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India's Democracy

India's Democracy: An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations

Edited by Atul Kohli
Pranab Bardhan
Paul R. Brass
Stephen P. Cohen
Jyotirindra Das Gupta
Francine R. Frankel
Henry C. Hart
James Manor
Ghanshyam Shah
Foreword by John P. Lewis
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 366
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  • Book Info
    India's Democracy
    Book Description:

    Nine contributors analyze state-society relations in India. A new epilogue covers the Rajiv Gandhi period, leading up to the important elections of December 1989.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5951-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
    (pp. vi-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Atul Kohli
  6. List of Invited Participants at the Conference on “India’s Democracy,” held at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, March 14–16, 1985
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-1)
    John P. Lewis

    This volume is one of the lasting products of a major public relations event, the year-long Festival of India, which began in the United States in 1985. Some of us at the Woodrow Wilson School thought right away that this was an appropriate time and opportunity to organize a conference on Indian politics.

    Princeton has some important ties to India. Though the University does not have a formal South Asian regional studies program, it does have a good number of Indian undergraduate and graduate students, especially at the Wilson School. Several of us on the faculty have served in India,...

  8. INTRODUCTION Interpreting India’s Democracy: A State-Society Framework
    (pp. 3-17)

    For nearly four decades now democracy in India has appeared somewhat of an anomaly. India is a multinational, agrarian society with a rigid and hierarchical social structure. The existence in such a setting of periodic elections, constitutional government, and freedom of expression and association has posed an intellectual puzzle. In a world where most stable democracies have industrialized and capitalist economies, some observers have felt that India’s democracy is either not genuine or that it is likely to falter soon. Others have been convinced of its authenticity and have wondered if the assumptions that make democracy in India seem anomalous...

  9. ONE Political Leadership in India: Dimensions and Limits
    (pp. 18-61)

    Political leadership has been a perennial concern among evaluators of Indian democracy. It was addressed in 1956 at the first international conference of such evaluators, convened in Berkeley by the late Richard L. Park,¹ although it was not then a conventional category of political analysis,² and it remains a concern today. Why has the subject of leadership occupied observers of India and why does it recur today with new urgency? Some assert that India is well-nigh ungovernable, that no system can suffice, and that only superhuman leaders can, for a time, hold the reins.³ Yet this is certainly not the...

  10. TWO Parties and the Party System
    (pp. 62-98)

    Political systems in which diverse parties compete freely for mass electoral support are increasingly hard to find in the less developed nations, even in those that experienced British rule—for a long time thought to yield durable systems of liberal, representative government. But India, after nearly four decades of self-government and eight general elections, and despite hair-raising traumas and persisting threats to open, competitive politics, still qualifies. Nevertheless, in recent years, decay within parties and increasingly destructive conflict among parties have so eroded the strength of the open political system that its survival is in question.

    There is consequently an...

  11. THREE The Military and Indian Democracy
    (pp. 99-143)

    The military dominates politics in almost half the “developing” states of the world, and in most of the others it is not far from power.¹ Until quite recently the armed forces were a major political force in many European nations; in the Leninist states they remain under civilian control, but only because the dominant party—following Lenin’s lead—has militarized itself.

    India stands as a remarkable exception to this prevalence of military dominance, or influence. Although outsiders and Indians have for years been predicting the imminent “takeover” by the Indian army, it is as far from seizing power today as...

  12. FOUR Ethnicity, Democracy, and Development in India: Assam in a General Perspective
    (pp. 144-168)

    The persistence of ethnic politics in contemporary developing countries raises a number of important issues concerning the prospects of development in multiethnic settings. Theoretical traditions in development studies offer little help, however, in organizing these issues in an ordered manner. Theories of political modernization have attended to ethnic claims as sources of tension that normally, but not necessarily, impede the processes of strengthening the state or impair the prospects of national integration.¹ These theories are informed by a conventional liberal assumption that ethnic claims are expressions of undevelopment and that a theory of development should imply that emotional solidarities will...

  13. FIVE The Punjab Crisis and the Unity of India
    (pp. 169-213)

    In the early years after independence in India, as in other countries of Asia and Africa, it was common to view the maintenance of national unity, peace, and internal order as among the central, if not the central, political problems. There was also a shared view among the leaders of the new states that national unity could best be maintained by a process of national integration that involved the development of new loyalties to a centralizing, modernizing state. That view was shared also by virtually all Western scholars who wrote about these questions in the 1950s and 1960s.


  14. SIX Dominant Proprietary Classes and India’s Democracy
    (pp. 214-224)

    Democracy in its present form, like the cinema, is a relatively recent Western import to India. Although initially meant primarily for elite consumption, both have, in a short span of time, struck roots in the hearts and minds of the Indian masses. In the process, both have been reshaped and refurbished by unmistakably indigenous styles, images, and modes of operation. While both are usually noisy, shallow, and gaudy, and often provide unintended cases of the theatre of the absurd, both have, at times, reached unscaled heights. Just as Indian filmmaking has produced many examples of artistic excellence, Indian democracy has...

  15. SEVEN Middle Classes and Castes in India’s Politics: Prospects for Political Accommodation
    (pp. 225-261)

    The term “middle classes” in the historical context of modern Europe suggests the emergence of an economic hierarchy detached from inherited wealth and status and based on achievements in business, education, and the professions. The middle classes in India, as B. B. Misra points out, did not emerge naturally in the aftermath of an industrial revolution that weakened the traditional social order.¹ Unlike the merchant capitalists of England, who raised their first successful challenge to ecclesiastical control over education as early as the fourteenth century, Hindu merchants ofbaniastatus remained insufficiently powerful over the next 400 years to use...

  16. EIGHT Grass-Roots Mobilization in Indian Politics
    (pp. 262-304)

    India is an exception among the Third World countries in that it has opted for and maintained a parliamentary system since independence. Regular elections based on adult franchise have been held during the last three and a half decades. Democracy is more, however, than routine elections at regular intervals or the balance of power among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. It is a political instrument intended to build a participatory, egalitarian, and just social order, in which popular sovereignty rests with the people, and by which common men and women participate in decision-making processes to improve their...

  17. CONCLUSION State-Society Relations in India’s Changing Democracy
    (pp. 305-318)

    The essays in this volume describe and explain India’s changing state-society relations. The picture that emerges is of a functioning democracy within the bounds of a multinational society and a poor economy.¹ It is a picture of a democracy under considerable strain. Indian democracy is battered by increasing demands from a variety of politicized social groups. The norms of democracy have, in addition, been weakened by leaders who do not attach a high premium to institutional constraints on personal power. Pressures from within both the state and the society have contributed to the emergence of personalized rule, ineffective government, and...

  18. EPILOGUE India’s Democracy Under Rajiv Gandhi, 1985–1989
    (pp. 319-334)

    Rajiv Gandhi came to power in India in late 1984, when the essays in this volume were first conceived. He went out of power just as the new edition of the volume goes to press in early 1990. The main purpose of the Epilogue is thus to interpret his term in power within the framework of the volume. Nothing has happened in the intervening five years that would detract from the broad image of India developed in these essays: a functioning but a strained democratic polity. Rajiv Gandhi’s attempts to reverse the continuing institutional fragmentation did not succeed, and activism...

    (pp. 335-336)
    (pp. 337-342)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 343-350)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 351-351)