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

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Conference of Economists

The annual conference of the Indian Economic Association showed the gap between academics and policy-making. So long as theoreticians remain unconcerned with the practical value of their work, such conferences will remain mere carnivals.

Globalisation entailing liberalisation and reforms reigns supreme among the current topics of discussion by professionals. The latest attack on globalisation was seen in Seattle in early December 1999, in the context of effect of free trade on labour, employment and environment. The contagion of protest is indeed spreading fast.

Going by the theories, free trade should receive support from professionals insofar as it leads to increased economic growth, well-being and, given lower population growth, to a higher per capita income. Benjamin Franklin once said, “No nation was ever ruined by trade”. It is free trade which has been the kingpin of globalisation. However, misinformation, besides the Seattle contagion, seems to have eclipsed even the discussions by professionals particularly in India, where there are social inequalities and a large number of people below the poverty line. Nobody though would deny that the speed and sequence of change matters, and its benefits should be distributed fairly. “Market economies cannot work without social confidence”, remarked one of the millennium jurors of the Financial Times (January 1, 2000). But, technology is changing old paradigms, reshaping competitive landscape across the globe, and enabling “international growth spillovers” (Lucas, The Economist, January 8), without which globalisation would sow the seeds of its own destruction. Finally, it is technology which makes possible higher productivity and human progress.

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