THE concept Development Economics has gained importance in the past few years in policy discussions. Is it merely yet another jargon or does it have any relevance and importance? And what are the factors that define this concept? These are some of the issues addressed in a new two-volume on economics, International Handbook of Development Economics, edited by Amitava Krishna Dutt and Jaime Ros.
The book has put together articles from 90 people, scholars, academicians, students of economics and policymakers, on the varying and various approaches to development economics. This growing subdiscipline of economics is concerned with the issues relating to the economies of under-developed, developing and all categories of economies, other than the few developed nations. And hence it involves the lives and destinies of the huge majority of population living in some of the largest nations in the world. The articles have been arranged in 71 chapters in nine parts.
The term development itself means different things to different people. It cannot be measured only in terms of material gains. And hence the yardstick used cannot be uniform. In the first chapter of the book Paul Streeten sets the tone to the discussion. He says, “A shorthand way of describing development is a variation of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of government. It is development of the people, for the people, by the people. ‘Of the people’ implies adequate income generation through jobs, ‘for the people’ implies social services for those who need help, and ‘by the people’ means participation and democracy. It could also be interpreted as the economic, social and political dimension of development.”
After the Introduction (Part I), the next few chapters in Volume I discuss ‘Alternative Approaches to Development,’ followed by ‘Macroeconomics of Growth and Development,’ and ‘Factors in Development.’ The Second Volume opens with ‘International Issues,’ followed by ‘Distribution and Poverty,’ ‘The State Institutions and Development’ and finally ‘Economic Development Experience.’ The last chapter discusses the case studies of all the under-developed and developing countries.
The thought line and deductions largely flow from the single source of economic thinking – the West sponsored, West oriented, market-profit theory. The articles examine the role played by the Bretton Woods institutions, the relations between the rich and the poor countries, or what is usually referred to as North-South issues. Part VIII deals with the role of the state and other institutions of development. This involves issues of corruption, the legal system, the broader areas regarding culture and the causes and consequences of wars, especially civil wars in less-developed countries.
What is missing in the book is the Indian approach, the ancient wisdom of our civilisation. After all, till a couple of hundred years ago, India was among the richest, probably the richest nation in the world. We must have been good managers of money and development.
The two volumes together present a wide range of opinions culled from all over the globe. This adds immense weight to the book. It is a valuable handbook to any student of economics and offers a perspective, a roadmap to further exploration.
However, India, one of the most talked about success stories in modern economic development (or development economics) and the second largest country in the world has not received extensive and specific attention. While China has received a full chapter, India has been clubbed with South Asia.
The Editors-Amitava Dutt, Department of Economics, and Policy Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana and Jaime, Department of Economics, and Policy Studies and Kellogg Institute of International Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana deserve to be congratulated for this effort.
(Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, The Lypiatts, 15, Lansdown Road, Cheltenham, Glos GL50 2JA, UK.)