V. 31: No. 9-10 September-October 2003 #364-365
Introduction by Praveen Jha, p. 1
"D R Gagil: A Tribute ," Sulabha Brahme, p. 3
"On the Need for Regulating Technologicaql Change," Prabhat Patnaik, p. 7
"Learning to Innovate vs. Learning to Manufacture: Towards an Alternative Technology Strategy," Nasir Tyabi, p. 18
"Environment and Development under Capitalist Globalisation," D Rghunandan, p. 36
"Strategies Towards Food Security," Madhura Swaminathan, p. 58
"Policies for the External Sector," Jayati Ghosh, p.95
"Obituary: Eward W. Said," Mihir Bhattacharya, p. 108
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Introduction by Praveen Jha*
A seminar on "Alternatives before India in the Context of Globalization" was organized jointly by Social Scientist and the Gadgil Birth Centenary Committee on September 14-15, 2002, to commemorate the late Professor D.R. Gadgil's vision and contribution as an economist. The present and the next issue of Social Scientist carry the papers presented at the said seminar.
As is well known, Professor D.R. Gadgil's was a very significant voice in several of the economic discussions and debates that unfolded in India after independence from the British rule. In fact, even before independence he had come to be recognized as a front-ranking economist and his M.Litt. thesis, which was published in 1924 under the title of The Industrial Evolution of India in Recent Times, enjoys the status of a classic in the literature on modern Indian economic history. After completing his university education at Cambridge, England, he returned to India in 1923 and began his professional career in the Finance Department of the Government of Bombay. Soon after, in 1925, he took over as the principal of the MTB College at Surat, where he stayed for five years. In 1930, Gadgil became the first Director of the newly founded Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, an institution that he nurtured with remarkable care and vision until his retirement in 1966. Apart from providing most distinguished guidance to this institution, Gadgil was quite active in many of the economic debates, particularly around the strategy of planning, that unfolded in post-1947 India; in several of these, either he was very much within the ring or was a ringsider, beginning with the membership of Economists' Panel set up in 1955, to the Deputy Chairmanship of the Planning Commission between 1967 and 1971, a post he relinquished a day before he passed away on 3 May 1971. As Sulabha Brahme mentions in her brief note, Gadgil was an institution builder in a broader sense, as he tried to put his ideas into practice through a range of activities. Among these, his efforts to put in place a system of cooperative rural credit institutions and cooperative sugar factories in Maharashtra have been hailed as very significant experiments.
Gadgil was a prolific writer with a vast spectrum of intellectual concerns and a good deal of his energies was devoted to issues of economic development with reference to Maharashtra. However, the primary motivation behind all his
intellectual efforts was the humanistic conviction that the purpose of economics is not simply to serve the interests of the powers that be, but to endeavour to improve the lives of the masses. Thus, issues like tenancy and land reform, rural indebtedness, unemployment and poverty were at the core of Gadgil's vision as an economist.
As is well-known, the neo-liberal agenda that has dominated the official economic policy discourse and practice in India since the early 1990s has tried to denigrate and marginalize the above noted humanistic conviction. The negative consequences of such a paradigmatic shift are all too visible, and even some of the addicts of neoliberalism have come to acknowledge, although grudgingly, distressing developments such as the dramatic deceleration in employment generation and decline in food security in recent years.
Participants at the seminar who came together to commemorate Gadgil's contributions share his vision that economic policy should be guided by the aspirations of establishing a humane society. They also share the view that neoliberalism fundamentally militates against such aspirations, and have been engaged in mapping out the alternatives relevant to the overall macroeconomic policy regime as well as to the different spheres of the Indian economy, at the present conjuncture.
This issue of Social Scientist begins with a briet introductory note on D. R. Gadgil by his daughter, and eminent scholar, Sulabha Brahme, and contains five of the twelve substantive papers presented at the above noted seminar. For logistical reasons, one of the twelve papers by Utsa Patnaik, has appeared in the July-August issue of Social Scientist and the remaining papers not included here will be published in the next issue.
Three of the five papers here, by Prabhat Patnaik, Nasir Tyabji and D. Raghunandan, relate to issues of technological change, contours of alternative technology strategy, self-reliance, and science in the public domain. The other two papers, by Madhura Swaminathan and Jayati Ghosh relate to food policy and the external sector respectively. Each of these papers is a very substantive contribution and it would not be appropriate to try and summarise them. Suffice it to note that what we have here is some of the most serious engagements in search of alternatives.
Praveen Jha is at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
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