Transforming India : social and political dynamics of democracy 9780195651577, 019565157X

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T R A N S F O R M I N G INDIA

TRA N SFO RM IN G INDIA Social and Political Dynamics of Democracy

E d ited by

FRANCINE R. FRANKEL ZOYA HASAN RAJEEV BHARGAVA BALVEERARORA

OXPORD U N IV ERSITY PRESS

3&K 3 )

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O XFO RD U N IV ER SIT Y PRESS

YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi 110001 Oxford University Press is a department o f the University o f Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective o f excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in Oxford New York Athens Auckland Bangkok Bogota Buenos Aires Calcutta Cape Town Chennai Dar es Salaam Delhi Florence Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Mumbai Nairobi Paris Sao Paolo Singapore Taipei Tokyo Toronto Warsaw with associated companies in Berlin Ibadan Oxford is a registered trade mark o f Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries Published in India By Oxford University Press, New Delhi © Oxford University Press 2000

The moral rights o f the author have been asserted Database right Oxford University Press (maker) First published 2000 All rights reserved. No part o f this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing o f Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope o f the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer ISBN 0 19 565157 X Typeset in Berkeley by Comprint, New Delhi 110029 Printed in India at Rashtriya Printers, Delhi 110032 Published by Manzar Khan, Oxford University Press YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi 110 001

. I "I

Preface

This volum e em erged from a conference at India International C entre on ‘D em ocracy and Transform ation: India Fifty Years After Independence’ in N ovem ber 1 9 9 7 . O ur intention was to take stock of the d em ocratic exp erien ce in India, co n cep tu al­ ized as a set of in teraction s— those between liberal ideas and institutions on the one hand, and hierarchical social stru ctu res and heterogeneous cultures on the other. In other w ords, we w anted to present a dynam ic understanding of how d em ocratic form s of governance are able to adapt to unequal and divided societies, and in doing so, also change the cultural expression of rights and obligations, and patterns of social and political power. The academ ic organizing com m ittee consisting of the four editors worked to identify the participants, including the scholars invited to give papers and act as discussants. W e invited Dr E. S rid h a ra n , A ca d e m ic D ire cto r, U n iv e rsity o f P e n n sy lv an ia In stitu te for the Advanced Study of India (UPIAS1) to jo in us for substantive discussions, and requested UP1ASI to take on the responsibilities of coordinating the arrangem ents for the New Delhi conference. This task was greatly facilitated by the superb co o p e ra tio n we enjoyed from N .N . Vohra (D ire c to r), N .H . R am ach an d ran (S ecretary ) and Lalit Jo sh i (M an ager) of India International C entre, and the staff, in overseeing the sm ooth functioning of the conference, am ong the first to take place in the state of the art facility and beautiful natural surroundings of the new A nnexe building. W e feel fortunate that so m any outstanding sch olars from across disciplines and professions, based in India, the United

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Preface

States and E u rop e enthusiastically responded to the challenge of this enterprise. All of the scholars represented in this volum e revised their original papers in response to the discussions at the conference, circulated in the form of proceedings. They also updated th eir pap ers, as ap p ro p riate, to take a cco u n t of the ou tcom e of the Feb ru ary -M arch 1 9 9 8 elections; the last revised paper, by Balveer A rora, also addresses the im p lication s for d em ocratic governance of the loss of confidence of the BJP-led coalition in April 1 9 9 9 . All of us owe a special debt of gratitude to V ictoria Farm er, Assistant D irector, C enter for the Advanced Study of India until O ctober 1 9 9 8 , and Professor Douglas Verney, A djunct Professor, South Asia Regional Studies, U niversity of Pennsylvania for the m eticu lou s editing of each paper and queries to the a u th o rs for rev isio n . Ritu M enon, a p rofession al p u blish er, p rovided in­ valuable assistan ce in com p letin g the final co p y -ed itin g, to tighten the w riting and standardize the style for publication a c ­ cording to specifications of Oxford University Press. All of these efforts saved valuable time in bringing out the volum e as quickly as possible. Finally, 1 w ant to express m y personal appreciation to David D. Arnold and Dr Terrence G eorge, then R epresentative, and Program Officer, respectively of The F o rd F o u n d atio n , New Delhi, for the confidence they displayed in this p roject by ap ­ proving the grant w hich m ade the N ovem ber 1 9 9 7 conference possible.

May 5, 1 9 9 9

F ran cin e R. Frank el C enter for the A dvanced Study of India Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Contents

C o n trib u to rs I n tr o d u c tio n /C o n te x tu a l D e m o c ra c y : in te rs e c tio n s o f society, cu ltu re and p o litics in India FRANCINE R. FRAN KEL

D em o cratic V ision o f a N ew R epu blic: India, 1 9 5 0 RAJ EE V BHARGAVA

T h e Strong State and the F e a r of D isord er PAUL R. BRASS \

D e m o cra cy and Social In eq u ality SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ

U n d e rsta n d in g th e S econ d D e m o c ra tic U p su rg e : tren d s o f B ahu jan p a rticip a tio n in e le cto ra l p olitics in the 1 9 9 0 s YOGENDRA YADAV

R ep resen tatio n and R ed istrib u tio n : th e new lo w e1 caste p o litics o f n o rth India ZOYA HASAN

N eg o tiatin g D ifferen ces: federal co a litio n s and n atio n al c o h e sio n BALVEER ARORA

E c o n o m ic P o licy and the D ev elop m en t of C apitalism in India: the role of region al cap italists and p o litical p arties SANJAYA BARU

Contents

vii i

E c o n o m ic P o licy and Its P o litical M an agem en t in the C u rre n t C o n ju n ctu re PRABHAT PATNAIK

231

D ep ictin g the N ation : m edia p o litics in in d ep en d en t India V IC TO RIA L. FARM ER

254

T he India P o lice: e x p e c ta tio n s of a d e m o cra tic p o lity R.K. RAGHAVAN

288

Ju d g e s and In dian D em o cracy : the lesser evil? RA JEEV DHAVAN

314

H indu N atio n alism and D e m o cra cy CH RISTO PH E JA F F R E L O T

353

The T ran sform ation of H indu N ation alism ? T ow ards a reap p raisal AMR1TA BASU

379

India in Search. . . of a N ew R egim e? DOUGLAS V. VERNEY

In d ex

405

429

Contributors

BALVEER ARORA is Professor of G overnm ent and Politics at the C entre for Political Studies, Jaw aharlal N ehru University, New Delhi. Earlier, he has been a visiting fellow at the National Political Science F o u n d atio n , Paris and the C en ter for the Ad­ vanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, USA. He has co-ed ited M ultiple Identities in a Single State: Indian Federalism in Comparative Perspective ( 1 9 9 5 ) and Federalism in India: O ri­ gins and Development ( 1 9 9 2 ) . SANJAYA BARU is Professor at the Indian C ouncil for Research in International E co n o m ic Relations, New Delhi. He has been an a s s o c ia te p ro fe s so r in e c o n o m ics at the U n iv e rsity of Hyderabad and also a visiting fellow at the U niversity of East Anglia (U K ). He is the au th or of The Political Econom y o f Indian Sugar (1 9 9 0 ) and the M id-Year Review o f the Indian Economy ( 1 9 9 8 ) . He is also a new spaper colu m n ist and a television co m ­ mentator. AMRITA BASU is Professor of Political Science and W om en’s and Gender Studies at A m herst C ollege, M assachusetts, USA. She has been a visiting sch olar at the South Asian Institute, C o­ lumbia University, USA. She is the au th or of Two Faces of Pro­ test: Contrasting Modes of Women’s Activism in India ( 1 9 9 2 ) and has c o -e d ite d A ppropriating G ender: W om en’s Activism and Po­ liticized Religion in South Asia ( 1 9 9 8 ) . RAJEEV BHARGAVA is Associate Professor of Political Science at the C entre for Political Studies, Jaw aharlal N ehru University,

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Contributors

New Delhi. Earlier he has been a senior fellow in Ethics at Harvard U niversity, Cam bridge. He is the au th o r of Individualism in Social Science (1 9 9 2 ) and a contributor in and editor of Secularism and Its Critics ( 1 9 9 8 ) . Recently he has co-edited and con trib ­ uted in M ulticulturalism , Liberalism and D em ocracy ( 1 9 9 9 ) . B esides being a con trib u tor to the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy ( 1 9 9 8 ) , he has w ritten num erous articles for various well-known jo u rn als and edited volum es. PA UL R. BRASS is Professor Em eritus o f Political Science and International Studies at the U niversity of W ashington, Seattle. His m ost recen t books are Theft of An Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of Collective Violence ( 1 9 9 7 ) ; Riots and Pogroms ( 1 9 9 6 ) ; and The Politics of India since Independence, 2nd ed. (1 9 9 4 ). His other books include Ethnicity and Nationalism: Theory and Com parison ( 1 9 9 1 ) ; Caste, Faction and Party in Indian Poli­ tics, 2 vols ( 1 9 8 3 and 1 9 8 5 ); and Language, Religion and Politics in North India ( 1 9 7 4 ) . He is cu rren tly w orking on a book on H indu -M uslim com m unalism and collective violence in India. RAJEEV DHAVAN was educated at Allahabad, Cambridge and Lond on U niversities. A form er academ ic, he taught at Q ueen’s U n iv ersity (B elfast, Irelan d ) and at th e U n iversity of W est L o n d o n , with visiting and other assignm ents at the Universities of Lond on, A ustin, M adison and Delhi. He is an honorary pro­ fessor of the Indian Law Institute and D irector of Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre (P1LSARC). Author of many books and articles on constitutional law, policy and public af­ fairs and called to the Bar in India and England, he is now a Senior Counsel practising in the Suprem e C ou rt of India. VICTORIA L. FARM ER is form erly A ssistant D irector of the C en ter for the Advanced Study of India, U niversity of Pennsyl­ vania and South Asia Program A ssociate, The Asia Society. She has taught com parative politics, A m erican foreign policy and international relations at the U niversity of Pennsylvania and D rexel University. The au th or of num erous articles, she is cu r­ rently com pleting her Ph.D. dissertation in political science at Penn, entitled “Televising the N ation: Television, Politics and Social Change in India.”

