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The Ninth B.G. Kumar Lecture

The Ninth B.G. Kumar Lecture on “Revisiting Myrdal’s Approach to Development in Asian Drama” was delivered by Professor Frances Stewart, Professor Emeritus of Development Economics, University of Oxford, UK at the Baker Auditorium, CDS on October 3, 2018.

Prof Sunil Mani, Director, welcomed the audience to the Ninth BG Kumar Lecture. He introduced the lecture series, the lecturer, Professor Frances Stewart and the topic of the lecture itself. He pointed out that the lectures were made possible by the very generous contribution from the BG Kumar’s family. He also mentioned that BG Kumar was one of those promising independent-minded economists who was a member of the faculty at the CDS for a period of three years during 1990-93.

Prof Mani then introduced the lecturer, Professor Frances as a very well known development economist who is a pioneer in making deep-seated contributions to the Development Economic discourse from the 1970s through the 21st century. Important ideas in Development Economics such as the notion of appropriate technology, basic need, adjustment and poverty, development during conflict, group behaviour, horizontal inequalities and human development were almost entirely attributable to Professor Stewart. He went on to say that it was most befitting that Prof Frances Stewart should deliver this lecture, particularly as she had worked with BG Kumar for a brief period.

The lecture on “Revisiting Myrdal’s Approach to Development in Asian Drama” looks at the relevance of the treatise Asian Drama by Gunnar Myrdal and published in 1968. The lecture focused on three questions pertaining to this important piece of research:

1. Has it stood the test of time and change in circumstances?
2. Has methodology changed in Myrdal’s direction?
3. How does one evaluate it today?

The Lecture identified the main message of Myrdal in terms of : Myrdal’s essential message:
–    To be critical and recognize ideology in concepts
–    To be holistic
–    To be multidisciplinary in approach
–    To understand context

Professor Stewart concluded the lecture by expressing the view that the main message of Myrdal remains valid and relevant in analysis of contemporary and future problems.

The lecture was followed by an interactive session with the audience, numbering 80 consisting of members of the BG Kumar family, CDS faculty and students and research scholars and guests from other academic institutes.