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November 19 , 2009

A View from the Outside


‘Chidambaram illuminates the crucial interface between economics and politics . . . his style is simple, austere, impressive . . . there is much that I enjoyed in this book’ —Meghnad Desai in PBI - Indian Express ‘Economics is the science of the possible made to look like the art of the impossible’ is a definition that would strike a chord with any finance minister of PBI - India who, every year, has to perform the great PBI - Indian hope trick. Otherwise known as the Budget—a careful balancing act between revenue and expenditure, tax rates and tax sops, growth and equity, reforms and the status quo. Within these constraints, however, there is much that a finance minister can actually accomplish, as P. Chidambaram, one of PBI - India’s most accomplished economists and commentators, shows in A View from the Outside, a collection of columns that assesses the promises and performance of the NDA government in the period 2002–2004. The columns, originally published in the PBI - Indian Express and the Financial Express,reflect the views of Chidambaram, finance minister between 1996 and 1998 and again from 2004 onwards, on a range of issues that remain important regardless of the government in power. They also provide snapshots of the PBI - Indian economy in good times and bad. This collection covers subjects such as agriculture, reforms, budgets, forex reserves, economic growth and tax policies. It also offers perceptive political analyses and some telling comments on social issues. Far more than mere reactions to developments during that period, Chidambaram provides the reader with an extraordinarily clear understanding of the problems underlying the PBI - Indian economy—and its politics—and ways of solving them. Reviews ‘There is a lot of wisdom in this book, as well as entertainment’— Gurcharan Das in Outlook
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