What does all this amount to in terms of policy? We have argued that over-full employment is accompanied by bottle-necks, that it leads to excessive turnover, that it makes it difficult for the employer to choose the right kind of personnel at the right time, and finally that it tends to create an environment in which the workers are apt to lose a correct sense of proportion.
All this is damaging to the efficiency of a productive organization. We have also argued that on all accounts it appears that the market for economists’ services in the country is currently having a state of over-full-employment, thanks to the urgency created by the plans for economic development, continuance of which, one is afraid, might do damage to the economists’ profession as such. For after all, if we are to be true to ourselves, we must tell the society how best to allocate our scarce resources; we economists, of all persons, cannot afford to neglect the problem of allocation of funds.
Does this mean that economists are asked to pass a self-denying ordinance and cut down their demand for funds? Is it by curtailing demand that shortages in the market for their services are to be relieved? That by no means is the only approach that our analysis leads to; nor is it a desirable approach, when regard is had to the future of economic studies in the country. There is the altnerative approach calling for an increase in the supply of economists, and it is this that I would plead for.
Intra-sectoral, not inter-sectoral, re-allocation of resources is what I would urge for the solution of our problem. I would surely accept whatever grants we may for the extension of economic studies in the country. Having accepted them, however, I would consider more carefully than is being done at the moment how best to use these grants within our own sphere of activity. As it is too much of emphasis is given to ‘research’. And in so far as a large share of whatever supply of competent economists we have is drawn away by Research Institutions and Government Departments, ‘teaching’ suffers and the source from which further supply should be forthcoming is weakened. This surely is an unsatisfactory situation.
Matters are made worse by the fact that many of our University Economics Departments, whose main concern must be to ‘teach’, are gradually being converted into miniature Research Institutions, thanks to the generous grants that they are receiving from the Research Programmes Committee of the Planning Commission.
It is time we shifted our emphasis a little from so-called research to actual teaching, strengthened certain centres of economic studies which have had a tradition and introduced a liberal system of scholarships to enable deserving students to come over to our stronger centres for postgraduate studies.
We need to produce more and better economists, and this requires re-allocating our resources, financial and physical, in favour of university teaching. It would surely be good ‘economy’ if a sizeable share of the Ford Foundation grants (such as are now being distributed among the centres of economic research, most of which are unconnected with a University) are utilized, with due discrimination, for extension of the activities of our University Economics Departments by way of library facilities, tutorial instructions, etc., and, on top of all this, for the award of special fellowships enabling deserving scholars to go abroad for advanced training in recognized centres of economic studies.
In so far as Ford Foundation funds are in dollar, this latter would not present any foreign exchange problem. In a country where economic studies, in spite of age in calendar years, are yet in their infancy, you cannot afford to restrict your consumption only to home-made Economics.