The Washington Consensus is a set of ten free market economic policy prescriptions considered to constitute the “standard” reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington, D.C. – based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and United States Department of the Treasury.
The prescriptions encompassed policies in such areas as macroeconomic stabilization, economic opening with respect to both trade and investment, and the expansion of market forces within the domestic economy.
India was forced into adopting the path of the Washington Consensus when it turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for support in 1991 because its foreign exchange reserves had become precariously low. India had to open its economy for more imports and more investments by foreigners.
However, by the late 1990s it was becoming clear that the results of the Washington Consensus were far from optimal. Increasing criticism led to a change in approach that shifted the focus away from a view of development as simply economic growth and toward poverty reduction and the need for participation by both developing-country governments and civil society. That ch ange of direction came to be known as the post-Washington Consensus.