Foundations of India’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s edited by Subroto Roy & William E James, 1986-1992… pdf copy uploaded 2021

2021 Preface
Three or four points are necessary by way of a Preface in 2021 for this work created by myself and the late Ted James at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, & East West Center starting 1986.  First it was Ted’s initiative along with his colleague the late Seiji Naya at the East West Center that we work on “South Asia” as soon as they had heard I had gotten to the University in 1986. The moneys officially came from the University, ie the State of Hawaii, from funds owed as rent to the State by the East West Centre, ie by the US Government. So, formally speaking, the State of Hawaii may take credit for the sponsorship.

It was at my insistence that we decided to create a distinct sister project on Pakistan in parallel to our initial purpose of a “perestroika for India” project. In 2004 I said “… if our plan to study Afghanistan after India and Pakistan had not been thwarted by malign local forces among our sponsors themselves, we, a decade before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the USA, may  just have come up with a pre-emptive academic analysis.  It was not to be.”

This volume on India was entirely of my design; yes these projects arose from Hawaii, not grander universities whose India-policy programs were Johnny-come-latelies a decade or more later…

Both India and Pakistan volumes were published initially by the late Tejeshwar Singh for Sage in Delhi; the Pakistan volume was also published by Oxford in Karachi to good reviews, but then came to be, shall we say, lost. The reviews will also be made available here. “(I)t was Rajiv’s arrival in office and Benazir’s initial return to Pakistan, along with the rise of Michael Gorbachev in the changing USSR, that inspired me in far away Hawaii in 1986 to design with Ted James the perestroika-projects for India and Pakistan which led to our two volumes….There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune….”

Each author has copyright of his own chapter; the copyright of the whole collection is with the President of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and was delegated to the editors formally in 1996. Ted and I pleaded with the publishers for paperback editions but we failed. Ted did obtain in 1996 the President’s permission for us to reproduce the works freely in interest of knowledge, and now I am finally uploading it as pdf copies that may be downloaded. Ted died prematurely in 2010, and I am in search of a co-editor who may take his place for the further development of perhaps second editions.

India’s notable economists Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati, Manmohan Singh will not be seen in the group photograph dated 21 May 1989 at the UH President’s House.  The Government of India was represented by the Ambassador to Washington, PK Kaul, as well as the Consul General in San Francisco, KS Rana (later Ambassador to Germany), besides the founding head of ICRIER who had invited himself.  We had a very serious attitude that was inspired a bit, I might say, by Oppenheimer’s secret “Manhattan project” and we wanted neither press-publicity nor anyone to become the star who ended up hogging the microphone or the limelight. There were many demands from Indian economic bureaucrats and from the press to be present, which came to be resisted.


The revenge against me of Dr Manmohan Singh and his friend, Harvard Professor Amartya Sen, has been to pretend that my work did not exist 😀 !

In true Soviet style, there has been a Stalinist wipe-out of Trotsky (later Brezhnev of Khruschev) 😀 !


But this is the modern age, and the fact is now established that I, and not Manmohan Singh or Narasimha Rao, sparked the 1991 economic reform when the results of the Hawaii perestroika-for-India project led by myself and Ted James reached first Siddhartha Shankar Ray and then Rajiv Gandhi in August-October 1990.

I do not say there has been plagiarism by Dr Singh, because I do not think there is plagiarism in politics… which has to do with contests of political power… I do say there has been plagiarism by his academic friend Professor Sen…



T N Srinivasan was charged by us to write the excellent chapter that he came to do titled “Planning and Foreign Trade Reconsidered”. The other main economist author we had hoped for was Sukhamoy Chakravarty from Delhi University and the Government of India’s Planning Commission, whom I had known since 1977 when I had been given his office at the Delhi School of Economics as a Visiting Assistant Professor while he was on sabbatical; despite my pleading he would not come due to ill health; he strongly recommended C Rangarajan, telling me Rangarajan had been the main author with him of the crucial 1985 RBI report on monetary policy; and he signed and gave me his last personal copy of that report dating it 14 July 1987.  Rangarajan said he could not come and recommended the head of the NIPFP, Amaresh Bagchi, promising to write jointly with him the chapter on monetary policy and public finance.  Along with Milton Friedman’s suppressed 1955 memorandum which I was publishing for the first time in 1989, TN Srinivasan and Amaresh Bagchi authored the three main economic policy chapters that we felt we wanted.  Other chapters we commissioned had to do with the state of governance (James Manor), federalism (Bhagwan Dua), Punjab and similar problems (PR Brass), agriculture (K Subbarao, as proposed by CH Hanumantha Rao), health (Anil Deolalikar, through open advertisement), and a historical assessment of the roots of economic policy (BR Tomlinson, as proposed by Anil Seal).  On the vital subject of education we failed to agree with the expert we wanted very much  (JBG Tilak, as proposed by George Psacharopolous) and so we had to cover the subject cursorily in our introduction mentioning his work.  And decades later, I apologised to Professor Dietmar Rothermund of Heidelberg University for having been so blinkered in the Anglo-American tradition at the time as to not having obtained his participation in the project.  Others I missed were B M Bhatia, Holly Sims, and more.

Finally, my assessment of the Kashmir problem in the Pakistan volume Introduction is something that came to be lifted without acknowledgement by two major Pakistani politicians and one major Indian politician; but I have explicitly withdrawn it myself as being naiive and ignorant. My assessments since then are linked here.

Foundations of India’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s, edited by Subroto Roy & William E. James

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