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

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Value of Democracy

This letter is to register my distress regarding the inference drawn by the two researchers in their paper “Democracy and Health: Evidence from Indian States” (EPW, 1 October 2011). After presenting infant mortality rate data on Indian states and drawing inference about India’s health status, they virtually conclude that the lives of more than 2.5 billion people of India and China are unaffected by regime type. I think this is too sweeping a generalisation on democracy which has an intrinsic value. (On the instrumental importance and potential of democracy the authors may do well to read Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom (1999) and The Idea of Justice (2009) among others.) If democracy is governance by public reasoning (scientists cannot equate it with electoral democracy and will have to go into the essence of it), papers like this provide depressing news. As Bourdieu observes, every fact is related to a value. Therefore inferences have to be drawn with caution.

M A Oommen

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