Reclaiming Development Studies

Reclaiming Development Studies

Essays for Ashwani Saith

Edited by Murat Arsel
Anirban Dasgupta
Servaas Storm

Anthem Frontiers of Global Political Economy and Development

As the mission, relevance and intellectual orientation of development studies is increasingly being challenged, this collection of essays argues for the continued necessity to ground the field in a critical political economy approach informed by the contributions of Ashwani Saith.

PDF, 300 Pages


June 2021

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 300 Pages


June 2021

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

This book aims to reclaim the mission, relevance and intellectual orientation of development studies – something that is increasingly challenged from different directions. Confronted by the status quoist enterprise of randomized control trials ( RCTs) on the one hand and the radical endeavour to decolonize dominant knowledge systems (decoloniality) on the other, the study of development as an enduring societal ambition needs urgent revival.

The essays featured in this book build on the contributions of Ashwani Saith – an ardent critic of development orthodoxy and who at the same time is not ready to give up on the emancipatory potential of the development project. Written by leading scholars in the field, the essays touch upon many of the key questions of development studies centred around structural change, labour and poverty and inequality. They also highlight the continued necessity to ground the study of development processes in a critical political economy approach while interrogating the quick-fixes touted by the mainstream discourse on development.


“A festschrift in honour of Ashwani Saith, Reclaiming Development Studies: Essays for Ashwani Saith is a scholarly critique of the current state of development studies, its underlying tensions, and its contradictions. Rebutting dominant approaches, the book offers a stimulating study of development as an enduring societal aspiration requiring a truly interdisciplinary method of study, in the tradition of Saith’s wide-ranging, articulate and incisive contributions to the subject.” — Sukti Dasgupta, Chief, Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, ILO, Geneva.

"An extraordinarily important volume that asserts that real human development can be conceived and achieved - through a deep and careful analysis of the structural causes of poverty, inequalities and climate change in the countries of the Global South. Goes a long way towards reconstructing an analytical center for the field of development studies that has been riven by scientism on one side, and a deep skepticism of the very idea and process of development on the other." — Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Co-director, Asian Political Economy Program (PERI), and Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, US

“In explorations traversing the wide terrain of development studies, the essays in this volume celebrating the work of a leading scholar of development trajectories, are valuable contributions that survey, critique and take forward debates on the diverse issues the discipline covers.” — C. P. Chandrasekhar, economist and columnist

“Ashwani Saith’s scholarship and teaching is infused by the desire to, as the editors of this volume note, create the scholarly space for those speaking for development as an enduring societal ambition. This volume is a true testimony to this ambition, weaving analyses of a wide range of scholars that he inspired into a thread around his main contributions to the field.” — Arjan de Haan, IDRC, formerly ISS

“This is a timely and much needed intellectual intervention for reclaiming development studies from its recent behavioural turn, and narrowing of scope, led by the international IFIs. The book brings together a remarkable set of authors revisiting older theories and contemporary issues in their essays in a way that showcases the breadth and depth within the tradition of development studies, its inherent interdisciplinarity, and potential as a transformative social science.” — Susan Newman, Professor and Head of Economics, The Open University, UK

Author Information

Murat Arsel is Professor of Political Economy of Sustainable Development at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Anirban Dasgupta is Associate Professor of Economics at South Asian University, New Delhi.

Servaas Storm is Senior Lecturer in Economics at TU Delft.


Anthem Frontiers of Global Political Economy and Development

Table of Contents

List of Figures; List of Tables; Acknowledgements; Chapter One Introduction: The Why and How of Reclaiming Development Studies, Murat Arsel, Anirban Dasgupta and Servaas Storm; Part I Growth and Structural Change; Chapter Two The Rural Non- farm Economy in India Revisited: From Rural Industrialization to Rural Entrepreneurs, Shreya Sinha and Bhaskar Vira; Chapter Three Economic Development in China and India: A Tale of Great Divergence, Ajit K. Ghose; Chapter Four Globalization: An Enhancement of Opportunity or the Deprivation of Autonomy to Pursue Rapid and Inclusive Growth?, Azizur Rahman Khan and Anirban Dasgupta; Part II Labour; Chapter Five Labour Laws and Manufacturing Performance in India: How Priors Trump Evidence and Progress Gets Stalled, Servaas Storm; Chapter Six Making People ‘Surplus Population’ in Southern Africa, Bridget O’Laughlin; Chapter Seven Effective Demand, Surplus Labour and the Pace of Development: Rereading Kalecki and Kahn, Marc Wuyts; Chapter Eight From Assumed Reluctancy to Enforced Redundancy: The Changed Depreciation of Labour in the Transition towards Global Capitalism, Jan Breman; Part III Poverty and Inequality; Chapter Nine Poverty Reduction and Social Progress in Bangladesh: Revisiting Some Development Ideas, Wahiduddin Mahmud; Chapter Ten Sukhatme’s Legacy and the Indian Exceptionalism, C. Sathyamala; Chapter Eleven English as a Medium of Instruction in Indian Education: Inequality of Access to Educational Opportunities, Vani Borooah and Nidhi Sadana Sabharwal; Chapter Twelve India’s Social Inequality as Durable Inequality: Dalits and Adivasis at the Bottom of an Increasingly Unequal Hierarchical Society, K. P. Kannan; Chapter Thirteen The Myth of Global Sustainability: Environmental Limits and (De)Growth in the Time of SDGs, Murat Arsel; List of Contributors; Index.


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