Professor Debabrata Datta returns to IMT Ghaziabad from New Zealand, earning laurels from Global Economists for his presentation
Dr. Debabrata Datta, the internationally recognised Professor of Economics from IMT Ghaziabad, has just returned from a very interesting trip to New Zealand. His paper on ‘Growth-induced threat to the poor man’s consumption basket’ found favour with the global thinkers who had converged on the small city of Palmerston North in New Zealand for the 53rd Annual Conference of the New Zealand Association of Economists (NZAE). Hosted by the Massey University between the 27thand 29thof June, 2012, nearly 50 papers on varying topics were presented at the conference, which was completely funded by the ministries of Finance and Statistics, Government of New Zealand, as well as Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
“You know it’s winters over there,” Professor Datta from IMT Ghaziabad says with a twinkle in his eyes. “New Zealand is divided into the South and North Islands. Palmerston North has Auckland 300 kms to the North, and Wellington, the capital city 100 km to the South. The temperature ranged between 2 degrees and 15 degrees; great for casual strollers like me in the small city. The people are quite well off, gentle and charmingly disposed.”
On being quizzed about the taste of the world famous New Zealand cheese, he quips, “Much as I wanted to taste the local cheese, my topic did not allow me to!”
As the lone flag-bearer of IMT Ghaziabad and India, Professor Datta’s topic was looked upon with great interest by the entire fraternity at the NZAE. This was more so because of the recent controversy in New Zealand over the issue of export of milk products for greater profits, making it prohibitively expensive for the average native. In fact, his paper – which was presented on the second day of the conference - saw attendance from the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as well as numerous top government officials from the ministry of Finance, apart from the distinguished professors from the academia.
“You see, economic growth changes the demand pattern in an economy. Production of luxury goods increases. If now, requirements of resources to produce luxury items are more than that of ordinary goods, supply of poor man’s consumption items may fall sizeably. I constructed this theoretical model to highlight this problem of growth, with the example of our famous Basmati rice. The unit production of Basmati rice needs more land than ordinary rice. Increased prosperity – and inequality – leads to the increase in production of Basmati Rice, which in turn may lead to pressure on the total produce of rice in our country.”
Professor Datta, who teaches in the area of Economics, Environment and Strategy at IMT Ghaziabad, has established this theory with various other examples like the increase in the number of private vehicles leading to pressure on the frequency and availability of public transportation on the roads.
“This is especially a problem for countries in the transition phase, where a few are getting richer while the majority languishes in poverty. It can lead to an unnecessary amount of social tension.”
Professor Debabrata Datta of IMT Ghaziabad identified various determining factors of such a fall in total production and provided policy suggestions for the benefit of various countries including New Zealand.
“Conferences are places where I am able to get feedback from learned people on my work and methods. I had some excellent feedback, which I will shortly be integrating in my paper to strengthen the theory. Frankly, by facilitating my visit to the NZAE, IMT Ghaziabad has opened up new avenues in my mind. New Zealand is an agricultural economy much like India, but based completely out of an island. We can pick up a lot from how they operate.”
Professor Debabrata Datta feels that the more he travels, the more he gets to see how people live and do their economic activities. It sharpens his own understanding and adds new dimensions to what he brings to his classes at IMT Ghaziabad.
“I’ve been with IMT Ghaziabad now for about two-and-half years. I’ve always resorted to simplifying Economics for my students with real-life examples which relate to the individual; I usually avoid high-flown jargon and long-drawn lectures on world economics, preferring to take my students at IMT Ghaziabad from the known to the unknown.”
Long before coming to IMT Ghaziabad, Professor Datta had acquired varied experience, ranging from Industry (with Steel Authority of India Ltd.), and immense exposure to Agriculture and Services during his 7-year long stint with the State Bank of India in the metropolitan as well as rural reaches of the country. His international assignments include a stint as Guest Lecturer at Leon Kozminski Academy of Management, Warsaw, Poland, and Guest Researcher at University of Copenhagen, Denmark as well as the Lancaster University Management School, UK. Professor Datta completed his PhD in 2008 from Calcutta University, at which point he felt it was time to share his experience with others.