Harvard vs hard work: Shunning economic policy by elites?

It is interesting to see Indian PM slam the economists/experts who questioned the demonetisation drive.

The drive showed people did not lose any faith in the government against all expert advice. Moreover, now even GDP numbers are much higher than expected. So, experts have lost all possible arguments. People shunned their advice and  even their own GDP has deserted them now (But experts have not given up. It has led to comparing Indian GDP data with Chinese GDP ; more on this later).

Indian PM says hard work not Harvard matters:

Stating that hard work is more important than Harvard thinking, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday took a dig at Nobel-winning Harvard economist Amartya Sen, without mentioning his name, while referring to criticism faced by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) post the November 8 demonetizationdrive.

‘The country has seen difference between Harvard and hard-work. On the one hand they talk of what people at Harvard say, on the other a poor person’s son through his hard work is trying to grow the economy,’ he said while addressing a rally here ahead of the sixth-phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

This is ironical as the current government has several advisers/policymakers with similar Harvard type degrees. And these appointed experts defended the demonetisation supporting their masters like none could.  The first thing media tells us on any policy appointment is the degrees and anything which sounds Harvardish is gloated over and over.

Are these positions merely ceremonial in nature just to keep foreign investors happy? After all the PM pretty much says it that he does not care much for their advice. Does all this even further strengthen that the appointed experts are not considered for the key government policies? Why appoint them then at the first place?

One is wondering what all those current elite policymakers/advisers are thinking after the statement. This is a question best answered by the appointed experts themselves. The clamor for government roles remains surprisingly high amidst Indian economists.

There were expectations that the current government when voted to power would shun all this Harvardism. The key leaders did not like the economic elites of previous government. For many days, Chief Economic Adviser position was not filled.

But then eventually, all these positions were filled with similar degrees which the PM himself despises.  Nothing is more ironical than to say that that one of the major protagonist of the Indian Government’s recent war on cash comes from Harvard. As Brett Scott brilliantly writes:

Supporting this core alliance are auxiliary corps of establishment academics, economists and futurists, living life in leafy suburbs, flying business class to speak at technology conferences, attended to by a wall of sycophantic media pundits and innovation journalists preaching the gospel of cashlessness. The Curse of Cash (2016) by Kenneth Rogoff, economics professor at Harvard, was longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year award, undoubtedly accompanied by invitations to financial industry-sponsored conference parties in five-star hotel lobbies.

Interesting times…

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