Roiling India Politics Risks Economic Reforms

India’s economic leaders are determined to rein in skyrocketing inflation, but the country’s volatile political landscape may prevent reforms from taking hold.

This week, a committee formed by Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan recommended that the central bank prioritize lowering consumer prices.

However, as the International Business Times reports, any reform efforts could be undone by country’s political divide, where neither the ruling Congress Party or the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, appear ready to win a majority in the upcoming elections.

In many ways, this division in India’s economic thinking can be encapsulated by the dispute between two of the nation’s foremost economists – Jagdish Bhagwati and Institute for New Economic Thinking Advisory Board member Amartya Sen – that erupted over the summer. This story from The Prospect magazine offers a good summary of the argument.

Institute for New Economic Thinking Advisory Board member Joseph Stiglitz also has weighed in on India’s economic problems. In a speech in Bangalore at the Azim Premji Institute, Stiglitz singled out corruption as one of the root causes of India’s issues. But, Stiglitz cautioned, simply addressing corruption will not fix the country’s difficulties in generating growth. This story from the Times of India summarizes Stiglitz’s ideas on what India needs to do to transform its economy.

Considering India’s rising role in the global economy, the Institute is building a strong presence there along with its partners at Azim Premji University. The Institute recently completed its annual winter school in Bangalore and will be running a summer school in 2014, as it has for the past two years. Expect more India-related research in the coming years as the Institute turns its focus to this vibrant, fascinating country.

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