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Heterodox Economics


Issn 0012-9976


Issn 0012-9976

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Heterodox Economics

hile G Visakh Varma’s thoughts on the macroeconomics curriculum is a timely one (“Some Thoughts on the Macroeconomics Curriculum in India”, EPW, 21 January 2012) given the recent Harvard University walkout staged by EC 10 students, his portrayal of the economics curri culum at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) is far from reality. Based on the s yllabus available on the website, he swiftly concludes that there “are too many tech nical subjects and little or no heterodox or interdisciplinary papers in the curriculum” (p 24). However, he fails to pay attention to two compulsory courses – classical political economy and political economy of development, which are taught at the Masters’ level and are mentioned on the same web page. These two courses introduce students to the Classical/ Sraffian and Marxian approaches to econo mics. In fact, these two courses have motivated several students to pursue further research on these lines in their MPhil and PhD.

On the same web page, Varma fails to notice the opportunity provided by the UoH to its students to pursue interdisciplinary courses: “The University follows a credit system and a student can opt for a limited number of courses from other disciplines. The students are also permitted to do extra courses as either credit or audit courses.” A few of us have, in fact, credited courses from history, philosophy, anthropology and other departments.

The tension between neoclassical and heterodox approaches to economics still continues, with or without the Harvard University walkout, at the UoH. A glance at the research interests of the economics faculty (institutional economics, environmental economics, law and economics, and capital theory apart from the ones already mentioned) is solid proof of the department’s commitment to pluralism in economics education. We think it is relevant to mention that all of us studied MA Economics at the uoh during 2007-09. Tarun Arora (ISEC, Bangalore), Nilesh Kumar (UoH, Hyderabad), Tanya Sethi (Paris), Jayrath Shinde (JNU, New Delhi), Alex Thomas (Sydney)

february 4, 2012

Egregious Violations

he custodial killing of an adivasi in the newly formed Sukhma district of Chhattisgarh is yet another reminder of the lawlessness which prevails in the state’s Bastar region. Reportedly, Pudiyami Mada, a 26-year-old adivasi, died in Sukhma police station on 13 January. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) claims that it arrested him on 13 January and handed him over to the police the very same day. The four arrested police personnel, who were suspended, allege that Mada was arrested on 9 January by the CRPF, brutally tortured in the CRPF custody, by pouring petrol on his private parts and setting it on fire, before he was handed over to them.

The crime of Pudiyami Mada was that he was accused of being a Maoist commander by the police. Such accusation is all that is needed for authorities to sanction custodial torture including one which culminates in death. That this has happened in Chhattisgarh, which is being monitored by the Supreme Court for a number of instances of human rights abuses by the security forces, lends it a cruel twist. It suggests that where a hyped-up “security-for-development” becomes the reigning deity, security forces acquire impunity; egregious violations, i ncluding contravention of the “right to life”, then become imminent.

The People’s Union for Democratic Rights has for long campaigned against impunity provided to the armed forces personnel in areas where military suppression is going on. Therefore, we demand a time-bound judicial probe in the incident to fix individual and institutional culpability. Paramjeet Singh, Preeti Chauhan Secretaries, PUDR DELHI

Instability in Pakistan

hile the latest turn of events has pitted Pakistan’s civilian government against its judiciary, the real wrangle is between President Asif Ali Zardari, assisted by the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the Pakistan army led by general Ashfaq Parvez Kayani which, if not resolved immediately, may result in a possible takeover of power by the army, as is well substantiated by P akistan’s history.

vol xlviI no 5

Economic & Political Weekly


The current cold war tensions between the Pakistani government and the army, and the Supreme Court’s (sc) contempt-of-court notice to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari have, together, aggravated the ongoing crisis of stability in Pakistan, thereby pushing the country to an uncertain future. While the prime minister is reminding the army to work within its mandate, apparently to divert its (the army’s) attention from the acts of omission and commission of the civilian government, the army is livid at President Zardari for secretly placing a memo to the US government seeking protection against an army coup as well as from Muslim fundamentalists. Being the head of an elected government, Prime Minister Gilani successfully piloted a resolution through parliament on 16 January reiterating the supremacy of parliament – aimed at supporting the democratic process and ensuring the continuity of the parliamentary system – thereby consolidating his beleaguered position.

