Global trade and finance
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the recent history of international trade, balance of payments adjustment and capital flows. It will discuss the evolution of trade and finance flows, the important international institutions and major processes in the international economy, and issues of policy concern for developing countries such as India. The topics of discussion in the course will include: the historical evolution of trading patterns and international monetary
regimes; commodity trade, price cycles and the oil shocks; the changing international division of labour; the current international architecture for trade and finance, including institutions like WTO, IMF, World Bank and regional blocs and arrangements; dollar dominance and its implications; the rise of finance and global neoliberalism; and global financial markets, contagion and crises.
Rural Economy of India
India’s rural economy has seen significant transformation since Independence. While the share of agriculture in India’s GDP has fallen drastically, a large proportion of India’s workforce remains dependent on agriculture. Starting from the Green Revolution in the late 1960s, India’s agriculture has seen a very significant transformation. With this, issues related to access to land, water, credit and markets have also become extremely critical and contentious.
Resource management, land degradation, depletion of water resources, and nutrient imbalances have also emerged as important issues. While science and technology have played a leading role in the transformation of agriculture, the use of biotechnology and genetic modification, and the increasing role of the private sector in agricultural research and development, have emerged as important public issues in recent years. How effective are the legal and regulatory systems in dealing with these problems? How is international trade in agriculture governed through the WTO and various regional and bilateral agreements? What has been the impact of trade liberalisation on agriculture in India and other countries? How do agricultural markets function and how are these regulated? What is the role of government intervention through Minimum Support Prices and public procurement? What are the main issues related to rural-urban migration in India?
This course will acquaint students with some of these issues. Students will also learn about different sources of data on agriculture and other aspects of the rural economy. Official statistics on agriculture include land use statistics, crop statistics, irrigation, cost of production and inputs use, and markets and prices. Students will learn how these data are generated, where are they available, and how should they be used.
Labour and Employment Conditions in India
India’s labour market is segmented between a small and shrinking workforce covered under labour and social security regulation, and a vast bulk of informally employed workforce with minimal applicability of labour regulation and social security. Labour market flexibility is the driving principle of labour reforms under neo-liberal policy environment. This course will provide students with a framework and a basic toolkit to understand and report on issues relating to employment and unemployment, trade
unions and labour legislation, and labour market flexibility and labour reforms. At the outset, the course will provide a historical overview of trends in employment conditions in India after Independence, relating them to overall macroeconomic conditions and public policies. Students will also learn about the history of the labour movement and trade unions, and about various official commissions and committees on labour. The course will also familiarise students with basic concepts like labour force, disguised unemployment, under-employment, decent work and labour productivity. They will additionally learn about different sources of data on employment, wages and living conditions of workers in India, and how to use these data to report on changing conditions of employment in India.
Economics of Innovation
We live in an age of disruptive innovation. We are fascinated by the lives of innovators—Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Travis Kalanick—and we want to know how they achieved their success. At the same time, we are also concerned about the impact their innovations have on our lives—on our jobs, on our friendships, on our privacy and on our freedom.
We look to analysts, experts and journalists to unravel that world for us. We explore the internet for stories and reports on technology and innovation. We search Youtube and Vimeo for talks and presentations on the subject. We are grateful to those who do it well. We become their fans: Mary Meeker, Walt Mossberg, Sarah Tracy have, in fact, become household names. Media platforms like Techcrunch, Wired and Mashable have become a part of our daily diet.
As the pace of innovation increases, the demand for those who understand and explain the dynamics and impact of innovation is also going up. As a result, media companies constantly look out for journalists who can do that with simplicity, clarity and authority.
This course will equip students with frameworks to understand the economics of innovation. It will look at illustrative case studies and stories in the news in order to gain a greater appreciation of how innovation happens in the real world today. It will explore tools and techniques that some of the best analysts, experts and journalists use to tell those exciting stories.
Besides lectures, the coursework will involve discussions, writing assignments, and a real-life innovation project. The best way to learn about innovation is by trying your hand at innovating.
Indian Economy and its Development
The course aims to provide a macroeconomic analysis of post-Independence economic development, covering both its controlled statist and “liberal” phases. It will include empirical analyses of the performance of the economy, and of individual sectors. The discussion will examine the real constraints to growth as well as assess the nature and impact of the fiscal, monetary and balance of payments policies adopted during different phases of post-Independence development.
It will consider explanations for growth and stagnation, the reasons for inadequate employment generation as well as the external vulnerability that have characterised the economy. The emphasis will be on understanding the reasons for the transition from interventionism to liberalisation and the consequences of that transition.
Indian Industrialisation post-Independence
The course will examine the trajectory of post-Independence industrialisation to explain the drivers of growth and stagnation in the industrial sector and examine the factors that shaped its structure. It will aim to understand why, despite its distinctive advantages, India did not successfully diversify into manufacturing unlike many other similarly placed countries. The topics for discussion will include: the determinants of growth and stagnation; big capital and its evolution; the changing role of foreign
capital; the public sector in theory and practice; and linking growth and structural change.
Technology and Law
This is the age of technological disruption. The course will help students understand the effect that technological advancements have on the Indian economy. The topics of discussion will include: integration of technology; the emerging trends in intellectual property rights; the start-up technology ecosystem; and the important provisions of intellectual property law, both international and Indian, among other things. Besides these, the course will also deal with data security and confidentiality and how to report on technology crimes.
Critical International Issues
This course aims to familiarise students with a few critical international issues that have a bearing on India and its neighbours. The topics analysed in depth include the end of the Cold War and emerging international relations; ethnicity, identity, and national integration; India’s relations with its neighbours; the implications of nuclear weaponisation in South Asia; SAARC and the challenge of regional co-operation; the impact of terrorism; and the question of democratisation of the United Nations.
The course underlines the need to strengthen international affairs coverage in the Indian news media.
The course examines the origin and evolution of armed conflict in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Sudan etc and explores related issues including the role of international actors in fuelling conflict, conflict resolution, reconstruction and so on.
Covering Ecology and Environment
Issues relating to ecology and the environment have received substantial, though not insightful, media coverage in the last decade. The coverage, by and large, has failed to make the linkage between environmental degradation and issues of justice.
The effects of environmental degradation are portrayed as affecting all of humanity in a similar manner. However, an overwhelming body of evidence maintains that the
poor, the marginalised and historically oppressed sections of society suffer a disproportionately high share of the ill-effects, while the well-off and politically powerful manage to not just fare better in the face of adverse environmental circumstances, but also benefit from the degradation.
Writing on environment and ecology requires an ability to make sense of social and natural sciences, in addition to the conventional journalistic skills of identifying sources and interviewing. In covering science, the ability to discern fact from conjecture becomes crucial. The role of industry and commerce (corporations), through their control of media and scientific institutions, needs to be understood if one is to tackle the myth that all “science” is science and that “science” is objective. The course will also touch upon some of the critical environmental issues. More importantly, though, it will help students pitch environmental stories and identify environmental angles to mainstream stories. This course will heavily emphasise “environmental justice” (Who gains? Who loses?) as a framework to understand environmental problems, their causes and effects. The course aims to develop research and analytical skills. This elective will be a combination of lecture sessions, field trips, interactive sessions, research projects and role-play exercises.