Sunday, August 19, 2007

Butterflies

For a change here is an NGO that is not complaining about child labour and how it is bad for the children. Instead they have accepted that it is an inevitable fact of life here in India, and are doing something to truly help these children instead of forcibly enrolling them in school or picketing outside organizations that employ children. They are helping these street children save their hard earned money and by giving them loans for projects. Some of these children are apparently saving up for school. It is good to see small organizations bring about a positive change through their actions rather than through vociferous protests based on silly standards. Here is a feature on a Bank run by children, and here is the website of the NGO Butterflies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Indian Economic History

The past few days I have spent a lot of time in the library reading books on India, especially the planning periods. The economic history of this country is fascinating and its a pity that it is still a much underdeveloped field. The number of well researched books and papers are few, and seem to have stopped in the seventies. I found a fascinating account of the Indian Shipping industry prior to independence in a book about Food Industries under the British rule in India. The last chapter has a wonderful discussion of the evolution of industries and how they fared under British rule in India. The Shipping industry in particular was pretty well developed with about 6 Indian Shippers. Under the British Command, a British Company forced these shippers out of business by lowering rates to very low levels, and then once the competition was eliminated, raised rates again 15 fold higher than the earlier levels. This chapter also has a chronology of the different industry and company acts that were enacted between 1757 and 1947. The chapter itself is well referenced and written in a reader friendly way. The other book that has a fascinating account of Indian industrial scene pre independence is Bhagwati and Desai's book on Indian Industrial Policy. I have read only the first three chapters in the book, but already I have a wealth of information and references to work on. This has opened a whole new avenue of opportunities in India centric research for me.