Contributors

xi

FR A N CIN E R. FR A N K EL is Professor of Political Science and D irector, C en ter for the A dvanced Study of India, U niversity of Pennsylvania, and a founding m em ber of the University of P en n ­ sylvania Institu te for the A dvanced Study of India, New Delhi. She is the au th or of India’s Green Revolution: Econom ic Gains and Political Costs ( 1 9 7 1 ) ; and India’s Political Economy 1 9 4 7 77: The Gradual Revolution ( 1 9 7 8 ) . Am ong oth er w ritings, she is a con trib u tor and co -ed ito r of Dom inance and State Power: D ecline of a Social Order, 2 vols (1 9 8 9 and 1 9 9 0 ) and co n trib u ­ to r and co -ed ito r of B ridging the Non-Proliferation Divide: The United States and India ( 1 9 9 5 ) . She is curren tly at w ork on a com p arative analysis of the m aking of foreign policy in the U nited States and India titled Different Worlds. ZOYA HASAN is Professor of Political Science at the C entre for Political Studies, Jaw aharlal N ehru University, New Delhi. She has been a visiting fellow at the C enter for A dvanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, USA. She is the author of Quest f o r Power: Oppositional Movement and Post-Congress Politics in Uttar P radesh ( 1 9 9 8 ) . She has also edited Fo rgin g Identities: Gender, Communities and the State ( 1 9 9 4 ) , and has con trib u ted nu m erou s articles to reputed jo u rn als and edited volum es. CHRISTOPHE JA FFR ELO T is Deputy Director of and Research Fellow at the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales, France. Chief editor of Critique Internationale, he is also the author of The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, 1925 to 1 990s (1 9 9 1 ) and has co-edited The BJP and the Compulsions of Politics in India ( 1998). SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ teaches in the Department of Political Studies at the School of O riental and African Studies, London. He has earlier taught at the University of Burdwan and Jaw aharlal Nehru U niversity. He is the au th o r of The Unhappy C onsciousness: Bankim chandra Chattopadhyay and the Form ation of Nationalist Discourse in India ( 1 9 9 5 ) and has edited Politics in India ( 1 9 9 7 ) and co-ed ited Perspectives on Capitalism ( 1 9 8 9 ) . Besides these, he has contributed several articles on political theory, Indian p olitics, and Bengali literature in w ell-know n jou rn als.

xi i

Contributors

PRABHAT PATNAIK is Professor of E co n o m ics at the C en tre of E co n o m ic Studies and Planning, Jaw aharlal N ehru University, New Delhi. He is the au th or of Econom ics and Egalitarianism ( 1 9 9 1 ) , Accum ulation and Stability u n d er Capitalism ( 1 9 9 7 ) , W hatever H appened to Im perialism and Other Essays ( 1 9 9 5 ) and also has edited M acroeconomics ( 1 9 9 5 ) and Lenin and Im perial­ ism (1 9 8 6 ). R.K. RAGHVAN (IPS) is cu rren tly D irector, C entral Bureau of Investigation (C B I), G overnm ent of India. He is also the cu r­ rent V ice-President of the Indian Society of V ictim ology and Asia E d itor for Police Practice and Research, published by the International Police E xecu tiv e Sym posium , USA. His pu b lica­ tions include Policing a D em ocracy: A C om parative Study of India and the US ( 1 9 9 9 ) and Indian Police: Problems, Planning and Perspectives ( 1 9 9 8 ) , besides several articles for periodicals and journals. DOUGLAS V. VERN EY is Professor Em eritus of Political Science at York University, Toronto and A djunct Professor, South Asia Regional Studies at the U niversity of Pennsylvania. He is the a u th o r of five b o ok s, am on g th em British Government and Poli­ tics: Life Without a Declaration o f Independence ( 1 9 7 6 ) and Three Civilizations, Two Cultures, One State: C anada’s Political Tradi­ tions ( 1 9 8 6 ) . He has co-edited Multiple Identities in a Single State: Indian Federalism in Comparative Perspective ( 1 9 9 5 ) . In recen t years he has published num erous articles on com parative par­ liam entary and federal system s in A m erican, British, C anadian and Indian jo u rn als and is c u rre n tly w o rk in g on a b o ok titled C hoosing a Regim e: Eight M ajor Models. YOGENDRA YADAV is Fellow at the C entre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and D irector, Institute of C om p ara­ tive D em ocracy (a research program m e of the CSDS). Besides con trib u tin g several research papers to reputed academ ic jo u r­ nals, he is on the editorial board of Samayik Varta (a m onthly political jou rn al in H indi). He is also well know n as an election analyst, both on television and in print.

INTRODUCTION Contextual Democracy: intersections of society, culture and politics in India F R A N C I N E R. F R A N K E L

The preservation of d em ocratic governance in India has p re­ sented a standing challenge to th eorists of h istorical and co m ­ parative developm ent. T he p recond itions associated w ith the origins of d em ocracy in the U nited States and E u rop e, ranging from the prior form ation of a nation -state, a hom ogenous popu­ lation, an industrial econom y, a strong m iddle class, and shared traditions of civic cu ltu re w ere notably absent in 1 9 5 0 when India first becam e a d em ocratic, secu lar republic. The issue of India’s survival as a single entity was still at the forefront of co n cern s in the m inds of its founders. The representatives of free India con fronted unprecedented ob stacles to the creatio n of an o v erarch in g nation al political identity. It is doubtful th at even the m inuscule class of Englisheducated professionals felt a loyalty to ‘India’ higher than the sen tim en ts they exp erien ced tow ards th eir religious co m m u ­ nity, linguistic region, or clan or caste. D om estic big business, despite bases in the m ajor cities of C alcu tta, M adras, Bombay, Hyderabad and K anpur could not be ch aracterized as a national bourgeoisie: M arw ari en trep ren eurs tended to be predom inant in all these areas. In w estern India, G ujaratis and Parsis were preem inent. Traders and businessm en in sm aller towns and c it­ ies w ere not far rem oved from th eir origins in the agrarian economy. Indeed, the ‘m iddle classes’ as a whole were intim ately con n ected to the m ost rigidly h ierarchical and com p artm en tal­ ized so cial s tru ctu re in h erited by any m od ern state, a social stru ctu re w hich kept opportunities for upward m obility exceed ­ ingly sm all. U nder Indian con d ition s, the m iddle classes lacked virtually all the attributes identified by theorists like Putnam to

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

m ake d em o cratic in stitu tion s w ork: a com m on social b ack ­ ground, particip atory attitudes of m ind, netw orks of civic in ­ teractio n , feelings of tru st, and a tradition of m utual coop era­ tion in the interest of com m on b en efit.1 H ow ever im probable, not only India, but India’s dem ocracy endured. This has n ot been w ithout crisis, as during the period of Em ergen cy Rule im posed by Prim e M inister Indira Gandhi during Ju n e 1 9 7 5 and Jan u ary 1 9 7 7 . F ears persist that political in stitu tion s w eakened by personal rule and the corru p tion of n orm al p o litics in the p o st-E m erg en cy period will be over­ w helm ed by the accelerated p articip ation of historically m ar­ ginal groups, and that d em ocratic India will eventually becom e ungovernable. Such pessim ism , however, is confounded by another anom aly of India’s dem ocracy, one w hich also sets it apart from co m ­ parative trends in the United States and W estern Europe. This is the upward trajectory of voter tu rn o u t in the absence of laws for com pulsory voting. Political scientists have long been concern ed about low voter turnout in the United States and other dem ocracies, amid evidence that voter participation and class inequality are negatively linked. D em ocratic theorists have labelled unequal participation the un­ resolved dilemma of democracy, since it biases representation and influence in the direction of the better educated, m ore w ealthy and advantaged citizens. Paradoxically, India seem s to be ful­ filling the unrealized exp ectation s of political analysts w riting at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the tw entieth ce n ­ turies when universal suffrage was first introduced in m any cou n tries. Their prediction was that the better educated and m ore advantaged citizens w ould be least likely to vote since th eir preference would be subm erged am ong the votes of the ‘great crow d ’.2 As Yogendra Yadav dem onstrates in this volum e, sociologi­ cally biased tu rn ou t in India actually tends to favour the m ore unequal and historically disadvantaged groups. The puzzle of India’s largely illiterate electorate is that even in the first two election s, aggregate voter turnout was as high as 4 6 - 8 per cent. This level soon reached (and exceed ed ) the average level in the U nited States, pushing above 6 0 per cen t by 1 9 6 7 , and staying w ithin the range of 55 per cen t to 6 4 per cent in the ten general

Contextual Democracy

3

elections between 1 9 6 2 and 1 9 9 8 . M ore striking, voter tu rn ou t for state assem bly elections has rem ained close to these levels during the sam e period, surging to 6 7 per cent in elections held during 1 9 9 3 - 6 . By 1 9 8 9 , the percentage of voter tu rn out was higher in rural than in urban areas, and this increase was co n ­ nected to the sharp red u ction in the gap between average tu rn ­ out rates and those registered by the m ost disadvantaged groups. Survey data show that O th er Backw ard Classes (low er castes), dalits (erstw hile u n tou ch ab les) and tribals are m ore likely to vote than upper caste H indus, and this is also true of the very poor, relative to the upper classes. Clearly, dem ocracy has stru ck very deep roots in the inhos­ pitable soil of India. It has done so disproportionately am ong h istorically m arginal grou p s, especially the m ost depressed am ong them. Equally im portant, dem ocratic values have becom e entrenched am ong in tellectu al élites and institutions vital to the consolidation of dem ocracy. Investigative reporting in na­ tional new spapers has exposed corru p tion and forced political accountability; m eticu lou s planning by the Election C om m is­ sion has assured free and fair general elections; and as Rajeev Dhavan show s, the Suprem e C ou rt’s activism led to the pros­ ecu tion of the highest elected politicians w hen evidence sur­ faced of their w rongdoing in office, as well as to continuously expanding public interest litigation for protection of civil liberties. The phenom enon o f dem ocracy in India— a m ulticu ltu ral state of steadily grow ing scientific and m ilitary capabilities, p ro­ jected to becom e the w orld ’s m ost populous coun try in the early tw enty-first century, the fourth largest econom y, and the largest con su m er m arket n ext only to C hina— is so im portan t, that the tendency of com p arative-h istorical scholarship to treat India as a ‘deviant case’, w hen it is considered at all, im poverishes ou r u n d erstan d in g of d em o cratiz a tio n . Now that India has passed the half-century m ark of Independence, it is tim e to take stock of her exp erien ce w ith d em ocratic forms of governance and bring this know ledge into the m ainstream of historical and com parative scholarship on national developm ent. The approach taken by the contributors to this volum e is sen­ sitive to the historical, social and cultural co n text in w hich fun­ dam ental rights, consensual procedures of governance and the rule of law were in trod u ced . Like the founders of the Indian

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C on stitution , the authors recognize that un der Indian con d i­ tions certain excep tion s to universal criteria of the liberal state, based on guarantees of individual freedom s and p rotection of m inority rights had to be m ade, both to ensure national unity and provide equality un der the law for all groups of citizens. At the same tim e, the foundational values of w estern dem ocracies rem ained the frame of reference for d em ocratic principles. In­ dia did not set out to abridge dem ocratic freedoms, or to ratio­ nalize departures from liberal dem ocracy by invoking political or cultural relativism . On the contrary, provisions for state inter­ vention that could tem porarily override individual rights to re­ store political order, or to p ro tect perm anent religious m inori­ ties and strengthen the com petitiveness of socially disadvan­ taged grou ps, were intended to create the political and social conditions essential to effective participation in the dem ocratic process of individuals of all so cio -eco n o m ic strata and e th n ic religious identities.

