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

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Understanding the Indian Economy

India's Evolving Economy: Puzzles and Perspectives by A Vaidyanathan (Delhi: Academic Foundation), 2014; pp 348, Rs 1,195, hardback.

This book is a collection of essays on the many subject areas in which A Vaidyanathan has worked, over a long and distinguished career, both within government and outside it, in multilateral institutions and in the academic world. No other economist has had quite his range of experience as a practitioner and analyst. In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention at the outset that the author and I both received our doctoral degrees from the same thesis adviser at Cornell University (some years apart, many decades ago).

It is difficult to classify the chapters in the book, which can be in the nature of a summary of indicators on the issue in question (Chapter 2 on food and nutrition), a history of government policy (Chapter 4 on public employment programmes), a review of econometric results (Chapter 7 on gold consumption in India), a discourse on the issue (Chapter 9 on the political class in India), a wide angle review such as one might find in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Chapter 12 on the relevance of social science research), or a micro study of a single district in Tamil Nadu (Chapter 14 on North Arcot, between the census years 1971 and 1981). There are some chapters which give discomfort, such as Chapter 1 on growth, which computes the elasticity of service sector growth with respect to overall GDP growth over several quinquennia, where the services sector is a large component of GDP. There is an excellent introduction to the book by V K Natraj.

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