Which Road to Social Revolution? Liberalization and Constitutional Reform in India

  • Alexander Fischer (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This article explores the constitutional ideology of the social revolution in the context of liberal economic reforms in India. While India’s new economic policies emphasize the benefits of competition and free markets her constitutional preferences remain embedded in legal provisions and traditions that favor social engineering in the name of economic, political and social equality. As liberalization as well as the global marketplace have become firmly established in the rhetoric and practice of elite politics, the political momentum towards economic change falls short of the numerical majorities to amend the Constitution. Consequently, India’s Supreme Court judges are taking centre-stage in the field of economic liberalization, having the power to either stall or accelerate the reform process by means of judicial review. Unrestrained by the political obstacles of democratic politics the court has sketched a dialectical reform of the constitutional political economy exercising judicial restraint as the means and modes of production are freed from state control and exposing judicial activism as the judges advocate the interweaving of the distribution and consumption of wealth with the goals of the social revolution. Based on an analysis of judicial policies as well as constitutional reform debates the article maintains that the constitutional ideology of the social revolution acts as an important, if not constructive, constraint and guideline as India’s policies are shifting from “empirical gradualist” socialism to empirical gradualist liberalization and globalization.



India, Social Revolution, Liberalization, Constitutional Reform, Supreme Court, Social Change, Economic Reforms