Studies in Indian Politics

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Book review: Subrata K. Mitra, Governance by Stealth: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Making of the Indian State

    Subrata K. Mitra, Governance by Stealth: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Making of the Indian State. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2021. 481 pages. ₹476.

  • Parties, Civil Society and Democratic Deepening: Comparing India, Brazil and South Africa

    Despite being among the most successful democracies in the Global South, India, Brazil and South Africa have all recently experienced democratic crises. I argue that these democratic crises result from the formation of social coalitions that have been willing to subvert democratic institutions and practices in order to preserve or restore their social and economic privileges. In structural terms, these reactions are tied to the unresolved problem of the incorporation of popular classes. This problem has in turn been mediated by the balance between political and civil society. In India and South Africa that balance has favoured the dominance of mass-based nationalist parties that have thwarted democratic deepening. In Brazil, a more balanced relationship between civil society and political society has favoured the partial incorporation of the popular classes.

  • Book review: Anupama Roy, Citizenship Regimes, Law, and Belonging: The CAA and the NRC

    Anupama Roy, Citizenship Regimes, Law, and Belonging: The CAA and the NRC. India: Oxford University Press. 2022. 288 pages. ₹1,495.

  • Book review: Jelle J. P. Wouters, ed. Vernacular Politics in Northeast India: Democracy, Ethnicity & Indigeneity

    Jelle J. P. Wouters, ed. Vernacular Politics in Northeast India: Democracy, Ethnicity & Indigeneity. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2022, 426 pages, ₹1,638.

  • The National Bias of India’s First-Past-The-Post System

    The relationship between the local and the national in Indian politics has taken a variety of forms, from secessionist tendencies to agitational politics around specific issues. The course of this relationship is typically explored through electoral performance, primarily whether a party wins sufficient seats to form the government. There is much less attention paid to the relationship between votes and seats. This has led to some questions not getting the attention they deserve, particularly whether the first-past-the-post electoral system that India uses is entirely neutral in the dynamic between the local and the national. This article addresses this question by developing a model that captures the effects of the share of the votes of national parties, as well as the concentration of national and local votes, on the performance of national and local parties. The empirical evaluation of this system points to an overall national bias, which is eroded over time by the emergence of regionally dominant local parties.

  • ‘Documents of Power’: Historical Method and the Study of Politics
  • Note on Special Section: Comparative Assessments of Indian Democracy
  • Gujarat 2022 Elections: Explaining BJP’s Hegemony

    The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) victory in the 2022 Gujarat state elections not only broke a record but also reversed the trend that was resulting in Congress’ growing effectiveness election after election. This time, the Congress registered its worse performance ever, largely because of the entry of a new player, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but also because of the progress of the BJP. The ruling party is stronger than ever because of its ideology, its organization and, more importantly, its leader, Narendra Modi. These assets allow the BJP to get support across caste, classes and sub-regions like never before. Its rise, however, challenges democracy in different ways, not only its ‘OBCisation’ is not a synonym of plebeinization in terms of class, but its strategy of equating religious majority and political majority and to systematically undermine the opposition tends to make the BJP ‘the only game in town’.

  • Taxation and Accountability in Local Government: A Democratic Deficit in Andhra Pradesh

    This study looks at the vibrancy of local democracy through linkages between local tax collection and accountability: When villagers pay taxes to the village panchayat are they more likely to hold the panchayat accountable? Fifty villages in Andhra Pradesh were surveyed through 500 structured interviews. The study found that in the low-tax environment where panchayats generally follow government-established minimum tax rates, the level of taxation is not politically salient and has no acknowledged impact on panchayat elections. Tax-paying villagers are more likely to participate in the panchayat when residents have connections to outside parties and officials. Except in questions regarding the fairness of internal distributions of works and services, panchayats appear more as the lowest end of the state system than as local democracies. Local government in Andhra Pradesh has a democratic deficit.

  • Institutional ‘Presence’ and the Indian State: The Long Narrative

    The long durée narrative of the state in independent India is one of accumulation of incremental and aggregate power relations arrayed in and through political institutions inhabiting a field of power. These relationships are protean, exhibiting conflicts and contestations among institutions that compete for power within the domain of the state. The ‘ebbs’ and ‘flows’ in power are visible in the state-space represented by institutional arrangements and the patterns of relationship among them. While institutions perform the function of legitimation for the state, they also manifest the crisis that besets the state, reflecting dissonance between its moral–political goals of bringing about socio-economic transformation and its ability to achieve them through ‘state-bureaucratic’ practices. The constitutional state in India can be seen as the setting where the state-idea as limited by law and as an ‘instrument’ for bringing about transformative change was situated. Institutional crises during the emergency and the uneven trajectories of institutional presence in the ensuing period show the marginalization of institutions such as Parliament and the ambivalence of the judiciary in articulating the principles underlying the constitutional consensus. A dominative presence of the executive corroding deliberative spaces making them sites of adversarial combat and the populist appeal of the ‘leader’ drawing upon communitarian emotions has paved the way for a majoritarian state.

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