Decision as to what to teach and how to teach should not be very difficult to make. We can refer the matter to a body of experts, and I am pretty sure that they can come to an agreed solution. My own view is clear on the matter.
Teaching at the postgraduate level should be directed more to tools of analysis than to the enumeration of problems. The efficacy of this method can be gauged from the fact that most, perhaps all, of those who are now handling the concrete problems of our country as Economic Advisers to the Government have had their training in foreign universities whose syllabi contain hardly any reference to problems relating specifically to India. Concrete problems have to be analysed in the light of ‘principles’ and if you know the latter, you can do the former. So economics of a country is important.
This does not mean that academic teaching should be devoid of content. Not at all. Good economics has never tolerated “empty economic boxes’. Principles are derived from practice, and it will be a bad day for economic studies if the age-old procedure of linking ‘theory’ with ‘reality’ is not followed. While our syllabus should be constructed with a bias on ‘principles’ at every stage these principles must be illustrated by events and problems which they reflect, and as far as possible these illustrations should be chosen from Indian experience, historical and current. So economics of a country is important.
I would indeed go further to suggest that in the present context of economic teaching and economic practice, it would be extremely helpful if we could devise some means of introducing a two-way traffic between the universities and the Government. It would be a good thing if young Lecturers and Readers were to serve a period occasionally at the offices of our Economic Advisers and officers in the economic service were to have occasional trips to the universities.
University dons would then acquire a better feel of economic reality and the hard-pressed economic officers would acquire a wider perspective for judging the nature of reality. I would commend this idea to the consideration of our universities and our Governments Central and State. So economics of a country is most important.