Year of Establishment : 1918
History of the centre The post-graduate department of Economics was formally established in 1917. Before that Economics was taught as part of History in the undergraduate level. The 1st chair in India was founded in the Economics department of the University of Calcutta in 1909. The department was called the department of Political Economy after establishment, as it also contained the seeds of the departments of Philosophy and Political Science. In 1948, the department of Economics emerged as an independent department. It was shifted to its present campus on Barrackpore Trunk Road (B.T. Road) on September 9, 1958. The 1st batch of post-graduates in Economics under the University of Calcutta passed out from this exclusive campus in 1959. This campus, formally known as the B.T.Road campus is popularly known as Kantakol campus among the generations of its students, which got its name from the bus stop. The Ford Foundation financed the construction of the three-storied building with a four-story foundation. The carpet area is about 30,000 square feet.
The building hosts a number of class rooms, a rich library, a modernised auditorium, a recently renovated canteen, a girls common room, a spacious office, a state-of-the art computer laboratory, individual faculty rooms, seminar rooms, a DRS/DSA enclosure, a proposed Research Scholars room etc. The campus also contains staff quarters and residential PG Hall for boys.
The department has two Centres for Advanced Research. The older one is the Centre for Urban Studies, shifted to the Alipore Campus of the University in early 1990s and the younger one is the DRS (now DSA) (UGC supported Special Assistance Programme) on the Economics of Globalisation and Sustainable Development, started in 2007-08 and situated in the B.T.Road campus itself.
The department has always been an active one in the fields of academics, research and placement. It has kept pace with the ever-changing needs of the academic situation of the country and has updated its syllabus and the examination system from time to time. It can boast of being one of the 1st departments in the University of having semester system in the early 1970s. Though it is under the faculty of Arts, it gives Master of Science degree in general. The vigorous researches that it has encouraged in M.Phil and Ph.D levels with an academically rich faculty and the regular seminars and talks of national and international levels as well as Annual Research Scholars Workshops it hosts, have attracted praise from all and sundry. A notable feature is the regular publication of the departmental journal Arthaniti, which may have collaboration with an international publication house in near future. A very active placement cell has arranged for campus interviews for the last few years through which a lot of students have got absorbed in jobs, which again is setting a kind of record.
The department is proud of being the alma mater of many a successful alumnus. The Economics department of the Calcutta University has produced many highly acclaimed, a few internationally, academicians including a few Vice-Chancellors, Government advisors, IAS and IPS officers, executives of corporate and nationalised banks and other organisations. Many of the alumni are teaching and pursuing high level research careers in foreign Universities.
Last, but not the least, the department of Economics is famous for a peaceful and disciplined atmosphere in the campus, a well maintained academic calendar and a healthy golden relation among teachers, students and the non-teaching staff.
Special award/ recognition from UGC or related statutory body :
UGC sponsored Special Assistance Programme ( SAP) :
DRS and DSA
After successfully completing the DRS -Phase I (2007-2012) the Department of
Economics, CU was granted DSA Phase I in 2014.
Thrust area under DRS: Economics of Globalization and Sustainable Development
Thrust area under DSA: Economics of Globalization and Regional Development
DSA Thrust Area
Globalization and Regional Development
In the last two decades, Indias economic integration with the global economy has widened and deepened. The process of integration has been a gradualist rather than a big bang which is indicative of a cautious approach on the part of policy makers. Events such as the current global economic crisis has made the India state careful in reform though it has, from time to time, taken recourse to bouts of policies that emphasize and confirm Indias integration into the global economy. In that regard, the all-encompassing reforms in the industrial, financial, trade and retail sectors, gradual privatization and disinvestment of state enterprises, partial reforms in agriculture, education, health sectors, the adoption of public-private partnership, the conservative approach to fiscal and monetary policy, the impending reforms in banking, insurance and possibly labor laws, have and are converging in ushering in a global competitive market economy. In short, the influence and impact of globalization on the transition of Indian economy is undeniable.
