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

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Development Deadlocks of the New Indian State

The new Indian state is a relocated state, not a retreating one. This comment on Kanchan Chandra's article "The New Indian State: The Relocation of Patronage in the Post-Liberalisation Economy" (EPW, 10 October 2015) says that it is also a state that struggles to realise its new development agenda.

Kanchan Chandra’s analysis of the Indian state after two and a half decades of liberalising economic reform (“The New Indian State: The Relocation of Patronage in the Post-Liberalisation Economy,” EPW, 10 October 2015) is a succinct diagnosis of the continued entanglement of the state and business in the new economy, even as the modalities of this entanglement have been transformed. Her concluding critique (p 57) of Akhil Gupta and Sivaramakrishnan (2011), and by implication also Partha Chatterjee’s (2011: 232) argument about industrial capital now having acquired the power to “set the terms to which other political formations can only respond” is particularly pertinent.

In this comment we suggest that ideological dominance of business in terms of defining what “development” means, coupled with its lacking matching political dominance, is manifested in India’s many current development deadlocks (Oskarsson and Nielsen 2014). Industrial ventures promoted in the name of development have been stalled, derailed, or entered into suspended hibernation because of the popular resistance they have encountered. These deadlocks, we argue, have equally been enabled by the ambiguity, systemic complexity, multilayered and distributed jurisdictions, and legislative loopholes that, to Chandra (2015: 48), characterise the new Indian state. This new Indian state may well be on its way to becoming virtually “unmanageable” in a way comparable to the “old” red-tape state, in a context of fragmented, decentralised governance and intensified public scrutiny.

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