Thursday, October 20, 2011

Political Change in Developing Regions


(a) How did the advent of colonial rule affect Indian economic and social structure?

Colonialism altered the economic and social structure of India, new economic ideologies and practices mushroomed as well as new social values and culture dominated the Indian state. British way of social stratification and economic structure took precedence in the way of life of the Indians. The pre-colonial India that relied on subsistence production and isolated to the rest of the world entered into a new phase when it was colonised by the British. During of the age of trade and prosperity under the rule of the British economically India had developed manufacturing industry that was equal to that of the European states Alavi (6:1989) elaborates that India had a flourishing trade in textiles outclassing Britain as well Indian had reached high level of urbanisation. Pre-colonial India had rural and urban economies relatively insulated from each other except for forcible extraction of the agricultural surplus by the urban economy. Urban production was according to Alavi (7:1989) in form of pretty commodity production by artisans.

British discovery of the sea route to India in the 19th century according to Alavi (1989) brought a new era of economic life in India, foreign trade and manufacturing of bulky goods became increasingly viable. Indian textiles where now being exported in International markets where they were competitive and cheaper , colonial rule opened the Indian economy to the rest of the world through global trade according to Alavi (1989) the rapid expansion of overseas trade was fully matched by expansion of Indian manufacturing production. However the British rule caused irregularities in the economic structure of the Indian, colonial rule resulted in the conquest, plundering and disintegration of the Indian economy. The East India Company that took over the privileges of pre-colonial rulers of India in appropriating land revenue they were hostile and enacted brutal laws that land revenue was collected with greediness and ruthlessness which resulted in destruction of the pre-colonial agricultural subsistence economy and loss in food reserves. The Indian society got deprived of economic proceeds land revenue was the fundamental foundation to which the Indian economy was based.

During the Industrial Revolution in England the Indian was reduced from being the dominating textiles manufacturer to a raw material producer for the British industries according to Alavi (1989) the British wanted to create a one sided dependence on advanced capitalist countries for capital goods by destroying economies like that of India. Heavy protective duties were imposed to protect the British textiles which resulted both internal and external demand for Indian textiles. While profits made by the East Indian company form Indian were not replenished back into the Indian economy but were used to finance the industrial revolution of Britain. According to Alavi (13:1986) India became a producer of raw materials required by the metropolitan industry and profitable market for a British manufacturer which was trade based on unequal exchange.

Colonial rule led to the creation to new urban classes the new pattern of urbanization and industrialization led to many Indians establishing themselves as wholesalers, exporters and importers in the cities. In Calcutta, Bombay and Madras which were colonial ports for colonial rule according to Alavi (1989) Indian bourgeoisie class became established which later on formed nationalist movements.

(b) What does the discourse analysis approach of Kaviraj tell us about state society relations in India? Pay particular attention to the ruler/ruled dynamic and the issue of mutual unintelligibility

The Indian state had adopted and maintained the British institutions but it had different state and society relations according to Kaviraj (1991) the Indian society unlike pre-modern societies which seemed to have a symmetrical hierarchy its internal principle of organisation of inequality was asymmetric with several ranking ordering between the upper caste groups. State- society relations in India depended on the way in which the social groups that were given to people’s immediate natural consciousness were themselves structured. The state had considerable power in its institutions and regulating the Indian communities and enjoyed great ceremonial eminence but it had limited powers to interfere with the social segments. According to Kaviraj (167;1991) the conceptual language of the state to act on behalf of the population as a whole was unavailable to the Indian state. The Indian state was comprised of different ethnical, religious, tribal and cultural groups the Muslims, Hindus, Christians and the Sikhs the state had classical economic relations with these communities over which they formally presided in-terms of tax and rent

Independent rule in India adopted the productive system, the moral and cognitive orders there was a wide gap between the ruled and rules on colonial period which the new Indian rulers were trying to overcome by reducing the marginality between the state and its subjects. According to Kaviraj (1991) the colonial state had economic reforms that promoted European capitalism this phenomenon led the exploitative relations between the state and the society as Indians were turned into labourers and slaves for rich few colonial rulers. The colonial rule brought the assertion that the state is an impersonal regime of relations as Kaviraj (1991) propounds it was the idea of an individual subject, the equality of rights or rightlessness in which the important thing was the constitution of the political-individual rights rather whether he enjoyed freedom or democracy above the colonial state was a state that pretended to represent the collective interest of the people and from whose legitimate interference nothing in society was morally immune.

