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Political Science
Professor Kanta Murali

Week 4 – Political Change in India – Indira Gandhi Years (1966-1984) -moves India into a completely different direction -more authoritarian, top-down system -Emergency 1975-1977 -end of Emergency, first time Congress loses power (the Janata Interlude 1977-1979) Shastri Interlude -brief tenure of Lal Bahadur Shastri following death of Nehru -low key congressman, a conciliator -although Nehru didn’t want to appoint a successor, he did his best to prevent the right from coming to power -didn’t have major political impacts but did have an economic impact -the green revolution Shastri’s “New Agricultural Strategy” -shift away from the institutional approach of Nehru -failures in agriculture -third Five Year Plan already running into problems -increased reliance on indirect financing and foreign aid India now subject to pressures from World Bank and U.S -shift in agriculture not just the result of American or World Bank interference -internal groups lost the motivation and the ability to pursue the Nehruvian model -Shastri reduced the influence of the Planning Commission and enhanced the powers of both the Cabinet and the Ministries to promote the shift in agricultural strategy -“New Agricultural Strategy” -technological change, higher-yielding varieties (HYV) of wheat -higher application of fertilizers -the “green revolution’ -the allocation of a greater share of public sector resources towards agriculture -introduction of a more liberal, import policy Broader political, social and economic context -unity of national movement declining -competitiveness of the party system -regional competition -growth of opposition parties outside of the congress -economic change – decline of the old dependencies in rural areas -consolidation of democratic practice -the middle rural classes are becoming more powerful -the patronage links of Congress breaking apart -prior to 1964, Congress pretty much held society together through established patronage links that depended on the hierarchical social structure -set the stage of a different type of political mobilization -economic difficulties of the mid 1960s -agriculture failure and food shortage -inflation -devaluation of the rupee in 1966 perceived as something that threatened India’s sovereignty Mrs. Gandhi’s Rise to power -the “Syndicate” -group of state leaders of Congress that supported Indira’s bid for leadership -though she’d be easy to control -means that Indira came to power without a popular power base of her own -1967 elections -a turning point -first time Congress loses power in several states in India -Indira starts to build an independent power base -leftward, populist mobilization – reaching to the poorer classes -Split in Congress (1969) -moving in a leftward direction put her at odds with the Syndicate leaders (they were p conservative) -forms her own wing of the party -top down strategy of politics Politics under Indira Gandhi: three phases 1) leftward shit and the turn towards populism -mobilizing the socially and economically weaker sections of society 2) Authoritarian tendencies -top down centralized system -the emergency (1975-77) -according to prof – Indira Gandhi can be seen as a political opportunist -she substituted for her lack of organization by personalizing power -led to the deinstitutionalization of politics 3) Return to power and rightward shift Electoral Strategy and Mobilization Nehru period -upper class people would mobilize the people below though the patronage system Indira Gandhi’s electoral strategy -political battle with the Syndicate -mobilized new groups – the lower levels of society -portrays herself as a “Protector of the Poor” -shifts the Congress’ support base Political Competition and party politics -growing opposition to the Congress -decline of the dominant party system -centralization of the Congress -weakening of Congress organization and intra-party democracy -rise of regional parties Populism and initial leftward shift -leftward shit -1969 policies – puts control on private businesses -1971 campaign -“Garibi Hatao” – get rid of poverty -enormous popular appeal -her pro-poor image lasted over time -rhetoric vs. substance -unable to deliver on her promises -deinstitutionalization of Indian politics reduced
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