Economic Development of South Asia: 1947 to the present

Economic Development of South Asia 1947 to the present

Convenor: TBC

The comparative economic development of South Asia since independence is a fascinating story that has contributed much to our wider thinking about the economics of development. Global debates about economic growth, poverty, state intervention, trade protection, agriculture, industry and liberalisation are heavily influenced by South Asian examples. For instance, the long standing conviction among economists that economic liberalisation and trade openness are good for economic growth has had to contend with the contrasting experiences in South Asia. In the 1990s economic liberalisation was associated with accelerated economic growth in Sri Lanka, no change in growth rates in India and slowing economic growth in Pakistan.

Using the experience of different South Asian countries, this course engages with many questions that are of deep contemporary relevance. Questions such as: Why has India’s economic performance stagnated in the last few years? How has Bangladesh managed to improve indicators of human welfare so rapidly in the last twenty years? Has democracy or dictatorship been better for development in Pakistan? Why has the promise of land reforms been such a ‘failure’ in postcolonial India and Pakistan? Has the long-standing commitment to welfare and democracy in Sri Lanka contributed to slow economic growth and even conflict over the long term?

This course comprises eight two hour lectures and an optional session on introductory economics that will help explain some of the key economic concepts that will be discussed in the lectures. The course does not assume any prior knowledge of economics. The distinctive approach of this course lies in the fact that we attempt to understand economic development (and the lack thereof) not just through economic models, but by adopting a broader political economy perspective and by taking the social context and historical trajectory of the South Asian region seriously. 


Take a look at...

S. Corbridge and J. Harriss.  2000.  Reinventing India: Liberalisation, Hindu Nationalism and Popular Democracy.  London: Polity Press.

S.J. Burki.  1999, 3rd ed.  Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood.  Boulder: Westview Press.

S. Kelegama, ed.  2004.   Economic Policy in Sri Lanka.  Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.