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Indian Democracy

Equality and Social Justice: ideals Inequality and Social Injustice: realities

Historical underpinnings
Constitution framers beliefs in equality, liberty and fraternity Optimism about the transforming role of the state Choice made for equality and liberty, constraints on fraternity recognized


isolation and segregation

Stress on procedural democracy

The choices led to Procedural democracy: legal equality and representative model of governance Focus on institutional arrangements in Procedural democracy

Substantive democracy?
Politically engaged equal citizens, ability to exercise citizenship rights; holding leaders accountable in substantive democracy Constraints on fraternity led to postponement of issue of substantive democracy Formidable barriers posed by stratification Stress on procedural democracy has skewed evaluation of Indian democracy

Core values: Equality, autonomy, freedom Depending on which of these three values get stressed particular models of democracy emerge

Indian model participatory, realist, with interventionist state

Principles justifying democracy a mosaic: autonomy, freedom and equality. Combinations indicate a particular model of democracy. * Model 1/ Autonomy privileged in alliance with freedom: Representative/ liberal pluralist * Model 2/ Freedom privileged: Libertarian (e.g. New Right) * Model 3/ Equality privileged: Social democracy (Redistribution is a role of the State) * Model 4/ Autonomy privileged, in alliance with equality: Participatory * Model 5/ Rejection of normative principles, instrumental value only: Realist * Model 6/ Autonomy privileged, in alliance with freedom, equality: Deliberative

Representative Liberal Pluralist Participatory

Freedom Libertarian

Equality Social democracy

Strengthening of identity politics

Political participation & legal equality led to political mobilization Identity politics strengthened; particularities stressed in competitive environment making claims on state (language/ region/ religion) Further strengthened with political assertion of the historically-disadvantaged non-SC/ST broadening of democracy Trends towards centralization by mid-70s

Democratic challenges to this centralization:

1) federalization of the polity (emergence of regional parties); 2) local democracy (instrumental and intrinsic justification); 3) environmental and other movements that run counter to dominant development models.

Procedural democracy: ++

Political participation and contestation have increased. Success in procedural democracy. Constraint: permanent majority and minority. Equality enshrined in Constitution: equality before the law, and equal protection of the law (with the former qualified by provision of advancement of backward communities). While there are frequent breakdowns, guarantees of freedom are generally sustained.

Substantive democracy: -

On dimensions of accountability/responsiveness, Indian democracy weak. Transparency (RTI); panchayati raj. Political equality compromised by inequalities in distribution of power and resources in society. Obstacles to exercise of equal rights: patriarchy, caste inequalities, socio-economic deprivation, multiple identities leading to multiple oppressions.



Diversitynegotiating recognizing cultural plurality and endorsing equalityunresolved issue; freedom of religion, cultural rights of minorities, compensatory discrimination, universal citizenship rights vs community rights Civil Societyunderstand the difference between the prescriptive and descriptive dimensions of civil society. Civil society as a bridge between citizens and the state, between democracy in formal governance and the absence of conditions necessary for democracy



Developmentdemocracy and development not mutually exclusive, addressing human dimension of development, in spite of slower negotiations; this challenge perhaps now more important since 1991 New agenda: Inclusive development



Accelerated growth in recent times and an exacerbation of inequalitiesregional, social and economic Benefits accruing more to those areas where the infrastructure, resources, human capital and influence were already well established

Governance challenges





Public investment in infrastructure Social policies (land, social security, financial inclusion) Inclusive governance Dealing with social violence as symptom of exclusion Dealing with impatience with corrupt systems