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Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought

Ajit Singh of Cambridge and Chandigarh

An Intellectual Biography of the Radical Sikh Economist

Authors: Saith, Ashwani

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  • Provides an insight into the key issues and transformations of Cambridge economics over the last fifty years
  • Examines the life and works of Ajit Singh within the wider context of the history of economic thought
  • Includes letters, photos and insights from Ajit Singh's family and colleagues
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eBook $89.00
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-12422-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $119.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-12421-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book examines the life and work of Ajit Singh (1940-2015), a leading radical post-Keynesian applied economist who made major contributions to the policy-oriented study of both developed and developing economies, and was a key figure in the life and evolution of the Cambridge Faculty of Economics. Unorthodox, outspoken, and invariably rigorous, Ajit Singh made highly significant contributions to industrial economics, corporate governance and finance, and stock markets – developing empirically sound refutations of neoclassical tenets. He was much respected for his challenges both to orthodox economics, and to the one-size-fits-all free-market policy prescriptions of the Bretton Woods institutions in relation to late-industrialising developing economies. Throughout his career, Ajit remained an analyst and apostle of State-enabled accelerated industrialisation as the key to transformative development in the post-colonial Global South. The author traces Ajit Singh’s radical perspectives to their roots in the early post-colonial nationalist societal aspirations for self-determination and autonomous and rapid egalitarian development – whether in his native Punjab, India, or the third world – and further explores the nuanced interface between Ajit’s simultaneous affinity, seemingly paradoxical, both with socialism and Sikhism. 
This intellectual biography will appeal to students and researchers in Development Economics, History of Economic Thought, Development Studies, and Post-Keynesian Economics, as well as to policy makers and development practitioners in the fields of industrialisation, development and finance within the strategic framework of contemporary globalisation.

About the authors

Ashwani Saith is Emeritus Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Netherlands. He has held positions at the Delhi School of Economics; Faculty of Economics, Cambridge University, where he took his PhD; Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University; and at the London School of Economics where he was the first Chair of Development Studies and Director of its Development Studies Institute. He has served on the editorial boards of several leading academic journals, and published extensively on the political economy of development and on economic history.

Reviews

“Brilliant! This is not only an excellent extremely well written biography of Ajit but also a tour de force on the debates amongst Cambridge economists over the last fifty years. Essential reading for post-graduate economics and development studies students in developed and developing countries.” (Rashid Amjad, Professor and Director, Graduate School, Lahore School of Economics; formerly: Director and Senior Economist, ILO, Geneva; Chief Economist, Pakistan Planning Commission; Vice-Chancellor, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE))

“Ashwani Saith has written the literary equivalent of a triptych by brilliantly fusing together three narrative strands - it is his clear and coherent account of the tensions that exist in the subject of economics through a fusion of the personal, the institutional, and the philosophical that makes this book a compelling read.” (Vani Borooah, Emeritus Professor and former Chair in Applied Economics, University of Ulster; formerly: Senior Research Officer, Department of Applied Economics, University of Cambridge; Fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge; past President, Irish Economic Association; Member and Secretary, Royal Irish Academy)

“This book is an intellectually sophisticated, beautifully written, and moving account of the life of Ajit Singh, one of the most extraordinary economists in history. However, the book is much more than a biography of a person. It is also a biography of economics - especially how it has degenerated into an arrogant pseudo-science that has ruined so many economies and so many people's lives - and how one brilliant and courageous economist fought against that corruption against all odds, even though he could do only so much to stop it.  A remarkable book.” (Ha-Joon Chang, Director, Centre for Development Studies, and Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, Author of Economics: The User's Guide, Bloomsbury Press 2014, Kicking Away the Ladder, Anthem Press, 2002)

“This is an excellent book. Through the focus on Ajit it tells the story of Cambridge applied economics in a new way - much better than write-ups that place the story in the context of economics as an academic subject.” (Francis Cripps, Director Alphametrics, Bangkok; formerly Deputy Director, Cambridge Economic Policy Group, Department of Applied Economics, Cambridge. Author of Macroeconomics (with Wynne Godley)

“This book is an intellectually rich and beautifully written tribute to Ajit Singh – an eminent thinker, and a courageous and charismatic person. Ashwani Saith traces the evolution of development economics in the Faculty of Economics in Cambridge through Ajit`s life and works in a most engaging and original way. This book is as fascinating and unorthodox as Ajit himself.” (Sukti Dasgupta, Chief, Employment and Labour Market Policies Branch, International Labour Office, Geneva.)

