Monday, September 27, 2010

The State failure harm more than anything else

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 India) more eloquently written by Professor S. Ambirajan. I am sure by all means that if Mr Girish reads only the Chapter Two of this book I would come to know how foolish it is to conclude that “The free market solution, however, would be considerably more damaging than even the Supreme Court's order.”

In fact I don’t think Girish understood anything from the Prof. Basu’s recent paper on The Economics of Foodgrain Management in India (pdf).

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.

Also read:

  1. Famines in India and free market


  1. thank you.i have to buy the book by dr ambirajan

  2. the last link is not accessible.could you please correct it.