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

Articles by Ashok MitraSubscribe to Ashok Mitra

Tragedy of External Dependence

Ashok Mitra The Crisis of External Dependence: The Political Economy of Foreign Aid to Bangladesh by Rehman Sobhan; University Press Limited, Dacca, 1982, TK 150.

The Meaning of Meaning

Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation by Amartya Sen; Clarendon Press, Oxford,

Milestones and Ignominies

Milestones and Ignominies Ashok Mitra Marxist Cultural Movement in India: Chronicles and Documents (1936-47), compiled and edited by Sudhi Pradhan; distributors: National Book Agency, Calcutta; Rs 45 (hard cover), Rs 35 (paperback), THERE should be, and always is, a dividing line between nostalgia and history. This basic fact is, alas, often discovered only belatedly by writers of history, more so when they are recapitulating episodes which had occurred in the course of their lifetime. The peril is greater for those who were also active combatants in battles which subsequently form the staple of history. Objectivity in any event is a many-splendoured attribute, and the dialectics between subjective objectivism and objective subjectivism can proceed very far indeed. Even so, it is important that while making recorded annals available of significant phases of political movements, the wheat of history is, as far as possible, extracted and separated from the chaff of nostalgia.

Growth and Diseconomies

The parts of India are not greater than the whole. But unless the parts survive and prosper, there could be no whole either. No better means exist for sustaining our political structure than to release the impulses which generate fast and equitable growth. In our pursuit of rigid centralisation, we have however achieved precisely the opposite of what we intended to achieve.

On Differential Rates of Interest- A Further Comment

WITH the views on either side having been fairly explicitly presented, the debate on differential rates of interest has almost run its course. There is a danger of obfuscation without enlightenment if it is pursued indefinitely. If I have still decided on this short further comment on A K Das Gupta's latest note (August 26, p 1802), it is because an important area of knowledge has been laid bare by the latter. It is that there can be no neutral 'analytical' approach to economic issues; what he refers to as 'preference for rational conduct' is in fact an outcome of one's system of values.


A K DAS GUPTA's article on Differential Rates of Interest (July 1) seems to be a ease of misplaced sophistication. There are, besides, a few statements in the piece which deserve to be contested. To take the opening obiter dictum: "Redistribution of income is the direct responsibility of the State. The legitimate instruments of such redistribution are taxes and subsidies. It is unwise to relegate the function to public undertakings whose efficiency has to be tested by either criteria such as volume of output and the rate of profit on capital invested," By implication, Das Gupta would rule out the use of monetary policy for serving the goals of re- distributive policy. But does such a point of view make any economic sense, particularly now that more than one- third of a century has elapsed since the publication of Keynes "General Theory"? Taxes and subsidies allocate and reallocate purchasing power. Monetary measures similarly aim at allocating and reallocating purchasing power. Qualitatively, there can be no distinction at all between purchasing power created through the fiscal apparatus and purchasing power created via the monetary .system. In fact, in the Indian context, where aggregate bank advances even exceed the annual fiscal outlay of the Central Government, to desist from using the monetary instruments for the furtherance of distributive objectives would be, it can be suggested, tantamount to a dereliction of duty on the part of the State. The very rationale of nationalising the banking system, I am afraid, would collapse if Das Gupta's prehistoric notions were to be respected.


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