Contextual Democracy The co n trib u tors to this volum e analyse the developm ent of d em ocratic institution s and p ractices in India, and their perfor­ m ance over tim e, from the perspective of the specific h istori­ cal-so cial co n te x t in w hich they were established. M ore p ro­ foundly, they seek to understand the transform ations unleashed by the in trod u ction of political d em ocracy in India’s h ierarchi­ cal society and plural cultures. The contributions focus on ways in w hich the h isto rical-so cial co n text of India shaped the dem o­ cratic in stitution s that w ere introduced, and reciprocally, how social hierarchy and preferences for group rights w ere affected by the in trod u ction of egalitarian and liberal principles of gov­ ernance. This broad analytic approach is sum m arized in the concept of co n textu al dem ocracy. The process of dem ocratization in India revolves around the im pact of a revolutionary prin ciple, that of individual equality, im posed on in terlockin g hierarchical social stru ctu res and c u l­ tural norm s w hose configurations differ across regions. This diversity leaves room for several patterns of in tersectin g politi­ cal, social and cultural change w ithin a sim ilar fram ew ork of

Contextual Dem ocracy

5

dem ocratic institutions. A con textu al approach is therefore also appropriate in understanding the internal dynam ics of dem o­ cracy, including the tim ing and style in w hich m arginalized so­ cial groups are in corp orated into an inclusive political process, the alternative political alliances and alignm ents that are avail­ able, and the transform ation that these new patterns w ork on the param eters of stable governance. The vantage point provided by the co n cep t of co n textu al dem ocracy sheds light on the m anifestations of the d em ocratic process in India th at m ight otherw ise rem ain shadow ed by be­ w ildering com plexities. A m ong the transform ations discussed in this volum e are the electoral upsurge of historically disad­ vantaged groups, the political organization of low er castes and dalits in com petition with each oth er and in op position to up ­ per castes, fragm entation of national political parties, violence between Hindus and M uslims including spatial separation be­ tween the com m unities within urban centres, and the em ergence of Hindutva (Sanskritic-based cultural Indian-ness) as the m ost im portant ideological challenge to the constitu tion al vision of the liberal state. It is a m atter of debate w hether such u n an tici­ pated ou tcom es w ere all along in herent in the diversity and so­ cial com partm entalization of Indian society, on ce integrating hierarchical stru ctu res were breached; or if pre-existin g divi­ sions are being been deliberately m anipulated by politicians to widen social conflicts in ord er to advance their own pow er and econom ic gain from state office, in the nam e of the poor. C on textual dem ocracy, in its origins, had a liberal vision. The efforts made to adapt universal principles to ground realities of group identities and plural cultures w ere m otivated by the aim of preserving national integration w ithout sacrificing the sub­ stance of individual rights. This involved finding com prom ises, for exam ple, betw een fundam ental rights and group identities, a strong U nion and linguistic states, and equality un der the law and com pensatory discrim ination. The aim was to carry along the electorate through a strategy of political acco m m od ation that w ould safeguard their core cultures and ensure equal o p ­ portunities, while strengthening popular allegiance to the in­ clusive liberal dem ocratic state.

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

The 'Democratic Vision' The most important issue before the framers of India’s Constitu­ tion was how to maintain national unity and also assure represen­ tative governm ent. Rajeev Bhargava identifies one leitm otif of this challenge by exam ining the im plications, for liberal dem ocracy, of the fact that dem ocracy arrived in India in the form of nation­ alism. He argues that individual liberties and universal franchise had been accepted by leaders of the nationalist m ovem ent as the only legitimate m eans through which self-representation of the nation and all of its com ponent parts could be effectively e x ­ pressed. Still, the gap betw een vision and reality at the tim e of Inde­ pendence appeared alm ost unbridgeable. The prolonged polar­ ization between the Indian N ational Congress and the Muslim League during the nationalist m ovem ent ended in the partition of the subcon tin ent, to create the M uslim nation of Pakistan. Frenzied com m unal violence and mass killings whose im m ense m agnitude has been estim ated at anywhere from 6 0 0 ,0 0 0 to one m illion dead, can never truly be m easured. N evertheless, the Hindu majority, and M uslims rem aining in India in the afterm ath of this traum a, were caugh t in the grip of w hat Bhargava calls a ‘m ajo rity -m in o rity syn d rom e’. The M uslim m in ority could reasonably fear that th eir rights would not be guaranteed by the in trod u ction of universal franchise. Rather, dem ocracy, in its m ajoritarian form , was m ore likely to reinforce th eir posi­ tion as a perm anent minority, thereby alienating their allegiance from the new nation. The religion-based m ajority -m in o rity syndrom e, as well as other social inequalities (for exam ple, the problem of providing equal opportunity for historically disadvantaged com m unities like untouchables and tribals), raised a new kind of historical dilemma for the developm ent of dem ocracy based on equal rights under the law for all individuals regardless of religion, ethnicity, caste, gender or other social identity. In particular, a solu tion had to be found to protect the group rights of perm anent m inorities w ithin a secular con stitu tion that enshrined the fundam ental rights of all individuals. Bhargava describes the solution to this dilem ma as one prem ised on ‘principled d istance’ betw een gov­ ernm ent and religion. His argum ent is that under Indian con d i­

Contextual Dem ocracy

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tions, state intervention was required in areas im pinging on re­ ligion, depending on social co n text, to safeguard the equal group r ig h ts o f p e r m a n e n t m in o r itie s a g a in s t th e ty r a n n y o f m ajoritarian dem ocracy. Thus, the first com prom ise required to assure de facto equal­ ity of all citizens under the law was adaptation of the de ju re principle of individual equality to the need for ‘con textu al secu ­ larism ’. State intervention in religion, for exam ple, to allow M uslim s to retain their family law, or to outlaw untouchability and reserve seats for erstwhile untouchables or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in elected bodies proportionate to their population, becam e essential to achieve the substance of se cu ­ lar equality in the co n text of Indian society. Such devices tran s­ form ed, or averted the m ajo rity -m in o rity syndrom e of perm a­ nent exclusion and alienation. They converted the constitutional arrangem ents into a ‘m ajo rity -m in o rity fram ew ork’ that could provide the basis of real political equality am ong groups as well as individuals. The effective op eration of dem ocratic norm s in India’s society rested not only on the acceptance of individual rights and universal franchise, but also the accom m odation of group rights to safeguard m inority freedoms. As Paul Brass points out, H indu-M uslim com m unalism was n ot the only aspect of the situ ational co n te x t that persuaded the fram ers that they needed to establish a strong centralized state that could intervene in society under turbulent conditions to tem porarily suspend individual freedom s. A generalized ‘fear of disord er’ held sway. This fear arose from political m ovem ents th at, in addition to Partition, w ere associated with threats from m ilitant Hindu nationalism , regional secessionism and revolu­ tion ary com m u nism , accom panied by serious acts of violence T here was also con cern that the sentim ental basis for the In­ dian U nion was not strong enough to presum e that people of all state units would always act in the interests of unity of the co u n ­ try as a w hole, or that India could do w ithout a strong C entre as an in stru m en t for com bating forces of disintegration. The preoccu p ation with ensuring India’s perm anent and in­ dissoluble U nion, responding to w ell-grounded fears at the time of Independence, led to the Em ergency provisions of the C o n ­ stitu tio n . A rticle 3 5 6 allowed ‘Presiden t’s Rule’ or direct rule of any state by the U nion governm ent, on receipt of a report from

8

TRANSFORMING INDIA

the governor of the state that its legislature could not function in accord an ce w ith the provisions of the C on stitution , and also allowed for suspending the op eration of any part of the C on sti­ tu tion in the state, excep t provisions relating to High C ourts. More draconian, Article 3 5 2 , eventually invoked by Mrs Gandhi, provided for a ‘P roclam ation of E m ergency’ to be issued by the President in the event of external aggression or internal distur­ bance, and gave to the U nion executive pow er to make laws and other regulations for the states, including the suspension •of Fundam ental R igh ts.3Beyond this, the C on stitution enabled passage of several oth er acts for preventive detention against citizens suspected of terrorist or oth er anti-n ation al activities. Reviewing the record of the use of Em ergency pow ers, pre­ ventive detention and internal secu rity law s, Brass argues that in the first two decades of independence, dom inated by the In­ dian National C ongress and the leadership of Prim e M inister Jaw aharlal N ehru, a constitutional style .of governance, com m it­ m ent to secular principles, econom ic program m es of centralized planning and strategies for peaceful social revolution m oderated the fundam ental tension betw een the strong state and repre­ sentative dem ocracy. N evertheless, by the m id -1 9 6 0 s, as the Congress party failed to deliver on prom ises of econom ic grow th and social redistribu tion, the ‘N ehruvian con sen su s’ cam e un ­ der attack. A ccording to Brass, the political debate revealed an underlying lack of agreem ent on the form of the strong state and, am ong some groups, resistance to the very goal of creating a na­ tion-state in the absence of a dominant culture. The tension be­ tween centralizing and decentralizing tendencies found heightened expression by the late 19 8 0 s. As the Bharatiya Jan ata Party (BJP) set out to rally popular support for a powerful nation-state uni­ fied around Hindu nationalism , they were opposed by a growing number of state and local parties embedded in regional identities and demanding greater autonom y within the framework of w hat m ight be called ‘state-n ations’.4 Ironically, as Brass asserts, it was N ehru’s reluctant acquiescence in the creation of linguistic states in non-H indi speaking areas— a con cession he feared w ould strengthen disintegrative tendencies— that currently stands in the way of the BJP’s effort to succeed the Congress as the dom inant, national party, and create a powerful nation-state on the basis of the polarizing H indutva ideology.

