ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Better Economics for the Indian Context

Reflecting on their experience of using The Economy to teach undergraduate students in India, two teachers of economics discuss the need for a version of the alternative textbook that addresses the needs of students who seek to understand the Indian economy. The possibilities of such a version of the textbook are discussed.

Sections of this article appeared in “Towards a Better Economics Curriculum,” by A Jayadev (Mint, 21 September 2017).

Paul A Samuelson, the Nobel Laureate in economics, once said, “I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws—or crafts its advanced treatises—if I can write its economics textbooks.”

He was right about the greater long-term impact of being a framer of minds. Samuelson’s famous textbook, Economics (1948) created a paradigm which formed the cornerstone of millions of people’s understanding of economics across the world for decades. From its first edition in 1948, it made sense of economics to newcomers and provided a framing that remains the standard for preliminary education in the subject. Samuelson brought together in one text the insights of Marshallian microeconomics and Keynesian aggregate demand and broadly consolidated the sub-disciplines of microeconomics and macroeconomics in the economic curriculum. This framing helped establish the view of the market economy as a self-equilibrating system with some failures—externalities, insufficient public goods, and occasional demand shortfalls—all of which could be addressed by appropriate intervention. This approach is now standard, and almost all textbooks have the same formula (for example, best-selling textbooks such as Gregory Mankiw’s Principles of Economics) adding updates from more modern research as an afterthought.

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Updated On : 15th Jun, 2018
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