India! I dare you to be rich

A list of good Indian economists

The purpose of this list

Everyone in India must be economics literate. Else India is doomed to repeat its mistakes again, and again. I therefore advocate a dramatic increase in economics education in India. I'm listing below Indian economists whose work should form the basis of a program in economics eduction in India.

Courses in economics should include the world's best economists (particularly Hayek) [see also my list of the world's best living economists]. This work of these Indian economists should (in my view) be included in reading lists for undergraduates. Note that I'm not restricting to "qualified" economists. I don't support all work of the economists listed here, but that shouldn't detract from their contributions.

I'm happy to add more names: If you think I've excluded any major economist, please make recommendations through the comments section (please exclude leftist "economists" – of which there are too many in Indian colleges, universities, and "Planning Commission"). The list is in alphabetical order by first name. Not all economists listed are alive. 

Chanakya, the world's first and India's greatest economist

Chanakya (Kautilaya). See this blog post for his works and discussion re: his work. Over the past two years I've shifted my view on Chanakya and now believe if his ideas are better understood, India can overthrow the fools and socialists who govern India.

Join this Facebook page I've created for Chanakya. Also join this Facebook group that discusses Hindu Capitalism.

Professional Economists (not just PhD in Economics, but published in peer reviewed journals)

  • Bellikoth Shenoy – the doyen of Indian economists
  • Sudhir Jayantilal Mulji (1938-2005)
  • Deepak Lal
  • Jagdish Bhagwati [see my comment here]
  • Nirvikar Singh
  • Avinash Dixit
  • T. N. Srinivasan
  • Pranab Bardhan
  • Subroto Roy
  • Meghnad Desai

Good economic thinkers (not necessarily with PhD in Economics).

Most of these have published extensively but not in academic peer reviewed journals.

  • Ashok Desai
  • Parth Shah
  • Bibek Debroy
  • Barun Mitra
  • Sharad Joshi
  • Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar
  • Gurcharan Das
  • Atanu Dey (PhD Eco)

Budding young economists

  • Balakrishnan Chandrasekaran (Planning Commission)
  • Yazad Jal (USA)

Candidates under review

I'm not familiar with all Indian economists. The following are interesting candidates for inclusion in this list:

International Indian Economists Association

I'm thinking of reviving the International Indian Economists Association I started in 1999 (but which came to a premature halt due to my severe RSI). Please let me know if you wish to participate in the revival of the association.


1) Why is Amartya Sen not listed here?

I've often been asked this, so I've explained at length here.

2) Why is Kaushik Basu not listed here?

See details here.

3) Why is Montek Singh Ahluwalia not listed here?

See details in my blog post: Montek, you’re a fool if you imagine you can “predict” inflation

Related post

The deplorable state of India's economic education.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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29 thoughts on “A list of good Indian economists
  1. Praveen Khandelwal

    I shall be gratefl if I may be enlisted on your list for keeping me updated on economic and financial issues as also about the economists and financial experts.


    DEAR SIR ,

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Deepak

    I'm afraid I have no knowledge of the works of the two economists you refer to. Please assess for yourself, and if you want me to include their names in this list please send me links to their writings.

    Re: India's history, it was RELATIVELY rich (barely so, though) compared to many others. Indeed, the entire world was VERY, VERY poor.

    Since classical liberalism came on the scene, and the ideas of liberty better understood, the West has become about 100 times wealthier than what India was, when it was a "Sone ki Chidiya".

    From my readings of Arthashastra (which is renowned as the economic text of ancient India) I couldn't find THE LEAST evidence that Chanakya understood the conception of freedom, markets, and the price system. Hence I don't recommend Chanakya as a good Indian economist. He wouldn't get a job as a junior economist in any organisation in the West today – with his kind of knowledge.



    ADDENDUM, 13 AUGUST 2012: In the past year or so I’ve slightly revised my position on Chanakya. He was a statist, and didn’t understand liberty, but he did understand (even though he didn’t know why), some of the key drivers of economic growth – such as trade, freedom of occupation, and good regulation.

    ADDENDUM, 14 September 2012: After further consideration I’m further changing my mind on Chankya, and have today included him as one of India’s great economists. I still disagree with some of his ideas, but most of his views were broadly in the right place.

  4. Ravi

    Since your list is about 'good" Indian Economist, you think that Amartya Sen is not "good" or you dont recommend his economics. Any particular reason, if it is possible to explain in few sentences.

    I find him quite an intellectual and am regular podcast listener of his lectures in Oxford and LSC. His recent books like Theory of Justice is quite facinating to get a view about "just society" and philosophical underpinnings for a laymen like myself.

  5. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Amartya Sen is a socialist. He wants more government intervention at every step. He says he likes markets, but then he continuously advocates government intervention. I don't think he even understands how governments actually work. I don't recommend his work. 



  6. Rahul

    Very good and relevant post. We do need more economists in India and aim should be to use economist to make differences in the day-to-day lives of people rather than write articles.

