Economists have gone terribly wrong in recent years. From not figuring the fallout of 2008 crisis to European troubles to Brexit to Trump victory and so on. Name it and most likely the outcome has been opposite of what economists had suggested before or at the time of the event.
In India, things are no different. We keep getting things on GDP, inflation wrong most of the times.
However, another emerging aspect is the huge politicisation and polarisation in debates over Indian economy. Earlier, debates on economic issue were whether you are for or against the policy/decision and so on. Now any such economic discussion has become whether you are for or against the government.
- First obviously is the one serving/ supporting the running government.
- Second is those econs which served/supported the previous governments. (Then there are some who have moved from one list to the other rather fluidly but let us ignore them.)
This is such a terrible way to divide economic thought and discussion in the country. The ones in the second camp have been there for a long time and were once ridiculed and criticised by the first camp. It is funny (and irritating) to see the first camp now defend the very things which they ridiculed (like queues, rationing and so on) not very long ago. Same with the second camp which once defended these ideas and now criticises them.
It is high time we move beyond this political partisanship of economic ideas. The onus is much more on on the first camp. It is their advice or lack of it which matters. Just like the onus was on the second camp to guide the previous governments in which they mostly failed, the onus this time is on first camp. There is no getting away with this important difference which is often ignored.
So each time they write an article on a government policy (like this one), they should sincerely ask themselves – would they have supported this move if previous governments had done this? If the answer is yes then only there is a point in writing the article. Otherwise there is no point. If the idea is to support whatever be the economics, the piece can be written by anyone from the Government without “the so called economics background“.
The Governments should also allow healthy dissents from their economic advisers, though the area should be of their expertise. Otherwise why even appoint them? Most of the time, politics and economics go in opposite directions. Eventually, politics wins but it is the role of economic adviser to lay out the pros and cons diligently before the political masters and citizens.
At present, nothing of this sort is happening. So much so, we now have people writing about quackeconomics followed by the government advisers.
On a broader picture, one is again asking following basic questions- What is the role of an economic adviser in the government? Should governments really one? Should economists pitch themselves for a govt role (as it happens so much in India) and be seen as part of a political camp?