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Corporate Interests/Public Policy

Adnan Naseemullah

By D.N. Ghosh
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2011, pp.422, 795.00


As the world struggles to emerge from the economic crisis, the links between business and government are increa-singly relevant. Political analysts from the United States and Britain to India and China are increasingly focusing on the ways that corporate interests influence, even control, public policy. Political activists and commen-tators from Anna Hazare to Paul Krugman have argued that corporate interests are to blame for increasing inequality, the decline in public services and corruption. The book under review represents a timely reminder of the deep and longstanding connections between the influence of business and that of political power. Ghosh's approach is that of the longue duree, or the study of long-term structural-historical processes in which specific events and histories are enmeshed. A preface, a prologue and introduction set out the different elements and backgrounds to the book, and provide the reader with a (too-)brief intro-duction to the different analytical approaches that have been applied to business-government relationship. Yet, from the beginning, Ghosh embarks on what he calls an 'odyssey under-taken to explore and understand the relation-ship between business and politics of different epochs of history to stand at where it does today' (p. xxxv). It starts with Ancient Greece and then proceeds through Classical Rome, China of the Qin and Tang dynasties, India under the Mauryas and the Guptas and the rise of the Arab empires. The individual chapters focus on the material basis of impe-rial grandeur, the importance of trade and agriculture to expansion and the benefit of peace and imperial order to economic activity. These chapters represent the beginnings of a historical relationship between the rise of imperial statecraft and the 'business' that both enabled and were enabled by such forms of governance. According to Ghosh, this symbio-sis is a major theme throughout history. Parts II, III and IV chart a course through the medieval world, the renaissance and the rise of early modern empires and the begin-ning of European colonialism in Latin Ame-rica and Asia. In these chapters, Ghosh use-fully sets out the argument that as weaponry became more sophisticated and international competition became more intense, the state was increasingly reliant on financiers to pro-vide the capital for expansion. This reprises the central theme that money makes war, but also that with peace and expansion came opp-ortunities for overseas trade and still greater wealth. Ghosh goes into the most extreme cases of a fusion between mercantile and ...

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