Social Scientist. v 23, no. 260-62 (Jan-Mar 1995) p. 50.

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Kerala's Development Experience: Random Comments about the Past and Some Considerations for the Future

I am greatly honoured by the invitation of the organisers of this International Conference of Kerala Studies to preside over the subject section on Economics and to give its Presidential Address. I am also embarrassingly conscious that I can think of no valid reason as to why} the choice fell on me. I have done no work on Kerala's economy and whatever writing I have done in economics in general or development economics in particular is not very outstanding. Those who have done pioneering and significant work on Kerala's economy are in Kerala, especially here in this city of Thiruvananthapuram whose writings I have followed with great admiration. These writings, some of the earlier ones in particular, inspired me to devote the greater part of the 1970s for a study of the neighbouring state where I have been living and working for over four decades.1 I found that effort to be an exceptionally healthy exercise. I have always held that the central task of economists is to examine and interpret the living conditi(?ns of the people and that the closer one gets to that reality, the firmer will be one's grip over economics. But even my work on the economy of a neighbouring state is not sufficient justification for this honour that has been conferred upon me. It is possible that the organisers wanted to have a Kerala economist working outside Kerala to preside over this section because the choice of a person from within the state would not have been easy as there are many eminent ones to choose from. But economists hailing from Kerala working elsewhere are also not rare. After a great deal of introspective analysis of this problem, I have come to the conclusion that the choice fell on me because the organisers were looking for a Kerala economist outside the state but physically close enough to it. I am perhaps the most noise-making Kerala economist operating from Tamilnadu, or even Kamataka.

Madra Institude of Development Studies.

Social Scientist, Vol. 23, Nos. 1-3, January-Marchl995

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