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

Articles by Kaushik BasuSubscribe to Kaushik Basu

Amartya Sen and the Popular Imagination-In the Wake of the Prize

In the Wake of the Prize Kaushik Basu One of the most common assertions has been that Amartya Sen has been given the Nobel Prize for his humanitarianism or for showing how famines can occur during times of plenty or how famines are unlikely in a democracy or for his work in development economics. The exception is the official Nobel citation released by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which states that Sen has been given the Prize "for his contributions to welfare economics''. This is the work reported in his classic book Collective Choice and Social Welfare, a work of immense elegance that combines format logic, welfare economics and moral philosophy.

Methodological Individualism-Resurrecting Controversy

Methodological individualism a belief that in explaining social phenomena we should begin from the individual as a unit of analysis - was a matter of debate and controversy a long time ago. Contemporary economists seem to take the view that either the debate is trivial or that methodological individualism is obviously right. This complacency has been shaken and interest in this subject has recently been revived by the publication of some new books and papers. This essay examines the new debate, argues that mainstream economists, knowingly or unknowingly, do use concepts which are irreducibly social and defends a particular aspect of individualism. The paper ends by drawing attention to a paradoxical observation concerning normative judgments and methodological individualism.

Structural Reform in India, 1991-93

India's economic reform is at a critical juncture and needs to be understood, The aim of this paper is to review the reforms undertaken since 1991 and to argue that the time has come to strike at some of the political and institutional roots of our economic malaise. The essay begins by critically examining the reforms, especially with respect to the international sector, the divestiture plan and programmes for basic needs. It then goes on to an analysis of the political and institutional roots of the crisis. It distinguishes between two different kinds of democratic organisations and pins down many of our economy's problems to the fact that our organisations are built on a system of 'overlapping rights'.

Economics, Theory and Thought

Economics, Theory and Thought Kaushik Basu Essays in Economic Analysis and Policy: A Tribute to Bhabatosh Datta edited by Dipak Banerjee; Oxford University Press, 1991; pp xiii + 264,

Bad Advice

Kaushik Basu The economist's traditional model is that of a soundless economy. If individuals suddenly lost their ability to speak, nothing would happen to this economy because their ability to speak was never a part of its assumptions. Yet in reality speech matters, not only in itself but because it influences the world of action, This paper shows that the link between the world of speech and the world of action is as yet ill-understood and its under- standing is important for the social sciences. It argues, for instance, that the advice of economists has had insufficient impact on actual policy not so much because of the inadequacy of the contents of the advice as because of our ignorance of how to give advice. Some of the existing work on speech and action

Budget in the Time of Change-Reflections on Restructuring

Budget in the Time of Change Reflections on Restructuring Kaushik Basu This essay evaluates the 1991-92 budget and the larger reforms from a particular point of view. This point of view supports industrial liberalisation, freer trade regimes and an exchange rate policy which aims to establish current-account convertibility of the rupee in the near future. These policies are supported not because equity does not matter but because it does. The equity objective emphasises a second set of desirable policies. These consist of direct public action for the poor. While such action is urged on a much larger scale than has been undertaken thus far, it should be direct in the sense that its market-distortionary effect is as small as possible.

Induction, Knowledge and Efficiency

Induction, Knowledge and Efficiency Kaushik Basu IN his recent article (EPW, May 5-12) C T Kurien makes several points concerning my and March 17, 1990) and also commits many fallacies. In response I confine myself to the issues raised by Kurien, excepting for one brief digression on induction.

Values, Efficiency and Exploitation

Values, Efficiency and Exploitation Kaushik Basu IN his strongly worded critique of my paper on the role of theory in development economics, C T Kurien raises several objections to my arguments. Kurien's objections cluster under two themes. Those relating to efficiency and exploitation; and those concerning beliefs and values. I take up the latter first.

The Welfare State Works

The Possibility of Politics: A Study in the Political Economy of the Welfare State by Stein Ringen; Clarendon Press, Oxford; pp xi + 303,

Economic Theory Development Economics-Methodology, Agrarian Structure and Rent Control Laws

Methodology, Agrarian Structure and Rent Control Laws Kaushik Basu This paper argues that pure theory and abstract reasoning play a crucial role in the advance of development economics. Abstract theoretical arguments can throw light on many critical matters of political economy and policy-making. Two examples are taken up to illustrate this. First, it is shown that the connection between efficiency and exploitation in backward agriculture has been widely misunderstood, but this can be sorted out by resorting to some simple theory. Secondly, the subject of rental laws is a source of much confusion but, again, abstract reasoning can help us understand many of the issues involved. The popular view that the existing rental laws are 'pro-tenant' is examined and some suggestions are made for policy reform.

Reminiscing the Origins of Development-Economics

field-view of Indian society. The second kind of response, equally common if not more 50, is that of what is often described as radical sociology: this is often a political rather than an intellectual response in which enquiry and analysis yield readily to passion and anger. It is difficult to say how much room there IF, like me, you like gentle gossip, you will enjoy this book. If, like me, you also do not mind malicious gossip, you will enjoy the book but nevertheless feel that something is missing. This is a gentle book of ten great economists reminiscing, joining issue mildly and reflecting on the world and on the state of economics. There is, however, little by way of punch or even provocation

Migrants and the Native Bond - An Analysis of Microlevel Data from Delhi

An Analysis of Microlevel Data from Delhi Alaka Malwade Basil Kaushik Basu Ranjan Ray The present paper studies the role of economic variables and culture in determining a migrant's decision to (a) return to his place of origin, and (b) remit money. It is based on a sample of nearly two thousand migrant households from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, now living in a resettlement colony in Delhi. The data are used to examine many questions: Does ethnicity matter? How does the length of stay in Delhi affect a migrant household's propensity to return to its origin and its propensity to remit money? How does caste affect behaviour? Is there a connection between remittance and a household's income? The extent to which these variables are compatible with the economist's scheme Introduction and Data Base ACCORDING to a dominant tradition in economics, an agent's decision to migrate depends on the difference in expected incomes between the places of origin and destination.1 This 'economic' theory has in turn generated a large dissenting literature emphasising the role of sociological and demographic variables in understanding migration.2 The present paper is an attempt to place in perspective the role of economic and non-economic arguments in analysing migration and the migrant's links with his native place. In particular, we study the significance of ethnicity in migration theory. Does a person's ethnic origin have an effect on his decision to migrate and remit? Our empirical evidence suggests that the answer to this is yes. We also comment on caste, duration of residence and family size. The aim is not to come up with a hypothesis but to present some stylised facts and to contest some of the theoretical and empirical presumptions in the literature.


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