Economics, particularly development economics, is often criticized (and rightly so) for its narrow approach and increasing disconnect from the real world. Increasing inequality, persistent poverty and failure to create employment are all issues currently facing the world that economics does not seem to be addressing adequately. For instance, Ghosh (2015) has argued that there has been a shift in emphasis in development economics from being concerned with transformation (structural, institutional and normative) to just a focus on poverty alleviation. It has therefore become important to not just critically appraise the contents of development economics today, but also for economists to contribute to literature that broadens the scope of topics covered. In the book under review here, Subramanian puts together a collection of a number of his ‘less academic writings’ written between 2001 and 2013, over a wide range of issues. Although this is not the explicit intention, one of the central messages that comes out of the book is to bring back to economics concerns related to politics, society and philosophy. Addressed to ‘young students of economics—undergraduates and postgraduates who are still not so “mature” as to have quite forsaken their taste for reasoning and relevance in favour of more alluring temptations of comfort and accommodation’ (p. xiii), the book is accessible to the general reader while at the same time provokes the expert to reconsider a number of concerns that one had taken for granted.
Essays In Economics And Other Cheerful Themes: A Dismal Scientist’s Occasional Reflections On The World Around Him by S. Subramanian Sage Publications, India, 2018, 203 pp., 850
October 2018, volume 42, No 10