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

DemocracySubscribe to Democracy

Elections Alone Do Not Make a Democracy

The ideals of democracy and capitalism are antithetical to each other.

The AAP Audit: Can ‘Alternative Politics’ Work?

The Aam Aadmi Party was founded on the belief that Indian politics could be transformed. This reading list examines if this political project has been a success, or if the party's idealism is incompatible with the way politics in India functions.

Does Every Vote Count? Assessing India’s Electoral System

The Indian electoral system is fraught with difficulties that obscure the democratic ideals of an election.

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.

Neo-liberal Transformations and the Challenges of Governing India

Neo-liberal Strategies of Governing India by Ranabir Samaddar, Delhi: Routledge India, 2016; pp xviii + 334, ₹ 1,095.

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.

Ambedkar as a Political Philosopher

Existing studies on B R Ambedkar largely focus on his substantive religious, sociological, political and constitutional concerns, and not on the concepts he deployed for the purpose or modes of his argumentation. His body of work demonstrates that he formulated a number of concepts to take stock of the social reality that he confronted, and/or reformulated existing concepts by critically engaging with the body of scholarship available to him. With regard to the conception of the political, he advanced a comprehensive and consistent design of what it means to live as a public and how best to do so in a setting very different from the West.

Populism, Democracy and Development

By way of analysing and interpreting the outcome of the West Bengal assembly elections 2016, the article “West Bengal Elections: The Verdict of Politics” (EPW, 11 June 2016) has raised some vital questions of immense theoretical importance which deserve serious deliberation. With this object in view, some issues of general interest have been picked up.

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.

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