Essays on India’s Political Economy

Prakash Sarangi

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This monograph is an attempt to understand the symbiotic relationship between politics and economy in India since independence. A few essays are presented to delineate this relationship in simple, non-technical language. But a discerning reader could easily decipher a specific interpretation throughout the text: the process of economic transformation is viewed as a function of the decision makers’ changing calculus of political pay-offs.
Indian Political Economy is divided into three phases: (1) Nationalist Political Economy (1947-68); (2) Populist Political Economy (1969-1990) and (3) Competitive Political Economy (1991- ). The grand coalition in the first phase enabled the state to play an interventionist role and to estimate payoffs for the entire country; the minimum-winning coalition in the polarised politics of the second phase played a redistributive game and carefully calculated payoffs of its own supporters only and the uncertainty resulting from a fragmented politics in the third phase did not allow any party to be assured of a winning coalition and, therefore, made it difficult for any political party to predict political payoffs. Economic reforms of the 1990s were the result of this political uncertainty. The radical changes in economic policy transformed contemporary politics. A running theme in these essays is that while political actors face uncertainty in a competitive political economy, the citizens, as consumers of public policies, are further empowered to question, accept or reject any policy initiative. Citizens and groups are able to assert their rights and, if necessary, throw out the non-performers. Rights dominate over welfare in this new policy regime

Prakash Sarangi is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad, currently on deputation to the ICSSR as a Senior Academic Consultant. He is a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, NY, USA. A few of his awards include Fulbright Visiting Lecturer Award at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000; Linnaeus Palme Fellow at University of Uppsala, Sweden, in 2002; Fulbright Visiting Specialist Award at University of Illinois, Chicago in 2004; Baden-Wurttemberg Fellow at University of Heidelberg, Germany in 2006 and Visiting Scholar Award at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia in 2006. He was a Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow at the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas during 2011.
Prof. Sarangi’s academic interests revolve around Democratic Theory and Practice. He is the author of about fifty research papers, besides the following books: Politics and Culture of Globalisation: India and Australia (2009) (eds with Hans Lofgren); Liberal Theories of State: Contemporary Perspectives (1996); Political Exchange and Public Policy: A Cross-National Analysis (1990).


1. Introduction: A Perspective on India’s Political Economy
2. Nationalist Political Economy (1947-67)
3. Populist Political Economy (1969-90)
4. Problems in India’s Political Economy during 1947-1990
5. Prelude to Economic Reform
6. Reform of 1991: Emergence of a Competitive Political Economy
7. The Politics of Reform
8. Poverty and Inequality after Economic Reform
9. Economic Reform and the Emergence of a Competitive Federal Polity
10. Conclusion: Whither Indian Political Economy?



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