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3 - Privatising the Inputs of Production: A Case of Careful Choice of Beneficiaries and Losers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2024

Sejuti Das Gupta
Affiliation:
James Madison College, Michigan State University
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Summary

A discontinuous period for agrarian policies since 1990

The study of class relations in India and their interaction with state policy necessitates an overview of Indian polity in the post-liberalisation era. Liberalisation of India's economic policies started in 1991, aiming to make the economy more market oriented and expand the role of private and foreign investments. That decade was a period of economic, social, and political flux, from which India took about eight years to stabilise. Kohli (2001) points out that between 1947 and 1990, India had five general elections, and five general elections were held during the 1990s alone. Following this, the BJP-led NDA held power for two terms (1998–2004). The period between 1997–98 and 2004–05 registered low agricultural growth at 1.6 per cent per annum, which recovered to 3.5 per cent between 2003–04 and 2010–11 (Dev, 2012). The late 1990s witnessed the lowest agricultural growth since Independence. The period since 1997 has been characterised by agrarian distress culminating in farmer suicides (Patnaik, 2003). Political commentators argue that in view of the agrarian distress across states, the NDA lost support of India's rural voters, which proved to be the NDA's undoing. Against this backdrop, the UPA with the Congress at its helm came to power in the 2004 general election (Birner, Gupta, and Sharma, 2011; Bose, 2006; Mooij, 2005). The rise in agricultural growth right after that makes the problem of who benefitted worth thinking about. The various regional parties that had mushroomed during the 1970s and 1980s came to play a determining role in the formation of governments at the centre, because the national parties were unable to attain a simple majority on their own. Be it the BJP-led NDA or the Congress-led UPA, the coalition had to include regional parties to form governments.

Until 2014, the UPA held power at the centre, while governments changed hands at regional levels. The three states studied here – Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Karnataka – have mostly been under the rule of the BJP since 2000. Since its formation in 2000, Chhattisgarh has had a BJP government until 2018.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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