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Theories of Governance and Development: How Does India’s Experience Fit?


  • Singh, Nirvikar


This paper takes on the apparent paradox of India’s combination of durable democracy, capable bureaucracy, but a deficient development trajectory. It begins by outlining the nature of the problem. Then it summarizes and compares some significant approaches to drawing connections from governance institutions to development outcomes. Next, it reviews some of the contributions to understanding India’s political economy in the last few decades. Finally, it attempts to draw some lessons from India’s experience for the application of different theories of governance and development. The central lesson is that the paradox recedes when attention is paid to the subnational level, where India’s states encompass considerable variation in initial societal and economic conditions and in development outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Singh, Nirvikar, 2019. "Theories of Governance and Development: How Does India’s Experience Fit?," MPRA Paper 91049, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:91049

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1218-1244, September.
    2. Panagariya, Arvind, 2011. "India: The Emerging Giant," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199751563.
    3. Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1982. "Directly Unproductive, Profit-seeking (DUP) Activities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 988-1002, October.
    4. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-739, September.
    5. Peter Evans & Patrick Heller, 2018. "The state and development," WIDER Working Paper Series 112, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2011. "Emergence And Persistence Of Inefficient States," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 177-208, April.
    7. Aseema Sinha, 2016. "A Distinctive Indian Political Economy: New Concepts and a Synthesizing Framework," Studies in Indian Politics, , vol. 4(2), pages 266-273, December.
    8. Raghuram G. Rajan, 2009. "Rent Preservation and the Persistence of Underdevelopment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 178-218, January.
    9. Joshi, Vijay, 2017. "India's Long Road: The Search for Prosperity," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780190610135.
    10. Pranab Bardhan, 2016. "State and Development: The Need for a Reappraisal of the Current Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(3), pages 862-892, September.
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    More about this item


    democracy; embedded autonomy; governance; limited access orders; India; inclusive institutions; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy


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