KOCHI: The inclination of the Central Government is to align and fine-tune the economic activities of the nation according to the views of global credit rating agencies regarding development rather than reflecting the hard realities faced by the people, said Rajan Varghese, member secretary, Kerala State Higher Education Council, here on Thursday.He was delivering the inaugural address at a seminar titled ‘Towards Understanding Economic Development: Concepts, Methods and Problems’, organised by the economics department of Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.
Put another way, Varghese said the current dispensation is pushing forward the interests of corporates, placing them above national interests, which pose a serious threat to the developmental aspirations of the public at large.He also announced the revised schemes of ‘Scholar in Resident’ and ‘Erudite Programme’ of the Higher Education Council aimed at providing access to frontier research areas in various disciplines to students of colleges and universities in Kerala. As a part of these programmes, the council will bear the entire expense of bringing Nobel laureates and scholars from all over the world not only to university teaching departments but also to government and affiliated aided colleges.
The seminar was presided over by Maharaja’s College principal N Hitha. Economics department head Sunil Kumar S Menon delivered the welcome speech, while organising secretary Santhosh T Varghese presented the concept paper and Ancy V P offered the vote of thanks.In his keynote address, Achin Chakraborthy, director of Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata, argued that economist Amartya Sen made an important distinction between the two ways of thinking about democracy, and noted that the difference has far-reaching implications for our understanding of the foundations of democracy. The institutional view characterises democracy exclusively in terms of elections, mainly as majority rule, which Sen would call the “public ballot perspective”.
A process of free and fair election is considered to be the essence of democracy in which “the ballot result is all that counts”. But Chakraborthy noted, on the contrary, Sen favoured a much broader interpretation of democracy in which decisions are supposed to be based on “public reasoning”. In Sen’s conceptual scheme, “public reasoning” plays a crucial role manifested in the form of “public action”, but public action need not be the government’s action alone.
Rohit of Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, JNU, presented a paper on ‘Imperialism and Underdevelopment in the 21st Century’. Surajith Das of Centre of Economic Studies and Planning, JNU, presented a paper on ‘Not Growth but Government Size Matters for Human Development?’ Amit Thorat of Centre for Study in Regional Development, JNU, presented a paper on ‘Static Macro Level Poverty Perspective and Dynamic Reality’.