“We are very poor. We have lost touch with the world. We need the World Bank to catch up.”
This is a quotation from Julian Gewirtz’s book, Unlikely Partners, that I will be using in my keynote address at the University of Peradeniya Humanities and Social Sciences Conference on 28 July 2017. It was in a conversation between Deng Xiaoping and Robert McNamara.
I look at the use of social science knowledge in the economic reforms that commenced in Sri Lanka and China more or less at the same time, in 1977-78, forty years ago.
China used a lot more knowledge and made serious efforts to have its own officials and intellectuals engage with and absorb the external knowledge.
Forty years later, China is way ahead of Sri Lanka both in per capita income and pretty much everything else. I guess it pays to give weight to knowledge and its internalization.