An Economist in the Real World

In December 2009, economist Kaushik Basu left the rarefied world of academic research for the nuts and bolts of policymaking. Appointed by the then prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, to be chief economic adviser (CEA) to the Government of India, Basu a theorist, with special interest in development economics discovered the complexity of applying economic models to the real world. Effective policymaking, Basu learned, integrates technical knowledge with political awareness. In this book, Basu describes the art of economic policymaking, viewed through the lens of his two and a half years as CEA. Neither a career bureaucrat nor a traditional researcher, Basu, having plunged into the deal-making, non-hypothetical world of policymaking, suffers from a kind of culture shock and views himself as an anthropologist, gathering observations of unfamiliar phenomena. He addresses topics that range from the macroeconomic fiscal and monetary policies to the granular designing grain auctions and policies to ensure that everyone has access to basic food Basu describes the mixed success of India s anti-poverty programmes and the problems of corruption, and considers the social norms and institutions necessary for economic development. India, Basu argues, is at an economics crossroads.


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