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India Today: Economy, Politics and Society

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6112-4
332 pages
December 2012, Polity
India Today: Economy, Politics and Society (0745661122) cover image
Twenty years ago India was still generally thought of as an archetypal developing country, home to the largest number of poor people of any country in the world, and beset by problems of low economic growth, casteism and violent religious conflict. Now India is being feted as an economic power-house which might well become the second largest economy in the world before the middle of this century. Its democratic traditions, moreover, remain broadly intact.

How and why has this historic transformation come about? And what are its implications for the people of India, for Indian society and politics? These are the big questions addressed in this book by three scholars who have lived and researched in different parts of India during the period of this great transformation.

Each of the 13 chapters seeks to answer a particular question: When and why did India take off? How did a weak state promote audacious reform? Is government in India becoming more responsive (and to whom)? Does India have a civil society? Does caste still matter? Why is India threatened by a Maoist insurgency? In addressing these and other pressing questions, the authors take full account of vibrant new scholarship that has emerged over the past decade or so, both from Indian writers and India specialists, and from social scientists who have studied India in a comparative context.

India Today is a comprehensive and compelling text for students of South Asia, political economy, development and comparative politics as well as anyone interested in the future of the world's largest democracy.

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List of Figures and Tables vii

Abbreviations ix

Preface and Acknowledgements xiii

1 Making Sense of India Today 1

Part I: Economy

2 When and Why Did India Take Off? 23

3 How Have the Poor Fared (and Others Too)? 47

4 Why Hasn’t Economic Growth Delivered More for Indian Workers? 80

5 Is the Indian State Delivering on Promises of 'Inclusive Growth' and Social Justice? 100

Part II: Politics

6 How Did a 'Weak' State Promote Audacious Reform? 121

7 Has India's Democracy Been a Success? 140

8 Is Government in India Becoming More Responsive? 158

9 Has the Rise of Hindu Nationalism Halted? 177

10 Rural Dislocations:Why Has Maoism Become Such a Force in India? 197

Part III: Society

11 Does India Have a Civil Society? 221

12 Does Caste Still Matter in India? 239

13 How Much Have Things Changed for Indian Women? 258

14 Can India Benefi t From Its Demographic Dividend? 286

15 Afterword: India Today, and India in the World 302

Glossary 307

Bibliography 309

Index 361

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Stuart Corbridge is professor of development studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

John Harriss is director of the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Craig Jeffrey is professor of human geography at the University of Oxford.

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"Encompassing a vast canvas succinctly and incisively, the book is a worthy addition to the scholarship on the subject."
The Hindu

"If you want a smart, pithy and extremely well-informed take on the central issues facing India today, as well as a guide to all the main debates, then this is the book you need."
Steven Wilkinson, Yale University

"Scrupulous and wide ranging in its survey of the relevant literature, sober and balanced in its judgements on the economy, polity and society, this book will prove indispensable for understanding how and why India is what it is today, and where it may be heading."
Achin Vanaik, Former Professor of International Relations and Global Politics, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi

"A magisterial inter-disciplinary work that explains how pro-business reforms drove three decades of high growth in India and then explores in depth the many challenges that yet remain. India is at an exciting stage of its journey: this book captures its achievements and vulnerabilities."
Mushtaq H. Khan, SOAS, University of London
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