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Title: Free economy and opposition politics in India, c. 1940-70
Author: Balasubramanian, Aditya
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 7926
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis is a history of economic ideas about the rise and fall of India's Swatantra Party between 1940 and 1970. Reframing the history of economic thought around politicians and publicists from landed and mercantile communities in southern and western parts of the country, it presents an alternative history of the political Right in India. Chapter One provides an overview of the macroeconomic changes unleashed by wartime state expansion and decolonisation. It identifies how India's socialist planning strategy resulted in the formation of new economic interests and challenges by the Second Five-Year Plan Period (1956-61) that drove the emergence of the Swatantra Party. Chapter Two provides an alternative intellectual genealogy of the Right through a careful study of the ideas, networks, and genres of communication adopted by a small Indian libertarian movement in Bombay. It demonstrates how demands for 'free economy' and 'English as the lingua franca of India' emerged from a web of connected thinkers operating periodicals and associations in urban India. Chapter Three shows how the ageing Tamil statesman C. Rajagopalachari took up this demand and brought it to the centre of his project of theorising a conservative opposition party for India. He cast 'free economy' as a negative vision of freedom from the 'permit-and-licence raj,' an oligarchic coalition of big business, bureaucrats, and the dominant Congress Party. Chapter Four by contrast reconstructs the multiple positive visions of 'free economy' put forth by three key leaders of the Swatantra Party. It shows how the scales of community, region, and world informed the alternative political economies they conceived. Chapter Five shows how these ideas of 'free economy' were reworked and to construct a politics for the 'middle class.' This final chapter unpacks both strategies of communication and reception to understand the extent and limitations of 'free economy' in practice. The wider aim of this dissertation is to revise the history of the Right in India and broaden the understanding of the Nehruvian era.
Supervisor: Harper, Timothy ; Rothschild, Emma Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: India ; economic history ; postcolonial