Introduction: Capitalism, Markets, and Industrial Change
The 2004 general elections in India produced some dramatic outcomes. The incumbent government, led by the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was unexpectedly thrown out and the Congress Party was returned to power. In forming a government the mildly left-of-center Congress party secured the alliance of India’s communist parties. Neither defeating the incumbent party nor forming unusual political alliances are unfamiliar in India’s anti-incumbent voting behavior and coalition politics. What was jolting, however, was that the BJP could not cash in on the goodwill it had generated during its five-year tenure marked by a high economic growth rate, the rapidly emerging information technology sector, and India’s larger presence in the global economy. The class revolt indicates that a large segment of Indian society has not benefited from economic growth and India’s integration with the global economy. At the same time, India’s long-established Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), which won its sixth consecutive victory in the state of West Bengal, has been enthusiastically embracing globalization and its attendant capitalist imperatives such as multinational investments, shopping malls, and middle class consumerism. Recently the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who is also a senior politburo member of the CPM, argued that “globalization is a must” and proceeded to meet with several multinational business leaders (Rohde 2004).
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