26 February, 2021

'It Was India's Good Fortune To Be A British Colony'

The man who once called India a functioning anarchy, John Kenneth Galbraith, in conversation with Arun Venugopal

illustration by Jayachandran
'It Was India's Good Fortune To Be A British Colony'
While the pace of his day has slowed down, John Kenneth Galbraith's mind remains vibrant and unrelenting. The 93-year-old economist has been living at his Harvard campus home with his wife Catherine for over 50 years. Surrounded by Indian miniatures and thangkas that he has collected over the years, Galbraith relives his long association with India, a relationship that has profoundly altered his worldview. He also talks of his close friendship with Nehru, who figures in his book Name-Dropping. "You realise, Galbraith," Nehru had once told him, "I am the last Englishman to rule in India."

What would you say your first abiding memory of India is?
Well, my first abiding memory of India was the result of my concerns at the time, which were mainly economic. I think, looking back, I exaggerated the role of economics, not surprisingly. In general, I've come to think that there are other measures of success that rival economics, and that is in the arts, in culture generally, and education, and in the contribution to a peaceful world.

A little bit of that...

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