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

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Crimes in Economics in Prose and Verse

Economic Offences: A Compendium of Crimes in Prose and Verse by S Subramanian (New Delhi: OUP), 2013; pp 159, Rs 495.

The blurb on the back cover carries a frame without the author’s image, perhaps befitting someone who professes to be a professional “Fuzzy Thinker”. This is, of course, intended to be ironic and funny in keeping with an attempt to present an indictment of individuals (mostly economists) and institutions that have come to embody the idea of a new, shining, assertive and wannabe superpower India. That it comes up with all the clichés we know and accept does not say much about the book’s innate virtues, as it does of the predictability of the situation many of us find ourselves in – of the inevitable moroseness that we encounter as we grapple with mind-numbing statistics of poverty and corruption amidst delusions churned out by the dream factory works of development soothsayers.

It is to the author’s credit that he conveys these sentiments in verse and in flippant prose and is able to keep the reader’s attention even if some of the representations are derivative of older classics like 1066 and All That. If the latter spoke of 103 good things, five bad kings and two genuine dates, this is about 15 prose follies and seven verse follies intended to facilitate an understanding of globalisation, global crises, development and economic rhetoric expressed through its finest protagonists often lovingly and familiarly alluded to as Amartya muni and Kausik mama. It is also, as the author himself confesses, an exercise in self-indulgent nostalgia, for implicit in the critique is the comfort of things having been different in the past.

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