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Towards Enlightened Humanism?

K. Saradamoni

By R.K. Suresh Kumar and P. Suresh Kumar
APH Publishing Corporation, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 239, Rs. 795.00


The two authors undertook the study with a research grant awarded by the Achuta Menon Foundation and claim that theirs is a 'disinterested' (un-biased) perspective. The book contains six chapters: 1. Development Perceptions: Dynamics in India and the Third World; 2. Production Forces and Relations; Kerala in the Formation; 3. Initiating Development: Parties, Policies and Personalities; 4. Strengthening the Kerala Model: The Achuta Menon Legacy; 5. Conflicts: Apparent and Real and the Debacle and 6. New Perceptions on Development and the Left and five appendices. The authors begin with tracing the evolution of the thinking on economics in Europe. Understandably they begin with Adam Smith and trace the perceptions of Ricardo, Malthus, J.S. Mill and go to the marginalists and point out the emphasis given to capital accumulation, growth and efficiency. What we do not get from the descriptions is that the thinkers and writers of that period were concerned about and were trying to understand the changes that were happening around them with the advent of technological innovations; industrial growth which in large measures erased agriculture, the livelihood of large sections of the population, their life-style and culture. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were also watching the above phenomena and came up with different ideas. They said that societal transformation occurs through the changes in the material means of production and social relations. They could not be oblivious to the misery in the world even if a section of the population in certain countries enjoyed greater comfort. The authors of the book could not ignore the Great Depression which played havoc in the capitalist world especially the USA during the thirties of the twentieth century and the prescription of John Maynard Keynes, the British economist. However their treatment of the alternative to capitalism and the socio-economic politics tried out in the erstwhile Soviet Union is far from satisfactory. They have also missed out the bold demand that came from the nonaligned countries for a New International Economic Order where they as a right asked for a reordering of the world wealth between the North and South. Instead, one can see a history of the formulae for Third World Economic Development put forth by economists in the capitalist, mainly European, countries. The division of the world into first, second and third world in terms of ‘Development’ was an invention of the capitalist world. Through that they established that theirs was the pattern of development which ...

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