Economists and their Marketing Gimmicks

It is something unprecedented happening. Two highly respected economists collaborating with one close associate of their own have published two books on India’s economy.The two books are:

Amartya Sen’s An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions, co-authored with development economist Jean Drèze, appeared less than a week ago. Penguin Books India is its Indian publisher.

Jagdish Bhagwati’s recent book (co-authored with Arvind Panagariya), India’s Tryst With Destiny: Debunking Myths that Undermine Progress and Addressing New Challenges, published in late 2012 by HarperCollins.

Never did one see so much of coverage of two groups of authors on digital as well as print media of the country and never did it took so much of political colour. Both Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya have written about the drawbacks of the propositions of Amartya Sen in print media.

Amartya Sen and Jean Dereze have appeared with their interviews on all rival English channels and national newspapers such Forbes India, Times of India or OutlookIndia and Business Standard. Many columnists such as Sandipan Deb and Prof. Sumit K Mazumdar have expressed their views on this debate in newspapers and magazines.

Jagdish Bhagwati holds that an economy should be allowed to run freely and the state should not take much out of it and ‘redistribute’ it to the poor.

Amartya Sen believes that without strong public spending on nutrition, health and education, a robust economy with long term growth isn’t possible.

“Sen thinks that the starting point for achieving the desired goal must be an immediate massive attack on illiteracy and ill health.” Who can question the importance of education and healthcare and that these are very important for business as well?

I shall like to give education a little more weightage and the priority. By education, I mean good education and skill building based on the aptitude of the individuals. Because of the prevailing deprivation in the society for different reasons over centuries, even education will require huge resources, good planning and effective execution. I don’t believe any entitlements should be based on any deprivation criterion based on caste and community. It must be for all deprived. My preference for education as first is as it can help even the healthcare and without education, investment on healthcare may not yield the desired result. However, I don’t believe that education should be or could be the sole responsibility of only government. It must be the national mission and all, particularly the political parties, must join this movement. For many years, many small and big families and some individuals dedicated their lives and wealth for education both in villages as well as in urban areas-towns and cities or metros. That must be encouraged. All the resources of CSR would have gone for it.

As it is being said, while Jagdish Bhagwati preferred Gujarat Model, Amartya Sen likes Kerala Model. I would have preferred if they would appreciated the specific success stories of different states, as many states have done something outstanding in one or other areas that could be emulated by others and benefited. Why can’t they look at Andhra Model and the establishment of largest number of engineering colleges that have helped it becoming largest source of manpower in US and that made Hyderabad so important for thousands of engineers from all parts of the country?

How can one believe in the Nobel Laureate who couldn’t help his own state, and messed up a nationally important project such as Nalanda International University by getting appointed an ordinary woman associate professor of a Delhi College as its Vice Chancellor with Rs 5 lakh as monthly remuneration , as many believed? Was it not something of taking advantages of his nearness to person such as Manmohan Singh who unfortunately happens to be the prime minister of this great country? How does it matter if the prestigious university does not come up at all? There will be thousand of excuses for the failure of the project in which quite a number of Asian countries are participating.

Are these debates and TV shows not meant for marketing their books where the media in collision with them?

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