Yet he cannot ward off his involvement in supporting massive corruption alleged to have been committed by President Asif Ali Zardari and others who had benefited by the National Reconciliation Ordinance of 2007 issued by the Pervez Musharraf regime in that year. Hence, both the key functionaries, Gilani and Zardari, have been severely indicted by Pakistan’s sc. The sc’s move, opening another front against the government – as it is already in confrontation with the powerful military over the memo scandal – could push the government into a deeper crisis because Gilani has now

o ffered to resign. Yet, this stand-off between the two will ultimately consolidate the army against the government. The Court’s ire is particularly with Gilani whom it declared a “dishonest” person, having violated his constitutional oath by deliberately ignoring the Courts’ directive to the government with regard to the reopening by the Swiss government of the alleged cases of graft and money laundering against Zardari, thereby catapulting the civil-military differences to centre stage.

The army, as usual, has never cared for or honoured the sanctity and importance of elected governments or even demo cracy; rather, it has always wielded the upper hand, the bigger stick. A head-on-collision between the two has been reminiscent of Pakistan’s history of troubled civilian-military relations; the army has deve loped a routine of openly ignoring the civilian authority as corrupt and incompetent politicians have been governing since Independence. The latter have always discouraged democratic institution-building and have not had the courage to face the army generals head-on and call their bluff. No doubt, the failures of civilian governments in Pakistan – most of them have had short tenures – have been very significant because of their miserable performance and involvement in rampant corruption. Most of them have/had been discredited by their own people in the course of the past six decades because they could not help institutionalise democracy.

The eruption of the war of words between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government and the Pakistan army on 18 January was because the government recently sacked retired lt general Naeem Khalid Lodhi, said to be close to general Kayani, as defence secretary as he approached the sc without seeking prior clearance from the government, contending that operational matters of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence are not within the jurisdiction of the civilian government. The government had no option but to issue a show-cause notice to Lodhi and subsequently had to dismiss him from service because that was the only suitable action that any self-respecting government in the world ought to have taken. But the army, viewing this step as an offence and an upping of the ante against it (army), issued a stern warning of “grievous consequences”, which carried an all-toofamiliar and ominous ring because Gilani’s words “serious ramifications” must be seen in this context. Not only that, the army, continuing with its age-old practice of insubordination, has refused to cooperate with the new defence secretary.

Against this backdrop, the continuing stand-off between the two over the past week prompted analysts to expect an army coup in the country. Reinforcing these fears, the army appointed a new brigadier to assume responsibility of the infamous 111 Brigade stationed in Rawalpindi, mostly characterised as the coup-making unit because it has its proven competence in occupying important buildings and sensitive places during a military takeover and subsequent control. Some Pakistani analysts are of the view that Gilani’s aggressive posture with the military is a well-planned scheme to instigate the army to stage a coup so that he may go down as shaheed, martyred by the military, although this is unlikely.

In fact, the sc’s intervention has put considerable pressure on the PPP government, which takes pride in its troubled history with the army for getting martyred instead of getting hauled into court on trial for corruption. That is why the opponents of the PPP do not want this “martyrdom” at the hands of army to succeed, which, therefore, must exercise restraint as per their strategy. Nevertheless, the prevailing instability in Pakistan may not get resolved in a peaceful manner due to diverse and highly contentious issues and interests, internal as well as external, involved in the complex system of governance in Pakistan. This may be favourable to the army because the remaining political forces will not be able to unite – due to mutual bickering – in order to force the army to remain confined to the barracks. Further, as the army has always been favoured by the hardliners and also by Washington, the destiny of Pakistan lies in its hands. The army has always been eager to grab power as is amply proved by its record in the six decades gone by.

Sudhanshu Tripathi



In the article “Nanotechnology: ‘Risk Governance’ in India” published in the issue of 28 January 2012, Madhulika Bhati was wrongly listed as a joint author. The error is regretted.

EPW at Kolkata Book Fair Economic and Political Weekly will be at the Kolkata Book Fair, January 25, 2012 to February 5, 2012. Do visit us at Pavilion Hall No. 2, Stall No. 3. We look forward to seeing you there.

Economic & Political Weekly

february 4, 2012 vol xlviI no 5

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