Public works: Lessons from history

One of India’s earliest experiments with economic policy — actively directed at providing employment — occurred during the late 18th century. In 1784, at a time of devastating famine, the then Nawab of Awadh, Asaf-ud-Daula, de­cided to institute a public works programme to provide employment. Thus began the construction of the now-famous Bara Imambara mosque complex in Lucknow, which was completed in 1791. That was Keynesian economics before Keynes. The British (for ideological reasons) took a step back — their largely laissez-faire approach led to millions of.....

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