RBI’s ex-Governor Dr Reddy’s humor is well known (see this and this for just a few amongst the many). I came across this speech which provides loads of food on thought for economists involved in public policy. (It also tells me to try and read his previous speeches on various subjects). He details the challenges an economist faces in public policy with his trademark humor.
He begins like this:
The question is : Is there life without the economist? ….Since everyone has a view on economic matters, the subject looks deceptively simple in most eyes and is thus prone to much contention. Add to this the fact that in a subject which concerns everyone so intimately and which is almost always in the headlines, the temptation for the economist to play to the gallery and to seek the limelight by simplification, exaggeration and even glamorisation is not easy to resist. But with all that, it is difficult to imagine life without the economist.
But then, life with the economist is not very simple either. Economics is perhaps the only field in which two people can share a Nobel Prize for having divergent viewpoints – to cite Myrdal and Hayek. Often, people hold that economics is as definitive a science as astrology is, and the more charitable of them place an economist between a physicist and a sociologist. For example, in the Preface to his book Peddling prosperity: Economic Sense and Nonsense in the Age of Diminished Expectations (1944), Paul Krugman says that an Indian born economist once explained his personal theory of reincarnation to his graduate economics class. If you are a good economist, a virtuous economist, he said, you are reborn as a physicist. But if you are an evil, wicked economist, you are reborn as a sociologist .
I think that Paul Krugman joke was mentioned by Avinash Dixit, I read it somewhere not sure
Actually the speech is not as well organised as I would have liked it to be. It has many ideas so am just leaving a few quotes from the text. Actually the entire speech is worth quoting. It is amazing how he mixes humor on a relatively serious topic.