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Political Dynamics of Expanding Participation T h e fram ers of the C on stitu tion faced not only a religion-based ‘m ajo rity -m in o rity syndrom e’ and w ell-founded fears of disor­ der, they also confronted a social structure characterized by caste and class hierarchies. As Sudipta Kaviraj argues, the in trodu c­ tion of the formal principle of political equality could not over­ com e the actual unequal econ o m ic stru ctu re of Indian society, reinforced by the uneven distribution of gains under a predom i­ nantly capitalist econom y Although the Congress party continued to pay lip service to the goal of a socialistic pattern of society until the early 1 9 9 0 s , anti-p overty program m es w ere the prod­ u c t of populist electo ral m ob ilization , first adopted by Mrs Gandhi to bypass state party bosses after the 1 9 6 9 Congress party split. During the 1971 elections, Mrs Gandhi made a direct appeal to the disadvantaged low er castes and classes with the prom ise to “abolish poverty”. As Kaviraj argues, one unintended consequ ence of populist p olitics was to fundam entally alter the stru ctu ral properties of caste in the electoral arena. As political parties becam e con ­ cern ed m ore with the spatial co n cen tratio n of castes than their status w ithin the caste hierarchy, electoral politics resulted in a ‘d em o cracy ’ of caste groups in place of a hierarchy. The search for ‘con textu al m ajorities’ reinforced the vo ters’ group orien ta­ tion, while at the same time reservations of seats and jobs for Sched­ uled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and reservations for admission into educational institutions and the administrative services in sev­ eral states for Other Backward Classes, gave rise to the doctrine of equal treatment of caste groups, rather than of individuals. The in trod u ction of d em ocracy into India thus weakened, over tim e, the legitim acy of caste hierarchies and privileges as­ sociated with upper caste status of superior social esteem and education al and occu pation al opportunities. The ‘dem ocratic upsu rge’ inevitably reflected the m irro r opposite of this hierar­ chical stru ctu re and form of social inequality. Leaders of lower castes, starting with the Backward Classes in the m id -1 9 6 0 s, be­ gan to organize their own parties in order to achieve equality w ith the upper or Forw ard Castes in term s of social dignity and political power. Their im m ediate dem ands, for social and politi­ cal equality rather than equality of econom ic condition, arose

10

TRANSFORMING INDIA

from the reality that deprivation of educational and econom ic opportunities had been a consequ ence of the caste system . The political logic of this assum ption led to the dem and for reserva­ tions in educational institutions and the prestigious governm ent services, as the essential first step in overturning the Brahm anical hierarchy, to gain access to state patronage w hich eventually could be translated into econ om ic gains. The dominant Indian National Congress suffered m ost from the political dynamics of social mobilization in this context. Defecting leaders from the low er castes seized opportunities created by expanded participation to form their own parties and mobilize sup­ port from their own ranks. The ‘second dem ocratic upsurge’ in the 1990s, tracked by Yogendra Yadav, shows a higher trend in increased voter turnout by marginalized groups in the most backward areas of the country, that were also most divided along caste and com m u­ nal lines. In the north Indian heartland, voter turnout increased at the state level relative to the national level, in rural areas relative to the cities, and am ong dalits and Scheduled Tribes. U ttar Pradesh, asserts Zoya Hasan, is the pivotal site of p o­ tentially the m ost radical challenge to the dom inance of the upper castes, and the arena in w hich the con test am ong and between low er caste parties, and the Bharatiya Jan ata Party, will influence the co n te n t of d em o cratizatio n and the co u rse of d em ocratic politics at the national level. Two strategies of p o­ litical inclusion , allied to opposing forms of political m obiliza­ tion, are locked in con ten tion in the state. One is based on the BJP’s efforts to co n stru ct a m ajoritarian religious identity, aim ed at reintegrating the low er castes into the traditional Hindu hi­ erarchy. This strategy reached its apogee in the m ovem ent to dem olish the Babri m asjid at Ayodhya, believed to be have been built on the site of the birthplace of Lord Ram. After the violent dem olition of the m osque in 1 9 9 2 by m ilitants affiliated with the BJPs parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh (RSS), and the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a religious organization included in the Sangh Parivar or family, com m itted w orkers have ignored co u rt orders, building, pillar by pillar, the arch itectu re to erect a Ram tem ple at th at site. The second strategy represents an effort to use the polarizing politics of caste-b lo c identities to disrupt the traditional Hindu hierarchy. The aim of low er caste leaders is to change the pow er

Contextual Democracy

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stru ctu re through the form ation of regional and local parties representing the backw ard classes and the dalits, to gain direct con trol over the state. Hasan argues that the m ost im portant phenom enon for the transform ation of politics in the state is the grow th of backward caste politics, and the strategy of e x ­ tending reservations for the O ther Backward Classes, including Muslims, to state educational institutions and administrative ser­ vices. This has produced an enduring confrontation between the upper castes clustered around the BJP and the backward castes curren tly supporting the Samajwadi Party. N evertheless, the conflict between the upper castes and back­ ward classes does not exhau st group claim s. Both contenders confront m ilitant dalit leaders organized around the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) w hich prim arily co n cen trates on consolidat­ ing the 2 0 per cent of Scheduled C astes into a dalit bloc that can hold the balance between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party and take state pow er in their own right. D em ocratization in U ttar Pradesh, conditioned by rough par­ ity in numbers between the m ost privileged upper castes, the bloc of backward castes and the dalits indicates both the promise and limits of political transform ation in north India. Expanded par­ ticipation has succeeded in rectifying discrim ination among dis­ advantaged groups at the level of political party organization and elected governm ent bodies because of the extraordin ary stress placed on sym bolic equality of representation. It has also in­ creased represen tation of a privileged m inority of the lower castes in governm ent positions, educational institutions and the professions. U nder a dalit chief m inister, dem ocratization has even prod uced a small m easure of land security, em ploym ent, housing and scholarship m oney for dalits. Yet, the m ajor gains so far have been from sym bolic acts of social recognition rather than econ om ic benefits for the majority. The m ost crippling limitation of caste bloc politics for achiev­ ing the structural change required for greater econom ic equality, according to Hasan, is the narrow horizon and bitter competition between the backward castes and the dalits for access to scarce state resources, and the absence of a common agenda for structural change to achieve redistributive reform. This has prevented a stable alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party which could defeat the upper castes and the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

The ability of the BJP to win pow er in U ttar Pradesh by e x ­ ploiting the divisions betw een the low er caste parties has pro­ found im plications outside north India. U ttar Pradesh is India’s largest state of 140 m illion people, and one of the m ost socially and econom ically backw ard states in the northern heartland. M ost cru cial, the state sends eighty-five of 5 4 5 MPs to th e Lok Sabha, m aking it politically the m ost influential state for the form ation of the central governm ent in New Delhi. The success of the BJP in splitting the alliance of the low er caste parties in U .P becam e the backbone o f its greatest achievem ent w hen it form ed a national coalition governm ent in 1 9 9 8 .

Fragmentation of Political Parties D em ocracy and expanding participation in the Indian social and cultural context, resulting in a ‘dem ocracy of castes’ and caste and com m unal com petition and conflict, has placed the m ajo rity -m in ority fram ew ork at risk, and also exacerbated the fundam en­ tal tension between a strong governm ent and decentralizing ten­ dencies. The increased participation in electoral politics of groups long considered peripheral, has ratch eted up pressure on the co h e­ sion of national and even state political parties in the w ake of vo ter fragm entation along regional, religious and caste lines. The destabilizing results of these trends first became evident at the national level in 1989 when state-based parties joined together in a m inority National Front government. At that juncture, the National Front relied for support from parties outside the govern­ m ent, the BJP and two com m unist parties, the C om m unist Party of India (C P I) and the C om m unist Party of In d ia-M arxist (C P IM ), w hose only point of agreem ent was the negative goal of exclud ing from power a com m on enemy, the Congress ( I ) .5 The continu ing decline o f Congress (I) as a national party was obscured during 1 9 9 1 -6 when the party returned to power as a m inority governm ent, w hose pre-poll allies and post-election supporters (alleged to have been won over with bribes) allowed it to govern as a m ajority until 1 9 9 6 . It was during this period th at the C ongress (1) governm ent of Prim e M inister Narasimha Rao introduced m ajor econom ic reform s to deregulate the pri­ vate sector and liberalize trade and foreign investm ent.

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In 1 9 9 6 , the C ongress ( I ) ’s defeat was decisive. A 14-p arty United Front governm ent was formed, this time including the left parties inside the governm ent. They relied on the ‘like-minded’ secular Congress (1) to offer support from outside the governm ent, again with a negative aim, that of preventing the BJP, then the larg­ est party in Parliament, from com ing to power. The m inority coa­ litions, both those formed in 1 989 and 1 9 9 6 , were toppled within eighteen m onths when their supporters outside the governm ent, the BJP and the C ongress (I) respectively, w ithdrew support. The trend towards fragm entation was m ore p ron oun ced in 1 9 9 8 . By then, this tendency was no longer confined to n o rth ­ ern India, but had spread to all regions of the country. In the 1 9 9 8 national elections, a record num ber of 4 1 ‘parties’ w on representation in the Lok Sabha: seven of these groupings have tw o or three m em bers and fourteen have one m em ber each. Six M Ps were elected as Independents. Many m ore ‘parties’, 1 7 6 in 1 9 9 8 , were registered by the E le c­ tion C om m ission, of w hich only 3 0 w ere ‘recogn ized ’ as state parties and seven as national parties. Yet, 11 per cen t of the electo rate voted for registered parties (com pared to 3 per cen t in 1 9 9 6 ) and alm ost 2 0 per cen t voted for state parties, (as op­ posed to 21 per cen t in 1 9 9 6 ), acco u n tin g altogeth er for m ore than 31 per cen t of the electo rate.6 The steady decline in voter support for parties classified as national parties is obvious from the com parison w ith 1 9 8 0 when the national parties altogether received 8 5 per cen t of the vote. As A rora’s paper show s, the C ongress (I ), w hose aggregate vote level in 1 9 9 8 fell to 25 per cen t, in tersectin g w ith the ris­ ing vote for the BJP of 2 5 per cent, still retains the m ost even spread am ong regions. The BJP, by co n trast, enjoys dispropor­ tionate support in the n orth and northw est (from U ttar Pradesh to R ajasthan ). It’s ability to strike pre-poll alliances and p o st­ poll bargains with single-state parties, localized parties within states, splinter groups and Independents allowed it to win a vote of confidence and form the governm ent as leader of a dis­ parate 1 3 -‘p arty’ coalition , buttressed by ‘p o st-electoral adhe­ sions’ of groups not represented am ong pre-poll p artn ers. Yet, neither the BJP leadership, n or that of the C ongress (I) pro­ fessed willingness to give up the n otion of attaining a single party m ajority in the Lok Sabha.

