Liberalising India's Economy: Context and Constraints
This paper argues that economic reform is a process. In many countries, like India, liberalising the economy has been spread over a number of years so that varied factors have influenced the pace and rigor of the reforms. Rather than adopting the strategy of 'shock therapy', India has introduced economic reforms gradually. While this path has had its setbacks, as shown below, the recent economic crises in South east Asia and Latin America have vindicated the Indian path for its reformers. This paper argues that although economic reforms have appeared to be intermittent at times, they have been passed continuously since 1991, and have carried forward a process of reforms initiated in the 1980s. Secondly, the paper explores the Indian economic reform process and the constraints it has faced in proceeding at a faster pace. Thirdly, the paper demonstrates that the economic reforms have spread to the states and to various sectors and developed a sustainable character. Yet, as I conclude, the Indian state is faced with various domestic pressures and needs to address an important dilemma: how to market the economic reforms with a political discourse that neither jeopardises the reforms nor undermines the democratic strength of the Indian polity.