How to read the Economic Survey

Welcome to the introductory post. Read the subsequent parts of this exhaustive series on the Indian Economic Survey (Click Here).


economic survey

Economic survey for 2015-16 has been released. As we all know, it’s a very important document for exam purposes. You can download it for FREE from here.

As with the last year, this year’s survey is a two volume book. Volume one deals with conceptual and analytical issues while volume two deals with the state of economy and sectors of economy in some detail with more focus on immediate issues and statistics. I have just finished reading volume one and I am going to discuss how to read this document effectively.

There are 11 chapters in the volume one. Every chapter is important, so sit tight and read one chapter at a time and take notes. Except for chapter 1 which is some 36 pages long, every other chapter is only 9 to 13 pages long which will take about 45 min to 1 hour each for reading and taking notes.

Chapter one basically gives broad overview of the economy, challenges and opportunities, analyses pros and cons of rapid fiscal consolidation. It also gives glimpses of what to expect from the subsequent chapters. I will suggest, you all begin with chapter one.

Three most enlightening chapters of the survey are-

  1. Chapter 2, The Chakravyuha Challenge of the Indian Economy – It highlights the problem of difficult exit of firms just as Abhimanyu could not exit from Chakravyuha. The survey aptly describes it as “From socialism with restricted entry to “marketism” without exit“.
  2. Chapter 6, Bounties for the Well-Off – It’s a real eye opener and describes in detail government subsidies (implicit and explicit) for the well off section of society, what could only be described as Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor.
  3. Chapter 7, Fiscal Capacity for the 21st Century – Best chapter of the survey by many miles. It would clear all your doubts regarding government taxation and expenditure, whether government spends less or more and how middle class simply exits from the state if state’s role is seen as primarily distributional.

All other chapters are equally great but I found these three very different and interesting.

Some do’s and don’ts

  1. Don’t try to finish the survey or even first volume in one go, read one chapter at a time
  2. You should read volume one from cover to cover. It’s very interesting and will help you in essay, paper 2, paper 3 as well as paper 4, yes in ethics paper
  3. Volume two is not that important. What is to be read from that will be updated tomorrow
  4. Take simultaneous notes while reading a chapter, note down important points and doubts and get them resolved in doubts clearing forum
  5. Many times, the stuff put in the box have been directly asked in Mains. Do read them properly. But some box are highly technical, for instance first two boxes of chapter one, no need to go into nitty-gritty of them. Just try to understand the basic idea.

These could be the best 150 pages you would ever read for exam purpose. So, don’t wait for the substandard summaries to arrive in the market. You all have ample time before prelims, start reading one chapter a day. You will gain immense knowledge.

Of course, we shall be covering important portions of survey here at CD but you should read the full volume, especially the three chapters I mentioned.

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By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

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