Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Perceptive ‘economic theorist'

In reviewing the collected papers of one of the most accomplished economists of his generation, there is a temptation to focus only on the examples of excellence. There is a great deal to be said about the significance of Kaushik Basu's contributions to the use of game theory in economic analysis and his other diverse interests reflected in this collection. But with endorsements from Amartya Sen, George Akerlof, Ariel Rubinstein, and Jagdish Bhagwati, among others, we can safely take this part of the story as read, allowing us to focus on a more subterranean theme. When seen in the context of Indian economic thought over the last four decades, his papers are also a subtle commentary on the challenges economics as a science faces in India.

When Kaushik Basu chose economics from a bouquet of options in the 1970s, the field was deeply divided between the neo-classical economists and the neo-Keynesians, with Marxists typically lining on the side of the latter. This divide took deep roots in Indian economic thought with the emergence of Jawaharlal Nehru University as a major centre of Marxist economics. Most, if not all, economic debates were between those who believed in the supremacy of the market and those who insisted on providing the state a central role.

Full report here Hindu

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