A few years ago, the multitude of responses to an interview with Prof Kaushik Basu about a rather serious, dour subject took me by surprise. These messages were from his former students at the Delhi School of Economics, all wonderful people, all saying nothing about the interview, all recalling how charming he was in their college days. It had always been obvious that Prof Basu is gracious, a quality rarely seen in economists, but this sea of popularity was terrific: a professor so well-liked is awesome. The former chief economist in the World Bank and former chief economic adviser in the Government of India is of course a prolific and easy-to-read writer. His newly published memoir, ‘Policymaker’s Journal’ (Simon & Schuster), lets even lay readers with no background in the subject access his wit and brilliance. The diary notings cover many themes. His observations about people, bureaucracies and societies and application of economic theory for explaining their basic traits are superbly funny and illuminating at the same time. I’ve picked out a few – humourless I am afraid – entries that are instructive about stuff that we see all around us all the time but barely understand.
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Trait or theory?
Prof Kaushik Basu’s memoir ‘Policymaker’s Journal’ is full of wit and brilliance. Here are a few of his explanations about the basic traits of people, bureaucracies and societies.
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