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India and the Structural Adjustment Package

K.L. Krishna

By Biplab Dasgupta
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 283, Rs. 350.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 1-2 January-February 2006

The author of the book, Biplab Dasgupta, whose untimely death a few months ago has caused a big void, was an erudite scholar, respected teacher and affable parliamentarian with staunch Leftist leanings. After the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP)/Structural Adjustment Package (SAP) in India in 1991, he undertook a painstaking and comprehensive analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of SAP implemented worldwide since 1980 and of the actual performance in several countries located in three continents, Africa, Latin America and Asia, and brought out in 1998 the book Structural Adjustment, Global Trade and the New Political Economy of Development.   The book under review is a sequel to the 1998 book and he makes frequent references to it. The new book deals with the developments in regard to globalization since 1998 and focuses on the Indian experience with SAP, especially during the rule of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) covering the period 1998-2004. The adverse consequences for the developing countries of the domination of the World Trade Organization (WTO) by rich countries since its establishment in 1995 are highlighted in several chapters of the book. The author was one of the three members of the Indian Parliament who along with the minister formed the core of the Indian delegation to the Seattle WTO Conference in 1999 and obtained firsthand knowledge of the partisan attitude and conduct of the rich countries and the relative helplessness of the developing countries at the WTO meeting. The views and insights of the author narrated in the book in regard to the WTO and several aspects of SAP make useful reading.   The book, while providing a well-reasoned critique of the New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced in 1991 for different sectors of the Indian economy, discusses relevant historical developments in many places, refers to the earlier literature and draws upon the author’s own papers published since 1971. It is indeed a scholarly piece. Apart from the introductory chapter, the book consists of three parts. The first part (chapter 2 to 5) deals with the roles of the multilateral agencies (World Bank, IMF and WTO), multinational companies (MNCs) as well as with the patent policies and environment policies prescribed by the WTO. In the second part (chapters 6 to 12), the new economic policy in India in respect of agriculture, industry, monetary and financial institutions, fiscal balance, foreign trade and capital account convertibility, public sector and labour market is critiqued. The third part of the book contains an ...

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