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

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An Economics That Demystifies Economics

With all the nonsense that economists in exalted positions disseminate, one needs just that.

Over the last two decades the world of higher education and research in economics in India has been mesmerised by a series of conferences and collaborative researches generously sponsored by the World Bank and its “development partners”. The result: A particular kind of crony intellectualism has flourished, strengthening neocolonial hegemony in the realm of economics. In the other social sciences, the postmodernist claim has made huge inroads, namely, that any “narrative” is as valid as any other (A postmodernist economics is yet to appear though!). But, parallel with the spread of crony intellectualism, the integrity of India’s liberal-political democratic system has been vitiated; it is now a money-driven system, and the media is closely involved in the dissemination of the propaganda that is necessary to legitimise it. Day in and day out one is bombarded by the pundits who tell us that a high fiscal deficit is necessarily harmful, and, further, when the stock market is booming, India is shining. Now all “(t)his is typical of the kind of nonsense you must have the intellectual confidence to know is nonsense”, as one of India’s leading theoreticians in macroeconomics, Amit Bhaduri, puts it in a keynote address he delivered at a national conference on economics education in schools, organised by the National Council of Educational Research and Training in New Delhi three years ago. An expanded text of this lecture, entitled “What Is the Core of Economics?”, has now been published by Eklavya.

In this age of chronic mendacity in public life, where all of us are the victims of a propaganda-managed democracy, surely what students at the plus two level of education need is an economics that demystifies economics. The Indian public needs to know the “bad conscience and evil intent of apologetic” (this from Marx) that the pundits who disseminate free-market economics have committed themselves to. When they reduce “public finance to housekeeping in the name of ‘fiscal discipline’” (Bhaduri again) and thereby clandestinely make a case for “disciplining the poor to help the rich”, all the more we need open-minded, intellectually self-confident citizens to call their bluff. What then is the core of economics that will give “an intelligent and interested citizen the confidence to pose and raise relevant economic questions”, depending, of course, on the particular context? Bhaduri answers this question with reference to three areas – microeconomics, macroeconomics, and the Indian economy.

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