (and finally!) argued, if the Left wants to have any chance of dominating the central politics it has to have a backing of a successful model. Unfortunately, this is not the case; neither in India nor anywhere else in the world.

Notwithstanding this, one successful contribution of the Left has been in the area of public debate on important economic and social aspects of the Indian economy. And this is surely an important one. If such debates have prolonged the much needed economic reforms, they also have helped avoid unnecessary pitfalls. For example, the left winged economists in India argued against allowing capital mobility long before the mainstream economists started seeing sense in such a policy. The Left intelligentsia has long supported the peoples struggle against poorly executed mega projects like the Narmada Dam.

But apart from such successes, it is indeed true that the Left has much less to offer in terms of economic success. And so long as that remains, it would be difficult for them to contribute meaningfully to politics and governance in India.

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A Splendid Exchange

This book by William Berstein is a must read for all those who are interested in the politics and economics of trade. The Economist carried a good review of the book. I could not agree more with their assessment of Bernstein’s book. It indeed is a fascinating read and leaves you much wiser than before. Having said this, I would like to jot down certain points of criticism.

Along with providing evidence for our eternal urge to truck and barter, the book also brings to light the frequent human desire to consume at whatever cost it takes. It is an important lesson to learn that trade has shaped the world and we all have immensely benefited from it. However, we should not lose sight of the extent to which greedy nations and corporations will go to enjoy the goodies of trade. Wiping out a complete island for nutmeg by the Dutch or the atrocities committed by the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean is a case in point.

The author thus, fails to note that not all exchange can be called as trade, at least by today’s textbook definition. If the Portuguese, Dutch or the English seized political control in order to secure supplies that cannot be termed as beneficial trade.

Even though the book successfully tells the story of how trade shaped the world, it tells the story primarily from western point of view. So much so that at times I felt the title should have been how trade shaped the “Western” world. The story of how centuries of trade affected the economies of China & India gets at best an incidental description. This is in spite of the fact that the silk route and the spice route originated in these countries. Of course one could argue that it is the story for atleast two additional books!

In spite of these lacunae, I think the book does a pretty good job of putting history of trade in perspective.

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Pollution Concerns

Well, people say there is always some environmental cost of development. But in case of India these costs turn catastrophic becasue of tragedy of commons, corruption and citizens, who dont give a damn. If you are not convinced, this article should be an eye opener.

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Filed under current economic issues, indian economy