Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have been labelled reform states because when the central government announced liberalisation reforms in 1991, these two states embarked on a similar agenda. Reforms relating to public sector privatisation, downsizing government, and government employee entitlements and benefits were accompanied by legislation to discipline labour relations. Signalling commitment to fiscal reforms was also necessary to attract external agency investment, impacting the government’s ability to compete with other states. Since the mid-1990s, the Andhra Pradesh state government’s commitment to economic reforms has been characterised by aggressive self-promotion as a reform-oriented government and, unlike most other reform-oriented States, has extended the economic reforms agenda to encompass wider transformational governance reforms. ‘Women’s empowerment’ is prominently articulated in the latter two, but its context-specific meaning differs in important ways. The protective-paternalist discourse depicts particular groups in society, such as women, as ‘weak’ and ‘vulnerable’, lacking full autonomy, and in need of ‘protection’.