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

Economic Reforms A new factor, from the 1 9 9 0 s , tending to exacerb ate regional differences, and also strengthen single state parties, are the e co ­ nom ic reform s introduced in 1 9 9 1 . D eregulation drastically cut back the num ber of industries reserved for the public sector, rem oved com pulsory central licensing and regulation of alm ost all private secto r enterprises, and lifted m ost restriction s on foreign investm ents. The cum ulative effect was a m arked shift of political pow er away from the Centre to the states. State-level politicians and bureau crats, w ith pow er to expedite o r delay the various sanctions required at local levels to purchase land, arran ge pow er co n n e ctio n s, instal tele co m m u n ica tio n s and m any other essential services, have becom e the gatekeepers of private investm ent by national enterprises and m ultinational corporations. O ther new central governm ent policies to encou r­ age development of badly needed infrastructure have augm ented the authority of the states to enter into negotiations w ith inde­ pendent pow er producers and electricity distribution co m p a­ nies, to seek p roject loans from the W orld Bank and to make deals with m ultinationals involving direct investm ent. Uneven im plem entation of the econom ic reform s has contrib­ uted to disparities between states. The largest share of dom estic and foreign investm ent has been directed to the relatively devel­ oped and m ore stable states of M aharashtra, Gujarat, K arnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Sanjaya Barn’s analysis of the historical em ergence of regional capitalists of agrarian origin and rural roots in states w ith agri­ cultural surpluses suggests a sym biotic relationship between new business groups and the rise o f prom inent state parties. The re­ gional capitalists, arising from prosperous peasant castes who invested in education, acquired urban property, and then m oved into non-farm business, have been able to draw on funds pro­ vided by kinship and caste netw orks. They have made the great­ est headway, relative to older, national big business houses, in Punjab, Haryana, M aharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and over a wide range of indus­ tries, including sugar, textiles, cem ent, pharm aceuticals and elec­ tronics. Many of these states’ financial institutions tended to favour ‘local’ capital. On their part, regional capitalists invested’ in state

Contextual Democracy

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political parties to ensure th eir access to them . The m ost su c­ cessful new entrepreneurs have been able to strike collab ora­ tions with foreign investors to gain increasing m arket share. The im portance of regional capitalists and their financiers to the elec­ toral fortunes of state parties m ay be strong enough, Baru sug­ gests, to con vert a ‘nation al’ party like the BJP into a ‘regional’ party governm ent, as in G ujarat. This proposition gains som e circum stantial support from re­ cent political trends. State-based parties have done well in states with the highest grow th rates. Am ong the seven states ranked in 1 9 9 6 as having had the highest rates of grow th— Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, K arnataka, A runachal Pradesh, M aharashtra, P u n jab and A ssam — on ly th e sm all n o rth -e a s te rn s ta te of A runachal Pradesh was still governed by the C ongress (I ), and K arnataka was ruled by an officially designated national party, the Jan ata Dal, w hich subsequently self-d estru cted .7 As B aru ’s analysis helps explain, the uneven im pact of econ om ic reform s, accom panied by political alliances in high growth states between regional capital and state-based political parties, exacerb ates problem s of reco n stitu tin g a strong national party th at can p ro­ vide a stable d em ocratic governm ent. Prabhat Patnaik goes further. He w arns that IM F stabiliza­ tion and stru ctu ral adjustm ent program m es forced on m uch of the developing w orld to deal with balance of paym ents crises, such as the one preceding econ o m ic reform s in India, can help to abridge political d em ocracy itself. Patnaik asserts that em phasis by international financial in­ stitutions on trade liberalization, and rem oval of restriction s on capital flows, represents the converging interests of m ultina­ tionals, sections of the dom estic bourgeoisie seeking to expand into the international m arket, larger agriculturists lured by the prom ise of exp o rt agriculture, and third w orld élites eager for opportunities and products accessible from globalization. Above all, however, Patnaik argues th at financial liberalization ben­ efits international finance capital that no longer has any na­ tional character. A ccording to him , the fear that this ‘hot m oney’ will flow out of the dom estic econom y if fiscal deficits are al­ lowed to increase, results in red u ction of governm ent exp en d i­ ture and the adoption of neo-liberal policies, such as increasing adm inistered foodgrain prices, and cutting back on governm ent

16

TRANSFORMING INDIA

expenditure in rural areas and on in frastru cture. After deregu­ lation and th e in itial b u rst of p ro d u ctio n gains created by bottled-up dom estic investm ent, p oor in frastru cture and weak purchasing pow er present new obstacles to further expansion. This is reflected in declining grow th rates, depressed exports, w idening trade deficits, increased in flation, and an arrested decline of poverty. A lthough India, through prudent financial m anagem ent and sheer size of its dom estic econom y, has so far escaped the w orst m anifestations of this co n tractio n , Patnaik nevertheless believes that the coexisten ce of w idening dispari­ ties w ith dem ocracy can becom e m ore problem atical in the fu­ ture. The hope of betterm en t am ong section s of the poor so far sustained by slow social m obility and em bedded in the politics of populism and reservations for backw ard classes, could be curtailed by econ om ic stagnation associated with neo-liberal econ om ic policy. Indeed, Patnaik advances the general propo­ sition that stru ctu ral adjustm ent policies are antith etical to de­ m ocracy in m ulticu ltu ral societies. The very process of ‘global­ ization’ helps to fracture national con sciou sn ess, thereby w id­ ening the political space for assertion of divisive com m unal, fundam entalist and secessionist m ovem ents.

Nationalizing Institutions It may appear that against the force of the centrifugal tenden­ cies described above, India’s political coh esion , no less than its dem ocracy is undergoing severe strain. Yet, few concern s are expressed by even those m ost pessim istic about the perform ance of India’s d em ocratic institutions with resp ect to the enduring nature of India’s U nion. One co n textu al factor w hich has not received m uch atten­ tion is the historical colonial legacy of centralization in national m edia, the police and the ju d iciary that served state interests in m aintaining political control of a potentially rebellious popula­ tion. As V ictoria F arm er points out, until the early 1 9 9 0 s, and the advent of transnational satellite television, the governm ent successfully used the legal structure first set down by the British in 1 8 8 5 for control of telegraphs, to establish a m onopoly over All India Radio (A IR ), and then to create stale ownership and control of new television technology through the governm ent

Contextual Dem ocracy

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broadcasting co rp o ratio n , D oordarshan. The stated purpose of the national television netw ork, to support developm ental p ro ­ gram m ing, subsequently shifted em phasis to the creatio n of a national identity. N evertheless, as F arm er argues, the dep iction of national identity in such a diverse society, was bound to be con tested , and indeed su ch program m es as the serialization of the Ramayana helped the BJP to advance its Hindutva agenda. The m edia’s credibility was also questioned at times w hen it was misused by the ruling party, especially in the 1 9 8 9 general elec­ tions to publicize C ongress (I) party leaders at the expen se of their opponents. D espite all of this, efforts to create an a u to n o ­ m ous corp oratio n to adm inister D oordarshan, since 1 9 8 9 , have yet to be fully implemented. As a result, Doordarshan still remains by far the largest source of television program m ing in both urban and rural India. Similarly, as R.K. Raghavan dem onstrates, the Indian police remains governed, by and large, by statutes going back to 1 861 w hich reflect the colonial governm ent’s preoccupation with us­ ing police forces to preserve law and order. This function, and the types of police forces created to im plem ent it after indepen­ dence, has grown indiscriminately. The centrally recruited offic­ ers of the Indian Police Service (IP S ), assigned to state cadres, have provided an indispensable institutional basis for co o p e ra ­ tion betw een the cen tral governm ent and the states to handle public ord er problem s, while the strength of the police forces has grow n steadily. Equally im p ortan t, centrally con trolled p o ­ lice forces have been created , such as the B order Security Police and the C entral Industrial Security F o rce , w hich have been de­ ployed to nearly all states, at their request, to restore public order in ‘disturbed areas’. The d eterm in ation to en sure a stron g cen tral govern m en t after independence, with capabilities to com bat any th reat to national unity, as noted by Brass, opened the way to the p oliti­ cal involvem ent of the police in m aintaining public order across a diverse range of threats, w ith little parallel in oth er d e m o cra ­ cies. As enum erated by R aghavan, centrally controlled police forces have been deployed against secessionist m ovem ents, lin­ gu istic ag itatio n s, agrarian revolu tio n aries, te rro rism , caste clashes and com m unal violence. The m ost positive achievem ent of the police, accord in g to Raghavan, was their professionalism

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during the long years of terrorism in Punjab, w hich finally ended w ith the restoration of d em ocratic elections in 1 9 9 2 . At the sam e tim e, such extensive use of the police to tackle civil conflicts has had serious negative consequ ences for the insulation of the forces from political interference, corru p tion and com m u nal biases. The police are generally viewed with suspicion by the public, and distrusted by the cou rts for e x ce s­ sive use of force and hum an rights violations. Raghavan, who served as D irector-G eneral of Police in the state of Tamil Nadu, and was subsequently appointed to the highest police post of D irector of the C entral Bureau of Investigation, expresses sup­ p ort for the activist role of the Supreme C ourt in landm ark cases that have increased public scrutiny of police investigations and also provided som e p rotection from political interference. Indeed, as Rajeev D havan’s sweeping overview of the evolv­ ing role of the ju d iciary in India’s dem ocracy m akes clear, the decades since the Em ergency have witnessed the political m anipu­ lation and corru p tion of virtually all institutions of governance. As a resu lt, the higher ju d iciary has com e to play a pivotal role in asserting an independent status ‘forcing oth er institution s of governance to take steps to do w hat they are supposed to be doing. . A ccording to Dhavan, the judiciary, w hich was an institution of state during the colonial period, interpreting the m eaning of laws, first changed its ch a ra cte r during the N ehru years. D uring this period, the high cou rts and Supreme C ou rt functioned in institutional polarity to the governm ent, scru ti­ nizing legislation and striking down som e acts for violating the fundam ental rights guaranteed by the C on stitution . The greatest transform ation, however, occu rred during the 1 9 8 0 s , in the im m ediate post-E m ergen cy phase, when the ju d i­ ciary began the transition to an independent institution of gov­ ernance. Dhavan argues that in vastly expanding its pow ers to encom pass public interest litigation, the Suprem e C ou rt p ro­ vided social activists, lawyers and jou rn alists w ith recourse to the p rotection of the law against abuses of it by oth er in stitu ­ tions of go vernance, and thereby took on the responsibility of upholding the essential goal of social ju stice under the C on sti­ tution. The higher judiciary, in his in terpretation, attem pted to fill a political vacuum created by the failure of governance on alm ost all fronts. D uring the 1 9 8 0 s and 1 9 9 0 s , governance was

Contextual Democracy

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perm eated with co rru p tio n , the relationship betw een som e p o ­ litical parties and crim inals w ith m oney and m uscle power to influence the ou tcom e of som e local elections started to com e into the open, and the police perpetrated hum an rights viola­ tions against secessionist groups and ¿grarian revolutionaries in ‘disturbed areas’. A m ong the m ost significant additional pow ers asserted by the judiciary, as Raghavan also points out, are the 1 9 9 6 Supreme C ou rt orders declaring its right to exam ine evidence collected by the revenue authorities or the C entral Bureau of Investiga­ tion, when official reports cite the absence of any m aterial rea­ son to proceed further against an accu sed person; and the 1 9 9 7 ruling w hich frees the CBI from having to seek prior perm is­ sion of the governm ent in initiating investigations of co rru p ­ tion against senior civil servants. Yet, as Dhavan observes, the ju d iciary ’s success in establishing an agenda independent of the governm ent has m ade ‘it the m ost controversial institution of Indian governance’.

