The Contested Capacity of the State in the Indian Economy

31 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013

Date Written: April 15, 2013


How might we understand the capacity of the state to intervene in the economy, in India and elsewhere? I contend that ‘state economic capacity’ is an ‘essentially contested category,’ one in which any definition of the term relies on assumptions on the role of the state that are hotly fought over, such as whether the state is an instrument of economic transformation or the guarantor of extant economic structures. I argue that essentially contested categories are adjudicated not be conceptual clarification but by political conflict, and trace out the conflicts and settlements of the Nehruvian state, and the nature of incoherent state capacity in contemporary India. I offer some tentative suggestions of how we might understand the scope of debate in understanding the roles and capacities of the contemporary Indian state.

Keywords: India, economic policy, state capacity, essentially contested concepts

Suggested Citation

Naseemullah, Adnan, The Contested Capacity of the State in the Indian Economy (April 15, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Adnan Naseemullah (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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