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Visible hand: Public policy and economic growth in the Nehru era


  • Pulapre Balakrishnan

    () (Centre for Development Studies
    Centre for Development Studies)


This paper investigates the relationship between the policy regime and growth during 1950-64 termed here `the Nehru era'. While there exist valuable early appraisals of the period, access to new data and fresh information allows for a longer and comparative view of the outcome. We find overwhelming evidence not only of resurgent growth but also of a lasting transformation of a stagnant colonial enclave into an economy with firmer foundations capable of sustained growth. It is useful to recognise the economic policy of this period as distinct, not only from what preceded it but also from what came after, for that facilitates an understanding of the political conditions needed for economic interventions which are growth inducing. The paper also addresses some lingering perceptions of the economic policy of the time, notably its impact on agriculture and the governance of the public enterprises. The shibboleth `Hindu rate of growth', presumably a broad-brush description of movement in this period, manages to obscure the extraordinary economic dynamics of the Nehru era.

Suggested Citation

  • Pulapre Balakrishnan, 2007. "Visible hand: Public policy and economic growth in the Nehru era," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 391, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:cdswpp:391

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Hankla, Charles Robert, 2006. "Party Linkages and Economic Policy: An Examination of Indira Gandhi's India," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(03), pages 1-29, December.
    3. Mohan, Rakesh & Aggarwal, Vandana, 1990. "Commands and controls: Planning for indian industrial development, 1951-1990," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 681-712, December.
    4. Dani Rodrik, 2008. "Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion? A Review of the World Banks Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 55(2), pages 135-156, June.
    5. Dibyendu S. Maiti, 2005. "Organisational morphology of rural industries in liberalised India: A study of West Bengal," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 371, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
    6. Raj Krishna, 1988. "Ideology and Economic Policy," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 1-26, January.
    7. Sunil Mani, 2005. "Keeping pace with globalisation innovation capability in Korea's telecommunications equipment industry," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 370, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
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    More about this item


    Economic Policy in India; Nehru era; Drivers of Growth; Mahalanobis Strategy; Public Sector Performance;

    JEL classification:

    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems


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