C. H. Hanumantha Rao and Hans Linnemann (eds). Economic Reforms and Poverty Alleviation in India. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1996. 271 pages. Hardbound, Indian Rs 350.00; paperback, Indian Rs 195.00.

Author: Naeem Akhtar
Publication Year : 1997

The book under review is an edited collection of eight papers presented at a seminar on “Structural Adjustment and Poverty in India: Policy and Research Issues”, and is Volume 17 in the Indo-Dutch studies on Development Alternatives. The book evaluates the impact of economic reforms on poverty alleviation in India. In the “Introduction”, the editors describe the main theme of the book and propose some policy measures for poverty alleviation in the light of the findings of the papers included in the book. The paper, “Structural Adjustment in India—What about Poverty Alleviation?”, by Pieter A. van Stuijvenberg, evaluates the impact of India’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) on the poor and suggests some policy corrections to mitigate the adverse effects of this adjustment on the poor. He observes an improvement in the balance-of-payments position and foreign exchange reserves without a simultaneous fall in gross domestic product under the SAP. His major concerns are the large size and composition of fiscal deficits (dominated by revenue deficits). The large size of fiscal deficits, according to van Stuijvenberg, drive up real interest rates and endanger investment-led growth. He observes that social indicators of the social safety net, employment, and rural development programmes have not improved much due to expenditure cuts on rural infrastructural investments. He suggests a reduction in the size and composition of the public sector, elimination of all explicit and implicit subsidies, and discouraging rent-seeking behaviour for a successful implementation of economic reforms.