Comparative Assessments of Indian Democracy

Published date01 June 2023
AuthorDishil Shrimankar
Date01 June 2023
Subject MatterTeaching-Learning Politics in India
Comparative Assessments of
Indian Democracy
Dishil Shrimankar1
In this short note, I wish to underline some of the issues relating to teaching Indian democracy in a com-
parative perspective. I will underline my own experiences of teaching Indian democracy to a largely
Western audience in the United Kingdom. I have been employed, first as a teaching fellow, then as a post-
doctoral research fellow and finally as a lecturer in several different British universities. The core substan-
tive part of my teaching has been to teach courses on Indian democracy to undergraduate students. I have
taught the Indian experience with democracy as part of a larger course on democratic development to first-
and second-year undergraduate students. However, the bulk of my teaching on Indian democracy has been
as a specialist third-year course on Indian democracy and Indian politics. In all the classes I have taught on
Indian democracy, the main aim has been to understand how India’s experiences inform, and revises,
major theories of comparative politics, be it democratic consolidation, economic development, or political
violence. At the same time, I have attempted to debunk the picture of Indian citizens and its voters as
non-strategic, irrational agents. Finally, in this note, I will also underline how Indian democracy and its
politics are very good examples of teaching several research design elements.
In this note, I will pick different examples from my own teaching of Indian democracy to underline
how Indian politics and its democracy challenges some of the core theories in comparative politics. I will
also highlight why India’s exceptionalism is not down to non-strategic, irrational voters and how all this
helps drive through several important research design themes.
India’s Democratic Birth and the Comparative Method
India’s independence and its success with democratic consolidation in the 1950s can be used as a perfect
example for the comparative method.
The comparative method is predominantly informed by the logic set forth by John Stuart Mill.
Colloquially, they are referred to as Mill’s methods. Broadly speaking, there are two types: Mill’s method
of difference and Mill’s method of agreement. In the social sciences, logic was formalized by
Adam Przeworski and Henry Teune (Przeworski & Teune, 1970). They are referred to as the Most
Teaching-Learning Politics in India
Studies in Indian Politics
11(1) 134–139, 2023
© 2023 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/23210230231166182
Note: This section is coordinated by Rajeshwari Deshpande (
1 Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Corresponding author:
Dishil Shrimankar, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Manchester, Manchester
M139PL, United Kingdom.

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