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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
A symposium on Piketty: Introduction
Posted on: 15 Jun 2015
Thomas Piketty’s book on ´Capital in the Twenty First Century’ has made waves. The f ... read on »
Emerging challenges: Economic and social
Posted on: 06 Aug 2014
To mark the second anniversary of I4I in July 2014, we invited two eminent scholars – Abhi ... read on »

Topic: Economic Thought

The tale and maths of universal basic income
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 15/02/2017 09:33:20

Commenting on the discussion on universal basic income in the recently released Economic Survey, Jean Drèze argues that UBI is an idea whose time will come, but that time is still quite distant as far as India is concerned.

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Decoding universal basic income for India
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 20/01/2017 22:18:04

In this article, Jean Drèze argues that while universal basic income is a good idea in principle, as far as India today is concerned, it sounds like premature articulation. It could also become a Trojan horse for the dismantling of hard-won entitlements of the underprivileged.

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GDP conundrum: A synoptic view
R. Nagaraj
Posted on: 20/11/2016 09:46:16
Topics:   Economic Thought
Tags:   GDP , data


R Nagaraj, Professor of Economics at IGIDR, summarises the key points of controversy around the methodology and implications of the new GDP series.

This is the last of a four-part series.

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A universal basic income to step up economic reform
Nimai Mehta
Posted on: 28/10/2016 09:45:46

In this article, Nimai Mehta, Academic Director of the Global Economics and Business Program at the American University, highlights the political challenge of introducing the wider set of reforms needed if a universal basic income (UBI) is to lift the poor out of poverty, and of ensuring fiscal affordability of UBI. Further, he shares some initial ideas on how these objectives may be achieved by leveraging the evolving Centre-state relations.

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Universal basic income for India
Vijay Joshi
Posted on: 21/10/2016 14:00:42

In this article, Vijay Joshi, Emeritus Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford, sets out his proposal for a universal basic income (UBI) in India. He contends that ´deep fiscal adjustment´, in combination with UBI, would make a huge positive difference to the lives of people, present and future, and provide an essential underpinning for the acceptability of radical economic reform.

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Nobel prize in Economics 2016: The economy as a nexus of contracts
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 19/10/2016 03:55:08
Tags:   management


An important line of research in microeconomics has tried to explain how the economic institutions that underpin the ‘invisible hand of the market’ actually work. The specific economic institution that Hart and Holmström focus on is contracts. In a tribute to the Nobel laureates, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, discusses the working and importance of contract theory.
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Nobel insights: When it comes to contracts, what’s obvious may not be optimal
Rohini Somanathan
Posted on: 18/10/2016 09:28:54

In a tribute to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström, recipients of this year’s Nobel prize in Economics, Rohini Somanathan, Professor of Economics at Delhi School of Economics, outlines their contributions.
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Minimum standard of living for all Indians
T. N. Srinivasan
Posted on: 30/09/2016 09:38:12

In this article, T.N. Srinivasan, Samuel C. Park, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Economics, Yale University, contends that the idea of an assured minimum income for all citizens of India was being discussed as early as the 1960s, but could not be implemented then on account of certain circumstances.

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The universal basic share and social incentives
Karl Ove Moene , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 30/09/2016 09:18:22

In the previous article in the series, Debraj Ray proposes a simple amendment of the universal basic income called the universal basic share. In this article, Debraj Ray and Karl Ove Moene (University of Oslo), discuss how the universal basic share combines social considerations of fairness with incentives for the collective good.

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The universal basic share
Debraj Ray
Posted on: 29/09/2016 09:22:11

Debraj Ray, Professor of Economics at NYU, proposes a simple amendment of the universal basic income – what he calls the ‘universal basic share’. The idea is to commit a fixed fraction of the gross domestic product to the provision of a basic income for all.

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Is India ready for a universal basic income scheme?
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 28/09/2016 09:28:10

Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics, contends that potential resources do exist to fund a universal basic income scheme, via subsidy cuts and/or raising more tax revenue - but the real issue is whether there will be political support to do so.

