Example Course 8: The Political-Economic System of India

An exploration of India’s economy, its structures, institutions, power relations, history, and, most importantly its key issues and current policy debates

Example Courses

In this chapter, we demonstrate how to create actual courses using the Economy Studies design toolkit, showing various example courses. Each of these courses flows from our central philosophy: teach students how to study the economy, rather than teaching them one form of economic thinking in the abstract. In terms of our principles, they vary: some of these example courses focus more on pluralism, others on real-world economics, others yet on thinking about values. As for the building blocks, each of the example courses uses at least one of the ten building blocks, while most use more than one.

These courses are described rather briefly in this chapter, as full syllabi, slides or exam questions would take up too much space in a physical book. More extensive course descriptions, syllabi and teaching material can be found in the online database of our partner organisation Exploring Economics.

The courses shown here are highly diverse, and mainly intended to inspire and to show the range of possibilities. Depending on the knowledge available within a department, the courses designed there could be vastly different from the examples shown here.

Example Courses:

  1. The Challenges of Our Time (Main BB1, Additional BB2, BB3, BB8, BB9, BB10)
  2. Argentina and the IMF (Main BB9, Additional BB2, BB3, BB6, BB8, BB10)
  3. The Economics of Oil (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB6)
  4. A Historical Perspective on Economic Success (Main BB4, Additional BB1, BB6)
  5. The Digital Economy of South Korea (Main BB2, Additional BB3, BB5, BB6)
  6. Agent-Based Modelling (Main BB7, Additional BB4, BB9)
  7. The World of Production (Main BB8, Additional BB2, BB3, BB4, BB5)
  8. The Political-Economic System of India (Main BB6, Additional BB2, BB3, BB10)
  9. Economics for a Better World (Main BB10, Additional BB1, BB2)
  10. Coordination and Allocation Mechanisms in Norwegian Agriculture (Main BB5, Additional BB2, BB3)
  11. The Economics of Financial Crises (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB4, BB6)

Example Course 7: The Political-Economic System of India

Course outline:

The course starts out with an exercise for students to interview some of their family members and friends about how they perceive the political-economic system of India and make summaries of their views. After this, students are asked to describe India’s political-economic system according to their own understanding in a short essay. To help students in this exercise the first lecture is devoted to explaining what political-economic systems are, but importantly this is done without any discussion of India so that the essay is not influenced by the teacher’s or reading descriptions. At the end of the course students are asked to go back to their essay and reflect on how their understanding of India’s political-economic system has changed or been enriched. 

The main part of the course is devoted to readings about political-economic systems in general, capitalism in particular, and India’s specific complex and changing system. Here it is also important to pay attention to the legacies and continuing influences of India’s colonial but also its diverse precolonial history. As well as to more recent historical developments, such as India’s Green Revolution, industrial development, and the change from social democratic, statist and protectionist policies to neoliberal, free market and free trade policies. Besides the academic readings, students are also exposed to art (literature, visual and performing arts) on these matters. In weekly assignments they are asked to explain what a piece of art tries to communicate about India’s political-economic system and how this relates to the academic readings.

The main focus of the course is, however, on understanding today’s economy and its structures, institutions, power relations, key issues and recent developments. The last lectures are each devoted to a specific economic issue, such as its healthcare crisis, unemployment, and international economic position, and the debates around how to tackle it. In the weekly seminars students debate policy proposals related to the issue with each other. To conclude the course students have to take an exam which tests their knowledge of how capitalism works, India’s political-economic system, its history and current challenges. 

Teaching Materials:

  • What The Economy Needs Now by Mihir S. Sharma, Abhijit Banerjee, Gita Gopinath, Raghuram Rajan
  • An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions by Amartya Sen en Jean Drèze
  • Bardhan, P. (2012). Awakening giants, feet of clay: Assessing the economic rise of China and India. Princeton University Press.
  • Rise and demise: Comparing world-systems (chapters: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9)
  • Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction by James Fulcher
  • Capitalism (2008) by Geoffrey Ingham
  • Frankel, Francine (2005) India’s Political Economy 1947-2004: The Gradual Revolution, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press
  • India: The Emerging Giant by Arvind Panagariya
  • Mazumdar, S. (2010). Indian capitalism: A case that doesn’t fit?.
  • Hundt, D., & Uttam, J. (2017). Varieties of capitalism in Asia: Beyond the developmental state. Springer. In particular chapter: India’s ‘Democratic Capitalism’ and China’s ‘Market Socialism’
  • Rosser Jr, J. B., & Rosser, M. V. (2018). Comparative economics in a transforming world economy. Mit Press. In particular chapter: India: The Elephant Walks

Required background knowledge:


Nominal workload:

6 ECTS (180 hrs)

This course uses the following building blocks:


  • Political-Economic System (BB6)


  • Know your own Economy (BB2)
  • Economic History (BB3)
  • Economics for a Better World (BB10)