FLAME University



6th - 7th October 2023


Understanding Economic Development through a Smithian lens: On the occasion of Adam Smith’s 300th birth centenary

Since the turn of the century, the world economy has been marred by a series of economic and political crises and catastrophes, arising from seismic shifts in geo-political, demographic, and climate change related developments. Neoclassical theory and policy have increasingly struggled to predict or tackle the emerging developmental challenges in both advanced and developing economies. The fundamental tenets of neoclassical economics – marginalism, methodological individualism, scarcity, and allocative efficiency – are often insufficient in visualizing the interconnected nature of global production and distribution. In contrast, insights from the Classical Political Economists provide an alternative and holistic lens to understand the contemporary organization of the world economy and its impact on economic development in emerging and developing countries. Adam Smith’s contributions to economic theory have been heavily misinterpreted by the neoclassical economists in defense of free market capitalism, individual rationality, and austerity of the state. A careful reading of Smith can shed ample light on the contemporary workings of the capitalist economy, particularly in terms of the theory of value and distribution, long-run patterns of economic growth and development, limits to economic growth and capital accumulation, economic systems like state capitalism, and unequal exchange in international markets.

In this conference, we will engage with Smith’s contribution to economic theory and with works that analyze various economic questions on the political economy of development and the current phase of global capitalism, relying on the holistic framework offered in the works of Smith.

Through this conference, we will attempt to go beyond the mainstream neoclassical outlook on Smith’s framework, and view Smithian theory as an alternative framework for understanding contemporary economic processes and economic development.

Conference structure

In honor of Adam Smith’s 300th birth centenary, FLAME University, Pune, is organizing a two-day conference from October 6 to October 7, 2023. Papers selected for the conference fall within the following broad topics:

  1. Adam Smith’s contributions to the field of economic theory
  2. Relevance of Adam Smith in understanding contemporary processes of economic growth and development
  3. Influence of Adam Smith’s contributions to applied political economy
  4. Rethinking modern economic theory using perspectives from classical political economists
  5. Engagement of Indian economists such as A. K. Dasgupta and Krishna Bharadwaj with Smith’s political economy
  6. Heterodox theories of economic growth/development drawing on Marx, Keynes, Kalecki and Sraffa, and
  7. History of economic thought

In addition to thematic sessions, the Conference will have a keynote by researchers and practitioners who are pioneers in their fields. The Conference also welcomes applications from young scholars who are currently in the process of finishing their undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD studies in relevant fields.


The details of our two keynote speakers for the conference are as follows: 

The first keynote address will be given by Dr. Matias Vernengo, Professor of Economics, Bucknell University, USA.

Title of the talk: From Smithian Liberalism to Neoliberalism: Bourgeois and Vulgar Economics Critically Interpreted

Speaker Bio
Matías Vernengo is Full Professor at Bucknell University. He was formerly Senior Research Manager at the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA), Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Utah, and Assistant Professor at Kalamazoo College and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). He has been an external consultant to several United Nations organizations like the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He has seven edited books, two books and more than one hundred and twenty articles published in scientific peer reviewed journals or book chapters. He specializes in macroeconomic issues for developing countries, in particular Latin America, international political economy and the history of economic thought. He is also the emeritus founding co-editor of the Review of Keynesian Economics (ROKE), and co-editor in chief of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics.

The second keynote address will be given by Dr. G. Omkarnath, Professor of Economics (Retired), School of Economics, University of Hyderabad.

Title of the talk: On Social Consumption: Principles and Policies

Speaker Bio
After a decade of engagement with economic consultancy and journalism, Omkarnath pursued graduate studies in CESP, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He taught initially at Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and subsequently at the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad where he retired as Professor and Dean in 2021. Omkarnath’s teaching and research interests have been in the areas of classical political economy (CPE), capital theory and problems of Indian economy. His interest in CPE derives from his original interest in the Indian economy in the study of which neo-classical approaches are singularly inadequate. While the institutions of the Indian economy are structured in ways far different from those of the capitalist system, the historical ‘openness’ of CPE holds the promise of identifying categories and frameworks appropriate for India. His research has centered around a critique of (i) India’s economic reform process, including the initial round of financial sector reforms; (ii) the operational content of Sen’s capabilities approach; and (iii) the interpretation of Sraffa system as causal theory. In addition, he has been actively engaged in curricular and pedagogic issues in the teaching of economics. Omkarnath is currently studying the drift in India’s development strategy after the 1970’s, the concept of commercialization appropriate for contemporary Indian economy, a pedagogic guide to the Sraffa system, and the crisis of social consumption in India.

