ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Can Democratic Centralism Be Conducive to Democracy?

Democratic centralism has generally been accepted as the principle for building communist organisations, whereas it was only meant to address the organisational demands of a particular historical context in Tsarist Russia. By institutionalising centralism and leaving democracy undefined, this organisational form has fostered authoritarian tendencies and undermined the growth of new ideas in the working class movement. This is seen in India where the engagement of the communist parties with democracy has remained ad hoc and untheorised. This article argues that democratic centralism has been an obstacle for the communist parties to be able to creatively respond to new situations and conditions.

The Contemporary Muslim Situation in India: A Long-Term View

Even as they are regarded as the Other of the nation, a new "citizen politics" seems to be taking shape among Muslims in India today, articulating demands relating to jobs, income, education and so on. This new politics - part of a process of secularisation - is radically different from the pre-independence separatist trends. Except at the surface, in the form of demands for reservations and quotas, there is nothing in common in the nature and content of Muslim politics then and now.

Is Caste Appeal Casteism?

Among the oppressed the appeal to caste is for unification of similar 'jatis' into larger collectivities and political mobilisation for power so as to subvert the very relations of the 'varna' order. Caste appeal here is, therefore, far from being casteism. On the other hand, the self-perceived transcendence of the traditionally hegemonic middle class from caste consciousness has rapidly collapsed in the last decade. There has been a steady decomposition of the consciousness of the middle class into articulated caste interests of brahmins, thakurs and so on. Within the Muslim communities there has been a shift away from concerns of security to those of equality and dignity - a politics in affinity to that of the dalits and the OBCs for recognition. They are therefore no more a vote bank; it is a case of alignment of interests of a secular nature, a social coalition of oppressed forces. This fusion of opposite tendencies and intercession of contrary forces has rendered the process of democratisation more and more complicated so that simple judgments become one-sided and are a sure source of misunderstanding.

Behind the Verdict-What Kind of a Nation Are We

What Kind of a Nation Are We? Javeed Alam This paper examines the verdict of the Lok Sabha elections not to provide a reading of the votes and seats and their statistical significance, but to go into and work towards answering two larger questions: (1) What kind of notion of the nation is getting articulated in the way people have given expression to their political preferences in this and the previous two or three elections ? (2) What are the implications of the oft-repeated assertion that there is a disjunction in Indian politics between the social reality and the nature of political power? While remaining supportive of the struggle of the hitherto excluded social groups to press their rightful claim to power, the author examines what are the outside limits of this process. What are the gains for the people if the disjunction is overcome? And for democracy and the polity sustained by it?

ON ELECTION-EVE - I- In Defence of the Third Alternative

ON ELECTION-EVE I In Defence of the Third Alternative Javeed Alam The central question in Indian politics today cannot be one only of stability. Abstracted of its contextual links, stability, quite like merit, becomes a recipe for reactionary backsliding, to evade questions of urgent change. The question that ought rather to be asked is: how does one channel the churning and restlessness in society in a way that provides for a governance which ensures some prescription for equity and a way out of the disastrous surrender to the dictates of the IMF-World Bank.

HIMACHAL-Political Necessity vs Lost Possibilities

Political Necessity vs Lost Possibilities Javeed Alam Electoral politics is no longer just about good intentions or high motives but equally, and more importantly, about choosing between parties which can provide a government that manages to rule for a given period. This orientation to electoral politics has pushed into background the earlier transformative agenda and has settled onto what seems realisable. Seen in this perspective of the self-articulated experience of the people, the uncomplicated nature of the electoral response of the Himachal society in the assembly elections, 1993 makes immediate sense.

State and the Making of Communist Politics in India, 1947-57

The hold of what the author calls the 'non-hegemonic conquest' model on the thinking of Communist parties in India and on the Communist mind in general did not allow them to see the manoeuvres of the Indian state to subsume society within itself Nor did it allow them to intervene in the day-to day life of the people lived as it was in the inherited institutions and thus to transform their outlook and develop alternative institutions. This has had very wide-ranging results on how left politics has related itself to radical movements.

Congress Party Consensus Politics to Autocratic Regime

Congress Party: Consensus Politics to Autocratic Regime Javeed Alam ONE of the features that has had considerable influence on Indian politics in the post-independence phase has been the transformation of the Congress party. From a democratically maintained coalition of different classes under the leadership of the capitalists and the landlords it has become a highly centralised and autocratic political machine owing subservience to a single individual. In this disintegration, the 1969 split of the Congress party under Indira Gandhi's leadership remains, by far, the most important landmark. It has in fact been treated as the basis of dividing the rule of the Congress party into old and new. It is significant because the tendencies towards centralisation of power and their concentration in the hands of the individual which were historically at work became pronounced thereafter, culminating in the Emergency and institutionalised authoritarianism. It is therefore important to look at the 1969 split both in terms of the continuties and breaks with the past in some detail. The author of the book under review* considers the events of 1969 as "perhaps the most momentous upheaval in the organisation since the split between the Moderates and Extremists at its Surat session in 1907'-(p 1), In an Introduction written as J postscript which updates the connections upto the return of Indira Gandhi to power in 1980, and in a long theoretical chapter the author sets out the conceptual framework for the study. In this* the 1969 split in the Congress party treated as forming part of the larger analytical category of what has been called "party schism". This in turn is explained "as the outcome of three major factors: elite tensions within the party organisation, changes in the level of political mobilisation in the larger society, and the institu- tionalisation of the party system and the nature of the party concerned" (p 22). These factors are then subjected to an order of explanatory importance; Split in a Predominant Party: The Indian National Congress in 1969 by Mahendra Prasad Singh; Abhi- nav Publication, New Delhi, 1981;
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