Dsylexic asked me to comment on the issues raised in the piece on “A Recipe for Famine” by Girish Shahane in the Yahoo! Column published on September 20, 2010. At the outset I would like to confess that it is very easy to rubbish Girish’s article. But what he has understood and what he has not is the different views expressed by mainstream economists and others (like Prof.S Ambirajan). The comparative picture of both the sides needs to be considered first and understood.
It is not surprising to me that when Girish quotes or take references persons like Amartya Sen, Ajit Kumar Ghose, Jayati Ghosh etc. All these people are socialists without doubt. In the hurry to write his piece he has completely misunderstood what the free market system is and the history of famine in pre-independent India and it further seems to be that he has paid no attention to what other side of the coin was and how that had been described.
I have no doubt as I have read the marvelous book (Classical Political Economy and British Policy in
If I wanted to quote from Prof. Ambirajan’s book it would be the whole portion of Chapter Two and it is extremely interesting to read the chapter and ponder over it how the famine polices were debated, understood and practiced with regard to free trade, intervention, free market system etc. Even more interesting is the unfolding of famine polices in different Presidencies. There was no 'one size fits all' policy for the country as a whole as Girish understood one size actually fits all over the country.