In its history since Independence, India has seen widely different economic experiments: from Jawharlal Nehru's pragmatism to the rigid state socialism of Indira Gandhi to the brisk liberalization of the 1990s. So which strategy best addresses India's, and by extension the world's, greatest moral challenge: lifting a great number of extremely poor people out of poverty?
Bhagwati and Panagariya argue forcefully that only one strategy will help the poor to any significant effect: economic growth, led by markets overseen and encouraged by liberal state policies. Their radical message has huge consequences for economists, development NGOs and anti-poverty campaigners worldwide. There are vital lessons here not only for Southeast Asia, but for Africa, Eastern Europe, and anyone who cares that the effort to eradicate poverty is more than just good intentions. If you want it to work, you need growth. With all that implies.
Jagdish Bhagwati is university professor of economics at Columbia, and a long time fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. A native of India, Professor Bhagwati studied at Cambridge University, MIT, and Oxford before returning to India in 1961 as professor of economics at the Indian Statistical Institute. He is the author of many books, among them In Defense of Globalization. Arvind Panagariya is Professor of Indian Economics at Columbia. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has been the chief economist of the Asian Development Bank and a professor of economics and co-director, Center for International Economics, University of Maryland at College Park. He is the author of, among other books, India: The Emerging Giant.