Hindutva and the Redefinition of the National Political Community: Search for a New Regime? D em ocratic institutions and p ractices, adapted to the Indian h istorical and social co n te x t, have had a powerful transform ing effect. They have underm ined the legitim acy of the hierarchical social stru ctu re, and destroyed the historical capability of the upper castes to enforce unequal status and pow er relations as the basis of stability in society. Rather, dem ocratization has u n ­ leashed an upsurge of p articip ation from am ong the poor and the illiterate of the low er social strata, and a ‘dem ocracy of caste grou ps’, w hich has dram atically increased their representation in elected institutions of governance. Similarly, reservations in education al institutions and the civil services for dalits and the O ther Backward Classes, have provided m ore opportunities for social m obility am ong the top layers of the disadvantaged. D em ocracy has not, however, accom plished an overall increase of equality in social and econom ic life. Rather, after five decades of com petitive politics, caste and com m unal conflict have inten­ sified in a struggle to control the scarce resources of the state. M ost of all, the second dem ocratic upsurge, concentrated in the

20

TRANSFORMING INDIA

traditional northern heartland of the ancient Sanskritic culture, threatens to finally end the dom ination of the upper castes and upper classes in the bureaucracy, as well as in parliam entary in­ stitutions of governm ent, once their impregnable strongholds. Meanwhile, the rapidly growing urban middles classes, as the major beneficiaries of econom ic reforms, seek protection from the corruption and political disorder that threaten opportunities for further gains. Dem ocratization has fragmented political parties along state, sub-regional, caste and religious lines, creating u n ­ stable coalition governm ents, paralyzed from w ithin, w ithout the capacity to carry out unfinished reform s. Apprehension that political stability will indefinitely remain elusive because of shift­ ing tactical calculations by rival groups in local arenas has raised the question of w hether the parliam entary system has run its cou rse in India. Both Christophe Jaffrelot and A m rita Basu, in their chapters on Hindu nationalism , co n cen trate on the im plications for de­ m ocracy of the B JP’s rise to national power, and the con tro ver­ sial interpretations by their leaders of secularism , m inority rights and a strong cen tre, organized as a presidential system of gov­ ernm ent. The BJP, founded in 1 9 8 0 as the su ccessor party to the Ja n Sangh, the proponent of Bharatiya ideology stretch in g back to 1 9 5 1 , began its clim b to national pow er in the late 1 9 8 0 s , supporting the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s cam paign to tear down the Babri m osque at Ayodhya and build a tem ple to Lord Ram on the site. This cam paign to reintegrate the Hindu com m u nity around com m on religious beliefs was inescapably linked with the BJP’s opposition to the m inority United F ro n t go vern m en t’s decision in 1 9 9 0 to im plement the recom m endations of the 1 9 8 0 M andai C om m ission. O vernight, 2 7 per cen t of all posts in the élite Indian A dm inistrative Service and Indian P olice Service, the virtual prerogative of the upper castes, stood reserved for candidates from the O ther Backw ard Classes, including M us­ lims. The ‘M and ir-M and al’ debate cam e to sym bolize the co n ­ test, especially in north India, between the upper castes and the lower castes and dalits, over how the national political co m ­ m unity should be defined, and the way in w hich the political system should be organized. The Hindutva ideology favoured by the BJP as a unifying ba­ sis of national cultural identity, was criticized by virtually all

Contextual Dem ocracy

21

other parties for reviving the m ajo rity -m in o rity syndrom e. It has the potential, in addition, of turning back the second dem o­ cratic upsurge by splitting alliances between low er caste groups, D alits and M uslims. Allied to a political agenda for advancing presidential governm ent, it can also be seen as strengthening the authoritarian ten dencies in the C on stitution . The debate, in the 1 9 9 0 s , reopened the question, answered in the affirm a­ tive by the 1 9 5 0 C on stitu tion , w h ether the universal values of W estern dem ocracies em bodied in the W estm inster system of parliam entary dem ocracy are relevan t to India. Jaffrelot’s answ er to the question of w hether Hindu n ation al­ ists fully adhere to d em ocracy raises serious doubts about their d em ocratic credentials. He refers to argum ents by leaders of the RSS, as well as to the 1 9 9 6 statem ent by Atal Behari Vajpayee, who becam e prime m inister in 1 9 9 8 , that the W estm inster model adopted in the 1 9 5 0 C on stitution represents British-style in sti­ tutions that are different from India’s indigenous d em ocratic traditions. Such ideas, propagated in the BJP by m ainstream th eoreticians, em phasize particip ation by the group rath er than the individual as the relevant unit, and recom m end , as an ideal, the vertical organization of society in an organic dharm ic sys­ tem based on geographic and functional or occupation al rep re­ sentation that has no place for class. Jaffrelot also argues that H indu nationalists can n ot acco m m od ate the n otion of a plural d em ocracy that protects m inority rights. T heir leaders are ad­ vocates of dem ocracy in principle, endorsing ‘one m an, one vote’. Yet, this form ulation m erges dem ocracy and m ajoritarianism , placing Hindus in a perm anent m ajority to avoid the ‘dangers of m inorityism ’. The debate on changing from a parliam entary to a presiden­ tial system has been taken up am ong politicians across the sp ec­ trum seeking a solution for short-lived coalitions, but according to Jaffrelot, the version favoured by the BJP has authoritarian im ­ plications. Ideas sketched out so far rest on allow ing the presi­ dent to rule at the C entre with the help of his own advisers if p o litical p arties are unable to form a g o v ern m en t. Finally, Jaffrelot’s painstaking data for m ajor parties in the Hindi belt through the 1 9 9 8 elections, by occupation, caste and com m u ­ nity, indicates that for all the BJP’s success in expanding its social base am ong O ther Backw ard C lasses, the party rem ains dispro­

22

TRANSFORMING INDIA

portion ately representative of upper castes as well as traders and businessm en, with no ability to con trib u te to the social d em ocratization of Indian politics. Am rita Basu’s answer to a sim ilar question posed in term s of the im plications for Indian d em ocracy of Hindu nationalism , is not m uch m ore reassuring. Indeed, she considers the rise of the BJP one of the m ajor challenges to Indian dem ocracy over the last 5 0 years. Likejaffrelot, Basu addresses the puzzle of whether the BJP’s adherence to formal dem ocratic principles coexists with an intent to undermine democracy. She argues that the grounds on which the BJP supports secularism undermines the western con­ cept of separation between religion and state. It is based on the criticism of the state for unequal treatm ent of Hindus and Mus­ lims which discriminates against Hindus and appeases M uslim s. Hindu festivals and religious practices are considered by nature, secu lar in assim ilating all sects as part of the fabric of Indian cultural life. By con trast, M uslim religious observance is char­ acterized as in to leran t and a m ajo r o b sta cle to se cu la rism , especially when protected by the state. Basu agrees w ith Jaffrelot th a t the BJP has redefined d e m o cra cy as m ajo rity ru le and opposes state protection for m inority rights. N evertheless, she seriously considers the argum ents of oth er sch olars that all parties w hich seek pow er in India are subject to cen trip etal forces w hich drives them to the C entre; and that the BJP w hich suffered electoral losses in n o rth India after the d estru ction of the Babri m osque also em barked on a strategy of relative m oderation to win over coalition partners in the states. She con clu des, nevertheless, that these changes in strategy are m ore likely to be cyclical than perm anent, noting that the BJP engages in ‘doublespeak’, sim ultaneously using com m u nal ap­ peals and precipitating violence to influence election ou tcom es, w hile em ploying the language of legality and consensus to ap­ pease electoral allies. M oreover, even if m oderate leaders of the BJP w ere inclined to follow a cen trist position, they w ould be constrain ed from doing so by m em bership of the party in the broad netw ork of Hindu organizations, especially the m ilitant RSS w hich provides the large m ajority of BJP officials, as well as a m ass base. N ot least, acco rd in g to Basu, is the actual e xp eri­ ence of the Jan Sangh/BJP, that a double-edged approach alter­ nating m ilitancy and m od eration or com bining m ilitant and

Contextual Democracy

23

populist appeals pays greater electoral dividends. Finally, Basu notes the different im plications for d em ocracy of identity poli­ tics based on eth nic as opposed to religious m ovem ents. A c­ com m odation by the state of the first type of m ovem ent tends to strengthen d em ocratic politics by satisfying dem ands for re c ­ ognition of cultural pluralism that sim ultaneously enhance the need for political alliances w hich uphold national identities. By co n trast, when the BJP assum es pow er at the state level, its am bition to rule at the Centre results in an assertion of the over­ riding im portance of Hindu identity as the basis of a m ajority con stituen cy, en cou rag in g a p olitical clim ate an tith etical to m inority Muslim, and m ore recently, C hristian rights. If Hindu nationalism challenges fundam ental principles of cultural pluralism and m inority rights, the renewed debate on w h ether the parliam entary regim e should be replaced by presi­ dential governm ent, creates alarm about the future of India’s dem ocracy. Verney’s analysis of w hat a presidential regim e would involve in India’s m u lticu ltu ral society, suggests that this alarm is well founded. A ccording to Verney, there is good reason for skepticism about a presidential system in India, especially the form adopted in F ran ce of a presidential/quasi-parliam entary governm ent. U n ­ like F ra n ce , with its hom ogeneous society, India’s heterogene­ ity would place an im possible burden on the president who w ould find it hard to stay above the fray and represent all im ­ portant regions and m inorities. The Fren ch president, moreover, is not responsible to the N ational Assembly. A com parable ar­ rangem ent in India w ould increase the danger of an authoritar­ ian form of governm ent under con d ition s of a fragm ented and polarized party system . N either is the F re n ch C on stitu tion fed­ eral. Any adaptation to Indian con d itions w ould require com ­ plicated m odifications from a presidential/quasi-parliam entary regim e, to a ‘p resid en tial/q u asi-p arliam en tary fed eration ’ to ensure representation of the states. Such a regim e, w hose com ­ plex com pon ents Verney sketches out in som e detail, has not been successfully im plem ented in any country. Verney’s argum ent that a presidential system can n ot be an ‘ad d -on ’ to India’s dem ocracy is a sobering one. He considers any approach that is analogous to facilitating ‘President’s Rule’ at the C entre, a high-risk gam ble. It could allow the president

24

TRANSFORMING INDIA

to pursue his own policies w ithout any elected body that can adequately integrate the states into the form ulation of national decisions. Over tim e, the C entre’s influence relative to the states could well be weakened. Short of a grave unforeseen crisis, Vemey argues, it w o u ld be preferable to m ake m odifications in the direction of a m ore decentralized adm inistration rather than ch oose a new presidential regim e. This w ould avoid co n cen tra­ tion of pow er in the office of an au thoritarian president, and alienation from an arbitrary govern m en t w ith its danger of a c ­ celeratin g the fragm entation, and even disintegration, of the Indian polity. The m agnitude of ideological and group conflicts so far co n ­ tained w ithin dem ocratically elected institutions is perhaps the best argum ent for the con textu al d em ocracy encom passed by con stitu tion al arrangem ents th at have held since 1 9 5 0 . Tradi­ tional questions of how well d em ocratic institutions have per­ form ed, or how conflicting societal dem ands have affected the ability of governm ent to im plem ent policy ch oices, m iss the deeper m eaning of the dynam ics of d em ocracy under Indian conditions. D em ocracy in India has neither ‘succeeded’ nor ‘failed’. It has done som ething m ore remarkable. In little m ore than fifty years since colonial rule, the introduction of individual freedoms, m i­ nority rights and universal suffrage have significantly transform ed h istorically rigid hierarchical stru ctu re s, social relations and cultural attitudes. D em ocratic institution s in contem p orary In­ dia are giving voice to w hat was the largest oppressed popu la­ tion in any an cien t civilization or m odern state. No future ru l­ ing party or coalition— or new regim e— can hope to achieve sta­ bility, preserve the U nion, and attain national greatness, w ith ­ out proceeding from this new reality.

