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Development and Democracy in India

Shalendra D. Sharma
ISBN: 978-1-55587-810-8
1999/281 pages/LC: 99-26091

"Comprehensively presents a blend of analysis and comparative synthesis about the post-independence relationship between democratic governance and economic development in Indian society.... I strongly recommend this book to all students and scholars of Indian studies."—A.Z. Hilali, Journal of Third World Studies

"Effective explanation for why the Indian state has failed in its distributive function is supported by original empirical work and an intriguing comparison with Chile."—Sikata Banerjee, American Political Science Review

"This clearly and gracefully written book is an outstanding contribution of lasting value to a very important area of international development. Real-life examples enrich the main thesis and enhance the book's value."—Choice

"A work of both breadth and scope . . . . Sharma not only surveys an enormous gamut of literature, but also takes on a sweeping discussion of India’s agricultural policies since independence . . . . a useful and important contribution."—Šumit Ganguly


This broad, historically grounded study examines the relationship between democratic governance and economic development in postindependence India (1947-1998). Sharma addresses the fundamental paradox of India’s political economy: why have five decades of democratically guided strategies failed to reconcile economic growth with redistribution or to mitigate the condition of extreme poverty in which some 350-400 million Indians—more than 40 percent of the population—live?

Drawing on an exhaustive empirical review of India’s rural development and reform policies over the past fifty years, Sharma demonstrates that the wide discrepancies between development goals and actual outcomes have been fundamentally shaped by the manner in which the various constituents of the democratic polity coexist with and are inextricably embedded in rural society. His study challenges traditional concepts of democracy and development, as well as the relationship between the two.


Shalendra Sharma is associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.


  • Introduction.
  • Democracy and Economic Development: The State- Society Approach.
  • Nationalism, Democracy, and Development: The Making of a "Weak- Strong" State.
  • Rural Development During the Nehru Era: Limits to Reform.
  • State Elites, Public Policy, and Agricultural Modernization.
  • Contradictions of the Green Revolution: Growth Without Redistribution.
  • The State, New Agrarianism, and Poverty Alleviation.
  • Democracy, Neoliberalism, and Development with Equity.
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