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A Panoramic View


Pritam Singh

CATCH UP: DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD ECONOMY
By Deepak Nayyar
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013, pp. xvii 221, price not stated.

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 7 July 2014

The book under review is fascinating and disappointing at the same time. It is a masterly survey of the developmental and economic history literature on the significant changes that have taken place in the global economy over a long historical period stretching into many centuries. The data that has been carefully used and analysed comes from reliable sources mostly UN data. Deepak Nayyar, a Left Keynesian who belongs to the developmental state school of thought in the field of development economics has not only surveyed global economic history but also very brilliantly summarized the main contributions to development economics in the field of industrialization that is the focus of this study.   The central contribution of work is in two fields: one, it provides a panoramic view of the rise and fall of nations in the tradition of the work which Angus Maddison is most famous for, and two, it critiques the neo-liberal paradigm that still remains hegemonic in development literature in spite of a serious setback that the triumphalism of the paradigm has suffered in the wake of the recent multipronged crisis of global capitalism (For my examination of this multi-pronged crises, see ‘Contemporary Global Capitalism: Multi-pronged crises’, Economic and Political Weekly, October 11, 2008). A long term historical viewpoint of the economic rise and fall of nations shatters the myth, that ‘western nations’ have any inherent superiority in technological inventions, innovations and development. Nayyar has made a use of the key data and findings from Maddison’s studies to demonstrate that many countries, most importantly China and India, had a far more important place in the world economy than many western economies in the period from 1000 to 1820. China, India and many other developing economies are now regaining the place in the economy which they once had and had lost in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, its spread effects to western Europe, and the rise of colonialism and imperialism. In examining the successful experiences of industrialization, Nayyar has been able to demonstrate very effectively the enabling role of the state, and through that he provides a robust and reasoned critique of the neo-liberal paradigm that extols the virtues of ‘free’ markets and liberal regimes of free trade. In the discussion on the structural change from primary and secondary to tertiary sectors in the process of industrialization and economic development Nayyar provides a very useful insight that structural change is necessary but ...


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