October, 2015

‘Nehru and the economy of India: a 21st century view’


Guest lecture by Prof Pulapre Balakrishnan.
Abstract on the lecture :Into the 21st century we are better placed to assess the significance of the brief Nehru era in the long haul of India’s economic history. This is owed to three developments. First, advances in economic theory enable us to grasp the empirical reality in terms of formal models of growth and development. Secondly, we now have statistical procedures that allow us to extract information from the data by means that are immune to the researchers’ priors. And, finally, considerable evidence has accrued on the history of economic progress in the rest of Asia, currently the world’s most dynamic region, making for a comparative perspective. Hence, we have strong reason to believe that the mechanism of economic growth in India that has prevailed for close to half a century by now was set-off via the co-ordinated public-policy interventions of the Nehru era. Further, it is yet to be demonstrated that the continued acceleration of the economy could have been enabled by any other known strategy. However, we are also able to see the failure in that moment to initiate a programme of investing widely in human capital has meant that growth here has been neither as fast nor as inclusive as it has been to our east. The spectacular revival of growth and the meagre development of human capital, represent the triumph and the tragedy, respectively, of the early Indian republic.


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