Abstract: This paper emphasizes that economic nationalism in India both contributed to and coexists with the liberalization process initiated since 1991, which marked a decisive break in India’s economic policy and pushed her towards increased integration with the global economy. It is however an inherently more exclusive form of economic nationalism in which capitalist priorities press down harder on an already constrained state. India’s capitalists embraced rather than resisted the liberalization process, in contrast to their active support for a strategy of autonomous development at independence. The paper focuses on this shift in the outlook of the capitalist class represented by India’s big business and tries to identify the reasons why it initially emerged and why it has gathered strength over time. The paper argues that this transformation reflected the development and evolution of Indian capitalism resulting from industrialization under the older autonomous strategy. Embracing liberalization became both possible and necessary for India’s capitalists. The shift in the Indian state’s policy thus was a response to the imperatives of national capitalist development, and the state has continued to assist Indian capital’s growth and development in different ways. Indian capital has in fact gained increased leverage with the state and with its support has grown rapidly and stepped on to the global stage. In the process it has also changed – become less industrial, and more integrated into global production and financial systems. This growth and transformation of Indian big business in turn has reinforced its support for liberalization.
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