    I have a question, may be you can answer. Who was the person who thought out Slum Rehab Plan of Mumbai, where towers would be constructed in place of slums and slum dwellers would get free flats in the buildings? Or is this concept copied from some other country? Would be great to find…


  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Indeed, you are right. We need a LOT more economists to be employed by the Indian government. Currently there are very few economists inside the government.

    Re: Slum Rehab plan/ Garib Rath etc. I’d suggest checking the websites of the relevant departments. I’m not aware of the detailed business case that underpins these projects.

  8. Himanshu

    Dear sir here u have’nt writn the name of Dr. Manmohan Singh… as he is our prime minister as well as a governer of reserve bank of india at a time….
    and a very good thinjer in Economic field…..

  9. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Himanshu

    MMS’s contributions as economist have been MINIMAL. As Finance Minister he could be said to have implemented some economic reforms but these were FORCED on India by IMF. Ever since then, he has not done ANYTHING worth mentioning to either convince me of his economic credentials or prove his commitment to basic good policy. MMS is no Chanakya, either. He has not written any Arthashastra. His strategic calibre is not worth writing home about.


  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Because he is not a particularly sensible economist or political thinker. Yes, sometimes he does speak sense, but most of his ideas are false and dangerous.

  11. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m not libertarian but classical liberal. Pl. distinguish carefully. I agree that anarcho-libertarian ideas could be “dangerous” in some cases (at this stage of human development).

  12. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Just curious. What about classical liberalism do you dislike:
    a) liberty
    b) morality
    c) prosperity
    d) health and wellbeing
    e) critical thinking
    f) individual self-development
    g) self-reliance
    h) greatness

    Please let me know what scares you. And by the same token what attracts you to its opposite:
    a) slavery
    b) poverty
    c) early death
    d) etc.

    Do you prefer LESS money to MORE? If so you have a unique mutation that should be of interest to all economists worldwide.

    Please also let me know the nature and extent of your study of economics, politics, history and psychology. Just curious.


  13. Sinuraj D

    I have less time to spent, i would explain my knowledge about economics, politics, history and psychology later
    I prefer less money , for me money is medium of exchange,we need it only for satisfying our need
    I’m student I don’t have enough knowledge about subjects you mentioned

  14. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    So you are a student who, without understanding the basics of economics/politics/etc. claim to pass judgement on deep matters of policy?

    And you suggest that you prefer LESS MONEY?

    So when a shopkeeper charges you Rs.10 for a kilo of vegetables, do you give him Rs.20? Is that how you’ve grown up?

    If so, can you please let me have your full details including address, etc., since I need to some experts to study your special case. You would be a genuine new mutation of mankind. Your DNA is valuable and must be studied.


  15. Pankaz Hingarh

    Dear Sir,

    A very information website. Here 19th Century Indian Economist is not listed. Barrister Virchand Raghavji Gandhi (1864-1901) who was sole indian delegate to lecture in world’s 3rd historic international conference in , International Congress of Commerce by Philadelphia Commercial Museum on 19th October & 20th October,1899 on Trade Relations between United States of America & India , Parcel Post – Commercial education.

    He lectured as a delegate on behalf of the Bombay Piece Goods Merchants’ Association and the Society for Industrial and Commercial Education in India.

    Deprived Barrister Virchand Raghavji Gandhi (1864-1901) can be called as early Ambassador of Indian Economics & Trade .And in 2014 is his 150th Anniversary. A gandhi who as a friend used to help Mahatma Gandhi in understanding indian law by telling stories of barristers and stalwarts. But today many dont know about him.

    (Reference Book : PROCEEDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL CONGRESS, 1899 , first speech on ‘Trade relations Between United States of America and India’ (page 127 to130) and second speech on ‘parcel Post’ and ‘Commercial Education’ (page 153 to 154 )

  16. Pankaz Hingarh

    Thanks a lot sir. Wish you all the best for your altruistic work. And please keep me informed if you add Virchand Raghavji Gandhi (1864-`1901) to list of economist .

  17. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sorry, Pankaz, I have based my information on my own readings. Unless I read Virchand Gandhi and absorb his writings properly I can’t comment. Please send links to 2-3 of his short papers.

  18. Pankaz Hingarh

    Thanks Sir for your prompt response. Well sir i’ll email you 1 speech delivered on 19th October , 1899 on Trade Relation between United states of America and India . It was his representation at International Platform ,in world’s 3rd historic conference.

    I’ll email you same sir for your personal reference. Thanks once again for your feedback .

    All the best for your projects.

  19. Jack

    S. Manmohan Singh should be there.He dint write any "Arthshtra" but both of them are renowed economist and Prime Ministers(like Chanakya) of their repective period.

  20. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sorry, I totally disagree. MMS is not produced a single writing that I can cite positively. He has been a socialist all his life, and was forced to do certain things by IMF. That’s not proof of his knowledge of economics.



  21. Dilip

    Landed on your page for the first time and loving it !
    How about Mr. S. Gurumurthy ? Especially when you are open to consider veterans beyond the PhD(Eco) league


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