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

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Case Unproven

Case Unproven Economy and Organisation: Indian Institutions under the Neoliberal Regime edited by Amiya Kumar Bagchi; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1999; pp 427, Rs 495 (cloth).

This book is somewhat ambitiously subtitled. For while it purports to critically examine the impact of liberalisation on economic institutions, its scope is limited to a few – and by no means the most important – aspects of this broad subject: industrial clusters, principal-subcontractor relationships and the responses of some large firms. An even more serious limitation is that there is often little attempt to relate to the principal theme, the impact the neoliberal regime has had so far, or to project what we might expect to see in the near future. The value of the book thus lies entirely in the historical perspective it provides on certain forms of economic organisation in the country.

In his paper, ‘Indian economic organisations in a comparative perspective’, Amiya Bagchi characterises Indian capitalism as being of the ‘bungalow-haveli-chawl’ variety. Domestic capitalists have taken over the bungalows that symbolised British power, while the chawl, with its pool of cheap, low-skilled labour, remains the habitat of the worker. In between is the haveli of the trader-moneylender-politician. Indian capitalism, he contends, remains trapped in this mode because vital economic institutions remain retarded.

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