The Political Economy of India’s Development: Resolving Some Puzzles

Wednesday, May 24, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Daniel and Nancy Okimoto Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, East Wing, E307
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Nirvikar Singh
  • Arzan Tarapore
Nirvikar Singh

In analyses of how politics and economics interact to shape development, India has been described as a challenge, an outlier, or even a paradox. In this view, India’s mix of structural conditions and institutions, of accomplishments and failures, is confoundingly complex. One recent explication points to underpowered local governments, precocious democracy, and social divisions as key explanatory factors. In this in-person only event, Professor Singh will build on these ideas by discussing the nature of organizational structures in India’s politics, administration, and economy. Part of the resolution of India’s puzzles is in how inequality and suboptimal public good provision lead to suboptimal accumulation of human, social and organizational capital. Another part of the resolution is in the structural details of India’s federal system, which contributes to keeping local governments underpowered. Professor Singh will conclude by briefly discussing some possibilities for institutional and structural reforms. 

Headshot for Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh is a visiting scholar at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford, and Distinguished Professor of Economics at UC Santa Cruz. He previously directed the UCSC South Asian Studies Initiative, and served as a member of the Advisory Group to the Finance Minister of India on G-20 matters, and Consultant to the Chief Economic Adviser of India. He is currently serving on the Expert Group on post-Covid-19 economic recovery formed by the Chief Minister of Punjab state in India. Professor Singh’s current research topics include entrepreneurship, information technology and development, electronic commerce, business strategy, political economy, federalism, economic growth, the Indian economy, and Sikh and Punjabi studies. He has authored over 100 research papers and co-authored or co-edited six books, and received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Headshot for Arzan Tarapore

Arzan Tarapore is the South Asia research scholar at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, where he leads the South Asia Initiative. His research focuses on military strategy, Indian defense policy, and contemporary Indo-Pacific security issues. Prior to his scholarly career, he served as an analyst in the Australian Defence Department. Arzan holds a PhD from King’s College London.