India's Political Economy:   1947 - 2004

India's Political Economy: 1947 - 2004

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Author: Francine R Frankel
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2005
Language: English
Pages: 819
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195658396


This volume is the updated edition of the path-breaking study published in 1978, and translated into Chinese in 1990. The second edition extends the analysis from 1977 to 2004 in over 250 pages of the new text.

Francis Frankel takes the reader through the tumultuous years of the three decades in India's politics following the Emergency. She offers a reappraisal of the Indira Gandhi years, giving more importance to the domestic political polarization and external Cold War pressures that determined Mrs. Gandhi's strategy of deinstitutionalization. Subsequently, centralized decision-making circumscribed the federal structure of the Congress party. Frankel assesses the effects of the expanding electorate during the 1980's and 1990's . Among those were caste conflict, religious mobilization, party fragmentation and opportunistic coalitions at the Centre and in the states.

In addition, Frankel examines the results of introducing macroeconomic reforms without the redistributive changes long promised by the Congress party. One major consequences has been the emergence of two economies.

On the one side, while significant gains have been made in reducing absolute poverty and improving the overall quality of life, on the other side, liberalization with a 'human face' remains a distant goal, unable to address the educational and employment needs of the majority of the population in the rural sector. The growing numbers of underemployed and casual workers offer a study source for recruitment of young men and women, by those involved in crime, by extremist religious movements and by Naxalite revolutionary groups.

Against this background, Frankel's final chapter discusses the challenges to India's parliamentary democracy. Foremost among these is the rejection by Hindu Nationalists of the universal principles of citizenship, and of secularism, identified with the Nehruvian legacy. She traces the growing influence of the R.S.S. and the Sangh Parivar during the period of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

The new edition ends with an analysis of the emergence of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to power after the 2004 elections, with restored the diminished party as leader of a secular and Left-Centre coalition. The UPA confronts the unresolved paradox reminiscent of the Nehru and Indira Gandhi years. How can a democratically elected government carry out economic reforms providing a favorable environment for business and industry (thus increasing relative inequalities), while keeping its promises under conditions of financial scarcity to raise agricultural growth, rural incomes and employment for the majority of the rural poor?

Resolving this dilemma through piecemeal methods of change in the new century may be more difficult than in the decades after independence. Democracy has led to the political awakening of historically marginalized groups. Their claims for equality and justice have been mobilized in the name of multiple identities that encourage strife and undermine the prospects of building consensus for urgently needed social reforms. Nevertheless, Frankel argues, universal principles of citizenship and inclusive democratic politics remain India's best hope of completing the gradual revolution through a peaceful, constitutional means.

Providing the most comprehensive scholarly analysis of Indian political economy from independence to the present, this book is essential reading for a wide audience consisting of policy-makers, public servants, and the educated public in general.


List of Tables
Preface to the Second Edition

Introduction: The Paradox of Accommodative
Politics and Radical Social Change

Class Conciliation and Class Struggle:
Competitive Patterns of Mass Mobilization in Indian Nationalism

Growth and Democratic Social Transformation:
Multiple Goals of Economic Planning

The Contradiction of Rapid Industrialization
and Gradual Agrarian Reform

Failures of Implementation

Attack on Socialist Principles of Planning

Retreat from the Social Goals of Planning:
Domestic Constraints and Foreign Pressures

Crisis of National Economic Planning

Crisis of Political Stability

The Congress Split and the Radicalization of Indian Politics

Reprise: Class Accommodation or
Class Struggle?


Emergency and Beyond

Towards Two Economies: Macroeconomic
Reforms without Redistributive Change

Political Fragmentation, Social Conflict and Challenges to India's Democracy

The Challenge of Hindu Nationalism to India's Constitutional Democracy