The colonial authority in India was not legitimised in-terms of the Indian constituted common sense of traditional Indian Society according Kaviraj (1991) the colonial powers undertook unprecedented enumeration of everything in India. Indian society became slaves to the state while the British rulers made efforts to destroy the Indian social structure. Nationalism in Indian was based on the grievances which emanated from the colonial rule which advocated for liberal democracy, rationalist modernity and politico-economic development. Independence of India in 1947 resulted in some of the economic and political methodologies of the British continuing capitalism continued and great extension of bureaucracy inside government however several discontinuities erupted the state –society relations improved as social justice and economic wealth redistribution increased. Capitalism resulted in the regional inequalities according to Kaviraj (1991) it tended to concentrate opportunities and resources to the political elites limiting the opportunities for the majority. However it must noted that since the Gandhi rule there was common purpose between the state and society in India, great participation of the society in shaping the state activities and consolidation of democracy and the reduction of hostile unfamiliarity between the ruling elites and society. In upcoming years after the attainment of independence the state and the ruling elite uncritically adopted orientalist, externalist construction of their society which lead again to the state –society relations barking down.

(c) What does Das Gupta have to say about India’s leader’s overtime? What is his assessment of their role in taking India to independence and beyond?

The independence of India was attained after a struggle by nationalist leaders to outcast the British rule which was brutal and suppressive. According to Gupta (1985) the initial setting of the nationalist movements of India were mainly directed to internal investigation of the working systems of religious, social organization and education. Indian nationalist leaders were strong forces for the dismantlement of the British rule by mass mobilization of the Indian rural, urban peasants and the bourgeoisie class. The formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 endowed by ideological principles that of liberal principles, the Indian elites of according to Gupta (1985) played important of democratic political development by setting up democratic rules, tolerance of adversaries and reconciliation of conflicting terms. Through the formation of the Congress in 1885 the Indian intelligentsia were able to speak for the people and preparing the ground for popular self expression. India being comprised of different cultures, religion, tribes and ethnic groups the Indian leaders such as Gandhi mobilized the masses against the colonial rule with one purpose and goals according to Gupta (267;1985) the Indian elites were acutely aware of the social, regional ad religious diversities of the country and the new organization was visualized as a medium for communication and coordination.

Indian leaders according to Gupta (1985) besides them challenging the colonial rule they promoted ethnic solidarity by enhancing an inclusionary process of linking the mass participation in economic and political action into an institutionalized national organization. By incorporating different religious, ethnic and cultural groupings the Indian leaders were able to gather support against the colonial rule and post independence in their national economic and political strategies. According to Gupta (273:1985) Ghadhian transformation of the notion of liberalism into a strategy of inclusionary participation, progressively channelled with rules of peaceful conflict and organized collaboration in and with the congress helped build and important antithesis of democratic development in future. Constitutional democracy developed by Indian intelligentsia provided democratic rights, representation, competition and exercise of power these elements offered various social, cultural, territorial and ideological cleavages to have legitimate political power.

