Among the world's eleven longstanding democracies, India and America are by far the largest. But there is very little material on how the successes and problems of one might be relevant to the other, or to other states. India has managed its diversities impressively, and yet not been part of the study of comparative democratic theory or practice. This volume brings together four leading international scholars in the field, with four India counterparts, to stimulate fresh thinking on the issue. Conscious of the differences between India and the US, and the difficulties of attempting comparisons, they approach democratic practices in one country keeping in mind similarities and contrasts in the other.
Examining democratic institutions in India and the US, the contributors study the points of divergence-and possible convergence-with other democracies. They contest the idea that social homogeneity is essential to democracy. The politics of language in both countries has shown how differences, as opposed to homogeneity, can actually promote democracy.
The volume inquires into the absence, in Indian political parties, of the internal democracy that is intrinsic to the functioning of their US counterparts. It explores links between democracy in parties and their capacity to accommodate religious, racial, ethnic, caste, linguistic, and regional diversities. It also provides insights into the factors that control the strength of democracy and social harmony in societies with a multinational dimension to their polities.
The recent spurt in interest in Indo-US relations will make this volume attractive to scholars of politics and international affairs. Bureaucrats, diplomats, journalists, and interested lay readers too will find it useful.
K. Shankar Bajpai is currently Chairman, Delhi Policy Group, New Delhi. He was formerly Secretary, External Affairs; ambassador to the Netherlands, Pakistan, China, and the USA; Regents and Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley; and first Madeleine Haas Professor of Non-Western Studies, Brandeis University, USA.
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