In 1958, on his first visit to India, the Hungarian-British development economist Peter Bauer was eager to meet the Indian economist B.R. Shenoy. Bauer knew the name from a “Note of Dissent on the Memorandum of the Economists’ Panel,” which Shenoy had written criticizing India’s Second five-Year Plan. In 1955 the Indian government had recruited twenty-one senior Indian economists for the Panel of Economists, chaired by the minister of finance, to review the plan. Twenty of the economists had signed a memorandum endorsing the plan. Professor Shenoy was the lone dissenter Shenoy’s “Note of Dissent” was an annoyance to members of the Indian Planning Commission; to Prime Minister Nehru, who had initiated the planning effort; to Nehru’s adviser P.C. Mahalanobis, who had drafted the plan; and even to international aid officials, who overwhelmingly supported the planning effort. Shenoy had become persona non grata in official economic policy-making circles.
Yet Shenoy turned out largely to be right.
That is from the forthcoming excellent book by Lawrence H. White, Amazon link here. The book is not mostly about India, but it is about the role of economic ideas in shaping economic outcomes. The chapter on India is my favorite, however, and it is perhaps the very best place to start to understand the failures of India’s planning period.
White also points our attention to Milton Friedman’s 1955 Memorandum to the Indian Government, which is I believe not well known, not even among Friedman fans.