Notes 1 Robert D. Putnam, M aking D em ocracy W ork: Civil Traditions in M odern Italy (Englewood: Princeton University Press), 1993, Chapter 6. 2 Arend Lijphart, ‘Unequal Participation: Dem ocracy’s Unresolved D i­ lemma’, A m erican P olitical Science Review , vol. 91, nos. 1 1 -1 4 (M arch 1 9 7 7 ). 3 The C onstitution (Forty-fourth Am endm ent) Act, 1978, substituted

Contextual Dem ocracy

25

‘armed rebellion’ for ‘internal disturbance’ as the only situation apart from a grave threat to the security of India or any part of its territory, justifying a Proclam ation of Emergency by the president. 4 See the discussion on democracy and m ultinational states by Ju an J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, ‘Toward Consolidated Dem ocracies’, in Takashi In o g u ch i, Edward Newman and Jo h n K eane (e d s), T he C han gin g N ature o f D em ocracy (United Nations University Press), 1998, pp. 6 1 -3 . 5 After a second split in the Congress party forced by Indira Gandhi, (the first occurring in 196 7 ), the party was renamed Congress (I), for Indira, indicating the personalization of party power. 6 The Election Com m ission classifies political parties in three catego­ ries: ‘national parties’ with a presence across states; ‘state parties’ based in a single state; and ‘Registered (Unrecognized) parties which are reg­ istered w ith the Election Com m ission and allowed to contest elec­ tions, but have not been given official recognition. For an analysis of the decline of support for national parties, and increase of vote share for state and registered parties, see Douglas V. Vemey, ‘Improving Coa­ lition G overnm ent in India’, D enouem ent, vol. 9 (Jan uary-February 1 9 9 9 ), pp. 1 7 -2 2 . 7 Francine R. Frankel, ‘The Problem ’, ‘Unity or Incoherence’, Sem inar, 45 9 (November 199 7 ), p. 14.

Democratic Vision of a New Republic: India, 1950 RA JE EV BHARGAVA

W e live in a w orld of radical plurality: differences abound, co n ­ testation is ram pant, every perspective appears to have a unique taker, and a deep-rooted scep ticism exists about unified n arra­ tives. In this co n te x t it is alm ost blasphem ous to speak of the d em ocratic vision of a new republic, but I venture to speak of a single vision on the assum ption that, despite the absence of a unified collective subject, a loose, disjointed, som ew hat in co ­ herent vision of India, w ith the potential of an overlapping co n ­ sensus am ong its most active members, did emerge briefly in 19 5 0 . Here, 1 try to rearticulate that vision. I argue that (a) dem oc­ racy cam e to India as nationalism and, therefore, that argum ents for nationalism were coterm inous with argum ents for dem ocracy; that ( b) the character of this dem ocracy, in one significant sense, ju st had to be liberal not only because of its com m itm ent to civil liberties but also because of its vision of equality and social ju s ­ tice; that (c ) the predom inantly cultural ch aracter of n ation al­ ism in India and its traditional proclivity for recognizing the im p ortan ce of collectivities forced the m akers of the C on stitu ­ tio n to m ove b eyond in d iv id u a list lib e ra lism , in o rd e r to w restle w ith the tension betw een con stitu tive attach m en ts and p erson al liberty, betw een grou p disad vantage and person al m erit, and that all these facto rs shaped the ch a ra cte r of the em ergent s e cu la r-d e m o c ra tic state of India. In presenting this view, I believe I challenge the accep ted wisdom of m u ch cu rren t history and social s cie n ce .1 In p articu ­ lar, I question the view that has considerable cu rren cy in in tel­ lectual circles today, i.e., that the crisis of liberal institution s stem s directly from the opposition it faced at its birth .2 This

Democratic Vision of a New Republic

27

view claim s that liberalism cam e to India along with the British ruling élite, rubbed off on to the skin of Indian im itators who cam e into co n tact with it, but was shed soon after because it rem ained only skin deep. This version of the story of liberalism in India is stun nin gly sim p listic. The C o n stitu tio n did not em erge m iraculously out of calm deliberations around a table, but from the political struggles of an élite eager to give India a new social order. My objection, then, is that this view fails to see the link between the C onstitution and the continu ous in tellec­ tual and political labour in the country for over a century. An argu­ m ent sustaining this objection constitutes the first section of the paper. In the second section, I more fully delineate the vision of a dem ocratic India that animated the framers of the Constitution. This was a vision marked by a com m itm ent to universal franchise, to rights of linguistic and religious minorities, and to a variant of secularism shaped by sensitivity to such group-specific rights.

Was the Vision Liberal-Democratic? There is an undeniable crisis of liberal dem ocracy in India today. It appears that the institutions associated w ith liberal dem ocracy are w orn out and frayed at the edges. Given the W estern origins of liberal d em ocracy and its unm istakable distance from trad i­ tional Indian culture, and because liberal dem ocratic in stitu ­ tions appear so totally to lack legitim acy in con tem p orary In ­ dia, it is tem pting to believe that w hatever else it m ight be, In­ dian d em ocracy never was and never can be liberal. However, this view is not convincing. On the contrary, the curren t crisis of liberal d em ocracy is due in large part to its own success. The in trod u ction of civil liberties gave voice to the m ute, and the stage for action was set by the dem ocratic process for those hith­ erto debarred from the public dom ain. They entered it w ith new m odes of speech and action to w hich the initiators of liberal d em ocracy were un accu stom ed , and in num bers that greatly exceed ed the tiny upper cru st that led the national m ovem ent. It is no doubt true that those empowered by institutions of lib­ eral dem ocracy do not com e from a cultural background with an obviously liberal or dem ocratic character. However, it would be m istaken to conclude from this that this newly em powered class is wholly maladjusted to these institutions. Considerable evidence

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exists of its successful adaptation to these western institutions (and of these institutions to these groups!) More importantly, tem pting as it is, one should not succum b to the implausible idea that liberal democracy was forced out very quickly from the minds of the major political actors in the movement for Indian independence. Yet som ething approaching this view has been advocated by Sunil Khilnani in his book, The Idea of India. F o r him, Indian liberalism was crippled from its beginnings: stam ped by u tili­ tarianism , squeezed into a culture that had little room for the in d iv id u al.3 K hilnani claim s th at, ‘The idea of n atural rig h t, essential to m odern liberalism s, was only faintly articulated and failed to find a n ich e in nation alist th ou g h t.’4 In India, ‘Liberty was un derstood not as an individual right but as a n ation ’s c o l­ lective right to self-determ ination .’5 The discourse of rights was disengaged from its individual m oorin gs and attach ed quite naturally to groups, particu larly to religious com m unities in a society fashioned for centu ries by a collectivist m entality. W ith its em phasis on separate individuals m oved by internal require­ m ents of personal autonom y and tied to others by choice rath er than circu m stan ce, liberalism was bound to fail in this cu ltu re and it did. The final nail in the coffin was ham m ered in by the very political agent that liberalism had nurtured in its initial en co u n ter w ith India, the Indian N ational C ongress. G andhi’s strategy of turning the C ongress into a m ass m ovem ent m ade a com m itm ent to liberal and dem ocratic institutions look shallow and irrelevant. ‘By the 1 9 3 0 s and 4 0 s , C ongress nationalism was divided between opinions that had little interest in liberal de­ m ocracy.’6 N ot surprisingly, political representation was granted only to ascriptively defined groups, i.e., those with im m utable interests. Khilnani’s is an attractiv e portrayal of the intellectual and political history of m odern India, not least because it brings order to criss-cro ssin g, often m utually incom patible, ideas of diverse origin and value. It does this by an explanation of ch arm ­ ing sim plicity and econom y, by nicely reinforcing the view that the cu rren t crisis of liberal in stitution s can be traced all the w ay b a c k to th e ir o r ig in s . B u t is th is n o t th e c u lt u r a linadaptability thesis all over again? Does it not bolster the view that w estern ideas can n ot really take root in a cultural environ­ m ent seem ingly hostile to them ? Khilnani reconfirm s the idea

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29

of India as a cou n try w hose individuality was throttled at the top by a small group o f upwardly mobile m en, lacking in selfconfidence from years of pow erlessness and sw ept off their feet by the first great tide of m odernity. W ithou t the effort required to change the course of history but with a great deal of good fortune, they used the pow er which they found in their hands to im pose on an unw illing populace a set of ideas from w hich the souls of the poor people naturally turned away. This argum ent appeases ou r hunger for coherent narratives and fulfils the need for collective individuality instilled in us by rom anticism . It also falls in line with a cultivated sym pathy for the m arginalized. Yet, it presents a very skewed picture. It is nourished by a lopsided view of liberalism , a biased view of the history of liberal d em ocracy in India. Above all, it is guilty of reverse anachronism . It extrapolates features of contem p orary India into the past, sees continuity in the w rong places, and projects ou r own co n cern s on to rem ote relatives w hose w orld was m arkedly different from ours. Views that appear co n stric­ tive to us were liberating for ou r forefathers; they were not e x ­ actly the sam e views, anyway. Besides, this perspective fails to properly acco u n t for m u ch that is crying out for explanation. W hy did India adopt the C onstitution that it did? W hy were fundam ental rights acco rd ed a central place w ithin the C on sti­ tution? W hy adopt a con stitu tion in the first place? W hy the scram ble to p ro tect the rights of individuals and only a grudg­ ing accep tan ce for group rights? And, in a deeply hierarchical society, why such scant opposition to universal franchise, to the ban on untouchability, and to formal gender equality? Proponents of the argum ent that liberal d em ocracy is alien to cultural and social norm s in India can respond by claim ing that they do possess a m eaningful acco u n t of the birth of c o n ­ stitu tional dem ocracy in India. The C on stitution , w hich was ‘squarely in the best w estern tradition’, this view believes, was given to the people of India by the political ch oice of an intel­ lectual élite w ithin a rem arkably unrepresentative body.7 M ore­ over, it was established in ‘a fit of absentm indedness’; the élite had no idea of the political im plications of their actions or of the consequences that lay in store once they had extended the franchise to the poor and the u n edu cated .8 1 find this an extraord in ary perspective on the m aking of the

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Indian C on stitution : ch osen, but unwittingly, by a body that claim ed to represent the real interests of everyone but was in fact w holly unrepresentative, in the best traditions of the W est because it turned its back sharply on the hom egrow n traditions of the national m ovem ent. By w hat m agic was this m iracle per­ form ed? How could the very people who allegedly rejected the lib eral-dem ocratic vision, at the sam e tim e adopt a C on stitu ­ tion in the finest traditions of w estern liberal dem ocracy? How cou ld som e of the m ost o u tstan d in g figures of the ce n tu ry ch oose a basic stru ctu re for th eir society w ithout a clue about its im pact on that society or on its inherited traditions? This is n ot an easy question to answ er and certainly not one to be dealt w ith in a few pages. But it is w orthw hile to ask w hether a re ­ sponse that appears attractive at first sight retains plausibility on closer exam ination. I do n ot think it does.

