This chapter elaborates the book's aims. First, it probes the longer politico-historical connections across two time periods that are usually treated as distinct: the period of state oversight and ownership from the 1950s to the 1980s and the period of market reforms from roughly the early 1990s onward. The earlier period of an advancing state apparatus conditioned in important ways the state's retreat in the following period. Second, this project seeks to reexamine the role of the Indian state in development. Despite the central state's inordinate authority to determine the country's development agenda, collect and disperse revenue, and wield military power, India's states have commanded authority in vital domains, including key pieces of the social and physical architecture of the Indian state and economy. State-level regimes produced and allocated goods in sectors like electricity in ways that attempted to advance distinct political economic visions, albeit sometimes unsuccessfully.
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