The State of India's Democracy

In This Review

The State of India's Democracy

Edited by Sumit Ganguly, Larry Diamond, and Marc F. Plattner
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007
231 pp. $18.95

This symposium volume brings together more than a dozen American and Indian scholars to evaluate the state of India's democracy. It is standard practice to honor India by declaring it, without further analysis, to be the world's largest democracy. The authors of this volume, in contrast, take it as a given that there are many different versions of democracy and that India is a special case. They begin by analyzing India's party system and election results and how the relationship of politics to society leads to the management of ethnic conflicts. A key factor in the strength of Indian democracy is the country's successful federalism, the balance achieved between the central government and state and local authorities. Another key factor in India's democracy is its judiciary. Overall, however, the success of Indian democracy is very much determined by the country's civil society and the pride Indians take in their democratic institutions. At the same time, Indians are bothered by corruption in public affairs. The emergence of marginalized elements has further opened the door to graft.

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