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How did commitments to socialism influence rule-making in the Indian constitution? What are the governance consequences of the framers’ motivations? Dr. Shruti Rajagopalan of SUNY  Purchase College and NYU joins us for a seminar on the constitutional political economy of Indian politics.

About the Speaker

Shruti Rajagopalan is an Assistant Professor of Economics at State University of New York, Purchase College and a Fellow at the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University School of Law. She earned her Ph.D. in economics in 2013 from George Mason University. She has a BA (Hons) Economics and LL.B. from University of Delhi; and an LL.M. from the European Masters in Law and Economics Program at University of Hamburg, Ghent University, and University of Bologna. Shruti’s broad area of interest is the economic analysis of comparative legal and political systems. Her research interests specifically include law and economics, public choice theory, and constitutional economics. In her recent work she analyzes how political entrepreneurs attempt to frame and amend the provisions of the Indian constitution. She also enjoys writing in the popular press and has a fortnightly column called the Impartial Spectator in Mint.

About the Talk

The Constitution of India has a low Index of Difficulty for amendments and a correspondingly high rate of amendment. Which raises the question – at the time of drafting constitutional rules, why did the framers of the Indian constitution choose a relatively easy rule to amend the constitution? I argue that the relatively easy amendment procedure in the Constitution of India is a consequence of the commitment to socialist planning by members of the Constituent Assembly. The canonical model of a rational individual choosing constitutional rules behind the veil of uncertainty does not account for differences in expectations as a result of a particular ideological view – in this case, socialist planning. I introduce the rational socialist who believes in centrally planning economic activity; and faces different costs of collective decision-making relative to the standard Buchanan and Tullock model. In this model, I demonstrate that behind the veil of uncertainty, for a rational socialist, the higher the probability that she expects to be the central planner, the lower the optimal decision-making rule and therefore the level of entrenchment. Using rich source materials of Constituent Assembly Debates and documents on the framing of the Indian Constitution, I demonstrate that the Indian framers were simultaneously socialists and constitutionalists; and this led to a dilution of the amendment procedure during the framing of the Constitution.