Keynes in Jodhpur? In 1929? (Picked from KBC-6….)

I just could not help myself from not posting this. Just saw KBC 6th edition (Kaun BAnega Crorepati) and was always damn good (a tad too lomg though today). As always KBC provides me fodder to write (see KBC-5 and prospect theory,  Economics of KBC choices…)

The last participant on today’s show (7-Sep-12) was asked: Which of these palaces was built to provide employment during famine?

The correct answer was Umaid Bhavan Palace at Jodhpur. The contestant said Amer Palace at Jaipur and lost.

I was amazed to note this. Amitabh Bachchan added that the construction work started in 1929 because of the famine. This was just when Great Depression started! So the world economy got a shock in 1929 and Jodhpur had its own famine shock.

It seems even before Keynes wrote his General Theory which released in 1936, the Maharaja (king) of Jodhpur was using Keynesian policies to stimulate demand in his local economy. By employing people during famine, he provided them with both jobs and income (and eben food as Mr Bachchan said). And meanwhile also got his palace built. So it seems unlike the bridges that lead to nowhere following Keynesian policies, there was more useful construction work (actually should leave that to historians to say whether good use or not).

And the palace took good 15 years to build. Fairly long time..

Now most might say that the king must have forced the people to start and continue work. It must have not been by willingness to work etc.. So not sure..

An excellent natural experiment this on figuring whether the Keynesian approach worked in Jodhpur or not.

Hope to get more insights on economics etc during this edition of KBC..



10 Responses to “Keynes in Jodhpur? In 1929? (Picked from KBC-6….)”

  1. Neetika Says:

    Brilliant take away from that seemingly simple question…Appreciate your ability to draw a linkage between the economics of Umaid bhavan construction and Keynes theory…

  2. Lokesh Says:


  3. Lokesh Says:

    Today is nice game

  4. nshantin Says:

    Ah, u have an ability to view matters from different angles, and than write an informative article on them.

    Keep it up, will keep coming back for more articles

    Safe ePayments Motivator

  5. Christopher Lingle Says:

    the connection with Keynesian theory is stretched…the building in question was done under the aegis of privately-owned government whereas Keynes addressed spending under publicly-owned government…incentives here matter…the Maharaja was much more likely to insist on more efficiency & the work was not open-ended & there were no overly-generous pensions that usually arise from public-sector employment

  6. Amol Agrawal Says:

    I am not really sure Prof Lingle. Maharajas and their team were typically just like governments. Yes it was a much smaller experiment compared to what Keynes had in mind, but was an experiment nevertheless. Now I do not know whether that experiment was successful as I doubt think there is any empirical study. I just thought this showed that Keynes ideas were applied even before his book came out. It looked like a natural thing to do given the shock…

  7. Kaun Banega Crorepati – India’s own Millionaire show. The ePayments path « Simple Financial Mantras Says:

    […] Keynes in Jodhpur? In 1929? (Picked from KBC-6….) ( […]

  8. Rajiv K Raman Says:

    Was not the Bara Imambara at Lucknow a similar relief exercise. excerpt from wikipedia ( – “The Bara Imambara was built in 1783, a year of a devastating famine, and one of Asaf-ud-Daula’s objectives in embarking on this grandiose project was to provide employment for people in the region. According to reports, the famine continued for over a decade and the construction of the building continued for this time. It is said that ordinary people used to work in the day building up the edifice, while noblemen and other elite were called at night to break down all the structure raised, as they were incapable of doing anything else, according to a chronicle of the period. This see-saw efforts continued till the famine period was over. It was a project that preceded a Keynesian like intervention for employment generation.”


  9. Kuldeep kumar Says:

    Very goodddddddd.

  10. Amol Agrawal Says:

    Thanks Rajiv for this…I actually realised Keynesian approach should have been present in earlier such constructs as well. This calls for some historic research figuring how many such places were built on Keynes ideas (before Keynes though) and history around them. Will be an interesting area of debate..I always thought Keynes idea of govt intervention in a crisis is a natural reaction. What will a govt do when a crisis hits? Sit back and tell people sorry we will let markets correct themselves!!

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