Successive Indian governments, from right and left, have remained committed to market-oriented reform since its introduction in 1991. In a well-argued, accessible and sometimes controversial examination of the political dynamics which underlie that commitment, Rob Jenkins challenges existing theories of the relationship between democracy and economic liberalisation. He contends that while democracy and liberalisation are no longer considered incompatible, theorizing over-emphasizes democracy's more wholesome aspects while underestimating its practioners' reliance on obfuscating tactics to defuse political resistance to policy shifts. By focusing on formal political systems, existing research ignores the value of informal institutions. In India it is these institutions which have driven economic elites towards negotiation, while allowing governing elites to divide the opponents of reform through a range of political tactics. In fact, the author argues, it is precisely through such political manoeuvring that democracy survives.
• First book-length treatment of the politics of India's economic reforms • Complex economic issues presented in non-technical terms • Simultaneously addresses ongoing international debates and critical issues in the study of Indian political economy
1. Introduction; 2. The evolution of economic reform in India; 3. Theoretical and comparative perspectives of the politics of economic reform; 4. Political incentives: elite perceptions and the calculus of survival; 5. Political institutions: federalism, informal networks, and the management of dissent; 6. Political skills: introducing reform by stealth; 7. Implications.