Edited by Brian Bridges and Lok Sang Ho
Chapter 6: Governance in Federal India: Democracy and Economic Development
Eric M. Jepsen INTRODUCTION This chapter examines the relative successes and failures of the democratic experiment in contemporary India and considers ways that it has helped to shape the new political economic context in the post-1991 economic reform era. As India enters its 62nd year of post-partition independence, the country has seen democratic governance at the national level for these last three generations of independence, since the British Raj left the subcontinent in 1947. Nevertheless, India currently has several problems associated with some elements of its democratic practices. As well, the country is currently facing difficulties surrounding what has generally been a positive economic development experience of the last decade. However, there are very few people inside India or elsewhere in the world who would suggest that democracy is not on a firm footing in the country. The country has been in the top categorical ranking of “Free” as rated by the Freedom House Foundation for ten years1 and its elections are generally considered to be “free and fair” by international monitoring organizations. Nonetheless, as is the case with all other countries, there remain significant challenges to a fuller and more complete democratic deepening within India. While economic growth has been impressive for much of the last generation, and especially in the recent decade, the gains have not been spread evenly throughout the country. Certain states have done better than others and much of rural India has been left behind during India’s embrace of globalization. Whereas cities and enclaves surrounding...
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