NCAER, organized the first annual C D Deshmukh Memorial Lecture on January 4, 2013, to honour one of India’s most eminent economists and one of its founding fathers.
The lecture titled “Grassroots Welfare Schemes and Macroeconomic Choices: India’s Dilemmas” was delivered by Professor Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at NCAER. Dr Rakesh Mohan, a member of the Board of Executive Directors at the International Monetary Fund, and a former Director General of NCAER was the Guest of Honour.
Prof Basu spoke about the challenges that India faces in balancing its macroeconomic policies for higher growth with the need to protect the most vulnerable sections of society through welfare schemes.
He spoke about the need to bring down the inflation rate, which has persisted between 7 -11% in the last 3 years. Taking the example of South Korea which saw unprecedented growth as well as a high rate of inflation between 1950, when it’s per capita income was the same as India’s and 1990, by which time the per capita income was 22 times that of India, Prof. Basu stressed that curbing growth to control inflation is certainly not desirable.
He commended the recently launched direct cash transfer scheme of the government and felt that besides reducing leakages and ensuring people got the benefits due to them; it would also ensure choice for the poorest who can demand better service by paying the market price for food and other commodities.
Dr Mohan observed that to have a serious impact on the poorest, India’s growth rate must be more than 8% per year. He emphasized the need of infrastructure development in rural India, particularly, roads, electricity and sanitation to provide access to market and retain vital human capital in the rural sector to make a significant dent in poverty reduction.
About CD Deshmukh
Sir Chintaman Dwarakanath Deshmukh was the first Indian to be appointed the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India in 1943 and was part of the official Indian delegation to the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference. He subsequently served as the Union Finance Minister from 1950 to 1956 under Prime Minister Nehru and was a key member of NCAER’s founding Governing Body under the chairmanship of John Mathai, India’s second Finance Minister. Deshmukh also founded the India International Centre in New Delhi in 1959. He was the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission from 1956 to 1961, and then served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi from 1962 to 1967. He was knighted by the British Government in 1944 and honoured by the President of India with the Padma Vibhushan in 1975. NCAER owes its founding vision to Deshmukh and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.