Economic Analysis of Amendments to the Indian Constitution

Shruti Rajagopalan

Advisor: Peter J Boettke, PhD, Department of Economics

Committee Members: Richard E. Wagner, Lawrence H. White

April 23, 2013, 12:15 PM to 08:45 AM


The Indian Parliament has amended the Constitution of India ninety-seven times since its ratification in 1950. Fundamental Rights in India were amended frequently, specifically the right to private property, which was deleted in 1978 through the Forty-Fourth Amendment. These amendments gradually removed the constitutional constraints placed by the founding fathers on democratic decision-making.

I analyze the role of the ideology and interests of political entrepreneurs in forming and amending constitutional rules in postcolonial India. I examine the robustness of the amendment process and its vulnerability to political and ideological capture by interest groups in the post-constitutional setting in India.

In the first essay, I examine the role of ideology and interests of the constituent assembly in creating a weak procedure for amending property rights. I find that the socialist ideology of the founding fathers, and their fear of markets and private predation, consequently reduced the voting requirements for amending property rights. In the second essay, I examine the consequent political opportunism and constitutional rent seeking due to a weak amendment procedure; and explain the creation, expansion and recent dormancy of the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. In the third essay, I argue that the frequent constitutional amendments are a consequence of the incompatibility between socialism and constitutionalism in India. I provide evidence from constitutional amendments and Supreme Court cases to show that the Constitution was amended to execute the objectives and targets of the Five-Year Plans.