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Distortions in Indian Economy

Anil Rai

By G.K. Shirokov
People's Publishing House, 1980, pp. 326, Rs. 20.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 3 November/December 1980

In the tradition of an earlier genera­tion of pioneering Soviet studies of economic development in modern India by Reisner, Pavlov, Goldberg, Levkovsky, Melman and other Soviet scholars, the book under review provides a bold and interesting attempt at elaborating the line that originated in the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. in 1956—bold because it attempts to view the process of econo­mic growth in the perspective of class relations and interesting because the well-­worn incantation of the 'non-capitalist path of development' does not appear on a single page of this rather wide-ranging study by a Soviet economist. It is not our intention to summarize the very interesting empirical material presented in this book which must be evaluated in detail. We would essentially be focusing on the analysis of the Indian industrialization process presented in this painstaking and detailed study and the apologetic and absurd conclusions which are dictated by the ideological-political position of modern revisionism in rela­tion to India. Industrialization of India began with a high level of market and capitalist relations. The induction of India into the international division of labour during the colonial period, was confined largely to the marketing of consumer goods. Towards the close of the colonial period economic coercion was the pre­valent method of surplus extraction. This accelerated the spread of commodity­ money relations, the growth of local capitalism and the rise of a national capitalist structure. Consequently, taking it as axiomatic, Shirokov argues that the national bourgeoisie came to power: ‘after the country (India) had won in­dependence, the national bourgeoisie took over the reins of government’ (emphasis added). As the positions of the old feudal classes and of foreign capital were firmly entrenched, the only way for the national bourgeoisie to consolidate itself as the ruling class was by accelerating the deve­lopment of modern capitalism. This, then brought industrialization to the fore and necessitated state intervention in the economy. Soon, however, it was found that the big bourgeoisie reaped what the national burgeoisie had sown and Shiro­kov is hard put to answer: Why and how could this happen if the national bour­geoisie alone was in power? Nevertheless, he makes a valiant attempt at an answer. With the general rise of the democratic movement, the contradictions and politi­cal struggle between various sections and groups of the bourgeoisie had become intense. In the inevitable ...

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