1.2       ndian       onom
                                                                 norms, prices and their movements, e-commerce,
         Economics: thE DisciplinE                               etc. Still others might be studying the discipline to
     The study of every discipline starts with the process       enhance their knowledge of economics.
     of defining it. Economics is no exception to this.               2. Economics studies how individuals, firms,
     But the challenge of articulating an overarching            governments, and other organisations within our
     definition of any discipline has never been an easy         society make choices and how these choices determine
     task, and at the end one has to be satisfied with           a society’s use of its resources.2
     a partial definition. Different economists have                  Human life depends on the consumption
     seen the discipline with differing perspectives and         of various materials which are made up of the
     have been coming up with differing definitions—             resources available on earth. As there is no limit to
     at times, a large number of such definitions                human wants, we need infinite resources to gratify
     became either narrow or incomprehensible. But               our needs. But the resources are limited! Now it
     it is necessary to have a working definition of the         is upto the individual and humanity at large as
     subject if one intends to study it.                         to how they try to satisfy their competing needs
           Before arriving at our own working definition         to get fulfilled by the limited resources. It means
     of the subject, we may cite here two highly                 we need to make some choices before we utilise
     acclaimed and internationally established attempts          the scarce resources by prioritising some of our
     in this direction:                                          needs. In this process, some needs might never get
           1. Economics is the study of how societies use        fulfilled. At the same time, there might be some
     scarce resources to produce valuable commodities and        needs which may be fulfilled again and again with
     distribute them among different people.1                    the available resources.
           As per the definition, there are two key ideas             Economics is the discipline which studies
     in economics—that goods are scarce and that                 how individual, society and the government make
     society must use its resources efficiently. Indeed,         their prioritised choices in the process of using
     economics is an important subject because of the            the scarce resources to gratify the various needs
     fact of scarcity and the need for efficient use of the      and wants of life. Making such choices is an art
     resources.                                                  as well as a science. As times change, the choices
           Over the last half a century, the study of            change. As space changes human needs change
     economics has included such varied topics that              and so modify the choices. After studying and
     the subject serves different purposes to different          surveying the various choices made by humanity
     students of economics. Some study it to make                at large in different time and space, there evolved
     money (basically, most of its students in the               the discipline of economics. As economics is an
     developed world study economics to earn more                exercise in the space-time continuum and it deals
     money. But the same is not correct in the case              with living human beings, it is a very dynamic
     of the developing world. The truth is that in the           subject and should only be read in this perspective
     developing world economics has only been read               to have the real feel.
     and taught, not applied—if we do a sweeping
     generalisation). Others study economics to                  A Working Definition
     know about poverty, unemployment, human                     It is essential to feel the subject one intends
     development, shares and debentures, banking                 to study. The fundamental way of doing this is
         1.  Samuelson, P.A. and Nordhaus, W.D., Economics, Tata    2.   Stiglitz, J.E. and Walsh, C.E., Economics, W.W. Norton
             McGraw-Hill Pub. Company Ltd., N. Delhi, 2005, p.4.         & Company, New York, 2006, p.6.