Book review: Peter Ronald deSouza, Hilal Ahmed and Mohd. Sanjeer Alam, Democratic Accommodations: Minorities in Contemporary India

AuthorKrishnamurari Mukherjee
Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
148 Book Reviews
both Muslim and Christian minorities and the unleashing of violence against them. Jaffrelot says that the
vigilantes—digital and physical—as purveyors of violence against minorities colluded with the state
apparatus, especially the police, and have become an all-pervasive social phenomenon. The twin
practices of ‘anti-Christian xenophobia’ and ‘recurrent mobilizations against Muslims’ led to laying the
foundations for ‘de facto Hindu rashtra’.
The final part of the book quintessentially focuses on the different facets of the form of authoritarianism
under Narendra Modi. This part elucidates the linkages between the categories of populism,
homogenization, polarization and authoritarianism. Nationalist–populist leaders often end up being
authoritarian and, as Levitsky and Ziblatt (2018) explain in their book, they often endorse their supporters’
violence when they refuse to unambiguously condemn and punish it. The hegemonic project of ‘ethnic
democracy’, as Jaffrelot mentions, cannot be completed without the capture of all branches of the
government, including the press and media (p. 298), and deinstitutionalization of all democratic
institutions. The project, therefore, signifies the criticality of elections in terms of ‘electoral
authoritarianism’ and inescapably manufactures others as the enemy. In the final chapter Jaffrelot posits
that it is the Indian Muslims who are not only socially marginalized but are institutionally excluded and
judicially obliterated.
The book makes a strong indictment of Modi’s India and establishes the thesis that India is becoming
a model of ethnic majoritarian democracy, heading into the terrain of illiberal democracy. Political events
since the book was published provide added evidence of India’s democratic backsliding. The book,
though voluminous, is descriptive and both interesting and easy to read.
Levitsky, S., & Ziblatt, D. (2018). How democracies die. Penguin.
Tanvir Aeijaz
Department of Political Science, Ramjas College,
University of Delhi, New Delhi, India
Peter Ronald deSouza, Hilal Ahmed and Mohd. Sanjeer Alam, Democratic Accommodations: Minorities in
Contemporary India (New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing House, 2019), 203 pp. `1,299.
DOI: 10.1177/23210230221082823
The product of a collaboration of Indian political scientists (deSouza, Ahmed and Alam) and an
independent German Foundation (Bertelsmann Stiftung), this book grapples with the challenge that
India faces: Can an inherently deeply diverse society be a guiding light to states overwhelmed by the
challenge of multiculturalism? Its central thesis proposes that India can become a guiding force to the
world in terms of addressing the demands of multiculturalism through its politics of accommodation.
The authors argue that the politics of accommodation, for all practical purposes, should take the shape
of policies of accommodation and not enlightened benevolence, because the latter does not genuinely
accept the validity of minority claims. It is not made clear why enlightened benevolence cannot lead to
a genuine recognition of the validity of minority claims or why it is antithetical to the demands of
democracy. Aside from the argument that the validity of minority claims has to be founded ‘politically,

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT