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Through the Lens of the Bombay Plan

Emergent Nation State and the Class of Capitalists

The Bombay Plan: Blueprint for Economic Resurgence edited by Sanjay Baru and Meghnad Desai, New Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2018; pp xvii + 343, 500.

 

A few years ago, I was at a talk by a distinguished African economist who was reminiscing about his life in Malawi post-independence. As a youthful leftist, he recalled, he and others would undertake campaigns at the university and shout slogans like “Destroy Capitalism.” With a twinkle in his eye, he ended somewhat wistfully: “The only problem was that we needed capitalists first before we could destroy them, and we didn’t have them!”

I was reminded of this story while reading Sanjay Baru and Meghnad Desai’s new edited volume on the Bombay plan. Decidedly, unlike in the Malawian story and many other colonised nations, India had a substantial capitalist class long predating independence and therefore, it was something that required political accommodation. The Bombay Plan: Blueprint for Economic Resurgence is ostensibly an economic historiography of the document that is allegedly lost to history. Perhaps the key concern of the book is the relationship between the capitalist class and the embryonic nation state.

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Updated On : 30th Oct, 2019

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