This book examines the economic transformation of three of the largest countries in the world - Russia, China and India. Jha traces the problems that each country has faced and argues that the process of economic transformation is highly unpredictable as its success depends upon the individual economic and political history of each country. Jha reveals the problems inherent in conventional analyses of economic transition, which are all based upon a single macro-economic model developed by the World Bank and IMF, dubbed the Washington consensus. The premise of the Washington consensus is that markets are a natural extension of man's propensity to 'truck and barter', and that one has only to remove the state from the sphere of the economy for a market economy to emerge in a very short time. Jha argues that this model is excessively simplistic because a market is not natural - it is a man-made institution. In Russia and, less obviously, in China, the pace of reform has outstripped the creation of the market economy. India, by contrast, had few changes to make but - due to lack of political will - reform has been very slow.
Jha concludes that there can be no single strategy or set time frame for economic transition, and the state has a crucial role to play.
Prem Shankar Jha is a columnist and former editor of the Hindustan Times, New Delhi's main morning daily. He has worked as a consultant to the UN Centre for Human settlements and the World Bank. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and a Visiting Professor and Lecturer at the University of Virginia. His books include India a Political Economy of Stagnation (OUP, 1980), In the Eye of the Cyclone: The Crisis in Indian Democracy (Viking, 1993), and Kashmir 1947: Rival Versions of History (OUP, 1996).
Introduction: The Focus of the Enquiry Part I Russia 1: A society in torment 2. The failure of Perestroika 3. Descent into Chaos 4. The Unmaking of Russia 5. An Uncertain Future Part II China Introduction 1: How fast is China Growing? 2: From Plan to Market 3: Enterprise Autonomy - The Core of Reform 4: Is China's Transformation Sustainable? 5: Drifting Towards an Economic Crisis 6: Reform in the Teeth of Recession Part III India 1: The Harbingers of Crisis 2: The Success of Gradual Reform 3: The Congress Defeat and Setback for Economic Reform 4: Reforms Grind to a Halt 5: The Second Economic Crisis and Turning Point Conclusion: State and Market in Economic Reform