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Rapid review – Policymaker’s Journal – Prof. Kaushik Basu

I was introduced to Prof. Kaushik Basu’s book and work by a friend, Dr. Vidisha Vallabh, a community medicine physician.

Prof. Basu’s work as CEA to Government of India took place at that time in history when I was a 2nd year MBBS student not bothered about the politics and political outcomes. Naturally a 19-year-old pursuing medicine to understand disease and death, not belonging to political families has a natural non-inclination to India’s noisy, messy and complicated politics, often built on caste and religion and less on talent and progress. But the Journal From New Delhi to Washington DC caught my attention as I was reading it part of my year end reading.

Prof Kaushik in the Policymaker’s journal liberally talks about how life is as a Chief Economic Advisor to Government of India and how life came to be as Chief Economist to the World Bank. The Delhi years is candidly noted down which walks the reader through the intricacies of policy processes, the demands of the office and what is expected from a CEA. It brushes the reader close to the corridors of power and also indirectly exposes how a leadership has the power to build and break things. India is definitely grateful for the Manmohan Singh years. For an ordinary civilian, curious to understand the power dynamics and insider’s perspective of Lutyens Delhi, this book is the perfect cocktail.

Raisina Hill isn’t the easiest places to work in the Indian Sub-continent, but something that lives and grows into a person who has a personality trait to adapt to it. Reading Prof. Basu’s Policymaker’s Journal reminds me of my own twenty something years, how I first visited Raisina Hill as a curious boy poised to heal the world and then forged meetings at North Block and South Block and then the PMO. For someone who intentionally lives in a small town like Mangalore, it hasn’t been the easiest of accesses. But, when you knock and knock, I believe doors open, carpets will get rolled out and the power to heal the world will be given unto thee.

Prof. Kaushik also talks about the foundations on which economics is built and the same very foundation on which the nation intends to thrive upon built on the seasoned wisdom of intellectuals. Students and professionals who wish to carve a life out of policymaking and those who really would like to leave a mark on the nation’s history, learning the art on how Prof. Kaushik Basu did it with humility, simplicity and class is a learning that can be imbibed from this book.

The journal will be of great reading to aspirational professionals who wish to either understand the inner sanctums of history and Raisina hill or who wish to make it there in service of the nation. The nation desperately awaits an increase in the tribe of Kaushik Basu as India & South Asia leapfrogs into the economic challenges of a post covid-19 world.

PS: Prof. Kaushik’s work as CEA did not actively pursue an intersectoral algorithm of public health and economics and I would propose to all concerned to move into the future with a marital union of public health and economic built on a social, economic, commercial, legal, environmental determinants of health, because in this lies our collective future and shared regional and national security. For a one world one health future !!

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