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India’s Five-Year Plans were one of the developing world’s most ambitious experiments. After nearly two centuries of colonial rule, planning the economy was meant to be independent India’s route from poverty to prosperity. Planning Democracy explores how India married liberal democracy to a socialist economy. Planning not only built India’s data systems, it even shaped the nature of its democracy. In this episode of BIC talks, author and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame Nikhil Menon and economist and financial journalist Niranjan Rajadhyaksha discuss how India walked a tightrope between capitalism and communism and worked on the project of nation-building in the aftermath of empire.
In this compelling history, Nikhil Menon brings the world of planning to life through the intriguing story of a gifted scientist known as the Professor, a trail-blazing research institute in Calcutta, and the alluring idea of ‘democratic planning’. Planning Democracy recasts our understanding of the Indian republic, uncovering how planning came to define the nation and revealing the ways in which it continues to shape our world today
BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
Nikhil Menon is the author of Planning Democracy: How a Professor, An Institute, and an Idea Shapes India, published by Penguin. He is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Niranjan Rajadhyaksha was Research Director and Senior Fellow at IDFC Institute. He provides direction to the Institute’s research programmes. His research interests include macroeconomics, political economy and economic history. Previously, he was Executive Editor of Mint, a financial daily, where he managed the opinion section, wrote the daily editorials and the award-winning Café Economics column. He also helped launch the data journalism initiative at the newspaper. Before joining Mint, he was Deputy Editor of Business World, a financial magazine. Niranjan was awarded the Jefferson Fellowship by the East-West Center in Hawaii in 1998. He received the Society of Publishers in Asia Awards for excellence in opinion writing two years in a row (2010 and 2011). He won the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2012 and the B.R. Shenoy Award for Economics in 2017. Niranjan is a member of the academic advisory board of the Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics and the board of trustees of the Centre for Civil Society. He was also a member of the advisory committee on the fifth volume of the official history of the Reserve Bank of India, written by Tirthankar Roy. He has served on the economics curriculum advisory committees of the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy, Ramnarain Ruia College and Welingkar Institute of Management. He completed his PhD from the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy and holds a BA and MA in Economics from Mumbai University.