New Login   

India Shining to India Whining?

Bibek Debroy

By T.C.A. Srinivasa-Raghavan
Ministry of Finance, Government of India and Academic Foundation, Delhi, 2012, pp. 101, Rs. 1500.00


In these days of transparency and disclosure, I should state upfront that T.C.A. Srinivasa-Raghavan is a friend I have known for many years. In Business Standard days, he was also a colleague. He has been a journalist and columnist across a variety of business papers and is widely read. Being a journalist/colum-nist means you produce good copy and don't churn out turgid prose. Having said this, this is an odd kind of book. On the Turnpike was also an expression used by Vijay Kelkar in one of his widely-quoted papers and dates to a period when people were a bit more bullish about India and its economy. This is an odd book because it is both about the Indian eco-nomy since 1947 and about the Indian Eco-nomic Service (IES) at 50. The longish essay by TCA is on the economy since 1947 and divides evolution into several phases—the age of innocence (1947-57), fiscal Robinhoods (1957-69), path to fiscal indiscretion (1970-79), in search of growth (1980-90) and India rising, but slowly (1991 onwards). That is understandable, but the book has been pub-lished in 2012.  One could argue there has been a different phase since 2004, not very different from Robinhoods of indiscretion.  While TCA's thumbnail sketch is a very useful and well-written account of the economy's transition, from North Block's perspective, I have reason to complain.  First, as a colum-nist, TCA is not known for pulling his pun-ches. In this case, he has, perhaps inevitably because the book was in some sense commis-sioned by Finance Ministry, held back. Se-cond, there will probably be consensus that post-2004 has been different, and not only because of what has happened in the external world. TCA's essay was originally published in 1998. While it has been updated and revised, it does not reflect the transition from India Shining to India Whining. However, this book is not supposed to be about the Indian economy alone. It is also supposed to be about the IES.  The trigger was the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the IES, since as a service, IES was set up in 1961. On the IES proper, the book has the original 1958 proposal for constituting the service. There are messages by the Prime Minister and the then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, which do not have much to say on the IES.  And we have a Foreword by the then CEA (Chief Economic Adviser) Kaushik Basu and small pieces by ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.