Writers everywhere are divided about the literary worth of prefacing a chapter with a hefty quote—not so the Economic Survey 2017. Ignoring stylists who think the device is best left to middle school essayists, this year’s edition of the Economic Survey, which tend to prosaic documents, packs in the numbers as well as the quotes: from the start to finish.
The preface takes off with British economist John Maynard Keynes on the attributes of an ideal survey: “It must possess a rare combination of gifts.... It must draw upon mathematics, history, statesmanship, and philosophy--in some degree. It must understand symbols and speak in words. It must contemplate the particular, in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought.”
At the launch of the survey on Tuesday, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian took those instructions a step forward by quoting film actor Amitabh Bachchan: “Thoda drama hona chahiye, thoda tragedy, thoda comedy” (there must be a bit of drama, a bit of tragedy, a bit of comedy.) While the jury is decidedly out on the dramatic potential of the survey, it is quite clear that when it comes to literary merits, this year’s edition stands head and shoulders above its humble predecessors.