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Universal basic income: The best way to welfare
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 27/09/2016 09:30:28

Abhijit Banerjee, Professor of Economics at MIT, suggests replacing welfare schemes of the government by a single universal basic income, which entitles every adult resident to a minimum weekly income as long as they verify their identity every week.

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Basic income in a poor country
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 26/09/2016 10:11:42

Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley argues that even though universal basic income is being considered unaffordable in some developed countries, it may well be feasible and desirable in a poor to medium-income country partly on account of low poverty thresholds and existing social safety nets that are threadbare and costly to administer.

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Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 26/09/2016 10:10:12

The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught on in the developed world. Does it make sense for India? To examine the issue, I4I Editor Parikshit Ghosh is hosting an e-Symposium on the idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context. Over the next week, economists Pranab Bardhan (University of California, Berkeley), Abhijit Banerjee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Maitreesh Ghatak (London School of Economics), Debraj Ray (New York University), Kalle Moene (University of Oslo), T.N. Srinivasan (Yale University), Vijay Joshi (University of Oxford), Nimai Mehta (American University) and Jean Drèze (Ranchi University; Delhi School of Economics) will contribute to the e-Symposium.

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A conversation on development – II
Kaushik Basu , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 03/02/2016 09:50:00

Parikshit Ghosh (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics) speaks with Kaushik Basu (Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India) on issues ranging from the use of economic knowledge in policy decisions, role of values in public service delivery, to the need for pluralism and tolerance for economic growth, and the importance of communicating good ideas effectively to policymakers and the general public.

This part of the interview focuses on India-specific issues. This is the fourth in the series of I4I Conversations.

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A conversation on development - I
Kaushik Basu , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 03/02/2016 09:36:07

Parikshit Ghosh (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics) speaks with Kaushik Basu (Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India) on issues ranging from the change in World Bank’s mission and its engagement with the world, rising inequality in the developed world, managing the negative side effects of growth, to the role of behavioural economics and paternalism in development, and the exclusionary nature of the ongoing digital revolution.

This part of the interview focuses on global issues. This is the fourth in the series of I4I Conversations.

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Against the tide: Deaton’s economics
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 17/12/2015 14:02:01

In a tribute to Angus Deaton, recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics, Reetika Khera, who did her post-doctorate research at Princeton University under Deaton, outlines his India-specific contributions both as a rigorous economist and a public intellectual. She discusses Deaton’s great concern with measurement issues, and the over-reliance on randomised controlled trials as evidence for policymaking; and his support of government action for social policy.
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Angus Deaton’s ideas for India
Diane Coffey , Dean Spears
Posted on: 30/10/2015 09:43:53

In a tribute to Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in Economics, Diane Coffey and Dean Spears – former graduate students of Prof. Deaton at Princeton University – review some of his work on the well-being of the poor in India, and discuss the paradoxes and puzzles that still remain.
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Angus Deaton: The real world economist
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 20/10/2015 09:03:57
Tags:   consumption


In a tribute to Angus Deaton, recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, outlines Deaton’s contribution to economic and policy analysis, and to bridging the gap between theory and empirics. He also highlights the strong connection to India in his work.
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Moving beyond the growth-versus-redistribution debate
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 14/08/2015 10:06:45

The two dominant narratives on the state of the Indian economy – one centred on growth and the other on poverty – are in a constant state of conflict. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, argues that we need to move beyond the stale growth-versus-redistribution debate and focus on economic mobility through investments in human capital.
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A symposium on Piketty - II: Capitalist dynamics and the plutocrats
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 17/06/2015 00:00:00

In the last part of the series on Piketty, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, discusses the implications for further study that Piketty’s book has for developing countries such as India. He emphasises the need for collecting more serious information on wealth ownership in India.
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A symposium on Piketty – I: Nit-Piketty
Debraj Ray
Posted on: 15/06/2015 00:00:01

In this part of the series on Piketty, Debraj Ray, Professor of Economics, New York University, attempts to clear the confusion caused by the theoretical discussion in Piketty’s book.
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A symposium on Piketty: Introduction
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 15/06/2015 00:00:00

