A Discourse on Economic Development is based on two recently published books by Kartik Roy. Governance Institutions and Economic Development: Emerging China, India, East Asia presented an in-depth analysis of the reasons for successes and failures of these nations’ developmental efforts. Economic, Environmental and Political Governance in China, Japan, India, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam brought acknowledged the urgency of the need for countries’ political leaders to follow the teachings of Kautilya, Confucius, Ibn Khaldun, Karl Marx and Mahatma Gandhi and to make serious efforts to implement those lessons in practice. It is worth noting here Mancur Olson’s famous remarks that economic decisions are unlikely to be taken in the collective interest of individuals due to bargaining costs and the problem of free riders, unless they are members of small groups.
Such a coalition of self-interest individuals is likely to try to redistribute income towards itself instead of working to raise efficiency and national income for the full benefit of the entire population and country. Hence, the authors feel that it is more likely that in all democracies rather than in autocracies, members of the ministry will form Olson’s coalition of self-interest fulfilling persons who are semi-literate, have rarely been engaged in any income earning activity, and who are adept at taking recourse to dishonest means to fill up their pockets, as well as to attain glory, and who have no knowledge of the teachings of Kautilya, Confucius, Khaldun, Marx, Gandhi and other great men of the past. Likewise, they will have no interest in their implementation on practice. In this book, the authors have made an effort to create a synergy between the theory and practice in economic development.