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Development IS not confined to economics

Development IS not confined to economics

Your write up about MIDS: [Sailing off-course, IE-January.] Your complaint that the Institute has departed from its original focus on economics. Let me clarify: MIDS was never an institute meant for development economics. It was recognised that ‘development’ could not be confined to economics as an academic discipline. Founder Adiseshiah, of course, was an outstanding economist, but please don’t forget that he headed the UNESCO, which certainly was not confined to a single discipline. And when what was a personal study centre of Adiseshiah’s was brought within the framework of the Indian Council for Social Science Research, it was with the knowledge and expectation that the new MIDS would not be confined to economics alone. It so happened that the senior members of the faculty of the new MIDS were largely economists.

But here, again, by the time Vaidyanathan joined MIDS in 1984, the faculty members consisted of those who specalised in Women’s Studies, Sociology and more. Faculty members were evaluated in terms of the quality of their work. The fact is that it was recognised right from the beginning that enquiry about development (economic as well as societal) was not confined to disciplines as narrowly defined by the university system. Amartya Sen, of course, is an eminent economist, but would you say that his later studies were less rigorous because they were not confined to disciplinary boundaries? – Dr C T Kurien, Ernakulam

I appreciate the comments of Dr C T Kurien, the renowned economist who headed MIDS as Director with great distinction and is a trustee of MIDS and MEAT. I’m aware the MIDS charter encompasses social and historical research. But I feel MIDS could be distinct from the narrowly confined university approach of academic research for research sake and for degrees but could focus more on application-oriented research on fiscal, polities, agricultural, industrial and services sector growth, transportation and mobility issues, public health and education… For instance, can MIDS provide the lead for budgets initiating discussions ahead of the budget date and not on post-mortems? Delhi and Kolkata thrive on such work. At the time of Adiseshiah MIDS had this focus. I feel the need for returning to this.

The right trajectory

Thank you and your colleagues for the meticulous efforts in bringing out a status report on Anna University. (Excellence to eminence, IE – January.) Industrial Economist is doing a great job in creating the right trajectory for the Indian economy. Dr M K Surappa, Vice Chancellor, Anna University , Chennai.

Concept of balanced diet

I am wary of promoting salt intake,(Tackling malnutrition, IE – January.) especially in children who are likely to get affected by hypertension-related complications in the future. It is better to promote the concept of a balanced diet from childhood, which has a lasting benefit. Also, the cause of anemia is iron which cannot be given easily in salt.
Dr Rajan Ravichandran, Sapiens Health Foundation, Chennai.

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