‘The Poverty of Economic Thinking’ launched in New Zealand

Book examines how rich and poor nations differ in their approach
Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 9, 2018
A book that challenges political and economic leaders and planners to rethink their approach to social and economic progress was launched in Auckland on Monday, October 8, 2018.
‘The Poverty of Economic Thinking’ was released by its author and former UNIDO Advisor Dr Jebamalai Vinanchiarachi at the Fifth Annual Indian Newslink Sports & Community Awards Ceremony held at Alexandra Park in Greenlane.

National MP Judith Collins receives the first copy of the Book from Dr Jebamalai
Speech & Presentation
Speaking on the occasion with his characteristic humour, Dr Jebamalai outlined the main features of his book and how his prediction of India’s impressive growth under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi is coming true.
He presented the first copy of the Book to former Ethnic Communities and Revenue Minister and Member of Parliament Judith Collins and later copies to Black Caps Opening Batsman Jeet Raval, New Zealand Indian Central Association President Bhikhu Bhana and Telangana Association of New Zealand President Kalyan Rao Kasuganti and Rainbow Corner Group of Companies Directors Rrahul Dosshi and Bhavini Doshii.
Copies were also presented to Members of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar (National) and Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Labour) and to a few others.
An Award to Dr Jebamalai
Earlier, Dr Jebamalai received the Indian Newslink Special Wenceslaus Anthony Commemoration Award for his outstanding services to international communities and the Indian Diaspora worldwide. The Award was presented on behalf of Indian Newslink by Sneha Anthony, daughter of the late Mr Anthony.
‘The Poverty of Thinking’ has been sponsored by Indian Newslink and dedicated to the memory of Wenceslaus Anthony, who was the Chairman of the Indian Newslink Community Fund. It was first launched at the Xavier Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship, Bengaluru on March 5, 2018.
Why Poverty of Economic Thinking?
As Dr Jebamalai said that the Book was the result of his reflections on development issues and options while on flights across the Continents on official trips.
“My reflections on poverty alleviation gave me compelling reasons to believe that it is not an act of charity, but an act of social justice, not necessarily underpinned by economic reasoning. The idea to write this book stemmed from my mind during a six-hour Emirates fight from Dubai to Vienna in 2015. I am happy that the book titled “’The Poverty of Economic Thinking sees the light of publication in 2018,” he said.

Dr Jebamalai Vinanchiarachi speaking after the launch of his Book
(Pictures for Indian Newslink by Narendra Bedekar, Creative Fotographics)

 

Reviewing the Book, this Reporter said that he had come cross an analysis on the same subject by Greg Wright, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California.
He said, “Income and wealth inequality are currently at levels last seen during the Gilded Age – when the top 10% of Americans owned nearly three-fourths of overall wealth, and the bottom 40% had virtually no wealth – and 2018 will see things get a whole lot worse. Now, the richest 1% of Americans own 40% of US wealth, more than the bottom 90% of Americans combined.”
Evolution of Thought
As such, in the First Chapter, the paragraph on ‘The Evolution of Economic Thoughts’ in Dr Jebamalai’s book is of much interest.
He says, “The evolution of economic thoughts could be traced to the writings of Plato and Aristotle who treated Economics as part of Ethics and Politics centuries ago, calling it political economy. Those two masters of ancient economic thoughts are viewed to be our contemporaries as their thoughts are indispensable to modern economic analysis of emerging issues and options.
“Today, we talk a great deal about ethics in business practice. The approach has its ancestors in previous centuries. The ways political factors play a key role in economic policy pronouncements bear testimony to the convictions its ancestors had when they called Economics political economy.
Changed Perceptions
“It is in the context of the changed perceptions of old thoughts, I would like to reflect on selected ideas of great economists who contributed to the evolution of economic thoughts. For analytical convenience, all hitherto transpired economic thoughts are classified into: The Classics, The Neo-classics and The Keynesian Economics,” he said.
Tribute to Modi
Dr Jebamalai pays tribute to Mr Modi and his economic philosophy.
He said, “For the industrial sector, Modinomics rightly counts on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a potential source of creating new and dynamic sources of growth. In the sphere of agricultural activities, while the past inapt policies enabled the rich farmers to loot under lucrative MSPs (Minimum Support Prices) hikes year after year and the benefits of the MSPs seldom reached the small and the marginal farmers, Prime Minister Modi took the extraordinarily bold step of dismantling the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Tardy Development of Economic Thought 17 Committee) and launched e-NAM (e-National Agriculture Market) to protect the interest of the small farmers.
New Approach
“The above are two examples of good economic practices in two vital sectors of the Indian economy. Mr Modi dispensed with the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, abandoned the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, did not appoint a Professional Economist in his office and also replaced the Planning Commission with the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI).
Mr Modi’s passion for change and cleanliness in administration and public life was later summated by Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive of NITI, who I met when he visited New Zealand as the Sir Edmund Hillary Fellow in 2017.
The first read of the 200-page book twice was an illuminating exercise, but left me with a nagging thought: Why had Dr Jebamalai spent so much time and space for India? That question prompted me to give it a second read, during which I recognised the reason as the author’s penchant for understanding the mechanics and dynamics of the Indian economy, the fastest growing in the world.
However, it must be said that the references constituted his ideological conviction that Modinomics contains practical insights and foresight to alleviate poverty and foster prosperity.
The Purpose
According to Dr Jebamalai, the purpose of this Book is to make the readers share his experience with the poverty of economic thinking.
He says, “It is my sincere hope that the information and analysis contained in this Book serve as a source of inspiration to rekindle critical thinking in the minds of policy makers, development stakeholders and researchers.”
According to the World Bank, the big improvement in the ranking for India stemmed largely from protecting minority investors, getting credit, paying taxes and resolving insolvency. With similar improvements in starting a business, enforcing contracts and dealing in construction permits, India’s ranking would further improve on the ease of doing business index.
Dr Jebamalai has also taken cognizance of the emergence of China as a major economic power, constantly challenging India’s claim at the top slot.

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