Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wealth of the nation

Book Review: Non-fiction/Before and after the Global Crisis by T T Ram Mohan, Gyan Publishing House, p.352; Rs990 (Hardback)
T T Rammohan makes a brilliant diagnosis of what’s currently ailing the political economy of India

T T Rammohan is an academician of repute from IIM Ahmadabad. But unlike the rest of his creed, his writings are diverse and are meant for all kind of readers. Besides academic and consultancy overtures, he has been a widely-read and admired columnist with India’s leading pink paper for over two decades. With hundreds of articles on macroeconomic policies and other significant issues to his name, Rammohan is amongst the formidable scholars of his generation.

Before and after the Global Crisis is a collection of articles Rammohan had written during the 2004-12 period. Taken together, they add more value, and help tabbing the pulse of Indian economy in the post economic reforms years. This book enriches the understanding of India’s political economy and reads very well. Particularly, the chapters on how Indian economy stood in pre and post world economic crisis of 2008, are worth reading.

His earlier book Brick by Red Brick: Ravi Mathai and making of IIM Ahmadabad was a tribute to Ravi Mathai, who outgrew personal aspiration for shaping an institution and finally nation-building. The work is a biography with a difference, as it dealt with two institutions of different dimensions, IIM-A and Ravi Mathai. It got well deserved attention from readers and critics and the new book opens another round of idea exchange, focussed on the state of Indian economy.

This book is divided into five parts. The major areas covered under this are: macro economic variables, economic reforms, fiscal consolidations and disinvestment policies. The essays place rational arguments by allowing opinions to contradict the flawed current policy mechanism of the government. At some points, the author does not hesitate to approve the good works being carried out by the centre. He knows the beauty of keeping balanced views.

The next part of the book deals with banking sector reforms. The essays make the case for proper human resource development, besides favouring the prospects of inclusive banking. As the new bank licencing is imminent now, the chapter on financial inclusion has high relevance.

The third part of the book takes stock of world economy, particularly, the genesis of global economic crisis and role of international banking in the whole episode. Spread on a broader spectrum, the complex issue of ‘economic recession’ is still a puzzle. one among the formidable reasons of that has been the ‘shady regulation’ of Anglophone financial markets.

The lackluster regulatory approaches had prolonged the adventure of unsustainable financial businesses—and things hardly changed, even after the west suffered unprecedentedly through Subprime Crisis to the mass failure of banking structure.

T T Rammohan, a keen observer of global economic policies, naturally appears a very insightful narrator through his first hand experiences. As at the heart of this book is to unleash the background and foreground stories of world-wide economic crisis, the author’s specific leaning on the world economy, is justified. The world still has not come out of the grip of economic recession and although bank collapses are rare now, still the old confidence in financial markets is hard to be seen. Somewhere, it reflects the bigger mishandling of governance and regulation.

The timing of the book could not have more apt than now, when India is really passing through a tough time, by relentlessly witnessing a downward trend in its growth curve. And without growth, the principal stand of economic reforms would falter in no time. Rest, the provision of ‘redistribution of wealth’ is living uncertainty.
-Atul K Thakur
(Published in Millennium Post on November17,2013)

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