The youngest and the only Governor of the Reserve Bank of India to die in office, James Taylor spent almost his entire career in the cause of central banking in India for around two decades. In that sense, he was India’s first real central banker.
Like a flower, he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
The Kerala State’s Economic Review 2020 blandly claims that the State’s development outcomes are comparable with the most developed countries. Is this true? Has Kerala’s progress in economic indicators since independence been superior to that of other States? To what extent are the State’s historical, geographical, social, and cultural factors responsible for its superior outcomes? Didn’t countries and regions with similar characteristics have similar and perhaps better outcomes? We examine these questions and are led to conclude that the ‘Kerala Model’ is less a model and more an experience. Continue reading “The Kerala Model: The Stories Within”
That wretched woman with the infant in her arms, round whose meagre form the remnant of her own scanty shawl is carefully wrapped, has been attempting to sing some popular ballad, in the hope of wringing a few pence from the compassionate passer-by.
Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz
“Cooperation has failed, but cooperation must succeed,” is an oft-quoted extract from the 1954 report of the All India Rural Credit Survey Committee (AIRCSC). Sir Benegal Rama Rau, the fourth Governor, Reserve Bank of India, appointed the Committee. No other financial sector was the subject of scrutiny by as many committees as Indian cooperation. The quote is believed to be the contribution of Burra Venkatappaiah, of the Indian Civil Service. Venkatappaiah was then the Reserve Bank of India’s first Executive Director, and a member of the AIRCSC. He later became Deputy Governor, and the fourth Chairman of the State Bank of India. Thereafter he chaired the All India Rural Credit Review Committee which reported in 1969. I have a separate post on Venkatappaiah coming up, but my focus here is on Indian cooperation. Continue reading “Indian Cooperation: Finding Raiffeisens”
Prof. Kaushik Basu in his “Policy Maker’s Journal” describes an incident where he and three friends, on a holiday in Cusco, Peru, were walking back to their hotel through deserted streets, when they saw a native girl, sitting alone and crying. Her mother had made her wait while she went home to fetch something. It was getting late, and she was hungry. But, they found food in her bag, and asked her to eat that. She said that they were for sale, and not for eating. They then bought some food, and gave her. We will never know whether she ate it. But, Kaushik was left “with an awareness of the human predicament that reading books and guzzling statistics cannot give.” Continue reading ““Policy Maker’s Journal” by Kaushik Basu”
This post is a longer version of my article on James Wilson, the first Finance Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, which was published in Business Standard dated 21 January 2021. Please see the link here. Wilson was also the Founder of The Economist, and the Standard Chartered Bank. He presented the first Indian budget in 1860, and introduced income tax in the country. He also laid the foundations for introducing government paper currency in India the Indian Police, and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, among other things. Continue reading “Hawick to Hawick: Life of James Wilson”
One of the contentious issues that is going to come up in the coming months is labour reforms. Many wonder why the present government did not bring this in the first year of its first term. Bibek Debroy, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, in Mint a few days back (27 May 2020) outlined nine measures required to reform the labour laws in the country. Briefly, these are as follows: Continue reading “Labour Reforms”
In monetary theory, Goodhart’s Law states that “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” That is because people, and even governments and other organizations start gaming the target. Known after Charles Goodhart, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, and a former Chief Adviser and External Member of the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England, who had propounded it, Goodhart’s Law was originally formulated in the context of monetary policy during the Thatcher years. But its utility goes beyond monetary policy in explaining various phenomena where targets are met, but underlying performance is poor. Continue reading “Are we Goodhart-ed? Some questions for pandemic times”
I have two versions of a review of this recent book by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years. When I first wrote it, it was too long, at over 3000 words. I had to trim it down considerable and make it 700 words, for The Open Magazine. I will post a link to that review here as and when it is published in that shorter form. Those who might be interested in the longer form, please read on. Continue reading “Book Review: Backstage by Montek Singh Ahluwalia”