“An excellent book on the range and significance of Ajit Singh’s initial work on corporations and the stock market, and his later work on development. It also describes his struggles in the Cambridge economics faculty and against the IMF & World Bank. The book is exceptionally well informed. A biography worthy of its subject.” (Michael Ellman, Emeritus Professor of Economic Systems with Special Reference to Transition Economies, University of Amsterdam. Netherlands)

“This fascinating biography of Ajit Singh, gives us a rich history of the Cambridge School as well as a compelling narrative of the institutional politics of development that relegated to the margins the heterodox perspectives of postcolonial intellectuals. A very richly layered, complex history of ideas that deserves to be read by a wide multidisciplinary audience.” (Akhil Gupta, Professor, Department of Anthropology & Director, Center for India and South Asia (CISA), University of California, Los Angeles. President-Elect, American Anthropological Association.)

“This is a brilliant, beautifully written account of the intellectual contributions of a major Cambridge economist, also doubling as a history of significant developments in Cambridge economics over a lengthy period. Although I have been a long-term friend of Ajit and member of the Cambridge faculty, I have learnt much about both from this book. A work of true scholarship and a very enjoyable read.”( Tony Lawson, Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge; co-Editor, Cambridge Journal of Economics; co-Founder of the Cambridge Realist Workshop and the Cambridge Social Ontology Group; author of Essays on the Nature and State of Modern Economics, London: Routledge, 2015.)

“This intellectual biography of Ajit Singh is of the greatest interest to anyone wishing to understand the evolution of economic ideas since the 1950s. Ajit’s intellectual range was remarkable and his writings had a powerful influence across a wide spectrum of subjects within the discipline. This book deserves to be warmly welcomed as a major contribution to the history of modern economic thought.” (Peter Nolan, Chong Hua Chair in Chinese Development, former Sin Yi Professor at Judge Business School, Fellow of Jesus College, & former Director, Centre for Development Studies, University of Cambridge, UK. )

“This is a great book by a superb analyst of the works and politics of academia, about someone with a passion for the study of the intricacies of the real world. The author has successfully brought together the life and work of Ajit Singh, a key member of the great classical Cambridge tradition of brilliant analytical minds never losing sight of people while engaging in rigorous theoretical and empirical work to grasp the complexities of economic life.  Ashwani Saith has written an inspired and inspiring book.” (Jose Gabriel Palma, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge & Professor of Economics, University of Santiago, Chile. Joint Editor, Cambridge Journal of Economics.)

“I cannot find words to express my immense appreciation for the labour you have put into the work. It is wonderful, moving and also extremely enlightening. In fact it should be compulsory reading for any student of development economics and I have learned much from it, apart from being moved by your excellent tribute. It also reads very well, certainly unputdownable for someone like me.” (Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Author of A Theory of Imperialism, Tulika Books, 2016)

“It would be an understatement to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, it was like a journey - historical, personal and theoretical. What extraordinary resources you have unearthed and collected - true labour of love! Ajit and I were both influenced by Marxism but also proud of our Sikh heritage and shared our ideas, visions and perspectives of seeing Punjab and the Sikh faith move in the direction of egalitarian development. His death was a terrible - personally, politically and intellectually. There is no one who can fill this loss for me but your marvellous book is like having a permanent companionship of Ajit. Thank you for this!” (Pritam Singh, Emeritus Professor of Economics Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.) 

“Ashwani Saith has written a magnificent intellectual biography of Ajit Singh, the towering radical economist. It is not only an extraordinarily richly and always meticulously documented, persuasively written and lively life story of this key ‘heterodox’ economist, but also adds vital context and depth, locating Singh’s life and work within the larger narratives of contemporary economic and political development, as well as the evolution of economic thinking and the transformation of ‘Cambridge Economics’ during the last fifty years.  The result is a wonderful, riveting book; this volume’s scholarship will define Ajit Singh’s contributions for a generation.” (Servaas Storm, Associate Professor of Economics’ Delft University of Technology, Netherlands; Editorial Board, Development and Change; Co-author (with C.W.M. Naastepad) of Macroeconomics Beyond the NAIRU, Harvard University Press.)

“An excellent book on the range and significance of Ajit Singh’s initial work on corporations and the stock market, and his later work on development. It also describes his struggles in the Cambridge economics faculty and against the IMF & World Bank.” (Michael Ellman, Emeritus Professor of Economic Systems with Special Reference to Transition Economies, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.) 
“Through this fascinating biography of Ajit Singh, Saith has given us a rich history of the Cambridge School as well as a compelling narrative of the institutional politics of development that relegated to the margins the heterodox perspectives of postcolonial intellectuals.” (Akhil Gupta, Professor, Department of Anthropology & Director, Center for India and South Asia (CISA) University of California, Los Angeles, USA.)

Table of contents (10 chapters)

Table of contents (10 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $89.00
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-12422-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $119.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-12421-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Ajit Singh of Cambridge and Chandigarh
Book Subtitle
An Intellectual Biography of the Radical Sikh Economist
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought
Copyright
2019
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-12422-9
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-12422-9
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-12421-2
Series ISSN
2662-6578
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXXVIII, 463
Number of Illustrations
12 b/w illustrations, 10 illustrations in colour
Topics