Thomas Piketty’s book on ´Capital in the Twenty First Century’ has made waves. The fact that a 700-odd page tome full of numbers and graphs can become an international bestseller is itself noteworthy. It may be a testament to the concern that people have over the growing inequality within developed countries. What is startling is its claim that the developed world may be gravitating to the pattern of wealth distribution based on inheritance that characterised the pre-modern world. The contribution this book has made in putting together historical data that clearly indicate the trend of growing inequality is truly monumental. However, the notion that the crux of the matter is the fact that the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of income growth may be confusing even to well-trained economists. Our motivation in putting together this symposium on Piketty’s book is to clarify the ideas in this important book on the burning issue of the day – ‘growing inequality’.
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John Nash and modern economic theory
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 04/06/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Economic Thought
Tags:  


In a tribute to John Nash, Parikshit Ghosh, Associate Professor at Delhi School of Economics, outlines the revolutionary contributions of the late Nobel laureate to economic thought.
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Why the World Bank’s International Comparison Program has limited use for India
Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 20/02/2015 00:00:00

Preliminary results from the World Bank’s International Comparison Program, which seeks to compare the economies of 199 countries across the globe, were released recently. In this article, Ranjan Ray, Professor of Economics, Monash University, highlights several features of the exercise that limits its usefulness for a diverse country such as India, and makes recommendations for the next round.
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Response to the Bhagwati-Panagariya rejoinder on MNREGA
Dilip Abreu , Pranab Bardhan , Maitreesh Ghatak , Ashok Kotwal , Dilip Mookherjee , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 14/12/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   MNREGA


In a recent article, Abreu et al. refuted the Bhagwati-Panagariya argument for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. respond to claims in a rejoinder by Bhagwati-Panagariya, regarding net benefits of MNREGA employment, the self-selection feature of the programme, and rural asset creation.
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The Bihar story: Resurrection of the state
Jitan Ram Manjhi
Posted on: 26/11/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   Bihar


In the not so distant past, the Indian state of Bihar was a byword for corruption, lawlessness, poverty, and absence of governance. Over the last decade or so, the state has demonstrated a remarkable turnaround and has consistently been amongst the fastest growing regions in the country. At IGC Growth Week, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi outlined the key initiatives that made this possible.
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(Mis)Leading attack on MNREGA
Dilip Abreu , Pranab Bardhan , Maitreesh Ghatak , Ashok Kotwal , Dilip Mookherjee , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 12/11/2014 02:02:35
Tags:   MNREGA


Bhagwati and Panagariya have argued for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. contend that the argument is based on inflating the costs of the programme and deflating the benefits. While they do not claim that all is well with MNREGA, they believe it needs better governance, not slow suffocation.
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Please weight
Maitreesh Ghatak , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 05/09/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   statistics


The latest wealth index by New World Wealth that looks at multimillionaires has ranked India eighth in the global rich list. This article contends that looking at absolute numbers may be misleading. Accounting for population and economic differences across countries, it shows that while India does not stand out in terms of income going to the top 1%, it does in terms of income going to the top 0.1%.
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Squaring the poverty circle
Angus Deaton , Jean Drèze
Posted on: 30/07/2014 00:00:00

An expert group headed by C Rangarajan has recommended a poverty measurement methodology for India. In this article, Deaton and Drèze argue that the method proposed by the expert group to set poverty lines is both theoretically and empirically implausible. A simple and transparent benchmark, amenable to democratic debate, would be more useful.
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Some thoughts on paternalism in poverty programmes
Jishnu Das
Posted on: 23/12/2013 00:00:00

“…it is pretty ironic the number of conversations I have had with development people about the poor and their drinking - over drinks.” – Paul Niehaus.
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Microfinance and predatory lending: The same old story?
Latika Chaudhury , Anand Swamy
Posted on: 19/09/2012 00:00:00

Once hailed as a near-miraculous way of lending money to the poor, microfinance is now often seen as exploitation – and governments are stepping in. This column looks at another point in India’s history where lawmakers have intervened in lending practices: following the Deccan Riots between farmers and moneylenders in 1876. It argues that in hindsight this was an overreaction – and perhaps there is a lesson for today.
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