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

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A Framework for the Analysis of State–Society Relations

Class and Conflict: Revisiting Pranab Bardhan’s Political Economy of India edited by Elizabeth Chatterjee and Matthew McCartney, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2020; pp x + 299, £47.99 (hb).

 

The book under review is a collection of essays evaluating the relevance and applicability of hypo­thesis presented by Pranab Bardhan in his slim masterwork the Political Economy of Development in India (PEDI), more than 30 years after its publication in 1984. Bardhan’s original book, only 84 pages long with 24 pages of accompanying data, is still considered influential in understanding the broader political economy of India’s development (and more importantly, its non-development) since its independence in 1947, and particularly the period of economic stagnation between 1965 and 1980. As many contributors to the 2020 volume show, the central theses in PEDI—with a few updates to its contours—provide a sound theoretical and empirical framework to understanding and explaining the contemporary pattern of growth and persistence of structural inequalities in India.

The most famous of Bardhan’s theses to explain the stagnation of the post-1965 era was that there existed

a system of political gridlock in India, originating in the collective action problems of a large, heterogeneous coalition of dominant interest groups with multiple veto powers, and with no interest group powerful enough to hijack the state. (Bardhan 1998: 130)

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Updated On : 30th May, 2021

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