The Arrival of the Indian Economy

Friday, 17 June 2011  Features

In the past decade the Indian economy has surged, boosting growth, in a dramatic turnaround for a country that has been used to an economy that had changed little since British rule ended in 1947.

Kaushik Basu, one of India's most senior economists, will give a public lecture at the Australian School of Business on why the Indian economy has succeeded – and why it has now arrived on the world stage.

This is the first in a series of public lectures by eminent Indian scholars and intellectuals who are engaged with various aspects of Indian society.

Kaushik Basu is the Chief Economic Adviser to the Indian Government. He says that immediately after independence from the UK, India's economy recorded only slow and steady growth. "This lasted for four decades" he says. "It was firmly wedded to unspectacular growth. Just as observers were growing accustomed to this being a permanent feature of the Indian economy, the nation broke rank with its past and surged ahead."

In the past decade India has moved towards the Western model of a free-market economy, with a dramatic reduction in state control and much more financial liberalisation. As a result the Indian economy is now the tenth largest in the world by GDP – and has just nudged into fourth place for purchasing power parity (which looks at long-term equilibrium exchange rates based on relative price levels of different countries).

Kaushik Basu will consider how the change to a market-based economy was implemented, and why it has worked, giving rise to an increasingly affluent middle-class in India.

He says "in recent times it is routine to speak of India as among the fastest growing economies in the world. When exactly did the break occur and what were the deciding factors? Looking ahead, what are the challenges that India faces in sustaining this remarkable performance over the long term?"

Kaushik Basu is a fellow of the Econometric Society. He has published scientific papers in development economics, industrial organisation, political economy and the economics of child labour. An expert in game theory he is renowned as having crafted the traveller's dilemma, a type of game theory which demonstrates that where two passengers have lost luggage the traveller's optimum choice for seeking compensation from an airline should be the airline manager's minimum allowed price, rather than asking for the maximum.

In 1992 he founded the Centre for Development Economics (CDE) at the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, and was the Centre's first Executive Director until 1996. He is also a columnist for BBC News Online.

Where: The Law Theatre on the UNSW campus
When: 4pm, Wednesday 15 June 2011.