This volume examines how Indian democracy has survived the challenges posed by widespread illiteracy, poverty, secessionism and communalism--problems that have felled the fledgling democratic institutions of so many post-colonial societies. The contributors locate the reason for the resilience of Indian democracy in its history--that it was the product of a gradual evolution and not of a sudden imposition from above. The essays in the volume, however, show that despite having stood the test of time, Indian democracy is not a democracy in any substantive sense. The economic policies of successive governments since 1985 have been basically anti-people; rampant casteism, communalism, and the use of money and muscle power have infiltrated the body politic. Mass mobilization has been powered by hate, making it a feature more typical of a nascent neo-fascist state than of a democracy. The 'substantialization of democracy'--proper representation and people's participation in decision making--still remains a distant ideal.
Suhas Palshikar teaches political science at the University of Pune. He is also the co-director of the Lokniti programme (Programme for Comparative Democracy) at CSDS, Delhi. Professor Palshikar has done extensive work in the area of India's party politics and electoral politics. He was also one of the principal investigators and authors of the State of Democracy in South Asia (2008). Currently, he is engaged in the second round of the State of Democracy in South Asia study. His co-edited Indian Democracy: Meanings and Practices (Sage, 2003). His latest publication is the co-edited volume, Party Competition in Indian States (OUP).
Introduction - Rajendra Vora and Suhas Palshikar PART ONE: REAPPROPRIATING MEANINGS Issues before Indian Democracy: An Overview - Rajni Kothari The Crisis of Political Authority - D L Sheth What Is Happening inside Indian Democracy? - Javeed Alam Theorising Indian Democracy - Manoranjan Mohanty Whose Democracy Are We Talking About? Hegemony and Democracy in India - Suhas Palshikar Understanding Indian Politics: Are We Asking the Right Questions? - Jayant Lele The Ethical Insufficiency of Egoism and Altruism: India in Transition - Rajeev Bhargava PART TWO: PRACTICES: EXPANDING SPACES Understanding Indian Secularism: Learning from Its Recent Critics - Thomas Pantham New Dalit Politics - Gopal Guru Decline of Caste Majoritarianism in Indian Politics - Rajendra Vora Rise of the BJP and Decline of the Congress: An Appraisal - V B Singh Predicament of the Left - Sandeep Pendse Increasing Fluidity in Electoral Contest: Is This Mere Anti-Incumbency? - Sanjay Kumar Social Movements in Crisis? - Rajeshwari Deshpande Struggle against Damsor Struggle for Water? Environmental Movements and the State - Gail Omvedt Index
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