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2] State in Comparative Perspective Q & A

Practice Questions

  1. Describe the changing nature of state in the developing societies in the context of inclusive growth in the 21st century. [2018/10m/150w/1b]
  2. A combination of internal pressure (ethnic and regional forces) and external threats (EU, UN, TNC, global market etc.) has produced what is commonly referred to as a ‘crisis of the nation state’. Elaborate. [2016/10m/150w/1e]
  3. Do you subscribe to the view that the modern constructs of the state and politics are pre-eminently Eurocentric and not indigenous and appropriate for the analysis of non-western societies? [2015/10m/150w/1b]
  4. Minimal state ensures maximum of individual liberty. Examine the concept of minimal state. [2013/15m/200w/8b]
  5. “Nations and States have become virtually synonymous.” Elucidate. [2012/15m/200w/7c]

1] Describe the changing nature of state in the developing societies in the context of inclusive growth in the 21st century. [2018/10m/150w/1b]

Developing societies are the post-colonial countries characterized by extensive poverty, inequality and scarce economic capital.

Many developmental scholars have shown a prospectus path towards the development of these societies. FW Riggs gives the idea of prismatic societies. The developing societies are in transition from traditional societies to being ideal modern, capitalist democracies. On the other hand, Samir Amin calls for delinking of the peripheral countries from the development agendas and pressures from the core countries

The western countries have developed into their current forms in centuries, the growth of democracy has been organic. On the other hand, the developing countries had to meet the challenge of nation-building, state-building, participation and distributive justice altogether

Most of the countries choose communism or socialism initially but gave way to liberalization in the late twentieth century. China, an authoritative state opened its economy, calling itself communist simultaneously. India started with a mixed economy and is now climbing ranks to become a business hotspot, but still believes in the positive role of the state and adheres to its constitutional principle of building a welfare society.

2) A combination of internal pressure (ethnic and regional forces) and external threats (EU, UN, TNC, global market etc.) has produced what is commonly referred to as a ‘crisis of the nation state’. Elaborate. [2016/10m/150w/1e]

Sovereignty is defined as the defining feature of modern nation-states. However, the developments in the past century have put a question mark on this assumption.

International organizations like the United Nations, WTO work largely in favour of those who control them. The provisions like veto have ensured that the interests of superpowers will always be protected. This has reduced the scope for independent decision making for developing countries.

Along with external, there are also internal forces at work. With the development of nation-states, internal conflicts have also increased. There is a problem with militant movements (Naxalites in India), separatist movements, ethnic persecutions (Rohingya, Kurds) etc. The actors responsible operate beyond the conventional boundaries of state and are therefore difficult to counteract.

All of this certainly indicates a decline in nation-state across the world. However, the situation is grimmer in third world countries.  Here the internal strife is more serious and they are often at the losing end in international negotiations.

[202 words]

3] Do you subscribe to the view that the modern constructs of the state and politics are pre-eminently Eurocentric and not indigenous and appropriate for the analysis of non-western societies? [2015/10m/150w/1b]

Answer Needs Improvement!

Since the rise of the modern state as a result of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, the concept of state is inextricably bound up with European history and western political theory.

The non-western societies which are the post-colonial third world countries acquired this idea of state from their colonial masters. Most of the post-colonial states were formed unnaturally. The Berlin Conference of 1884 drew geometric boundaries across a map, resulting in the scramble of Africa. It divided coherent groups and merged disparate groups, resulting in events like the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the instant rise of authoritarianism in post-colonial Africa.

One can argue that when the boundaries, the basic feature of the nation-state is of western origin, how its working can be any different. However, as suggested by Sudipta Kaviraj ‘outside Europe the modern state succeeded as an instrument, and as an idea’. Except for leaders like Gandhi and Tagore, others enthusiastically adopted the idea and instrument of modern-state and India is an optimistic example of the establishment of a modern nation-state outside Europe, without violence as was seen in France and America.

We can say that the concept of modern state and politics, given to the world by Europe, has been altered by non-western societies to their needs. And with this, new lenses to analyze them is required along with the traditional ones.

4] Minimal state ensures maximum of individual liberty. Examine the concept of minimal state. [2013/15m/200w/8b]

The concept of minimal state emerged to oppose the Keynesian model of welfare state and Rawls’ idea of justice, which approved the state’s intervention in the economic activities to achieve a more equal society. Robert Nozick, in his book ‘Anarchy, State, and Utopia’, argues that only a minimal state is morally justified.

The minimal state is a libertarian concept in which the state functions essentially as a ‘night watchman’ and has powers limited to those necessary to protect citizens against violence, theft, and fraud. The idea is to maximize the realm of individual freedom and minimize the scope of public authority. There is a ‘roll back’ of state power and the economic and social matters are left entirely in the hands of individuals or private businesses.

However, the minimum state is distinct from anarchism. It allots three core functions to the state; maintenance of domestic order, enforcement of contracts and provision of protection against external attack. It restricts the state to little more than the institutions of the police force, the court system and an army.

The idea of minimal state rejects any kind of welfare or redistribution and is highly associated with the interest of the business community. It talks of their rights to acquire property but fails to see an individual’s ability and efforts are influenced by the social environment and the social or economic capital inherited by the person.

In the end, the idea of minimal state being based on the extreme faith in the individual and in freedom, constantly reminds us of the oppressive potential that resides within all the actions of government and encourage us to be vigilant towards the public authority.

Posted in PSIR 2A QA

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Anchika

Do you subscribe to the view that the modern constructs of the state and politics are pre-eminently Eurocentric and not indigenous and appropriate for the analysis of non-western societies? Analysis and comparison of states has been at the centre of comparative politics discourse. There are various approaches which have attempted to understand the non western societies. Traditional approaches of comparative politics focused on institutions and constitutions for comparison were accused of Eurocentrism and inept to look at the non western societies which emerged after 2nd world war and decolonization.  Thus various models within the spectrum of behavioralism emerged to assess non… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Anchika