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The paper defines financial liberalization, distinguishing between capital account convertibility and liberalization of domestic financial markets. It then examines the stages and the strategy of Indian financial reform and compares it with that of other South Asian countries. The Indian strategy followed a well thought out sequence whereby full capital account liberalization was to come after deepening domestic markets, and improving government finances. One alone is dangerous without the others. The experience of the global crisis has validated the Indian strategy and also shown that foreign entry has benefits but cannot resolve all issues. Deepening domestic markets and better domestic and international regulation is a necessary prerequisite for full convertibility. The stages of future liberalization should be adapted to the needs of financial inclusion, infrastructure finance, and domestic market deepening.

The paper defines financial liberalization, distinguishing between capital account convertibility and liberalization of domestic financial markets. It then examines the stages and the strategy of Indian financial reform and compares it with that of other South Asian countries. The Indian strategy followed a well thought out sequence whereby full capital account liberalization was to come after deepening domestic markets, and improving government finances. One alone is dangerous without the others. The experience of the global crisis has validated the Indian strategy and also shown that foreign entry has benefits but cannot resolve all issues. Deepening domestic markets and better domestic and international regulation is a necessary prerequisite for full convertibility. The stages of future liberalization should be adapted to the needs of financial inclusion, infrastructure finance, and domestic market deepening.

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