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In 2009, award-winning economist Kaushik Basu took temporary leave from the world of academia at Cornell University to become economic adviser to the Government of India and then assume the position of Chief Economist of the World Bank and Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group. In his book An Economist in the Real World (MIT Press, October 2015), Basu describes the art of economic policymaking and offers a unique perspective on India's economic development that is both rigorous and personal.

In this Chats in the Stacks book talk Basu describes his years as chief economic adviser and reveals the complex challenges facing India, a subcontinent with more than a billion people. Bringing his background as economic theorist, scientist, and anthropologist to his role as practicing economic advisor, he discovers how difficult it is to apply economic models to the real world of deal-making and corruption. He soon learned that effective policymaking integrates technical knowledge with political awareness.