• 03 April 2007

    Seminar Series 3 Lecture 6 - Rajiv Kumar

    Location: Glasgow

    Rajiv Kumar, Director and Chief Executive, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, India: 'Towards Ethical Economics: An Initial Exploration'

    Key ideas:

    • Ethical economics: a perspective on economics which includes elements of political economy and philosophy and which goes beyond the pretence that economics is a science with inexorable laws beyond human control or values. Dr Kumar suggested it involves moving beyond the focus on the Benthamite utility function (in which consumption is the measure of utility) to one where community and collective wellbeing, meaning and nature can also be considered.
    • Swatantra: from the Hindi ‘swa’ meaning own and ‘tantra’ meaning instrument, used in this context to refer to connecting with one’s inner self and needs and being guided by these independently rather than only by external forces such as marketing, social pressure, fashion, etc.
    • Sustainable: the ability to continue a defined behaviour indefinitely. In environmental contexts this refers ultimately to the carrying capacity of planet earth.
    • The Stern Report: A report written by Sir Nicholas Stern for the UK treasury in January 2007. It highlights the economic costs of climate change if existing patterns of economic development continue. Available at
    • IPCC 4th Assessment Report: The fourth report on climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published by the World Meteorological Organisations and the United Nations Environment programme. The report is currently being finalised. A summary for policy makers was published in February 2007 and is available at, by clicking on the appropriate highlighted text.
    • Business as usual: Used in this context to signify courses of action which exhibit no major changes in approach, thinking or action to the challenges presented by climate change and global poverty.
    • Inertial effects: Used here to describe the delay in the response of ecological systems, like climate, to actions designed to alter them. For example, actions taken now may take 50 years to have an impact on climate change, since the factors affecting the rate of climate change today were introduced into the system some time ago.
    • Global Commons: That which no one person or state may own or control, and which is central to life. It usually includes forest, oceans, landmass, atmosphere, cultural identity. Dr Kumar asked us to consider what the Global Commons consists of, and how this might be extended to included other factors like technological development and global poverty.
    • GDP: Gross Domestic Product – the main measure by which economic growth is measured. It is a monetary measure of the volume of transactions which take place within a country. It does not distinguish between activities, thus a crime wave adds to GDP as surely as a cure for cancer. The figure is often presented as the average GDP per person i.e. GDP per capita.
    • GNI: Gross National Income – GDP plus net income from other countries 

    Lecture transcript

    Lecture summary


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