Book Review: - Poor Economics/Abhijit .V.Banerjee and Esther Duflo/Poor Economics/Abhijit .V.Banerjee and Esther Duflo,Random House India,Price-Rs.499,2011
As economics itself can’t be poor with its articulate nuances, so the efforts of MIT Economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo can be better understand as Economics of Poors. This book is well intentioned as it entered into the poverty debate with involving local/community perceptions and abstained to fall in the trap of generalization. That enables the work to reach on the real causes of poverty and failure of numerous national and international programmes.
Infact the main argument of this book “The way the poor make decisions, at some level, is not that different from our own. They are no less rational or sophisticated than anyone else, and they are well aware that mistakes for them are costlier” is very touching and reflects the need of humane observation on poverty instead maintaining technical status quo. Abhijit and Esther, the propunder of “randomized control trials in development economics” leaves simple solution for the policy makers by playing careful attention to the evidence, this way, it’s possible to form accurate view on impacts of poverty. This book raises many questions from impulsive side, how the bandwagon among the poors kills the real existential issues!
The best of book comes in the first part, where each of the five chapters gives an impressionable account to know the poverty in universal terms. Chapter-Ist dwells with human development issues and come out impressively with an overview of regional variation in HDI. Chapter-II/A billion hungry Peoples, which is most fruitful as it shatters the all ill imposed convictions, that trying to legitimize the every moves of market capitalism as good for poors. Authors take on puzzling nutrition debate in India is yet another reminder, why our vulnerable position is intact in global HDI Index? Further the reference of Angus Deaton/Jean Dreeze, who shown that “the real story of nutrition in India over last quarter century is not that Indians are being fatter; it’s that they are infact eating less and less” exposes how empty is the tall claims of Indian growth on poors.
Further, Gender discrimination during the Indian drought of 1960’s has sensibly covered, which opens a new concern towards this unusual discrimination. Chapter-III deals with the grassroot health scenario with highlighting the pitiful public services, unaffordable private health care, flawed governance etc. Chapter-IV/ Top of the Class, meticulously inquisite that why school fails? Chapter-V/Pak Sudarno’s Big Family, covers the many crucial aspects of demography and family planning in new light.
Part-II of the book, that’s institution focussed retains the fine touch in Chapter-VI/Barefoot Hedge-Fund Managers, which covers the plank of investments in poors life. But the distraction appears stoutly in Chapter-VIII, where the authors sailed the wrong boat by trying to infuse new energy in poverty debate by relying on the private MFI’s business which is still passing through a severe phase, out of theirs impractical/unethical business model. It would have better, if authors may have presented the calibrated model of micro-financing through the credibly managed government/private financial institutions. In Indian contexts particularly, diversity of financial institutions with special focus on Regional Rural Banks/RRBs could have made lot of differences in finding the true way out of bottom level financing. The next three Chapters shaped with global perspectives on innovation, entrepreneurship and most remarkably on policy issues.
Both Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have keen interest in economic research, they have show such pastime in theirs book which stands with outstanding views on the nature and causes of poverty. Majority part of this book can be used for policy framing or by general readers to sharpen their grasp on the poverty. Noticeable is the language of this book which is completely flowing despite written by the two technical economists…it makes even an ordinary enthusiast reader capable to entwine with the very important aspects of economics. As the world standing on a critical juncture between blind waves of market led growth and incessantly growing inequality; significance of such work maximizes manifolds!
Atul Kumar Thakur
July 27, 2011, Tuesday, New Delhi
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