Book Review: Ajay Gudavarthy, Maoism, Democracy and Globalisation: Cross-currents in Indian Politics

Date01 December 2015
Published date01 December 2015
Subject MatterBook Reviews
296 Book Reviews
with this judgement. Yet, votaries of the notion of India as a maritime player in the ‘Indo-Pacific’ would
do well to take note of Gordon’s arguments.
The last two chapters are more prescriptive. Here, Gordon considers the range of policies that India
will have to adopt in order to surmount its internal weaknesses and its regional constraints in order to
play a more effective global role. His particular target for criticism is a document produced by a group
of scholars titled, Non Alignment 2.0 (full disclosure: I was one of the authors of that report). Gordon’s
disagreement with it is not so much in terms of specific policy choices. Contrary to his claim, issues of
governance and state capacity were not absent in the report. Rather, he disagrees with the fundamental
assumption of that report: the need to secure and expand India’s strategic autonomy. Like many other
analysts, Gordon would rather see India working closely as a ‘democratic partner of the West in seeking
to stabilize an unstable situation [in Asia-Pacific]’.
Another fine Australian scholar, Hugh White, has recently argued in The China choice (2013) that
India would be loath to shed its strategic autonomy and, in any case, would be better suited to play
a leading role in the ‘concert of Asia’, rather than a being a member of a multilateral balance aimed
at China. These are normative as much as strategic arguments. As such, one can disagree with Gordon,
while still learning much from his important book.
Gordon, Sandy (1995). India’s rise to power in the twentieth century and beyond. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Malone, David M. (2011). Does the elephant dance? Contemporary Indian foreign policy. New Delhi: Oxford
University Press.
Nayyar, Baldev Raj, & Paul, T.V. (2002). India and the world order: Searching for great-power status. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
White, Hugh (2013). The China choice: Why we should share power. New York: Oxford University Press.
Srinath Raghavan
Centre for Policy Research
New Delhi
Ajay Gudavarthy, Maoism, Democracy and Globalisation: Cross-currents in Indian Politics. New Delhi:
SAGE. 2014. 260 pages. `895.
DOI: 10.1177/2321023015601752
The constitutional design and political processes of Indian democracy have continued to attract intel-
lectual attention, but, over a period of time, democratic politics in India has also produced politics of
contestations, revolt, welfare, warfare and conflict management. Scholars studying Indian politics,
including Rajni Kothari, Randhir Singh, Atul Kohli, Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam, and several
works of subaltern school scholars have tried to capture the latter aspect of the Indian democracy.
The book under review can be placed in a similar phylum. It is an attempt to establish linkages between
diverse politics of contestations at the core and at the margins of Indian politics. The book also brings
forth the strategies of state to contain conflicts within manageable limits through its hegemonic
practices. On the whole, this book argues that the trajectories of socio-economic and political develop-
ment in India, while having produced remarkable signs of accumulation and growth, have also produced
the dialectical other—now well known as the wasteland of progress—poverty, discrimination, power-
lessness and revolt. The author maintains that this dialectical process of accumulation and growth, on

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