Reading of the Indian Constitution

Political Transition and Development Imperatives in India edited by Ranabir Samaddar and Suhit K Sen (New Delhi and Abingdon: Routledge), 2012; pp viii + 296, Rs 795.

It seems that postcolonial India’s fate is to forever remain on tenterhooks having witnessed not just one but two paradigmatic transitions in its not-so-old life. The first transition from the colonial rule to constitutional rule coinciding with the birth of postcolonial India has been marked by a bewildering variety of negotiations, tensions, dilemmas, paradoxes and contradictions.While India’s case is not the sole instance in this regard, her experience has been particularly challenging and problematic, if not for anything else but for the sheer number, spread and depth of contentious issues and factors to be addressed. Then again, before the dust of the first transition could settle down, the second one would emerge with India’s much-controversial but much less-debated entry to the domain of market-led development.

The book under review deals overwhelmingly with the first transition while acknowledging the connection between the two. It is broadly divided into two sections – “The Juridical-Political Route to Norms of Governance” and “Paradigms of Inequality, Pathways to Entitlement” – with instances of shuttling back and forth between the two.

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