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

Articles by Pranab BardhanSubscribe to Pranab Bardhan

Reflections on Kalyan Sanyal’s Rethinking Capitalist Development

This article is based on a lecture delivered by the author to celebrate Kalyan Sanyal’s memory. It draws upon an email exchange between them on Sanyal’s book Rethinking Capitalist Development. It also dwells on the important issues that Sanyal raised with particular reference to India.

Reflections on Indian Political Economy

Thirty years after The Political Economy of Development in India was published, its author explores what has changed and what has not changed in India today.

Do Not Dilute NREGA

[An Open Letter to the Prime Minister on NREGA by economists based in India and elsewhere in the world.]

We are writing to express our deep concern about the future of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

Capitalist Dynamics and the Plutocrats

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press), 2014; pp 696, $39.95.

Changing Voting Patterns in Rural West Bengal

This paper uses two successive rounds of voter surveys in rural West Bengal in a household panel to find reasons for the recent decline in the Left Front's political popularity. It does not find evidence of any significant role of changes in voter age distribution, media exposure, private benefits received from development and welfare programmes administered by local governments, or the vote-generating effectiveness of such programmes. A more important role was played by voter dissatisfaction with local leaders on corruption and lack of involvement in the provision of education services, and with non-local leaders on attitudes towards women, the poor, and local communities.

Our Self-righteous Civil Society

Over the last few decades the non-party volunteer organisations have been much more effective in Indian public space and more articulate in policy debates than the traditional Left parties. This essay, while recognising the manifold achievements of these organisations, reflects on the serious limitations of the activities of the voluntary sector and argues that when they usurp certain roles they can become a threat to representative democracy.

The Avoidable Tragedy of the Left in India-II

In the two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Left in India has not renewed itself. In the context of the electoral debacle in West Bengal and the defeat in Kerala, this article revisits the issue and asks, what future now for the Left in the country? The Left certainly has a role to play in India but to be able to do so it needs to pay attention to the many general issues that currently afflict it.

Challenges for a Minimum Social Democracy in India

While the discussion on social democracy in western countries often puts the emphasis on its high costs and issues of incentives for work and enterprise, in India high inequality, massive poverty and a vast informal sector make the challenge of implementing social democracy extremely daunting as much as it is highly imperative.

Notes on the Political Economy of India's Tortuous Transition

Substantial socio-economic changes have taken place in India in the last quarter century. This essay refl ects on the systemic implications of these changes from the point of view of the transition to an enlarged and dominating sphere of capital in the economy. There are a number of checks and balances and road bumps that will make the progress of capital in India halting and hesitant, and the democratic processes, however imperfect, will partly tame its brutalities. The Indian transition is thus bound to be rather tortuous, though in the long run inexorable, and its narrative will be more complex than usual.

Local Democracy and Clientelism: Implications for Political Stability in Rural West Bengal

This paper examines factors underlying the unusual stability of political power in rural West Bengal, using data pertaining to the functioning of local democracy from a household survey conducted by the authors during 2003-05. It examines patterns of political awareness, participation, distribution of benefits by gram panchayats, and voting across households of varying socio-economic characteristics. The main findings are that (i) political participation was high on average; (ii) within villages panchayat benefits flowed to poor and scheduled caste/scheduled tribe groups on par or better, compared with the rest of the population; (iii) distribution of benefits across villages was biased against those with more landless households; and (iv) the lasting political success of the Left owed partly to a clientelist relationship of the party with the voters, and partly to the gratitude of voters of low socio-economic status arising out of broad-based changes.

Poverty and Inequality in China and India: Elusive Link with Globalisation

The pro-globalisers are not correct in their claims that integration with the world market has worked wonders in reducing poverty in China and India. The critics who claim that globalisation has contributed to a widening of inequality are also off the mark. A close examination of the data suggests that a more nuanced understanding is called for


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