Case Study: India

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Indian Muslim man and child break their fast on the first day of Ramadan at Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on August 12, 2010. An Indian Muslim man and child break their fast on the first day of Ramadan at Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on August 12, 2010. (Getty Images)

Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor of economics at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Arvind Panagariya, professor of economics and Indian political economy at Columbia University and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, talk about the book they co-authored. Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries discusses how post-Independence India offers case studies of paths to economic development.


Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya

Comments [21]

Lucia from Chelsea...

Despite the fact that I think these two academics are grossly oversimplifying their argument and flattening the nuances (and nuisances) of growth, I have GREATLY enjoyed listening to them. In fact, this is the first time I've thought that two people should be given a show. I love their dynamic, their accent, their humour. Maybe you can do something a la Leonard and invite the professors for a weekly or monthly segment on Emerging Markets.

They have very difficult names to pronounce but they are a delight to hear. Maybe call the segment 'The Economy with Professors B and P.'

Apr. 18 2013 01:18 AM

brian, you are a smart guy but economics is not a book. it's life.

Professors and pundits are interested in "growing the pie," expanding the economy, etc. Rich people are interested in one thing: being rich. The easiest way to do that is not to reduce poverty or grow the pie, but quite the opposite.

As the old Asian and Russian joke goes, the man wins the lottery doesn't want money. He wants his neighbors' pigs to die (making his infinitely more valuable).

Apr. 17 2013 08:22 PM
antonio from baySide

@ john. wow indeed!

Apr. 17 2013 11:42 AM
Coogan from NYC

These gentlemen (not dudes! lol) are fantastic, lay out the issue very well. Brian you should have them on regularly.

And I wish when we discuss the issue of poverty we don't remove the other as equal issue of happiness. It is not frivolous. The happiest people I've ever met were poor, despite obvious problems with facing housing, food and any medical care needed on a day to day basis were less stressed and concerned over money than those around them (like us) far better off. They are rich in spirit while the average person I see everyday looks flatly miserable, yet is quite rich money wise- has money, a job, family, nice things, equity in a house, car, 401K, credit cards (access to even more money), etc etc.

We need to turn the question of what poverty is on it's head- and ask how much is ENOUGH? For many, it's less than you think, and there's nothing wrong with that. Western society and all people should evolve, stop framing the definition this way.

Apr. 17 2013 11:27 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The US jumped up in prosperity after WWII mainly because we had the only industries left standing after the war. That temporary post_WWII prosperity was unsustainable in the long run as the rest of the world re-industrialized, and as Asia threw off socialism and communism. Now the US has to claw itself back up again.

Apr. 17 2013 11:27 AM
john from office

Antonio, yes, but class and caste was reinforced by the British.

Put people crapping on a sidewalk was new to me, wow.

Apr. 17 2013 11:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


Wealth is created when you buy something produced and sold at a profit. New "needs" are being created all the time. For example, who needed IPads or tablet computers a few years back? Who needed cell phones 20 years ago? Who needed MRI's in hospitals 40 years ago?

Wealth is merely the total sum of PROFITS produced by any society. The more a society produces things or services that can be sold at a profit, the wealthier that society becomes. That's called "economic growth."

Apr. 17 2013 11:23 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

These guys are ignoring the facts on the ground. In East India, the powerful Tata steel group took lands from Orissa’s tribal people to built a steel plant. How can that help these people? These guys live in an Indian middle class bubble.

Apr. 17 2013 11:22 AM
Hugh Sansom

India has recently announced that it rejects some of the patent protections the US has extended to pharmaceutical and genetically engineered agriculture products. If this is a question of sufficient interest to the guests and Brian Lehrer, what is their view on this? The medical/pharmaceutical issue is interesting — the US is seeing people travel to India for surgery because costs are so high in the US, it's cost effective to travel to India for treatment (and the Indian surgeons, many American-trained, are as good as any in the US).

Apr. 17 2013 11:22 AM

can you ask them: what is more important? economic growth or political change? Does one beget the other? An example, the Arab spring and the toppling of regimes (Egypt has had stagnant growth) yet the dialogue is centered on who will lead the government, not who has the best economic policy for the country. Furthermore, the biggest problem in the Middle East is youth unemployment. How do they suggest that be fixed?

Apr. 17 2013 11:20 AM

I am more concerned about American middle class incomes rather than the South Asian poor. I admit that Indians are subject to whole 'nother level of poverty that as a westerner I find it hard to grok.

From what is this new wealth to be created? Higher prices or actual production? Actual production of what?

Apr. 17 2013 11:18 AM

Has the U.S. economy grown to a point where internal re-distribution can
begin and be sustainable?

How many extra tacos would such a redistribution deliver to the "poor"?

Apr. 17 2013 11:15 AM
Hugh Sansom

Corruption in India is legendary. What's happening regarding that?

Apr. 17 2013 11:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Michael

Economic growth leads to population decline in the long run! That is, as long as the "family system" of bearing and raising children remains in effect. Which it won't forever.

Apr. 17 2013 11:14 AM
antonio from baySide

@ john...
Guess india learned that indifference from their former masters...britain (small "b" in this case)...

Apr. 17 2013 11:14 AM
Hugh Sansom

The great economist and philosopher Amartya Sen has noted India's poor performance compared with China's. India has seen nothing remotely approaching the progress on poverty that China has. India has some profoundly great thinkers, but the quality of industrial production there is terrible. The caste system seems to be just as entrenched as ever.

Taking into account that Jagdish Bhagwati is pretty conservative, what do he and the other guest think about any of these issues? (I think there characterizations of poverty in India just isn't very accurate. I believe that economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee would dispute Bhagwati and Panagariya's account.)

Apr. 17 2013 11:14 AM
michael from nyc

With all due respect, the world cannot sustain Indian growth, it is already maxed out with deforestation, pollution, etc. What about POPULATION CONTROL and limits??? Why is this never discussed as a primary strategy?? Its is the ONLY strategy. Indians pop out more kids than rabbits, that is why they have so many poor people, lack of personal and social responsibility and control. Pakistan, Bangladesh too, all way way way overpopulated and unsustainable.

Apr. 17 2013 11:12 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, economic growth really does depend on cheap energy as well as free enterprise. But economic growth has also meant bringing billions of women into the modern work force, which in turn means population growth beginning to stall and decline. So, ironically, economic growth means energy increase but population decline! Which is both good and bad. Good that the population begins to level off, but bad because of increased use of energy which leads to global warming.

So it's a mixed bag. As for income inequality, that is an inevitable part of rapid economic growth. When everyone is equally poor, is that better?

Apr. 17 2013 11:12 AM

It's the type of growth that matters. If it doesn't spread as widely as possible in each market, you wind up with massive inequality that tears the social fabric.

Apr. 17 2013 11:10 AM

Economic growth in developing countries like India was accomplished at the expense of American middle class. There is something profoundly immoral in this process...

Apr. 17 2013 10:28 AM
john from office

I was in India working for an outsourcing Company. I am no expert, but the indifference I saw to the suffering of others was present and constant.

The super rich and educated don't care about the very poor, at all. Before anyone says we have that here in the USA or NY, go to India, it is indiffernce on steroids.

Apr. 17 2013 07:59 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.