Transition and Development: A Case Study of West Bengal

Doctoral Dissertation


Over the past two decades the high rate of growth achieved by the Indian economy has been widely celebrated. Not many studies, however, have focused on the sectoral decomposition of this growth or analyzed its distributional aspects. My dissertation focuses on the rural sector of the Indian economy, and explores the possibility of achieving an inclusive and equitable development process. My particular focus is on the state of West Bengal which has been governed by a regime that promised to usher in a development process that is substantively different from the path treaded by capitalist growth-led development. Two-thirds of the Indian work-force is employed in the rural sector, and yet, this section of the population has largely been left out of any benefits accruing from the overall fast growth rate that the economy has enjoyed over the last couple of decades. Worse still, the farmers in many states have been led towards complete destitution. This is due to a variety of reasons, including, falling share of agriculture in the planned allocation of resources, falling productivity in relation to industry, and increasing vulnerability of farmers to international price fluctuations. In my dissertation, I closely examine these issues, and analyze how the implementation of rural government programs can address the problem of rural and agrarian distress. Utilizing the data obtained from National Sample Surveys (various rounds), Agricultural Censuses, National Censuses, and National Health Surveys, I perform a case study of the rural policies implemented in the Indian state of West Bengal. I analyze the quality of the policies by comparing the levels of development of human capabilities of the rural population of West Bengal in comparison with that of four other Indian states, namely, Kerala, Punjab, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh. I also explore the possibility of achieving sustainable agricultural practices and rural welfare through the expansion of political and economic democracy through popular control over societal resources, and cooperative-based initiatives.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07222010-012617

Author Saibal Basu
Advisor Martin H. Wolfson
Contributor Martin H. Wolfson, Committee Chair
Contributor Kwan S. Kim , Committee Member
Contributor David F. Ruccio , Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Economics
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2010-06-30

Submission Date 2010-07-22
  • United States of America

  • Left Front government

  • West Bengal

  • India

  • Agrarian transformation

  • Development

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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