Book Review: Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, eds, Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for other Developing Countries and Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, eds, An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions

Date01 June 2014
Published date01 June 2014
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 111
Studies in Indian Politics, 2, 1 (2014): 109–117
‘international’. But there is some dissonance between what can be read as an ambitious introduction in
terms of what it wants to achieve conceptually and what the book actually ends up doing. For instance
discussions on India’s engagement with other countries or its international policies still assume India as
a unified coherent actor without adequately interrogating how the inside-outside are co-constituted.
Despite the general editor’s plea in his introduction that the reader appreciate what has been covered
and not focus on what has been left out, as a reviewer I must point out some gaps which, had they been
filled, would have made the books and series even richer and more exhaustive. In the volumes on state
and democracy too little attention has been paid to significant themes such as gender, caste and religion.
When notions of the political have expanded considerably, attention to mere formal political processes
and institutions (such as in the volume on democracy) does not appear adequate. The call for moving
beyond Western paradigms must also include moving beyond the conventional manner (such as in
Western modernization theories) with which politics has been viewed. The importance of informal pro-
cesses including those such as popular culture and culture in general have all been critical in thinking
about how the role of the state and notions of democracy are being shaped. Alongside the discussions on
formal political institutions, chapters on popular culture and media, on feminist expressions of democ-
racy and on caste could have been included in the democracy volume, and religion and its political
expressions could have been addressed in the volume on the state. Even the volume on IPT makes no
mention of the vociferous debates on secularism that has dominated political theorizing in India over
the past two decades (although it does include a chapter on caste and gender). Given the importance of
religion in Indian society and politics it does seem to be an obvious missing piece in the series. Having
said that, all four volumes are important contributions to the field of political science and do represent
what the general editor calls the ‘state of the art’ in the discipline. The volumes cover the gamut of some
of the most important political debates taking place and have effectively attempted to place these discus-
sions within the specificity of the Indian context. They are, therefore, a must read for all those interested
in a greater understanding of Indian politics today.
Aparna Devare
University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, eds, Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced
Poverty and the Lessons for other Developing Countries. New York, NY: Public Affairs. 2013. 302 pages.
US$ 28.99.
Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, eds, An Uncertain Glor y: India and Its Contradictions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press. 2013. 446 pages. US$ 22.95.
DOI: 10.1177/2321023014526100
The two books reviewed here were released within months of each other in mid-2013. This coincidence,
combined with the authors’ public visibility, generated considerable media interest. Perhaps inevitably,
the two books have been held up as competing economic visions for India as it heads towards the
2014 general election.

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