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

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An Anthropological Way of Doing Economics

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V Banerjee and Esther Duflo (New York: PublicAffairs), 2011; pp 316, Rs 499.

Celebrating Fifty Years of Sraffa's Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities

Piero Sraffa (1898-1983) was the most enigmatic and philosophically the most sophisticated mind in the history of economic science. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication of the slender classic Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities: Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory, this paper revisits the Sraffa treatise. It argues that Sraffa tried to build the foundation of an economic theory that is based on only given objective facts and which does not rely specifically on the notion of equilibrium of demand and supply and any hypothesis regarding human subjectivities such as utility functions or demand. This revolutionary project of Sraffa was lost due to a grave misunderstanding of his book by both his followers and critics, perhaps due to his cryptic style of writing but more importantly because of the dominance of the idea of equilibrium in economic theory. The aim of this paper is to rediscover the logic of Sraffa's theory of prices that does not take on board either the notion of equilibrium or demand.

Minimum Income Entitlement

We need to move away from the moral position that everybody must earn their living, and, if they are not able to do so, they are at the mercy of 'our' generosity. We, as a nation, need to commit that every adult citizen of the country is entitled to a minimum level of income, irrespective of his/her position in the economy. Once this is decided, the central government must issue an identity card to every citizen above the age of 18 with an electronic bank account number and transfer that minimum sum of money to each account every month.

Trend Break in India's GDP Growth Rate

Looking at India's growth performance since independence, it is clear that long-term trend growth appears to break upward around 1980-81. This paper attempts to analyse the various possible causes of this growth and conjectures about the factors that could explain the break in the trend rate in 1980-81. Data strongly suggest that the 1980s were a predominantly productivity led or 'vertical' growth story, as labour productivity increased steadily during the period. One of the factors that may have led to an increase in labour productivity is the employment of better quality machines by firms, which were imported despite high tariffs.
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