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

Articles By Democracy

Despite Free and Fair Elections, Our Idea of the Republic Is at Risk

On the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day, it is worth considering how the very foundational idea of a republic, in which supreme power is held by the people, is at risk despite free and fair elections. To arrive at that argument, this article delineates the historical trajectory of India’s Right to Information movement as arising out of the need to address the unfinished agenda of democratisation since independence. It then discusses how the movement has strengthened oppositional politics by expanding the terrain for political participation and has also empowered individual citizens in their struggles to claim their entitlements from the state. By resisting scrutiny under the Right to Information Act and attempting to dilute the law’s empowering potential, political representatives and bureaucrats are subverting democracy itself. 

Genealogies of Nagaland’s ‘Tribal Democracy’

Compared to the bulky literature on caste and democracy, we still know little about the form and functioning of democratic politics amongst tribes. This is a serious lacuna, one which, at the level of sociology, impedes the kind of careful comparison that has long proven fruitful to capture the inner logic and intricacies of social life. If caste is deemed central to any understanding of contemporary Indian politics, what about those states and constituencies in which tribes preponderate numerically?

Diversity, Democracy, and Dissent: A Study on Student Politics in JNU

Qualitative and quantitative evidence collected over the last four years (2014–18) at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus reaffirms the crucial contribution of the institution’s diverse and democratic base to Indian politics. The authors suggest that JNU promotes a diverse yet inclusive campus, gives space to radical voices not only from the organisational left movement but across the political spectrum, and finally upholds a tradition of dissent which is in line with protecting the rights of free speech and promoting the values of democracy. 

Brexit Offers No Particular Spoils for India

Abhijit Sarkar makes two claims in "Spoils of Brexit for India" (EPW, 13 August 2016): British voters ignored the interests of non-British Commonwealth residents in the European Union referendum, and that the outcome of the referendum will benefit India. The second claim is questionable, and is based on little evidence. The first, meanwhile, relies upon unsubstantiated assertions and unscientific experimentation, but nevertheless raises interesting questions about legitimate democratic participation.

Political Economy of US-Pakistan Relations

Hamza Alavi, in this journal, offered the most pronounced presentation of US-Pakistan relations in terms of a patron-client model. In an attempt to further the understanding, it is noted that Alavi discounted the role of the internal political economy of Pakistan. The canonical patron-client formulation is scrutinised to reformulate the role of Pakistan as an "estranged client." The attempt is to internalise the interplay of the geostrategic and political-economy interests of the Pakistani military in US-Pakistan relations.

Secularism and Religious Violence in Hinduism and Islam

This article underlines the need to move beyond the exhausted notion of all religions preaching peace to studying the specific manner in which violence is legitimised in each religion. This is the first step liberal secularists need to take if they plan to mount a successful challenge to the dominance of the Hindu right.