A Tour d’Horizon
This chapter is a broad-brush account of the highlights of India’s political and economic history from independence until 2016. On the economic front, the period falls quite naturally into two roughly equal halves. Until around 1980, India was a highly controlled economy in which business drive was smothered, and growth was slow. The poverty ratio rose and the absolute number of poor people rose hugely. After 1980, India embarked on economic reform, at first hesitantly, and later more explicitly. The result of greater marketization was considerably faster growth than hitherto. The poverty ratio and the number of poor people also fell. The erosion of fiscal prudence is the outstanding exception to the generally better economic performance post-1980. From 2011, there was a sharp slowdown in growth, which continues to this day, underscoring the need for a second wave of radical reform.
Keywords: political history since independence, economic history since independence, controlled economy, economic reform, marketization, poverty ratio, number of poor people, inequality, fiscal prudence, growth before and after 1980
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