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

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Script and Postscript

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.

The purpose of this article is to look at the experience of the last 25 years of dominant economic policy thinking and draw lessons for the future. This experience is evaluated on the premise that the governing regime in India cannot set universal and homogeneous goals for all Indians. For a sharply divided country like India, differentiated across income, region, caste, gender and other social identities, the beginning point for such an evaluation has to question for whom the goals and targets are set, how these are set, and at whose costs they are achieved. Furthermore, in order to understand the script and the process of economic reforms in India, we need to look at the Indian state, economic reforms and politics in an interconnected way. The evaluation of the 25-year period has to be in sync with the Indian people’s engagement with these policy choices, the contestations and struggles to make life better today.

I will not spend much time and space on how some of the economic parameters have changed over the last quarter century. In this article, I look at how those who were the movers and shakers of economic reforms in India now look back at their own achievements, what insight hindsight provides, how appropriate is it to look at these 25 years as a homogeneous whole, and in what way the discourse of economic reforms altered. If the discourse did alter, what are its political implications for those who support a more democratic and inclusive vision for the people of the country.

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