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

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Committee on Financial Sector Reforms: A Critique

This article discusses the Raghuram Rajan Committee's draft report on reforms for the Indian financial sector with reference to the committee's philosophy on financial reforms, and its macroeconomic and regulatory frameworks.

Beyond Melting the Pot: On the Financial Sector Blueprint

The draft report of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms has proposed a financial sector blueprint for creation of a level playing field, introduction of missing markets, greater participation of foreign investors and consolidation of regulation of trading under one roof. While many of the recommendations have merit, the broad approach to reduce regulatory costs, overlaps, silos and gaps appears to be characterised by "melting the pot" to create a homogeneous financial system. This runs the risk of putting financial stability to strain, as also of enhancing institutional and market inefficiencies. The quest for creating more efficient and liquid markets needs to focus beyond melting the pot to addressing the core aspects of liquidity, efficiency and stability, while retaining heterogeneity.

Macroeconomic Framework and Financial Sector Development: A Commentary

The macroeconomic framework and the policy recommendations for the financial sector in the draft report of the Raghuram Rajan Committee make a case for further capital account liberalisation not because it leads to growth but because of its likely beneficial impact on financial sector development and efficiency gains. There is no evidence that this reverse sequencing works. The draft report also neglects the evidence on market failures, important among them being the pro-cyclicality of capital flows. It recommends using only the interest rate instrument for inflation targeting. This is likely to result in prohibitive interest rates. It also recommends that India follow a non-interventionist exchange rate policy instead of a managed float. This may have been a possibility if there was system-wide coherence in the international exchange rate system, but we know that is not the case.

Reforming the Banking Sector

The committee on financial sector reforms highlights several concerns on the Indian banking sector - about financial deepening, inadequate competition, lack of scale, high spreads banking, the low usage of new technologies, the decline in market share of public sector banks, etc. These concerns are either valid only up to a point or are misplaced when viewed against the totality of the Indian banking situation. Concern is also expressed about social obligations, delinking the government from banks and greater freedom to private banks - these too are not valid concerns. Indian banking is in a reasonably healthy state and is evolving in the right direction. It needs incremental, not sweeping, changes.

The Lily and the Mud: D D Kosambi on Religion

D D Kosambi's investigations into religion in ancient India led him to look at the subject from a point of view that radically departed from the traditional and employ a method of analysis that combined the use of a variety of sources, disciplines, and comparative techniques. A theoretical framework that was new to the study of Indian history supported his reconstruction of the religion of the Indus valley, as well as his explanations for the spectacular rise and fall of Buddhism, and the enduring appeal of the Krishna myths. From today's perspective his work betrays a few blind spots, but it remains largely relevant for the intellectual leap it took in exploring the essential relation between faith and socio-economic factors, and its consciously creative use of Marxism.

Kosambi and Questions of Caste

Caste assumed a centrality in D D Kosambi's relentless quest for the origins of Indian society, since for him it was a category to understand socio-economic differences. This essay first investigates how Kosambi conceptualised caste as a structure. It then examines some specific aspects of his study of caste such as how caste identities were constituted, consolidated and even contested. And, third, the essay seeks to contextualise both the issues and methodologies of Kosambi's scholarship within more recent discussions and debates on caste.

The kosambi effect: a hermeneutic turn that shook indian historiography

Kosambi was a scientist who talked about the past with the politics of intimacy with the present. This paper identifies the "Kosambi effect" and its various constituents. The most crucial constituent is the awareness that historical knowledge cannot be based on empirical givens and that a methodology guaranteeing a systematic, deductively formulated, and empirically verified concept of reality about the past is indispensable. The adaptation of historical materialism to serve the purpose, and accordingly writing a history worth designating a genre by itself in form, content and hermeneutics is another crucial constituent.

D D kosambi and the study of early indian Coins

This article sets out to explain what drove D D Kosambi to take up the study of early Indian coins. Kosambi's research in numismatics beginning in the 1940s marked a radical departure in the field from the practices and interests in the previous 100 years. There can be questions about how historians, including Kosambi, may have used coins as markers of socio-economic change. But Kosambi's use of numismatics was such that historians can no longer ignore numismatic evidence for societal history. It was inevitable that some of the major findings of Kosambi would not stand the test of time. But the need to revisit his findings only demonstrates the value of his pioneering perspectives: we need to think differently and prepare a new agenda for examining material from the past - if necessary by turning current perspectives upside down.

D D Kosambi: The Scholar and the Man

D D Kosambi enjoys a unique international identity as a brilliant, profound and original scholar who straddled many fields of knowledge where he made multiple scholarly contributions. This essay outlines the vastness of his intellectual canvas, provides a short biographical sketch and also describes some facets of a fascinating personality.

Towards a Political Philology: D D Kosambi and Sanskrit

D D Kosambi's engagement with Sanskrit was marked by an intense search for both a text-critical method and a theory for interpreting culture and power. His method was positivist but sophisticated in its positivism, and if recent work in the history of textuality (Indian and other) suggests that more attention to cultural difference is needed, his text-critical work remains foundational for further scholarship. His theory was positivist, too, in keeping with his vision of scientific Marxism, and if its strong universalism here produced a skewed interpretation that is now in all its essentials dead, he introduced a new and crucial critical dimension to Sanskrit studies. Perhaps the most remarkable (and most disturbing) realisation about Kosambi's quest for a political philology is that nearly 50 years after his death he has had not a single successor in India.

Kosambi's Archaeology

D D Kosambi offered remarkable insights into the history of ancient India. Does his archaeology measure up to his history? The approach in this paper is to view the internal logic of his hypotheses in archaeology, and to ask if Kosambi did justice to the data available in his time. Did he present a sound data analysis that could be emulated, enlarged, or reworked? The answer has to be "no". Kosambi's site locations were not precise; he was not interested in the typology of stone tools; and his correlations of tool occurrences with sacred sites, of the tribe with an absence of plough agriculture, and of iron technology with agricultural surpluses, were flawed. Perhaps Kosambi's archaeology does not measure up to his history because for him archaeology was only an extension of history. But in order to work with the entities of archaeology, typology and classification are indispensable: as indispensable as is the knowledge of an ancient language for the historian. Failure to engage in the grammar of these entities and an ignorance of site formation processes give rise to faulty generalisation.

Kosambi, marxism and indian history

D D Kosambi profoundly redefined the message that Marxism had for historians. What set him apart from others who "applied" Marxism to Indian history was his determination to maintain, indeed increase the standard of rigour in his factual and textual research, for Marxism dealt with a far more extensive area than the one over which research had conventionally been conducted. Guided by the basic thesis about how social evolution occurs, he rejected the view that India had ever passed through a phase of slavery; rather it was the construction of caste society that happened here. The reasons for his acceptance of a stage of feudalism spanning the period from that of the Guptas to the Mughals are most interesting.

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