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

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A Handbook of State Politics

Handbook of Politics in Indian States: Regions, Parties and Economic Reforms edited by Sudha Pai (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2013; pp 443, Rs 1,495.

It was from the pages of this journal that the regionalisation of the Indian polity was announced in 1996, following a series of state assembly elections in the preceding few years. In the decades that followed, the salience of the states in the Indian polity and economy increased, with regional parties becoming crucial to government formation at the centre. Many chief ministers and leaders of regional parties publicly set their sights on the highest political office in the land. It is ironical that this office has, for the first time in two decades, come to be held by a former chief minister, though not one from a regional party, and at a time when regional political parties could not have counted for less in government formation at the centre.

The publication of the Oxford India Handbook of Politics in the Indian States fills a gap in a surprisingly sparse field of scholarship. There have been few edited volumes that examine the experience of multiple states in a more or less comparative vein. In the early years, Iqbal Narain (1976), Myron Weiner (1968) and John R Wood (1984) edited such books, followed in 1989-90 by the two-volume study edited by Francine Frankel and M S A Rao of the caste and social bases of political dominance in the states.

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