Article thumbnail

The Dynamics and Status of India’s Economic Reforms

By Nirvikar Singh


This paper considers the status of economic reform in India, to understand which further reforms might be desirable, and why they have not been successfully introduced or implemented. Rather than provide a list of reforms that “should” be undertaken, the paper attempts to understand the political economy of the process of economic reform in India, and how that process plays out with respect to different sectors of the economy, or different areas of potential economic reform. The discussion includes the roles of institutions, interest groups and ideas in driving reform.India; economic reform; political economy; interest groups; rent-seeking; institutions

OAI identifier:

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.

Suggested articles


  1. (1989). 1 The “big push” idea can be traced back at least to Paul Rosenstein-Rodan. Modern formulations of this and related ideas can be found in Murphy, Shleifer and Vishny
  2. (2001). 13 Of course, there are linkages from agricultural growth to growth in the rest of the economy, through demand channels for final and intermediate goods (Kalirajan and Sankar,
  3. (2008). 15 A more pessimistic analysis, which emphasizes the distortion of the ideas as well as the institutions governing higher education, is in Kapur and Mehta
  4. (1991). 2 There is an ongoing debate on when “economic reform” began in India. As indicated here, there were reform attempts before 1991. However, these were relatively piecemeal, and were unsustainable in their 47 macroeconomic implications. The
  5. (2007). 3 The role of policies and public sector investment in creating preconditions for future growth has often been argued in the Indian context. A quantitative investigation that brings out the positive impacts of earlier policies is Sen
  6. (1974). 5 India was one of the cases that led to the coining of the term ‘rent-seeking society’
  7. (1991). 6 In a different theoretical approach, Rodrik and Fernandez
  8. (2001). Agriculture in India’s Economic Reform Program”,
  9. (1997). Analytical Development Economics,
  10. (1995). Complementarities and Cumulative Processes in Monopolistic Competition,
  11. (1993). Constitutions as Governance Structures,
  12. (2002). Corporate Governance Reforms in India.
  13. (1999). Democratic Politics and Economic Reform in India,
  14. (1992). Does Sequencing of Privatization Matter in Reforming Planned Economies? IMF Working Paper WP/92/13.
  15. (2002). Economic Reforms in India since 1991: Has Gradualism Worked?,
  16. (2008). Eleventh Five-Year Plan 2007-12. Volume 1: Inclusive Growth.
  17. (1995). Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation,
  18. (2008). Federalism and Economic Development in India: An Assessment. Conference Paper, Stanford
  19. (2002). Federalism Without a Centre: The Impact of Political and Economic Reform on India’s Federal System. New Delhi: Sage Publications 45 Second Administrative Reforms Commission.
  20. (2008). Firm-Level Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets: A Case
  21. (2007). Fiscal Federalism and Decentralization in India, background paper for World Bank Independent Evaluation Group, Decentralization in Client Countries: An Evaluation of World Bank Support, 1990-2007,
  22. (2009). How unequal a country is India? Business Standard, September 5. Accessed at 41 Bardhan, Pranab.
  23. (2008). India’s Development Strategy: Accidents, Design and Replicability,
  24. (2005). Indian Federalism, Economic Reform and Globalization,
  25. (1989). Industrialization and the Big Push,
  26. (1970). Industry and Trade in Some Developing Countries: A Comparative Study, London:
  27. (1995). Inequality and Growth Reconsidered: Lessons from East Asia. World Bank Economic Review,
  28. (1993). Liberalizing Indian Agriculture: An Agenda for Reform. World Bank Policy Research Department Working Paper 1172.
  29. (2002). Miracles and Reform in India: Policy Reflections,
  30. (2008). Mortgaging the Future? Indian Higher Education,
  31. (1991). Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty.
  32. (2007). Rule and Reform: China vs. India. Financial Express,
  33. (2004). Some Economic Consequences of India's Institutions of Governance: A Conceptual Framework,
  34. (2004). The Crisis in Government Accountability: Governance Reforms and Indian Economic Performance,
  35. (2010). The Economics of Foodgrain Management in India. Working paper,
  36. (2006). The Indian Parliament as an Institution of Accountability. Democracy, Governance and Human Rights Programme Paper Number 23,
  37. (1965). The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups.
  38. (2006). The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital, or Constituencies? NBER working paper series; no. w12093,
  39. (2005). The Political Economy of Federalism in India,
  40. (1974). The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society,
  41. (2005). The Role of India’s Institutions
  42. (1990). The Sequencing of Economic Reform: Analytical Issues and Lessons from Latin American Experiences.
  43. (1996). The Transition to Free Markets: Where to Begin Privatization.
  44. (2006). Utsav Kumar, Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Ioannis Tokatlidis
  45. (2007). Why Did the Elephant Start to Trot? India’s Growth Acceleration ReExamined.
  46. (1993). Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?