A young writer gets noticed with his first book

It is the first book by Wangba Senjam, a 35-year-old writer from Manipur, who wrote it under exceptionally difficult circumstances. Despite the difficulties encountered, he impresses with the originality, freshness and deep sincerity of his ideas.

Senjam’s inclination and ability to think outside the box is also evident in the subjects he has selected for An economy with a human face, which go beyond the narrow and usual understanding of economics. The first two chapters help you understand poverty and ways out of poverty in a rather unconventional way. He makes his case not on the basis of data from different poverty committees which have been repeated over and over again, but on the basis of what he observes in daily life and in this way he comes very close to the readers .

The third chapter deals with prisons and crime, and how reform and better economic management can be combined to move prisoners away from crime toward honest subsistence skills.

The next chapter is a devastating critique of the terrible role that gold has played in human history and continues to play in modern times. The fifth deals with the economy of religious rituals and superstitions, and argues convincingly that there is enormous waste inherent in all of this. The final chapter of the book focuses on the economics and technology of reducing high-speed road accidents.

In the meantime, we learn a little more about the author, his childhood and his family. His father was in the tradition of congressional leaders from the freedom movement days. Although on public platforms he shared a seat with chief ministers, MPs and MPs, his family lived in a thatched-roof house in a village in Manipur. Somehow his mother arranged to send him to an English middle school, but he was ridiculed and mocked because of his lowly background.

Wangba Senjam had a penchant for study, research and writing. Although he was imprisoned and then sent to a reformatory, he continued his scholarly pursuits, which resulted in the publication of this book. Although he did not have access to all the usual means to stay up to date, he nevertheless managed to back up his arguments with many lesser known facts and statistics, for example in the chapter on gold.

Although the references and anecdotes about the author’s childhood and parents appear only incidentally and very briefly in this book, these have a deeply human quality and it would be nice if he could consider the possibility to write in more detail about his parents and childhood memories.

He wrote about this aspect with great sensitivity, and his sense of humor also comes through from time to time. For example, consider this description of Wangba and his parents eating together when he was a child.

His parents of course provide him with the best they could, but in a situation of global resource constraints, this is not enough for the growing child and he also looks at what is on the plate of his parents. Before they begin to eat, they usually keep a small portion of the deity’s food in a corner. It is this portion reserved for the divinity that the child tries to grasp when he can!

All in all, a very welcome book from a young writer working in very difficult circumstances.

Economics with a Human Face by Wangba Senjam is published by Notion Press, 2021

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author