I came across this amazing link on India Budget website. It has finance minister’s budget speeches from 1947-48 onwards. Have just downloaded the first speech in 1947-48, 1991-92 Manmohan Singh’s speech on the crisis in 1991 etc. A treasure of sorts really. And all the speeches have been converted into very good quality pdfs. Not like the typical archives we get to see.
These speeches could be used to generate great pieces of research on Indian economy. Romer & R0mer have looked at various Economic Reports of President to identify the shift/ideas of economic thinking in economic policy. They have used this approach to show how policymaking in 1970s lost touch with economics and as a result we had very bad 1970s (Great inflation etc).
Same methodology could be applied to understand shifts in Indian economy policy circles by using these budget speeches. It would not be as comprehensive a study as Romer’s but could give you some ideas as budget speech is a very important document in India.
For instance, we keep arguing when India actually started to reform and liberalise. Was it in 1980s or in 1990s? Some say 1980s but others says in 1980s reforms were not consistent and too small. The real push came in 1990s after the crisis. There is research work which looks at data to point when growth kicked off etc.
Now, can we use these speeches to identify whether a shift actually happened in 1980s? Or is it just economists’ imagination? And then we keep saying from 1947 to 1980s we had a hindu rate of growth around 3.5%. Do the budget speeches indicate this status quo as well? And then breaking it like Romer into decades….how policy thinking differed in various decades – 1950s 60s, 70s, etc?
It will be a very good exercise to do. Will help us understand Indian economy and its history better.