An Economist’s Miscellany

An Economist’s Miscellany

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Author: Kaushik Basu
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 240
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780198072508


‘Philosophy has to be deductive, poetry romantic, plays and fiction humorous, and politics intriguing if they are to catch my attention,’ writes Kaushik Basu.

All these interests are on display in An Economist’s Miscellany, which brings together an eclectic collection of writings on the world of academe, politics, and policy.

Basu sweeps a vast canvas, from recession and the global economic crises, foreign policy, and financial scams, to art and aesthetics. In this slim volume he offers unique glimpses of his inner world—his excitement and apprehensions on moving from academics to government and policymaking; his thoughts on his mother turning 90; and persons, ideas, and books that have influenced him.

An Economist’s Miscellany also puts on display his literary forays—translations of two Bengali short stories and a four-act play.

The stories are hilarious and yet have scathing social content: one illustrates the intricacies of moneylending and the debt trap, while the other provides a critique of religious obscurantism and bigotry.

The play, light-hearted and facetious, presents a slice of everyday life in an academic setting. Basu has written extensively on diverse fields of economics and, more generally, the social sciences.

This collection displays the full range of his wisdom and humour, and above all his celebration of everyday human follies and foibles. Memoirs, travel writing, fiction, essays, and games—they are all here, and will give readers not just the pleasure of reading but also ideas and riddles to ponder over.


‘Kaushik is among those academicians who can communicate lucidly with a lay audience. In this varied mix of musings and comments, he shows how the principles of economics can, and should, be leveraged to improve our daily lives in myriad ways.’
--- Ratan Tata

‘Kaushik Basu presents an entertaining miscellany of his work, one which showcases his humour and wide range of interests as much as his skills as an economist. The essays are varied … but share some things in common: insightful ideas and the easy warmth of his prose. The collection that results is an absorbing, thoughtful work, whose pieces come together to form a coherent and fulfilling whole.’
--- Nandan Nilekani

‘This collection is a sheer delight. Kaushik Basu is a special social scientist. He is a master of technical rigour. But in this collection he shows how human beings and the institutions they create can also be best explored through that art form, the wry, detached, humorous, insightful essay. These essays and translations contribute to an understanding of the strange and undulating ways in which human beings work.’
--- Pratap Bhanu Mehta

‘What makes economics a dismal science is not only its dehumanized, asocial, antiseptic worldview but also often its humourless, self-sure, pompous practitioners. An Economist’s Miscellany is a charming, playful, self-questioning book that refuses to vend certitudes. Instead it invites the reader to enter the convivial world of Kaushik Basu where the discipline is not an all-consuming, clenched-teeth profession but a more modest, uncertain, human enterprise, contaminated by life.’
--- Ashis Nandy