ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Neo-liberal Transformations and the Challenges of Governing India

Neo-liberal Strategies of Governing India by Ranabir Samaddar, Delhi: Routledge India, 2016; pp xviii + 334, ₹ 1,095.


The book Neo-liberal Strategies of Governing India is a timely intervention by Ranabir Samaddar to understand governing practices in India in its most recent neo-liberal phase. This book is a companion volume to an earlier work, Ideas and Frameworks of Governing India, by the same author (Jha 2017). Together, these two volumes critically explore the politics and practices of governance in a postcolonial society. Samaddar’s analysis of these practices combines “political and ideological aspects” of governance with “technological characteristics” and examines it “in a historical framework.” While critically analysing ideas, frameworks and strategies of governing India, its inner tensions and challenges, Samaddar is equally interested in examining the evolutions of newer categories and subjecthoods as a result of such governing practices. This makes his analysis of the “contemporary history of Indian democracy” unique and also very interesting. This volume deals with some of the most dramatic decades of Indian democracy that have witnessed the weakening of democratic institutions as well as domination of the market and capital over state and society. There are a series of ideological and political churnings underway in contemporary India. Social and political movements of various kinds often challenge the “official” narrative of politics and governing practices that make the business of democracy and governance a messy affair. However, contrary to many pessimistic arguments about the possibi­lities of social transformations in terms of empowerment of the marginalised or excluded, Samaddar continues to believe in and highlights the “hope for a politics of radical democracy.”

He has two major premises for his analysis of neo-liberal governance in India: first, “mutually constitutive relationship between the rulers and the ruled, based on norms, rules, rights and popular claims;” and second, “governance as a strategy of creating conditions of” and providing the “institutional matrix” (p viii) for accumulation. This book is divided into three parts. In Part I, there are four chapters which are not necessarily interconnected, discussing diverse issues. Examining these issues, he discusses the questions of rights and development, and assesses how they have become the sites of neo-liberal governance. Part II consists of four fascinating chapters on how various modes of governing practices strengthen the hand of the market through the state that ensures the accumulation of wealth and natural resources. He also examines how this has an impact on the society and the state at large, and the status of labour in particular. In Part III, he revisits some of the theoretical questions and conceptual frameworks on governance in India, like the notions of crisis, its interrelationships with neo-liberal governance, passive revolution and so on.

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Updated On : 5th Dec, 2018
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