Democracy, Development, and the Countryside

Urban-Rural Struggles in India

What happens to the rural folk—to their power and economic well-being—when development takes place in a democratic framework? Focusing on India where, unlike most of the developing world, a democratic system has flourished for four decades, this book investigates how the rural sector uses its numbers in a democracy to further its economic and political interests. The book also argues that identities constitute a powerful constraint on the pursuit of economic interests.

First book to investigate whether democracy makes a difference to the power and well-being of the countryside in developing areas.

Examines India, which has had the longest surviving democracy in the developing world.

Reviews & endorsements

“The author has produced a truly exceptional book. His clear style, comparative focus, and methodologically sophisticated approach make this book a major contribution to the field of political economy, comparative politics and Indian Studies. Varshney has established himself as one of the leading young scholars in the field.”
Studies in Comparative International Development

“It will be hard to ignore Varshney’s brilliant analysis. Its originality and rigor set new standards for future research. Not just researchers but also policy makers will benefit from a careful reading of this important book:”
Development and Change

“In this important book, Varshney pits established wisdom about agrarian politics and urban bias with the data from India, one of the most significant cases in Third World development. The result is a substantial and exciting reappraisal of what we thought we knew. We learn much about the impact of political institutions, about the significance of democracy, and about the limits of rural power. A major work.”
—Robert Bates; Harvard University

“This is the definitive study of how India’s bureaucrats, politicians and organised agrarian interests transformed India’s agricultural policies. Varshney shows how the politically mobilized agrarian sector was able to overcome the urban bias that has impeded agricultural growth elsewhere in the late developing countries. An outstanding contribution to the political economy literature.”
—Myron Weiner, MIT