Indian Economic Association
!! Tamso Maa Jyotir Gamay !!

Prof. V. K. Malhotra

President IEA

Voluntary associations have high infant and child mortality rates and therefore quite a few take births as well. It appears that Indian Economic Association (IEA) and the Indian Economic Society (IES) were both formed around the same time but the latter did not survive. It is therefore gratifying that IEA has completed 100 years in December 2017. It is well known that, thanks to the initiative taken by Charles Joseph Hamilton, then Minto Professor of Economics at Calcutta University, around a score of economists, mostly teachers, met in Calcutta in December 1917 to deliberate on economics and economic matters and decided to meet again in Bombay in December 1918 in which the IEA was launched, constitution was drawn up and adopted, executive committee formed with Percy Anstey as the Chairman. The Association is one of oldest professional learned bodies in the world. Two important things, among others, seem to have prompted this movement. One, thanks to teaching of Economics as a separate discipline in India with the arrival of quite a few British teachers in centers like Allahabad, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, who had seen functioning of the Royal Economic Society for well over two decades. Two, the forming of the Indian Science Congress Association in Calcutta in 1914. Following the tradition of American and British counterparts, American Economic Association and Royal Economic Society, the Indian Economic Association decided to open the membership to teachers and students of Economics but also to other persons who had interest in Economics or economic problems. The objectives laid out in the Constitution were to be to hold an annual conference and publication of its proceedings, publication of its own journal and to undertake such other actions as to promote (teaching of and research in) Economic Science and to disseminate economic information as may be deemed advisable. The Association fully succeeded in holding conference each year without fail. It is again gratifying that the best economists who served in this country and after Independence the very best Indian economists have occupied the highest chair. The Association has been able to get prepared volumes on Indian Contributions in Economics on the occasions of Jubilee celebrations. And, the IEA Trust, created with savings of the International Economic Conference hosted by the Indian Economic Association, did publish quite a few good teaching monographs. And of late, it has gone into supporting the holding of regional conferences and publication of journals. Undoubtedly over time, many daughter associations have been formed both sectorally in sub-disciplines of Economics and regionally in different parts of the country. There are quite a few economics associations with little different nomenclatures or addressing to penumbra concerns. Quite a few Institutions have also started publishing good quality journals. We appreciate that. However, when it comes to assessing the growth and development of the IEA, we should admit, the IEA did not show the promise it should have shown. Whether we assess it in absolute terms or in relative terms, its contribution to the promotion of study, research and teaching in economics or its outreach to students, teachers and researchers or its extension to policy making and advocacy, has been abysmally low. The glass has at best been less than half full. It could start publishing its own journal in 1953 only. For last few years, unfortunately, the Journal has not come out at all. As a learned body, the IEA stands for promoting the interest of the discipline in extension, expansion and depth, and that of its members for their competence in teaching, training, research and consultancy. As a professional body, the IEA stands for promoting the interest of its members but more than that the interest of the public, which is served when members sincerely devote time to raise their competence and use that competence when the occasion arises. However, a learned society like ours is not fully a professional body evolving and enforcing norms among its members so that its members severally and jointly serve the societal interest yet it is surely a body to promote professional competence of its members and discourage dubious activities collectively and individually. Let us bear in mind that the IEA is not a welfare organization to serve the interest of its members by any means! It is a professional organization to raise the standard of research and quality of dissemination in the discipline. This requires of us to set certain standards irrespective of the number who come to our fold, and work towards adherence to the standards and raising them further. We should not lose sight of this basic premise; else there is little sense in what we are asserting for. Let there be no pretense for collecting numbers. A small number but professionally conscious members is better than a large number with self-serving members. With this solemn resolve, let us embark upon revamping the Association through rigours of professional commitment and competence. In the hundredth year, therefore, we ought to rededicate ourselves to the cause of economics and economics in the service of society immediate and remote, at home and far away.

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