Book review: Sanjib Baruah, In the Name of the Nation

Date01 December 2021
Published date01 December 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
292 Book Reviews
regulated actors receive due process, the public interest is properly represented in rule-making and
institutional mechanisms are in place to improve regulatory performance.
One of the most important contributions of this volume is that its chapters collectively provide
insightful analysis of how the legacy of India’s pre-reform regime has profoundly influenced its
regulatory development. In sectors such as telecom, the legacy of the pre-reform regime results in
conflict between dirigiste government departments and regulatory agencies which diminish the authority
and effectiveness of the regulators. In the power sector, regulatory efforts are stymied by state electricity
boards and the powerful political interests that have captured them. The clout of bureaucratic groups
limits lateral entry by experts and obliges the government to fill key regulatory positions with retired
bureaucrats and judges, vitiating the regulatory agencies’ access to expertise and increasing resistance to
change. Parliamentary committees lack the personnel and knowledge necessary to effectively monitor
and supervise the independent regulatory agencies. Weak mechanisms of accountability encourage
judicial intervention to ensure due process and protect against arbitrary action. However, judicial
activism increases uncertainty about the implementation of regulatory rules and diminishes the impact
of regulatory expertise. Finally, India’s pre-reform political settlement has left a legacy of weak
administrative law and inadequate incentives for effective regulation.
Like any seminal volume, Regulation in India leads us to investigate new issues. While the rise of the
new regulatory state since the early 1990s has coincided with an increase in private investment – at least
until the past few years, there is a need for more rigorous analysis of its economic impact. Sectoral
analysis becomes increasingly important. Does variation in partisan control over the government affect
regulation? For instance, has the Modi government’s penchant for centralizing control over government
administration affected the operation of regulatory agencies? Tensions between the Modi Government
and the Reserve Bank of India leading to the abrupt resignation of RBI Governor Urjit Patel as well as
the remarkable series of telecom regulatory decisions favouring Reliance Jio raise the question of to
what degree are regulators compelled to bow to political pressures from the government?
Regulation in India advances our understanding of developments in India’s regulation with its incisive
case studies and extensive scope. It is a must-read for scholars interested in India’s economic regulation
and, more generally, its political economy.
John Echeverri-Gent
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4787, USA
Sanjib Baruah, In the Name of the Nation (New Delhi: Navayana Publishers, 2020), 278 pp. `599.
DOI: 10.1177/23210230211043078
Sanjib Baruah’s book begins by recognizing the region of Northeast India not only as a ‘borderland
space’, but also as ‘distinctive and different’ and as an ‘anomalous zone’ where democratic norms are
routinely ‘ineffective’ or ‘suspended’. In these conditions, the central question, according to Baruah,
concerns the role of democracy in the region. In addressing this question he relies not only on academic
research but also on ‘personal memory’ to offer an alternative imagination of the region constructed as
the ‘North East’. This reliance on ‘autoethnography’ as a method is a welcome and a much needed
impetus in researching the region. It is interesting to note that even while looking at the Northeast
specifically, Baruah recognizes that the political nature of ‘misperceptions and misjudgements’ with

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