The Talk: “What do we talk about when we talk about growth?”
A search through time and space for the ideas that are shaping (or mishaping) our lives—usually
without our knowing it. For most of us economic growth is best summed up by a number;
a magical statistic that measures how much a nation produces–the rate of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Changes in GDP reflect a nation’s fortunes or misfortunes.
The aura around the GDP statistic stems much from certain propositions that have over the decades acquired the nature of universal truths. These “truths” are so embedded in our collective consciousness that we often don’t even think about them.
- Markets are better because they are fairer agents of wealth creation and its distribution than governments.
- Work is worship.
- The poor remain poor if they lack ambition.
In the course of our journey through ideas from history, literature, films and with scary facts from countries that swore by and often still do, by these “truths”, we shall attempt to get a glimpse into what we really talk about when we talk “economic growth.”
And we shall look at some brave attempts to create alternate discourses challenging towards well-being as opposed to simple “economic growth” again through classic fiction, popular cinema and more popular mass movements.
Ashok Upadhyay is a writer and journalist who for over twenty years has cast an eagle eye on the way economic growth has shaped our lives.
A PhD in Economics, he has held senior editorial positions in major national dailies and has held workshops on the Indian growth story. He also writes fiction, has a novel, “The Hungry Edge” and is working on his second, a part of a trilogy on the “Indian Comedy”.