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The Price of Aid

The Price of Aid

The Economic Cold War in India

David C. Engerman

ISBN 9780674986084

Publication date: 02/19/2018

“A superb, field-changing book…A true classic.”
—Sunil Amrith

“Makes a major contribution towards a necessary discussion of the politics of aid.”
Times Higher Education

Debates over foreign aid are often strangely ahistorical. Economists argue about effectiveness—how to make aid work—while critics bemoan money wasted on corruption, ignoring the fundamentally political character of aid. The Price of Aid exposes the geopolitical calculus underpinning development assistance, and its costs.

India stood at the center of American and Soviet aid competition throughout the Cold War, as both superpowers saw developmental aid as a way of pursuing their geopolitical goals by economic means. Drawing on recently declassified files from seven countries, David Engerman shows how Indian leaders used Cold War competition to win battles at home, eroding the Indian state in the process. As China spends freely in Africa, the political stakes of foreign aid are rising once again.

“A magnificent book. Anyone who seeks to understand contemporary India and its development struggles will have to start here. Engerman’s work is not only enlightening, it turns much of what we thought we knew about India, foreign aid, and the Cold War in South Asia upside down.”
—O. A. Westad, author of The Cold War

“An outstanding history…Drawing on an unprecedented array of official and private archives in India, Russia, the United States, and Britain, Engerman offers a superb account—one that integrates the ideologies and policies of the superpowers with a sharp analysis of the push-and-pull of policymaking in India. This is a landmark study of independent India as well as the Cold War.”
—Srinath Raghavan, author of India’s War


  • The Price of Aid is a detailed and convincing historical study of the playing-out of the ideological and institutional politics of development aid… [It] makes a major contribution towards a necessary discussion of the politics of aid.

    —Priyamvada Gopal, Times Higher Education


  • David C. Engerman is Leitner International Interdisciplinary Professor in the Department of History at Yale University.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press

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