Globalization(as a process, as a set of institution and as an economic order) is said to have delivered a windfall, by way of scaling up Indias growth rate to a historically new high. After the usual structural adjustment and transition cost in the initial period of reforms (1990s), the first decade of this millennium saw unprecedentedly high economic growth rate and, despite controversies over measures, a fall in absolute income poverty. This increase in prosperity is seen as direct fallout of the effect of globalization process on Indian economy. Questions however remain about the pace of poverty reduction and, accepting that challenge, the 12th five year plan (2012-17), has set an objective to reduce absolute poverty by another 10%. Moreover, it must also be pointed out though that the ongoing global economic crisis for the last five years has put the growth rate under stress and its decline since 2008 is a cause of concern; this is also said to have complicated the pace of poverty reduction. The effect of the global economic crisis on Indian economy has one and at the same time affirmed the claim of Indias integration into the global economy and has simultaneously raised doubts on the sustainability of its growth rate and prosperity. It is ironical that, after the initial period of trying to stabilize the Indian economy, the response of policy makers to this crisis points to an expansion and not a reduction of reforms towards global integration, as indicated by the recent bout of adopted and proposed reforms measures. In short, the response seems to be: the effect of global economic crisis must be counteracted with deeper globalization of Indian economy. Moreover, another facet of this new Indian economic structure embedded in a global economy stands out as a matter of concern. It entails the fact that, following Indias transition process, only 7% of the total workforce is in organized sector and the rest in unorganized sector. A classical implicit assumption is that the process of industrialization should ideally first see the arrival of large scale manufacturing sector employing low skilled workers on a mass scale (thereby forming the bulk of the working class) and then moving towards more skilled capital intensive production system; this has been the route taken by East Asian countries such as South Korea and now China, a trend India seem to be bucking. Evidences show that the high growth rate regime in India has been capital-intensive and high skilled rather than labor intensive and labor absorbing. In comparison to 19991-92, both in sectoral share of GDP and share of employment, the service sector grew very rapidly but overwhelmingly absorbing employment in informal sector; the share of manufacturing in turn has been stagnating which belies the faith in the stages of industrialization. This has raised questions regarding the type of economic structure that has evolved followed Indias integration into the global economy and has set the stage for a debate about its future movement. There is no doubt that the route of Indias transition process will remain a major axis of debate in the immediate future.
Overall, the evolution of globalization in Indias context itself raises various issues and concerns that need to be debated. These include an interrogation of the process and institutions of globalization as such, of past and present reforms to gauge their effectiveness, the pattern, type and possible impact of impending reforms especially in financial, infrastructure, retail and agricultural sectors, the fallout from the global economic crisis and its effect on macro-management, the complication these bring to the classical growth-poverty relation, the problem arising from the type of structural transformation that we referred to. These are only some of the many aspects that need to be seriously inquired upon. One of the objectives of our program will be to put the idea, process and outcomes of globalization under the scanner and set up a detailed engagement with reference to the mentioned issues and problems that the Indian economy is presently confronting.
On the other, it is also readily acknowledged now that while economic growth is helping to reduce poverty, the problems of income inequality and social equities have persisted and indeed in some instances sharpened across social groups and regions. Data on Gini coefficient, literacy rate, underweight children and under 5 mortality, malnutrition (BMI<18.5), etc., point to a growing divide between the rich and poor, between rural and urban India, between various social groups with the Dalits, Adivasis, Minorities, woman and children on the receiving end. This has raised concern that the trickle down from high economic growth may not be working satisfactorily, and that income, resources and opportunities opened up by Indias integration into a global economy may be accruing to a section of population and region. In short, if we broaden the idea of development beyond (but not excluding) economic growth by including other economic and social indicators concerning distribution, health, etc., then we can say that the prosperity of Indian economy has been accompanied by sharp contrasts in terms of distribution of that prosperity. In so far as we accept the dominant view that the transformative force of globalization has been partly responsible for this prosperity then we must also accept that globalization has been accompanied by, and in some instances perhaps a cause of, this economic and societal contrast. Not surprisingly, the need to view development as inclusive has become the mantra in recent times as the 12th five year plan makes clear.
One way to visualize this contrast is through regional differences in development. There are many ways to distill the category of regional development. For one, from growth rate to above mentioned non-growth indicators, we can observe disparities across regional states. Indeed, India represents a remarkable contrast of this kind of regional disparity that presents a vexed problem for development. To take an extreme case, while Gujarat has been in the forefront of growth rate, it has lagged between the other states in other indicators, say, that of health. Why are some states doing well in certain aspects while relatively failing in others? To take another instance, regional disparity may be seen in terms of a palpable rural-urban divide concerning almost all the indicators pointing to not only a structural problem but a problem of transition. Thus, disparity could and does exist between regions within a state as well. In other words, various kinds of regional disparities and lacunas persist within and across states that present the problem of uneven and differentiated nature of development raising questions about inclusion, balance and sustainability of the transition process of Indian economy. To put it another way, disparities in indicators of well-being and that of regional development seem to converge and they in turn point to a potent economic problem of distribution and utilization of wealth, resources and opportunities. In this backdrop, there is an urgent need to identify these regional disparities, analyze their sources, characters, effects and if possible forward solutions to mitigate them in order to make development inclusive, balanced and sustainable. This is again a point emphasized by the 12th five year plan document.
