New Login   

Dimensions of Socio-Economic and Political Changes

Bidyut Chakrabarty

By Francine R. Frankel
Oxford University Press, New Delhi Second Edition, 2005, pp. 819, Rs. 750.00


Originally published in 1978, this book is reprinted in 2005 with three new chapters which are commentaries on developments in India’s recent political history. Dwelling on the three tumultuous decades in the aftermath of the 1975-77 Emergency, the book provides a detailed account of socio-economic and political processes that remained at the root of dramatic changes in the nature and articulation of India’s politics. The sub-title of the book is equally significant because it takes into account the slow pace of socio-economic changes during these years. In other words, the purpose of this exercise is to understand the changing nature of India’s political economy with reference to major socio-economic and political institutions. The change is gradual and intermittent because, as the author argues, ‘the advent of political democracy offered an alternative to revolutionary class struggle in equalizing society’ (p. xix). There is no doubt that political democracy led to a relatively peaceful process of reconciliation of ‘class’ interests. This apart, one can also trace in it the roots of growing empowerment of the so-called marginalized sections of society. So, regular elections are not merely institutional devices for election of governments, they also provide a system whereby those who are in the periphery become significant players in constituting the ruling authority. The continuity of elections and their effectiveness in India’s political processes is not a mean achievement, especially in the context of other independent nations in South Asia where political democracy does not appear to have struck roots though the region had the same colonial legacy. Here perhaps lies the explanation for the unique nature of India’s political economy that cannot be understood simply by applying the conventional tools of analysis. In this sense, India’s Political Economy is a refreshing explanatory intervention.   Of the sixteen chapters, the first thirteen chapters dwell on India’s political economy till 1977, while the three new chapters focus on ‘changes in the economy toward economic liberalization, in politics toward party fragmentation and coalition governments, (in ideology) toward a new political discourse’ of Hindu nationalism (p. xi). These three chapters are comments on recent developments in India’s society, economy and politics. One cannot however understand these developments without reference to the past for obvious reasons. Hence the author is justified in bringing a new edition of the book by incorporating what is new in India’s political history. There is however a ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.