Economics of Real-Life: A New Exposition is possibly the first book attempting to introduce interested readers to the working of contemporary economies with special reference to India. Unlike most introductory books in economics its objective is not to concentrate on a priori logic based on untested (and untestable) premises, but to rely on the history of the evolution of human communities from the rudimentary state to the latest because economic activities—social interaction to provide the material basis for survival and to go beyond—is common to all. The book relies on ‘capsule history’ and ‘thought experiments’ as expository devises.
Part I, the analytical section of the book, therefore, starts with an isolated human community and expounds the nature of its economic activity (production) for survival and material progress emphasising that production is essentially human interaction with nature. From the first two chapters four ‘analytical tools’ are derived, ownership, authority, intermediation and asymmetry of information. The rest of the book uses these tools to logically trace the evolutionary process of the economy till it reaches its present manifestation as global capitalism.
The book, thus, is a rare instance of using real-life material, past and contemporary, and substantive logic to deal with the evolving complexity of the economy, society’s arrangement to provision the material needs and progress of its members.
C.T. Kurien is a professor of economics, now retired and resident in Bangalore, who has written many books on economics. He attended Madras Christian College, graduating in 1953 with a master’s degree in economics. He went on to Stanford University, where he was awarded a PhD in 1962. He was Professor, Madras Christian College (1962 to 1978), Director, Madras Institute of Development Studies (1978 to 1988), National Fellow, University Grants Commission (1975-77), National Fellow, Indian Council for Social Science Research (1992-1994), Member, Panel of Economists, National Planning Commission (mid 1980s); one of the six economists invited by the Secretary General of the United Nations to make an independent evaluation of the Global Food Situation (1983-84), President, Indian Economic Association (2000).
A prolific author, his major publications include: A Theoretical Approach to the Indian Economy (Asia Publishing House, 1970), Poverty, Planning and Social Transformation (Allied Publishers, 1978), Dynamics of Rural Transformation (Orient Longman, 1980), Growth and Justice: Collected Papers (Oxford University Press, 1992), The Economy: An Interpretative Introduction (Sage Publications, 1992), Global Capitalism and the Indian Economy (Orient Longman, 1994), Rethinking Economics (Sage Publications, 1996), Wealth and Illfare (Books for Change, 2012).
His focus over many decades on the Indian economy has resulted in his being a long-standing critic of mainstream economics. He sees it as failing to provide a suitable basis for understanding the economics of India.