However the bases of the nationalist movement prior independence changed and adopted the British political, economic and social domination of the Indian people. Although India has been consistent and continuous with political stability, development of economic resources and political freedom leaders had become more corrupt, greed and authoritarian. After the split of the Congress party in 1969 according to Gupta (1985) the electoral system became an instrument to serve the ruling class than a vehicle of accommodation. Indira Gandhi’s rule created a new phenomenon in the Indian political domain faced with opposition and rivalries she imposed laws and altered the constitution statutes to keep the Congress Party’s domination at state level. According to Gupta (1985) the old idea of a party based state was transformed into a state dependent party. The process of clientism became the state weapon to legitimise the governing party; the use of executive powers to suppress oppositional parties in the 1970s according to Gupta (1985) Indira Gandhi used emergency powers to transform the basic democratic structure into an authoritarian form of government.

(d) What does Das Gupta mean when he says ‘Indian democracy can be understood as a deliberate act of political defiance of the social and economic constraints of underdevelopment”

The Indian democracy encompassed with liberal principles was the driving force to challenge the social and economic constraints of underdevelopment. Democratization promotes popular participation which is an important element to consolidate social capital. According to Gupta (1985) for the process of democratization to endure it require rapid development of economic and social resources so that expanding public demands can effectively satisfied. Das Gupta (1985) sentiments that “Indian democracy can be understood as a deliberate act of political defiance of the social and economic constraints of underdevelopment”, demonstrates the unwillingness of the Indian government regimes to tackle the issues of social and economic constraints. However the idea of democratically planned development was pursued by nationalist leaders long before independence however most of the economic policies were centralized with bureaucratic management of development. According to Das Gupta (1985) although there was some remarkable increase in state welfare, agricultural production and educational facilities disturbing poverty persisted, inequality, corruption, the second economy thrives and number of shadows haunted the economy.

According to Das Gupta (1985) this was intensive intervention to the economy to increase the gross domestic product through agrarian property structure by land reform followed by investment in productive support, technological change and improvement in human resources. However sit back of this intervention was based on a preferred strategy of industrialization that encouraged considerably higher investment for developing organized industries, mining, power and communication. Politically the ruling parties through the pursuit of industrialization strategy progressively intensified their pursuit of art of cultivation of mass support, the economy tumbled due to political mischievousness by the political elite. According to Das Gupta (296:1985) the Congress Party had for many years relied on formal instruments of the state, its tightly organized bureaucracy, its patronage powers and its capacity to subsidize efficient enterprise in order and its power to ensure its dominance in Indian politics.

The Indian political structure which did not allow a stable politically to rule for many years due to the unpredictable voter behaviour as well as the death of prominent party leaders led to economic plans being let without being completed. The death of Nehru in 1964 followed by the Prime Minister Lal Bahandur Shastri resulted in the alteration of the economic policies according to Das Gupta (1985) the Five Economic year planning was temporary dropped and no reorganization of the premises of planning came about. This resulted in economic meltdown with life expectancy short and mortality rate high, food security was compromised. However the Indian state through planned import and substitution facilitated a pattern of industrialization endowed with degree of self reliance. Most of the regimes that governed Indian showed no interest in the success of the economy the Rajiv Gandhi government according to Das Gupta showed little signs of readiness or capacity to cope with deeper problems of underdevelopment, fiscal deficits and droughts affected the Indian population.

Nevertheless in the period of 1990s significant steps were taken to solve the problems of underdevelopment liberalization of the economy resulted in deregulation, privatisation, industrial restructuring, baking reforms, subsidy reduction and fiscal deficit reduction. According to Das Gupta (1985) economic liberalization played a very important role in the transition of the Indian economy with imports increasing, food security and state welfare.


Alavi H ( 1989) Formation of the Structure of South Asia under the Impact of Colonialism. In Alavi H & Harris J (eds) Sociology of the Developing Socities: South Asia. MacMillan London

Das Gupta J (1985) “India: Democartic Becoming and Developmental transition: in Diamond L,Linz J , Lipst S.M (eds) Politics in Developing Countries: Comparing Experiences with Democarcy.Lynne Rienner, Boulder.

Kaviraj S (1991) On State, Society and Disacourse in India. In Monor J (ed) Rethinking Third World Politics