Arjun Jayadev

The genesis of CORE’s The Economy: A South Asian Perspective was the very first unit written for what was to become CORE’s flagship The Economy textbook.

When Wendy Carlin, Sam Bowles and I wrote the first version of that unit, titled ‘The Capitalist Revolution’ in 2013, it was clear that CORE’s ambition was to have a globally useable resource. Along with bringing in relevant, empowering economic analysis, and asking the big questions (on growth, wealth creation, environmental sustainability, inequality, financial instability), the textbook was also one that would take an international perspective right from the outset—using actual events from all over the world as motivation to explore economics.

What the economy ‘looks like’ nevertheless, still differs from country to country, and some of the structural features and policy concerns of particular regions could not all be added to a single text. This impression was reinforced as my colleagues and I taught early versions of The Economy to our students at Azim Premji University in Bangalore. The digital nature of CORE’s curriculum project made the solution obvious: we could produce an adaptation of The Economy written from the perspective of South Asia.

The Economy: A South Asian Perspective (TESA, as we came to call it) accordingly, is an attempt to use the overall framing, style, general content, and commitments of CORE’s The Economy but to also introduce critical concepts and themes relevant to the South Asian and developing nations’ context. This is done in two ways.

First, we have themes relevant for South Asia—the dual economy and the informal sector introduced in Unit 6 is an example—which helps a student from the region identify with the content more readily. Another example is the very low measured female labour force participation rate and the reasons behind this (see Unit 3). A box explaining the economic ideas of Mahatma Gandhi was also added.

Second, we make extensive use of Indian data, policy concerns and examples in the book. These facets examine India-specific features and events that illuminate larger debates (stubble burning in North India, demonetization, non-performing assets and the like) as well as basic data (growth rates of Indian macroeconomic indicators, employment data and so on). We hope that including examples and concerns that are closer to home will help students learn from CORE’s overall pedagogic and content innovations.

As with all of CORE’s material, this version will undergo revisions to improve the text and to keep it up to date. We plan to add more features—video interviews with South Asian academics, capstones that also engage with features that are specific to India (for example caste inequality), and more newspaper features and relevant articles to stimulate discussion as part of the additional resources. As with any first edition, there will be errors that the reader may catch. The CORE team would be most grateful if you let me know at [email protected].

If you are considering teaching using TESA, do register as a teacher at If you are a student or general reader you can find additional material from the CORE resource library also at

Arjun Jayadev
Bengaluru, September 2021