Democracy, Development and Dispossession: A Bottom-Up Perspective on Capitalism in India

A/Prof. David Hundt1, Dr Raman Apsingakar

1Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

David Harvey’s formulation of “Accumulation by Dispossession” (ABD) has been extensively used to understand how surplus global capital finds new outlets for its redeployment in developing societies. Usually ABD is analysed in top-down and macroscopic terms, but this paper adopts a “bottom-up” perspective, and emphasises the role of subnational politico-economic factors in dispossession. It takes the state of Andra Pradesh (AP) as a case study, during India’s gradual integration with global markets since the 1990s. The paper demonstrates how the synergy between the state and the capital, propelled by the business aspirations of people close to AP’s Chief Minister Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, caused the dispossession of farmers from their means of subsistence. The impetus to embrace SEZ-type development projects stemmed from Reddy’s attempt to cater to the economic and political interests of state-level political and business elites while retaining his electoral majority, rather than actualising the development goals enshrined in those projects. The state–business nexus nurtured by the business interests of the Reddy political dynasty and its allies resulted in “development deadlock”, which benefitted only these elites. The paper thereby shows how subnational-level leaders can use the ideology of development to promote their own interests in a democracy.


David Hundt is an Associate Professor in International Relations at Deakin University, Melbourne. His research interests include the political economy of East Asia (especially Korea), politics and foreign policy in the Asia–Pacific, and migration in Australia and Korea. Since 2018 he has been the Editor-in-Chief of Asian Studies Review.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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