ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

25 Years Of Economic LiberalisationSubscribe to 25 Years Of Economic Liberalisation


Indian economy and society are facing a tumultuous start to the 21st century. Statistics may show record-breaking growth rates since 1991. Yet, the truth is that formal employment, especially in the corporate sector, has been stagnant, leading to mounting demands for caste-based reservation for government jobs. India is now, effectively, an outpost of global finance. We have preyed on our own culture and ecology, while the economy we chose to import hides our torn social fabric. Beneath the glitter that our politicians wish to plug is the ugly truth: cultural colonisation is at a historic peak, while we march confidently towards ecocide.

Can We Afford Build-up of External Liabilities?

Tracing the exchange rate policy post 1991, and particularly since 2007-08, it is argued that an exchange rate policy with an external account targeting approach is required to arrest the build-up of net external liabilities.

TINA, India and Economic Liberalisation

Although India has been "reforming" since 1991, almost nobody seems to be satisfied with either the progress or the outcome. The reformers need to put the economy's long-term interests above financial sector short-termism and reorganise the domestic financial system to keep credit productive. The debate on whether a bank should lend existing money or newly create the money it lends has major implications for monetary and fiscal policies, as well as for financial sector reforms.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead at the Liberalisation Process

July 1991 was a momentous month in the contemporary economic history of India. The rupee was drastically devalued by around a fifth in two tranches in the beginning of that month, almost exactly 25 years after a similar devaluation had taken place. A few weeks later towards the end of the month, a...

The 1991 Reforms

Refuting the allegation that the 1991 reforms were thrust upon an unwilling government by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in return for financial assistance, it is argued instead that 1991 was the logical culmination of internal rethinking that took place well before the 1990 crisis. The reforms would have stopped within two years had they been only undertaken because of the need for the IMF's assistance. Though admittedly slowly, their continuation has been evident over successive governments.

Economic Liberalisation and the Working Poor

Economic liberalisation is usually taken to mean a general "retreat of the state." This is erroneous. The state in a "liberalised regime" acts almost exclusively in the interests of globalised capital and the domestic corporate-financial oligarchy that gets integrated with it, which means inter alia a withdrawal of state support from traditional petty production, including peasant agriculture. This is what underlies the phenomenon of absolute impoverishment of the working people, notably in the form of growing nutritional deprivation, which "liberalisation" has unleashed in India over the last 25 years, and which, notwithstanding assiduous denials by its votaries, is quite indubitable.

Making Reforms Work for the Common People

The reforms of 1991 and 1996 were branded pro-rich as people with better initial endowments benefited disproportionately from the significant positive impacts, thus exacerbating both income and regional inequalities. This must change. Therefore, rather than minimising the role of the state as per the Washington Consensus, the presence of a development state is a necessary condition for implementing structural reforms in India.

Indian Economy in Transition

Taking cognisance of India's long-run economic transition in the post-planning era, it is argued that the triad of neo-liberal globalisation, global capitalism and inclusive development has come to constitute the new order of things in the Indian economy. This article explores the appearance of each, and the roles they played in reshaping the Indian economic map, and in displacing the rationale and practice of Indian state. This triad in turn has become the site of reference and departure for a novel set of contradictions-crises-resistance in contemporary India.

Politics of Growth

Challenging the notion that economic reforms have resulted in a non-interventionist neo-liberal state, the relationship between economic and social outcomes is examined. These outcomes result from the interconnections between economic reforms, the responses of the Indian state and the nature of Indian politics. Understanding and evaluating this relationship will contribute to further strengthening the Indian people's engagement with policy choices that the ruling classes make and their contestations and struggles to improve their lives.
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