Program Schedule


Day 1
Session 1: Adam Smith’s Political Economy
Chair: Dontha Prashanth
9.00-9.30 A Subaltern Perspective on Adam Smith’s Liberal Capitalism Ajay Kumar Mishra
9.30-10.00 Adam Smith’s Theory of Consumption Alex M. Thomas
10.00-10.30 Adam Smith in Indian Agriculture: Subsistence, Accumulation and Fragmentation of Land Tathagat Singh
10.30-11.00 Adam Smith in Beijing? Rethinking Chinese Political Economy Vishal Chowdhury
Session 2: Labour and Wages in Adam Smith
Chair: Vishal Chowdhury
11.15-11.45 Labour and Wages in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations Nilesh Kumar
11.45-12.15 Division of Labour/ers: Locating choice from ideas of Smith, Marx, and Ambedkar Dontha Prashanth
12.15-13.15 Lunch Break
Session 3: Classical Political Economy: Galiani and Sismondi
Chair: Alex M. Thomas
13.15-13.45 Rediscovering Pre-Classical Political Economy: Ferdinando Galiani on Value, Money, and Growth Bianchi Chignoli
13.45-14.15 Journey of A Thinker and His Thought: Tracing the Evolution of Sismondi’s Economics from “De La Richesse Commerciale” to “Nouveaux Principes D'économie Politique” Durba Bagchi
14.15-14.30 Tea Break
Session 4: Adam Smith and Indian Economic Thought
Chair: G. Omkarnath
14.30-15.00 The Concept of Economic Surplus: Revisiting the Contributions of Amiya Kumar Dasgupta and Krishna Bharadwaj Paramita Saha and Manjira Dasgupta
15.00-15.30 Surplus, labour and value in Adam Smith and AK Dasgupta Chikoti Sai Sri Hari
15.30-16.00 Economic Development in India: A Comparative Analysis of Krishna Bharadwaj and Utsa Patnaik Sudipa Sutradhar
16.00-16.30 Role of Accumulation and Distribution for Economic Development: A Closer Look at the Contribution of Joan Robinson and Krishna Bharadwaj Ishita Moitra
16.45-17.45 From Smithian Liberalism to Neoliberalism: Bourgeois and Vulgar Economics Critically Interpreted Matias Vernengo
Day 2
Session 5: Karl Marx and Classical Political Economy
Chair: Saswata Guha Thakurta
9.00-9.30 Critics of Capitalism: Comparing Simonde de Sismondi and Karl Marx Disha Halder
9.30-10.00 The Idea of Justice in Adam Smith and Karl Marx: A Comparison Shreejita Sarma
10.00-10.30 Marx on Smith: A Methodological Perspective Sushmita Rama
10.30-11.00 Heterodox Theory of Development in Neo-Liberal world: Reviving the tenets of Marxism Simran Bheda
Session 6: Issues in Keynesian and Post-Keynesian Economics
Chair: Matias Vernengo
11.15-11.45 On Smithian and Marshallian influence on Post-Keynesian Economics Limakumba Walling
11.45-12.15 Inflation as Distributional Conflict: An empirical perspective from the surplus approach Deepak Kumar
12.15-12.45 Can Sexuality Affect Economic Thought? An Inquiry into the Sex Diaries of J.M. Keynes Ruchira Sen
12.45-13.45 Lunch Break
13.45-14.45 On Social Consumption: Principles and Policies G. Omkarnath
14.45-15.00 Tea Break
Session 7: Contemporary Issues in Political Economy
Chair: Limakumba Walling
15.00-15.30 Translating Political Economy in mid-nineteenth century Pune-Bombay Veena Naregal
15.30-16.00 Political Economy of Global Value Chains: A new development paradigm or a neoliberal policy device? Arpan Ganguly
16.00-16.30 Cities and Economic Development: Reading Adam Smith and Jane Jacobs Karthik Rao Cavale
Session 8: Political Economy: Applications to the Indian Economy
Chair: Arpan Ganguly
16.30-17.00 Accumulation, Inequality and Growth: Understanding India’s Growth Dynamics from the Perspective of Heterodox Macroeconomics Saswata Guha Thakurta and Rajendra Pramanik
17.00-17.30 Growth and Inclusiveness: Some reflections based on the study of two villages in North east Karnataka, India Suma Scaria
17.30-18.00 Understanding Wage-Determination of Domestic Help in West Bengal: An Empirical Assessment of the Smithian Perspective Aparna Kumari
18.00-18.30 Revisiting Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand: Relevance in contemporary Indian Economy post COVID-19 Mrinalini Manda

Organizing Committee

Dr. Arpan Ganguly
Department of Economics
FLAME University, Pune

Dr. Alex M. Thomas
School of Arts and Sciences
Azim Premji University, Bengaluru

Dr. Limakumba Walling
School of Economics
University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad