Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Almost a Ph D. Me, who else?

20 January 1949 was a fateful day for our world. It was a windy day and there was a snow storm raging in Washington, DC, as US President Harry Truman in his inauguration address to Congress called most of the world “underdeveloped areas”. He inaugurated at that moment the economics of development. Leaders of the newly independent nations – Nehru, Nkrumah, Nasser, Sukarno – accepted this world view unquestioningly and exchanged their respective people's recently shed yoke of a colonial past for the burden of a developmental future. Ten years later, having just got my Bachelor of Commerce degree from the then prestigious Sydenham College, I decided to do my Masters by writing a thesis in Public Economics. The subject I chose to study was how to go about mobilizing resources for economic growth using deficit financing and foreign aid. My guide was Professor LN Welingkar. He was the principal of the RA Podar College of Commerce and Economics as well as a very active member of the University Senate. I spent the next two and a half years in the University Library and the Podar College Library reading and making copious notes. Having accepted blindly the fallacious premise of development as the panacea for all the ills of the underdeveloped countries, I enthusiastically plunged into the task of collating all the facts and figures I could muster to come up with a fairly sensible theory of development financing. Apparently, I must have succeeded to a fair extent in what I set out to do. Because when I appeared for my viva voce in February 1959, Dr KN Raj, the eminent economist who had drafted parts of India’s First Five Year Plan at age 26 and who helped to set up the Delhi School of Economics and who happened to be my external examiner, complimented me copiously for my good work. He even told me that had I waited one more year I could have easily submitted my thesis straight for the Doctorate in Philosophy degree. Forty seven years after the event, after having seen the pitfalls of the development route, I wonder if it even deserved the M Com degree it earned me. I wasn’t meant to be an economist all my life, it turned out. After six years as a research assistant with the Forward Markets Commission, I quit economics and shifted to ad writing. P.S.: Here’s hoping the University of Mumbai Library has still preserved the copy of my thesis of 500 odd pages I submitted to it as required by the rules then prevailing. The copy I gave to my guide may be in the RA Podar College Library. I don’t know where my copy went. I guess I have always been careless with my books and other possessions.

1 comment:

Dhandal said...

1959, thats long back...well i m currently pursuing my bachleors dergee in RA Podar College..
came across ur blog..enjoyed reading it...