Brazil and India: History and evolution of two major economic growth stories

The book does not limit itself to the debate of Neoliberalism verses Social Justice, but goes on to document the history and evolution of Brazilian and Indian economic systems.

Mridani Pandey

"From Developmentalism to Neoliberalism: A Comparative Analysis of India and Brazil" is a 236 page treatise that traces the path taken by two different economies during their quest for liberalization, owing to their distinct socio-political and economic conditions along with their historical experiences and very different initial conditions. The book is characteristically a case study and has adopted a comparative method of evaluation of the similarities and differences.

The book handles the experiences of India and Brazil with utmost perfection and hardly ever diverges from the theme. The reason behind electing these two countries for examination has also been stated. India and Brazil happened to be the hubs of international trade and foreign investment. The sheer economic weight of these two countries compels a deeper and more careful analysis.

The book is divided into seven chapters ranging around 30 to 35 pages each. Each chapter deals with a specific content that is subjected around the recurring idea of analysing the trajectory of these two nations, economic growth, neoliberal methods and norms surrounding equality. The book does not essentially limit itself to the debate of Neoliberalism verses Social Justice, as is the case with most of the works dealing with the subject. In fact, it goes on far ahead to document the history and evolution of Brazilian and Indian Economic Systems conditioned by their colonial experiences and post-colonial strategies. The fact that “Neoliberalism” has been the topic of discussion in numerous works before this one doesn’t vacillate the importance of this book as it has been successful in rendering original concepts and analysis.

The book takes up neoliberalism but doesn’t treat it as an all-encompassing umbrella concept. The brave attempt to delve deeply into singular experiences of countries brings out the diversity within the convergence. It considers neoliberalism, the path taken to liberalise economies and the implications of it as complex and regionally variegated processes. The author addresses the risk that such an attempt might pose to the larger structural commonalities but still proceeds to emphasise on the historical and cultural specificities of liberalising economies. Therefore, it must be clear that the purpose of the book is not to define and theorize the concept but to focus on its applications.

The book vividly describes the alternate patterns of liberalization. It primarily distinguishes between two types of liberalization patterns: Pro-Market and Pro-Business. It goes into the technicalities of the concept by employing the examples of Profit-led and Wage-led regimes. So as to focus on the individual journeys of nations and carve out regional regularities, the author brings out and discusses the various experiences of East-Asian and Latin-American countries. While doing so, he also navigates through the North-South Debate briefly which apparently happens to be the most relevant topic of concern in the present times. The book gives crucial value to the widespread view that relative autonomy from global constraints is an essential prerequisite for macroeconomic stability and growth in the neo-liberal era.

The author’s observation about the evolution of the Brazilian economy takes into account all the dynamics of the global market. He examines how Brazil’s early experiences with colonialism facilitated its dependence on foreign investments and technology and how, by the 1990s, Brazil was deeply integrated into international trade and foreign networks. The author compares this development of the Brazilian economy with India’s gradualist pattern of insertion into the Global Market. This gradual and slow pace eventually helped India in dealing with the 2008 economic crisis.

In one of the chapters, the author compares India’s colonial and post-colonial set up and how both the experiences had equally affected India’s present situation. The book traces the traditional historiography of pre-colonial India and how recent studies have dispelled older Eurocentric assumptions about the subcontinent. In the chapters concerning India, the author elicits the fact that Indian economy took a longer route to liberalisation and it was only after a long time that the country decided to open itself to the global market by shedding the License Raj. He gives the reason that this happened due to the generation of a strong disapproval of foreign involvement among the government and masses owing to bitter experiences of the past and the country’s post-colonial strategy of Delinked Development.

The highlight of the book is the manner in which the author brings out the downsides associated with the concept of neoliberalism. It is certain and never does the writer come out as an extreme opponent of the countries liberalising. The criticism is based on facts and sound observation. The author challenges the unwavering credence that the concept of neoliberalism enjoys. He treats developmentalism and neoliberalism as interrelated and interdependent. The incredulity that supervenes neoliberalism will be eliminated only when the concept is coupled with developmentalism.

It would not be wrong to claim that the book is a systematic discourse on the subject of neoliberalism. It not only expresses the effects of neoliberalism but also explores the whole backdrop of the countries that in a way stimulated their liberalization process. While tracing the singular experiences of countries with liberalization and refraining from making any optimistic predictions, the book creates an objective record based on comprehensive research and empiricism.

(Author is an intern with Academics4Nation. She is also Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, University of Allahabad.)

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