Bose lucidly analyzes India’s “decentered democracy,” in which power lies increasingly with the state governments. Their authority grows partly out of the federal constitution, but more substantially, it is the result of the takeover since the 1990s of many state governments by political parties that are rooted in local ethnolinguistic communities and that owe little loyalty to New Delhi. As an example, Bose explores West Bengal, where the long-ruling Left Front coalition built a political machine dependent on landless rural voters, until it was supplanted by a local breakaway faction of the Indian National Congress. He also looks at two communities that are profoundly alienated from the political system: Kashmiri Muslims, who have conducted a long-running rebellion in the face of brutal repression, and tribal groups living in a band of forested districts in the east, where a Maoist (or Naxalite) insurgency has smoldered for decades. The willingness of most Indians to commit to multiple social identities has produced a distinctive form of democratic politics. In revealing both the violence and the vitality of India’s democracy, Bose sees the country’s future prosperity and stability as anything but assured.
In This Review
In This Review
Most Read Articles
What Really Happened in Iran
The CIA, the Ouster of Mosaddeq, and the Restoration of the Shah
How America Lost Faith in Expertise
And Why That's a Giant Problem
Why the Strait of Hormuz Is Still the World’s Most Important Chokepoint
And Why the United States Should Guarantee Its Security
When Stalin Faced Hitler
Who Fooled Whom?
How Iran Sees Its Standoff With the United States
And What Trump Should Do to Solve the Problem He Created