Lastly, there is no need to think of globalization and regional development as delinked. Rather, as globalization has reshaped the map of Indian economy through the creation and expansion of a competitive market economy, it has been also associated with the above mentioned problems of disparities. This raises a few questions: whether, and if so how, the process of globalization can be seen as producing the new problems of regional disparities of various kinds? Does it then require the intervention of the state, such as through programs of inclusion, to turn the strained link between globalization and regional development into a virtuous relationship? Or, are the problems of regional disparities itself inherent in the kind of economic structure that globalization has given rise to? It is our contention that the link between globalization and regional development has not been sufficiently dissected, even though the discussed disparities and contrasts make this task increasingly indispensable and urgent.
In this program, we propose under Globalization and Regional Development to broadly focus on (i) globalization, (ii) regional development and (iii) the relation between globalization and regional development. All the three broad areas are important in themselves and in relation to one another. It is our conjecture that the interrogation of globalization and regional development on their own will enlighten us about their specific processes, effects, and limits which could then be brought into play and combined in thoroughly examining the relation between the two.
While by no means restricted to West Bengal economy, we intend to focus a great deal on the problems of disparities of West Bengal in relation to other states and of districts/regions within it. It is also our objective to unpack, wherever possible, the transformative effect of globalization in West Bengal and the possible relation with the mentioned problems of regional development. In other words, along with other aspects, there is a felt need to discuss the areas and issues under globalization and regional development in relation to the West Bengal economy and see how it is faring and if so why. This focus has acquired additional validity because evidences tend to showcase West Bengal as a case of faltering regional economy in almost all indicators that we discussed earlier. An additional utility of this special focus is to build, through the medium of research, training, conferences/workshops, working papers and books, the capacities of analysts, experts and practitioners of development in this region so that they can contribute productively in the future of the development of West Bengal economy. Whether addressing the topic at a broad level or at the level of West Bengal, we believe that our program would make it possible, to unpack new insights, modes of analysis and forward unique policy prescriptions so as to productively contribute on the transition analysis and process of Indian economy in general and West Bengal economy in particular.
Rajiv Gandhi Chair in Eco-Systems & Sustainable Development
Sarmila Banerjee, Professor of Economics, University of Calcutta
- post offered on 18.12.2009 for a period of two years effective from the date of joining.
- date of joining : 1.2.2010.
- an amount of Rs.20,00,000.00 made available by the UGC against this Chair for taking up Research & Development plans to utilize that money in accordance with the UGC Guideline.
- an Advisory Committee (10-member) set up following the structure pursued for SAP Programs which included the Vice-Chancellor, University of Calcutta as the Chairman, the pro-VC (Academics), many other eminent personalities from the University and other institutions and Prof Dr. Sarmila Banerjee.
- the first meeting of the Advisory Committee took place on 19.07.2010.
Budget for 2010-2012 (Approved by the Advisory Committee on 19.07.2010)
Non-recurring Expenses 6,00,000.00
Recurring Expenses 14,00,000.00
10 selected candidates were recommended after personal interview (20.08.2010) as project fellows.
Three Project Fellows started working since September 1, 2010.
Projects undertaken: To begin with efforts have been made to identify problems related to both eco-sustainability and eco-vulnerability faced in and around Kolkata during the process of economic development. Two eco-systems of special interest are the East Calcutta Wetlandand Mangrove Eco-system of Sundarban. Before defining some specific research questions in these areas attempt is being made to prepare two status papersto have the background information readily available for carrying out future research.
Two advisory teams are guiding/helping Prof. Sarmila Banerjee in preparation of socio-economic status reports of these two eco-systems.
For East Calcutta Wetland the team has Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh (Ecological Engineering), Prof. Arun Bandyopadhyay (History), Prof. Sukla Bhaduri (Gepgraphy) as Advisors;
For Sundarban Mangrove Ecosystem the team has Prof. Ishita Mukhopadhyay (Womens Studies) and Dr. Aniduddha Mukhopadhyay (Environmental Science) as Advisors;
Progress made so far: Papers published, M.Phil dissertations done and Ph.D degree awarded on both East Calcutta Wetland and Mangrove Eco-system of Sundarban. Group Projects have also been Undertaken by the MSc Students on topics related to Resource & Environmental Economics
M.Phil. Level Course Designed: A course on Eco-system Management (one-semester course) has been designed for the M.Phil. students and it has been taught by Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh.
There was a detailed report from the field experience made by PRADAN, a highly motivated and effective NGO who are working extensively in West Bengal and Jharkhand on watershed development and forest related livelihood.