Described as “a brilliant history of economic ideas” by Amartya Sen, Aditya Balasubramanian’s recent book Toward a Free Economy: Swatantra and Opposition Politics in Democratic India, shows how ideas of ‘free economy’ emerged from communities in southern and western India as they embraced new forms of entrepreneurial activity, in opposition to the so-called ‘socialist planned economy’ of Nehruvian India.
‘Free economy’ became the rallying cry for the Swatantra (Freedom) Party, which rose and fell in 1960s India. Its project of opposition politics sought to create a viable conservative alternative to the dominant Indian National Congress and push India toward a two-party system.
The author, Aditya Balasubramanian, will be in conversation with Narayan Ramachandran. This discussion will provide a perspective on the changing relationship between the state and markets and the evolution of democracy in India. It will help us better understand communities who have been disproportionately successful in the aftermath of liberalisation and shed light on the constructive role opposition has played in Indian society.
Aditya Balasubramanian is a Senior Lecturer in History at the Australian National University. He received his A.B. from Harvard, and MPhil and PhD from Trinity College Cambridge, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Toward a Free Economy: Swatantra and Opposition Politics in Democratic India is his first book. It was shortlisted for the Elder Prize of the American Institute of Indian Studies and is based on his PhD dissertation that won the Ellen McArthur Prize in Economic History.
Narayan Ramchandran is father of two girls, husband of a writer, social entrepreneur, columnist and investor. He worked on Wall Street (mostly at Morgan Stanley) for over 20 years, most recently as head of global emerging market investing and then country head of Morgan Stanley in India.
Narayan is Lead Independent Director and Chairman of TeamLease Services. He is also the co-Chairman of Unitus Capital, India’s largest social enterprise bank, Chairman of Vivriti Asset Management, and UC Inclusive Credit, which are pioneering firms working to bring credit to underserved markets. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Centre for Wildlife Studies.
Narayan is co-founder and Senior Fellow at the Takshashila Institution. He received a B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes a fortnightly column titled A Visible Hand for The Mint newspaper.