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Author: N A Majumdar
Publisher: Academic Foundation
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8171883451
N A Mujumdar in the introduction to his previous book financial Sector Reforms and India's Economic Development (2 vols., Academic Foundation 2002) wrote: the financial sector reforms introduced in the 1990s, as part of the process of liberalisation and globalisation of the Indian economy have, in effect succeeded in alienating the financial system from the business of development.
The present book enlarges the scope of this central theme by encompassing the whole range of economic reforms-not just financial sector reforms-and seeks to demonstrate that these reforms have resulted in shifting the focus of macroeconomic policy away from the end-objectives of development, namely, reduction in poverty and improvement in the quality of the life of the bulk of the population.
The author argues, the emphasis of reforms seems to be on exhibiting the form of the text-book characteristics of a liberalised, and open economy, at the cost of the substance of development: reduce State intervention and involvement in economic activities, usher in market-driven economy, abolish all subsidies including food and interest rate subsidies to the poor, and let the poor fend for themselves and so on.
In the hierarchy of priorities of contemporary Indian policy makers, for instance, privatisation has gained ascendancy over poverty reduction. Economic reforms have thus become empty rhetorics so far as the attainment of end-objectives of development is concerned.
The bunch of 33 selected articles brought together in this book seeks to provide concrete evidence in support of this central theme. The discussion also sketches the broad contours of policy correctives that are needed if the substance of development is to be retained as an important ingredient in the macroeconomic policy mix.
The discussion in the book is organized around seven aspects: Macro Perspectives of Growth, Monetary and Credit Policies, Banking and Savings, Utilization of Forex Reserves, Crisis of Capitalism, Fiscal Policies and Hunger, Poverty and Rural Development.
As the author puts it, this book should, hopefully, serve as a corrective to the current euphoria about the state of the economy.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
CONSCIENCE KEEPER OF DEVELOPMENT
NA Mujumdar calls for the incorporation of a development conscience factor into growth.
The Academic Foundation has, over the years, brought together the writings of a galaxy of economists who have been unequivocally pro reforms. It needs to be complimented for not ignoring those writers who have been severe critics of reforms. In that sense, the Academic Foundation has provided signal service in publishing NA Mujumdar's Economic Reforms Sans Development (2004).
Dr Mujumdar, former Principal Adviser of the Reserve Bank of India, has been an arch critic of the monetary and other financial polices, but in this volume, he becomes what may be called the conscience keeper of development, Be that as it may, his writings have moved to the wider aspects of development with special reference to poverty alleviation.
In some ways, Mujumdar is like a Hayek who after his Prices and Production model gave way to Keynes General Theory and contributed copiously treatise after treatise on the constitution of liberal law and philosophy and ultimately won the Nobel prize.
One must never make the mistake of ignoring Mujumdar. Every serious student of economics and social studies, policymakers, politicians and administrators just cannot afford not to read this book.
-S S Tarapore