23 September, 2020

Whole Lot Of Business Sense

A major step forward in the scholarship on capitalist development in India

Whole Lot Of Business Sense
The "Protestant ethic", claimed Max Weber, promoted the "spirit of capitalism" and wrought change in feudal Europe. It is "animal spirits" that induce "a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction" and thereby fuel enterprise, said John Maynard Keynes. For 200 years, social scientists have tried hard to explain why and how agrarian societies transform into industrial nations. When, how and why do merchants, traders, moneylenders and landlords become industrial capitalists?

There has been much theorising and even more empirical recording. The study of capitalist industrialisation in India is, however, still in its infancy. You get hagiographical accounts of the "captains" of business, you get dull historical detailing or sociological hypothesising, but very little hard facts about the social origins of business enterprise in India.

So, full marks to Harish Damodaran for a book that those interested in the dynamics of capitalist development in India must read. It’s not just good journalism but the work of a profoundly talented...



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