Eighth Foundation Day

The Eighth Foundation Day Lecture on “India: from promise to hubris” was delivered by Prof Ashoka Mody, at the Baker Auditorium CDS on 1 November, 2019.

Prof Sunil Mani, Director, introduced Prof Ashoka Mody as the Charles and Marie Robertson Visiting Professor in International Economic Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. Previously, he was Deputy Director in the International Monetary Fund’s Research and European Departments. He has worked at the World Bank, AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, and the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Financial Studies, Frankfurt. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University. He is author of Euro Tragedy: A Drama in Nine Acts, as well as the author of many journal articles.

Prof  Mani went on to say that CDS is now into its 49th year and that the Annual Foundation Day is celebrated by a lecture which is usually delivered by distinguished alumni or a well-wisher of the CDS. This day is also set aside as the convocation day of the MA students. He requested Prof  Mody to give away the certificates of merit to the awardees of the Joan Robinson prize, MG Kanbur prize and the newly instituted AD Neelakantan Endowment Prize along with the Degree certificates to the MA students.

This year the Joan Robinson prize for meritorious performance was awarded to Ms. Neha Vinod Betai (2017-19) and the  M.G. Kanbur Prize for meritorious performance was awarded to Shri Karan Lalwani (2017-19). The AD Neelakantan Endowment Prize was awarded to Ms Annesha Mukherjee for securing the highest CGPA in the course work of Intergrated MPhil/PhD Programme (2018-20).

At the commencement of the lecture Prof Mody recounted his days at the CDS where he had done his MPhil and later joined as a member of the faculty. He also remembers his association both at the academic as well as personal level with Dr Raj who was his guide and mentor. Prof Mody started the lecture by saying that in the sixties, an angry India emerged in which frustrated aspirations fueled political violence. He touched on various issues the country faced during the rule of  Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister, suggesting possibly that the way ahead must be through greater political decentralization.

Abstract of the Lecture: Despite years of growth, India has made vastly inadequate investments in its future. The growth model since the late 1980s has increased inequality dramatically, which gives the rich and powerful an exit from the domestic system and hence little incentive to  promote long-term investments in the interests of the public good. The three areas in which India has fallen back particularly are education, urbanization, and environmental protection. In each of these areas, the point of no return may be here: years of insufficient investment could hamper further growth, which would make it even harder to make needed investments.  The influence of money and crime in politics will make it ever harder to forge societal agreement on a more hopeful path.