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OCSA 2005 - Political Economy of Contemporary India

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

This is an introductory course to India's political economy in the contemporary period (1950 to present). It will cover 3 broad thematic areas: (i) key elements of India's development experience in the 30 years following independence including the major economic development policies, with an emphasis on the state-led industrialisation strategy, as well as a detailed discussion of the main political institutions (parliamentary democracy, multi-party system, federal system); (ii) the politics of economic reforms (1980-present), with a focus on the context in which reforms were adopted, the actors driving the process and the implications in terms of social and spatial justice; (iii) the study of conditions giving rise to rescaling processes in the post-reform period, notably subnational political dynamics, the assertion of subnational economic development initiatives and the emergence of large cities as growth engines.

Seminar format: students are required to prepare by reading the assigned material (one article for each class). Students will prepare a research question to be presented orally and will submit a written assignment on a topic decided with the instructor.


KENNEDY, Loraine (Research Director, CNRS)

Course validation

Students will prepare a research topic in groups and present it to the class (40% of final grade). A written assignment (12-15 pages) will critically discuss 2 or more articles and propose a thesis (50% of the grade). Attendance is mandatory and class participation is noted (10% of the grade).


Approximately 1-2 hours of preparation (reading) for each class; additional work required for preparing oral presentations and final written assignment.

Required reading

(See detailed syllabus)

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session 1:  Introduction

  • Instructor and student introductions: Masters programmes and concentrations; background; motivation; Description of course: contents; organization; requirements. NB mandatory readings are made available to the students.

Session 2: India’s Constitution and main political institutions

  • 1950 Constitution (Constituent Assembly debates; classification); territorial integration post independence (Princely/Native States): main constitutional provisions (administrative relations, fiscal relations); parliamentary system at two levels.

Recommended readings:

  • Austin, Granville. 1999. The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kennedy, Loraine. 2011. Indian Federalism: Moving Towards a More Balanced System. In India since 1950. Society, Politics, Economy and Culture, edited by Ch. Jaffrelot. Delhi, Yatra Books India, pp. 249-70.

Session 3: The politics of India’s evolving federal system. Part I 

  • Periodization of Centre-State relations; centralisation during 1960s and 1970s; “Emergency” (1975-77), the suspension of civil liberties

Required reading:

  • Singh, Mahendra P. and Douglas V. Verney. 2003. "Challenges to India's Centralized Parliamentary Federalism." Publius Vol. 33, No. 4, Emerging Federal Process in India (Autumn, 2003), pp 1-20.

Recommended readings:

  • Sáez, Lawrence. 2002. Federalism without a Center: The Impact of Political and Economic Reform on India's Federal System. New Delhi; Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
  • Sinha, Aseema. 2004. "The Changing Political Economy of Federalism in India: A Historical Institutionalist Approach." India Review 3(1):25-63.

Session 4: The politics of India’s evolving federal system. Part II

  • Gradual balancing post-1990s, the effects of economic reforms on India’s federal system; the growing assertion of regional political regimes;

Required reading:

  • Bagchi, Amaresh. 2003. "Rethinking Federalism: Changing Power Relations between the Center and the States." Publius, 33(4), Emerging Federal Process in India (Autumn, 2003), pp. 21-42.

Recommended readings:

  • Bardhan, Pranab. 1984. The Political Economy of Development in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Rudolph, Lloyd I. and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph. 1987. In Pursuit of Lakshmi: The Political Economy of the Indian State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Kohli, Atul. 2012. Poverty Amid Plenty in the New India. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Session 5: India’s Development Model 1950 – 1980. Part I

  • Planning for economic development (Five-Year Plans); centralized management of the economy; political economy approaches to understanding policy choices

Required reading:

  • Kohli, Atul. 1989. "Politics of Economic Liberalization in India." World Development 17(3):305-28.

Recommended readings:

  • Kohli, Atul. 2006. "Politics of Economic Growth in India, 1980-2005. Part I: The 1980s." Economic and Political Weekly April 1st, 2006.
  • Kohli, Atul. 2006. "Politics of Economic Growth in India, 1980-2005. Part II: The 1990s and Beyond." Economic and Political Weekly April 8, 2006.
  • Sachs, Jeffrey D., Ashutosh Varshney and Nirupam Bajpai. 1999. India in the Era of Economic Reforms. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Session 6: India’s Development Model 1950 – 1980. Part II
Required readings:

  • Varshney, Ashutosh. 1999. "Mass Politics or Elite Politics? India’s Economic Reforms in Comparative Perspective." in India in the Era of Economic Reforms, edited by J. Sachs, A. Varshney and N. Bajpai. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Recommended readings:

  • Jenkins, Rob. 1999. Democratic Politics and Economic Reform in India. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mukherji, Rahul, (ed) 2007. India's Economic Transition: The Politics of Reforms. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Rodrik, Dani and Arvind Subramanian. 2004. "From "Hindu Growth" to Productivity Surge: The Mystery of the Indian Growth Transition." Washington DC: IMF WP.

Session 7: Urban governance and urban economies in India

  • Understudied urbanisation until 1990s; the assertion of metropolitan cities as growth engines; the deployment of urban megaprojects as an economic development strategy

Required readings:

  • Goldman, M. (2011). Speculative Urbanism and the Making of the Next World City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(3), 555–581.
  • Shaw A and Satish MK. (2007) Metropolitan restructuring in post-liberalized India: Separating the global and the local. Cities 24: 148-163.

Recommended readings:

  • Shaw, Annapurna. 2012. Indian Cities, Edited by A. Sen. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Session 8: Urban governance and democracy in India 

  • Decentralisation reforms in the 1990s did not lead to effective devolution; growing conflicts between urban middle class interests and social movements promoting a broader agenda for ‘right to the city’

Required readings:

  • Ghosh A, Kennedy L, Ruet J, et al. (2009) A Comparative Overview of Urban Governance in Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. In: Ruet J and Tawa Lama-Rewal S (eds) Governing India's metropolises. New Delhi: Routledge, pp. 24-54.

Recommended readings:

  • Chandra, K., & Potter, A. (2016). Do Urban Voters in India Vote Less? Economic and Political Weekly, 51(39), 58–68.
  • Shatkin, Gavin, ed. 2014. Contesting the Indian City: Global Visions and the Politics of the Local. West Sussex UK: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Zérah, M.-H., Dupont, V., & Tawa Lama-Rewal, S. (Eds.). (2011). Urban Policies and the Right to the City in India. Rights,responsibilities and citizenship. New Delhi: UNESCO & Centre de Sciences Humaines.

Session 9: Student presentations

Session 10: Student presentations

Session 11: Student presentations

Session 12: Final class

Biographical Information

Loraine Kennedy is a Senior Research Fellow at the CNRS and member of the Center for South Asian Studies (CEIAS) at the EHESS in Paris. Her research focuses on state restructuring, economic development and the politics of metropolitan space and scale in India, with increasing interest in international comparison, notably with China. Recent publications include a research monograph The Politics of Economic Restructuring in India. Economic Governance and State Spatial Rescaling (Routledge 2014), a volume co-edited with Rob Jenkins and Partha Mukhopadhyay, Power, Policy, and Protest: The Politics of India’s Special Economic Zones (OUP 2014), a special issue of Economic and Political Weekly co-edited with Ashima Sood on “Greenfield Development as Tabula Rasa. Rescaling, Speculation and Governance on India’s Urban Frontier” (April 2016), and a special issue on “State Restructuring and Emerging Patterns of Subnational Policy-Making and Governance in China and India” in Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space (January 2017).