No, we Indian economists have to be eclectic. We must borrow tools freely from many sources, even though the final structure that we build up may be our own. Can we, however, shun other disciplines in this pursuit? Professor Mukherji says, No.
For he believes that the science of society which is ‘human science’ is an indivisible whole. ‘It is one social science distinguishable from natural science. It is not a “synthetic” product, nor is it merely an interrelated corpus of sciences.’ I have always found it difficult to understand this shall I say biological interpretation of sciences. Well, if you stand for it, why not push it further and bring natural science, too, within your orbit? Science is search for truth; and truth (they say), like God, is indivisible. Why, then, differentiate human science from natural science?
I believe differentiation is an essential process in the building up of a corpus of knowledge, as it is in the building up of an organism. I believe in the Smithian doctrine of division of labour. Let economists, political scientists, psychologists and historians specialize in their respective fields. Let these disciplines be ‘compartmentalized’, and let the totality of knowledge grow. He who has vision can then effect the desired integration and try to discover, as Marx did with the then existing body of knowledge, the vital links that connect social movements.
One word of caution to our ‘model-builders’ for whom I am pleading. Let them not, in their intoxication with ‘model-building’, forget that if they are to be economic practitioners as they may need to be they must know the character of the social environment into which the models are proposed to be projected. Here is the occasion for the economist to take assistance from other disciplines.
I would not expect the economist to cultivate these other disciplines himself; there are others to do that. But the economist, if he is to be of use to society, must not divorce himself from what is happening outside his own field. Do the more ‘brilliant’ among our younger Indian economists need this warning? I wonder.