ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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En Route to Development

A Critical Decade: Policies for India's Development edited by Rajeev Malhotra (New Delhi: OUP), 2012; pp 454, Rs 695.

A distinctive feature of A Critical Decade: Policies for India’s Development, which covers a broad economic policy spectrum in India through independent essays on varied subjects ranging from macroeconomic issues and market reforms to infrastructure and institutions, is that the chapters have been written by officers of the Indian Economic Service on the occasion of the golden jubilee of its inception. As brought out by Kaushik Basu, the then chief economic adviser in the Ministry of Finance, in his foreword, the volume caters to two tasks: that of informing the politician-cum-decision-maker of the latest ideas concerning more effective policymaking, and disseminating to the larger reading public the achievements, failures, prospects and problems that confront India during this critical phase. A reader is likely to approach the book with anticipation of a peek into the possible future, expecting more a forward than a backward looking approach. The expectations are not belied, though, perhaps, since all policy needs to be grounded in past experience, there is substantial analysis of the ex post kind, the proverbial post-mortems of the academic variety. Yet, the publication is distinct from other recent edited publications on the Indian economy from this publishing house (Basu 2011 and Ghate 2012).

The problem with reviewing these kinds of collections of related yet diverse essays is that, given the constraints of space, the reviewer has to make an explicit choice between taking cognisance of all the essays individually and painting broad brush strokes around the major themes considered. It is difficult to strike a golden mean, and either way, the reviewer is likely to err. This review makes the conscious choice of discussing some of the individual papers in each of the three groups into which the essays are classified, though, inevitably, not all essays can be considered in equal detail.

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