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Democracy and Discontent

Democracy and Discontent
India's Growing Crisis of Governability


  • Author: Atul Kohli, Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Date Published: June 1991
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521396929

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About the Authors
  • Long considered one of the great successes of the developing world, India has more recently experienced growing challenges to political order and stability. Institutional mechanisms for the resolution of conflict have broken down, the civil and police services have become highly politicized, and the state bureaucracy appears incapable of implementing an effective plan for economic development. In this book, Atul Kohli analyzes political change in India from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. Based on research conducted at the local, state and national level, the author analyzes the changing patterns of authority in and between the centre and periphery. He combines rich empirical investigation, extensive interviews and theoretical perspectives in developing a detailed explanation of the growing crisis of governance his research reveals. The book will be of interest to both specialists in Indian politics and to students of comparative politics more generally.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The implications of Kohli's insightful analysis of the political dilemmas of development in the world's largest democracy extend well beyond the borders of India. This book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand state-society relations in the Third World.' Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley

    'This book is a tour de force. Kohli's implicit argument is that the state in India cannot be understood simply by looking at the machinations in New Delhi. Rather, one must examine three different levels. The district, state and national stages are all important in understanding the overall place of the state in Indian society. The grave difficulty that the Indian state has encountered in trying to govern its heterogeneous society comes despite a great centralization of function and power over the last … [few] decades. Kohli explains this paradox and shows why events at the local level have placed severe constraints on the ability of the state to govern Indian society. Democracy and Discontent will surely be among the most important books on the politics of India.' Joel Migdal, University of Washington, Seattle

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 1991
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521396929
    • length: 436 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 159 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.685kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 23 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of tables and figures
    Preface and acknowledgements
    Part I. Introduction:
    1. An overview of the study
    2. Some conceptual and theoretical considerations
    Part II. The Growing Problems of Governing the Periphery: Politics in the Districts: Introduction: the districts
    3. Kheda, Gujarat
    4. Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
    5. Belgaun, Karnataka
    6. Calcutta, West Bengal
    7. Madurai, Tamil Nadu
    Conclusion: the districts
    Part III. Order and Breakdown in the States: Introduction: the states
    8. Breakdown in a 'backward' state: Bihar
    9. Growing turmoil in an 'advanced' state: Gujarat
    10. From breakdown to order: West Bengal
    Conclusion: the states
    Part IV. Centralization and Powerlessness at the Center: Introduction: the center
    11. Managing the economy: halfhearted liberalization
    12. Managing the troubled political institutions: the Congress party and relations with Punjab
    Conclusion: the center
    Part V. Final Inferences:
    13. Political change in a democratic developing country

  • Author

    Atul Kohli, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Atul Kohli is an Associate Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, Princeton University. He is the author of The State and Poverty in India: The Politics of Reform (CUP, 1987).

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