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

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State Capital, Democracy and Justice: Mapping Politics in India

The Oxford Companion to Politics in India edited by Niraja Gopal Jayal and Pratap Bhanu Mehta (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2010; pp xxvi+603, Rs 3,500 (hb).

T he publication of The Oxford Companion to Politics in India marks the coming of age of political science in India. An array of scholars all over the globe has addressed some of the central issues of Indian politics in this magisterial tome. It is truly a remarkable collection and would change the way Indian politics is taught in our colleges and universities. This book is divided into eight parts, consisting of 38 chapters. It covers vast ground, from institutions, social cleavages, social movements, ideological contestations, political processes, policies, methodologies to Indias relation with the world. Politics and democracy are almost synonymous in India and hence the editors call democracy the unwritten subtext of this volume. Of course, a separate section on democracy and justice could have addressed both the crisis of our polity as well as the public philosophies for the future. No review of any reasonable length can do justice to all the papers, so I have organised this review around three central themes, which, I believe can be both an analytical device for understanding our politics as well as a normative criterion for evaluating our historical experience. This thematic triptych consists of capitalism and the nation state, democracy and the sociopolitical process and nally the question of justice. Of course, they overlap and often become as messy as our politics; it is not possible to dissect our body politic the way we dissected frogs in our biology class in school.

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