Dev Sem: Kanta Murali

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Date(s) - 17/03/2017
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Friday, March 17, 2016

Prof. Kanta Murali (Political Science, University of Toronto)
Caste, Class and Capital: The Social and Political Origins of Economic Policy in India
Development Seminar, 12:00-2:00pm, UC 140, 15 King’s College Circle

What are the political and social conditions conducive to growth-oriented policies in poor democracies? This talk (based on a forthcoming book) addresses this consequential question by focusing on a specific empirical puzzle – policy variation across Indian states in the competition for private industrial investment, a phenomenon that came to the fore after the country adopted market reforms in 1991. Through the analysis of investment policies, I offer an explanation that links social identity, class and economic policy outcomes in India. My findings suggest that governments that have been most proactive in the competition for investment in India have been backed by narrow class coalitions that are unrepresentative of the broader, largely poor electorate. Moreover, in some Indian states, pro-business policies have been accompanied by identity politics and illiberal trends. I suggest that this coincidence is not accidental. Rather, it reflects an underlying political problem that has characterized India’s high-growth phase and arises from the nature of its growth model. Specifically, a model of growth that relies on attracting private capital in the midst of poor electorates and results in uneven benefits has an affinity with exclusionary political trends. As such, the findings offer a sobering perspective on the prospects for a virtuous cycle of growth and democratic politics in India.

Kanta Murali is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include comparative political economy of development, Indian politics, politics of growth and economic policy, state capacity, state formation, state-business relations and labor policy. Her book, Caste, Class and Capital: The Social and Political Origins of Economic Policy in India, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. She holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University and an M.Sc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Bookings are closed for this event.