ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Economic Growth

Not the Be-all and End-all

Poverty Amid Plenty in the New India by Atul Kohli (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press), 2012; pp xiii + 249, Rs 395.

For all its size and rich history, I­ndia was for long regarded rather as a backwater internationally and attracted relatively little scholarly attention elsewhere in the world. How much this has changed, largely as a result of India’s dramatically improved rates of economic growth of recent years, is ref­lected in a plethora of new books – for most of the major publishing houses in the west have one or more new India books on their lists. Amongst them, Atul Kohli’s new book stands out, offering as it does what is probably the best historical narrative of India’s political economy since Francine Frankel’s magisterial I­ndia’s Political Economy 1947-1977, of 1978, and developing a distinctive analysis of the changing character of the Indian state.

While focused on India, the book is inherently comparative, setting the Indian case particularly against that of the east Asian developmental states, and it clearly draws on Kohli’s own comparative work in his State-Directed Development – Political Power and Industrialisation in the Global Periphery (2004), which includes studies of South Korea, Brazil and Nigeria, as well as of India. A further strength of Kohli’s new book is that it makes a valuable contribution to the still limited scholarly literature comparing the politics of development across Indian states.

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