“I do not believe in book launches. This is a time for celebration. Let’s enjoy.” That was perhaps the shortest book launch in the history of Indian publishing. But Deepak Nayyar, whose two new books, Trade and Globalisation and Liberalisation and Development, were released, would not have it otherwise, and those were the only words uttered from the podium.
Currently professor of economics at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Nayyar has written prolifically on his subject over the years. These companion volumes bring together a considerable part of his scholarship in 30 essays, which provide a mix of theory and policy, applied research and empirical work, and of the global economy and that of India.
“These volumes represent my intellectual journey, and the stopovers have been as important as the destinations," says Nayyar. He has indeed had a number of forays outside the world of academia, the latest being his recent five–year stint as vice chancellor of the University of Delhi, where his stint was noted for its drive for modernisation, of the course curricula and repair of rapidly failing university infrastructure.
Nayyar has also served as chief economic adviser in the finance ministry and later as secretary. He was selected to the Indian Administrative Service. He is member of a number of national and international commissions, including the National Knowledge Commission in India. But thought it all, his heart has been in academics, to which he has repeatedly returned.
Talking about the books, he says, “Trade and Globalisation begins with the narrow canvas of trade and moves to the wider canvas of globalisation.”
Elaborating, he says, “globalisation means different things to different people, and these essays are not on economic programmes or countries but on welfare and people.”
The second volume looks at how theory and experience have moved in the second half of the 20th century, “of how markets and globalisation have transformed reality and reduced the space.” Pointing out that globalisation and liberalisation are part of the same whole, he says that different schools of thought have been driven differing perceptions of reality rather than what is happening on ground. The books look at economic theory, providing perspectives on diverse themes, from ‘hardy perennials’ to others largely ignored by the mainstream economics, eg the Free Trade Doctrine, the international labour movement or trade in services.