The Liberal Strand in Indian Politics It is m ore plausible to argue that at least since R am m ohun Roy, and well before the radical p oliticization of the Indian N ational C ongress, a distinct liberal stream existed w hich merged w ith and inherited a diffused but persistent strain of som ething akin to a liberal view w ithin local Indian tradition s; that w estern m odernity m ade considerable inroads into an aspiring middle strata of Indian society because it genuinely articulated and re­ sponded to their needs; and that there is m ore to utilitarianism than its strong collectivist trappings. Therefore, even if liberal­ ism cam e to India through utilitarianism , it washed up ideas that were neutral, to say the least, between the individual and the collective; British im perialism , by installing the m achinery of a m odern state sim ultaneously opened up opportunities for resis­ tance to it. Therefore, a classical political libertarianism w ith its em phasis on individual rights cam e to India as a stru ctu ral feature of m odern political life. Above all, d em ocracy grew in India, as it did in m any other places, under the guise of national­ ism, and its com m itm ent to political equality fitted in neatly with the egalitarian strands of liberalism as well as of utilitarianism . In the last instance, this m eant that even outside the polity, lib­ eral demands for equality of opportunity and for treating indi­ viduals as equals were considerably strengthened. If all this is

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true then it is a gross exaggeration to assert th at constitutional d em ocracy in India was established in a fit of absentm inded­ ness, that the discourse of rights was detached entirely from its classical individualist and political m oorings, and that Indian nationalism had little interest in liberal democracy. These points need elaboration. I begin with the claim that the transform ation of nationalist dem ands into a mass m ovem ent ended the short phase of lib­ eral politics in India. I do not wish to con test that the politics of m ass m ovem ent is deeply at odds w ith the politics of insti­ tu tion alized o p p o sitio n . Undeniably, a great d istan ce exists betw een a politics of resistance to the state, one that tries— with popular m andate if not direct pressure from below— to force rulers out of power, and a politics conducted within param eters of institutionalized opposition perm itted by the state. Rather, my point is that the first kind of politics is as m uch a part of the liberal tradition as the second. Any plausible form of liberalism in corp orates within it a right to actively resist illegitim ate state power, a right that can hardly be exercised w ithin norm al po­ litical process. The form taken by this politics of resistance var­ ies in different con texts. People guided by a strong liberal vision, keen to set up a liberal state, m ay have to adopt even violent m ethods to do so. How else does one explain the A m erican W ar of Independence or even, perhaps, the F ren ch Revolution? The fact that in periods of transition the A m ericans and the French adopted ‘revolutionary’, non-institutional politics does not mean they rejected liberalism . Similarly, G andhi’s adoption of mass politics, a politics of ‘coercion and seduction’ does not indicate that a liberal agenda had been abandoned, ju st as the revolu­ tionary phase in F ran ce or A m erica does not prove that liberal­ ism had been jettison ed . The plain fact is that liberalism , while adm itting the right to resistance to an illegitim ate state, is not clear on the m ethods to be adopted for such resistance. These can vary from violent overthrow to passive resistance, and quite easily accom m od ate G andhi’s eclectic politics of satyagraha. At any rate, a distinction needs to be m ade betw een Gandhian m ethods of revolt against an oppressive regim e and the sub­ s ta n tiv e v is io n th a t im p e lle d th e s e m e th o d s . G a n d h i’s program m e for the abolition of untouchability; of equality for w om en; of the exten sion of franchise to every person; and his

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deeply individualistic vision of spirituality have m uch in co m ­ m on w ith an y re a so n a b le in te r p r e ta tio n of a n u m b e r of liberalism s. My second point about the com m itm ent to civil liberties flows directly from acceptable norm s of dissent and the availability of political liberty within the confines of a liberal state. As early as the beginning of the nineteenth century, Ram m ohun Roy p ro­ tested against a regulation curtailing the freedom of the press. He argued that a state that is responsive to the needs of indi­ viduals and ready for in tervention on th eir behalf, m akes avail­ able to them the means by w hich such needs are com m unicated, and, therefore, m ust perm it u n restricted liberty of publication. The dem and for a free press and opposition to its gagging per­ sisted th rough out British rule, particularly when the press was the principal instrum ent for the propagation and consolidation of India’s nationalist ideology C onsider the fierce opposition to the infam ous Rowlatt Act w hich gave the colonial state enor­ m ous em ergency pow ers, sim ilar to w artim e controls. It is true that opposition to this act was n ot expressed in ways that were obviously liberal, but in its substantive co n ten t it was funda­ m entally liberal. An opposition to arbitrary detention is as clas­ sically liberal as you can get, and yet there is sim ply no one, particular, liberal m ethod of opposing it, anytim e, anyw here in the w orld. Similarly, the claim that liberalism arrived in India already gravely com prom ised because it was in trod u ced by utilitarian ­ ism in its ram pantly collectivist and paternalist m ood is severely overstated. F o r a start, liberalism did n ot com e to India only as a w ell-articu lated philosophy th rou gh stand ard processes of ideological transm ission, such as ed u cation and the press. On the contrary, m any of its core values originated simply as a co n ­ sequence of practices and institutions set up by the rulers to directly serve British in terests, rather than by deliberate design. Consider, for exam ple, the in trodu ction of the postal system or the railways and their dram atic im pact on social m obility; or the system of education introduced for the con venien ce of the rulers, but of immense advantage to the ruled. Many local upper caste m en m ay indeed have been transform ed into efficient ser­ vants of the em pire, but ed u cation also unw ittingly created Indian nationalists who eventually challenged both the em pire

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as well as som e oppressive tendencies w ithin their own social order. Similarly, by in trodu cing the Indian penal code, the im ­ perial legal system established the doctrine of equality of all before the law. By a cu riou s dialectic, every p ractice that began as a functional requirem ent of the Raj contributed at least partly to its own undoing over tim e. Liberalism did not com e to India only through the spoken or printed w ord; it was directly em ­ bedded in practices as a stru ctu ral feature of institutions and technologies. Unsurprisingly, British rulers were unaw are, or at least appear to have m iscalculated the potential im plications of their actions. W h eth er or not they had created the em pire in a fit of absentm indedness, it appears that they had certain ly con­ solidated it in that m ood! Let me com e to the real point. It is no particular flaw of the Indian élite that constitutional dem ocracy was established in a fit of absentmindedness. Hum an agents anywhere in the world are unlikely to be clairvoyant about all the potential im plications of their actions. It was to counter the myth of this Cartesian translucency, the presum ption that agents always have a clear idea of what they are doing, that philosophers such as Hegel introduced the concept o f ‘the cunning of reason’. M uch safer, I believe, is to presum e that agents never grasp the fu ll im plications of their ac­ tions or fully know w hat they are doing. The Indian élite was unaware to the same degree as any set of reasonable agents would be; indeed, they knew w hat they were doing to the exten t pos­ sible even though they could not have been fully aware of all the potential im plications of their actions. My n ext point pertains to the ch aracterization of utilitarian­ ism and liberalism . An em phasis on the collectivist ingredient within utilitarianism should not ignore other com ponents com ­ patible w ith a rights-based version of liberalism . Likewise, the centrality of rights or au tonom y w ithin liberalism should not be interpreted in such a way that oth er key values w ithin liber­ alism are overlooked. To be sure, the point about the strong collectivism of utilitarianism is not entirely m istaken; one of its glaring flaws is its failure to appreciate the true significance of the separateness of persons. U tilitarian calculation allows som e individuals to subsidize, even at their own expense, the projects of oth er individuals; from the point of view of an im partial, be­ nevolent observer, som e individuals may count for nothing. This

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is deeply disturbing from an alternative standpoint of m oral equality and fairness. Insofar as utilitarianism possesses this collectivist ingredient, it can only have strengthened the un ­ ju st, anti-individualist biases of Indian tradition. However, utilitarianism also contains strands neutral towards the individual and the collective, and m ay strengthen individu­ alist tendencies against traditional, inegalitarian collectivism . Here, I wish to draw attention to three su ch features: first, its stress on happiness and w ell-being, and its repugnance for suf­ fering. Second, its idea that in the utilitarian calculus every unit of happiness carries equal w eight, and therefore a desire cannot be ignored m erely on a cco u n t of the cu rren t social rank of its holder or som e obscure m etaphysics. Finally, the right answ er to a m oral question is determ ined by m easuring hum an happi­ ness rather than by relying on ram shackle tradition or a dubi­ ous spiritual leader.9 U tilitarianism m ay have generated its own brand of authoritarian collectivism but it was also destined to upset the inegalitarian collectivism of several Indian custom s. Indeed, by its em phasis on desire and happiness, on the avoid­ ance of suffering and by its im plicit attack on social hierarchy, it was m ore than likely to nourish individualist ideas. To cu t a long story sh o rt, if it is im portan t to point ou t the link between utilitarianism and collectivism , it is equally necessary to register the precise form of collectivism encouraged by it. The 'happiness of the greatest num ber’ is galaxies apart from ‘the happiness of the smallest num ber’, w hich was the hallm ark of traditional co l­ lectivism . Indeed, the individualist im plications of utilitarian­ ism could hardly have failed to con trib u te to the developm ent of ideas that eventually coalesced into a set of fundamental rights in the Indian C on stitution .

The Tension between Individual and Community Rights A gainst the view that a rights-based liberalism was crippled in India from its very beginnings, I have argued that for the Indian political élite, civil liberties m attered a great deal, and that these had to be con stru ed individualistically, i.e., essentially as fea­ tures of individuals rath er than of groups. True, little interest in the philosophical ju stification of these rights was evident, but in their practical engagem ent with an alien, oppressive state,

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political actors in India fully realized their im portance. A p ra c­ tical knowledge that these rights belong to them qua individu­ als cou ld not have escaped th em , even though th ey did not articu late this know ledge in term s of an indigenous, grand theory. Perhaps the language and cu lture of individual rights was not pervasive and did n o t go very deep; but it w ent as far and as deep as it possibly could at that tim e, and for th e 50 years or so before the adoption of the C onstitution, every single resolution, schem e, bill, national dem and or report m entioned it, not ju st in passing, but as a non-negotiable value. The section on fundam ental rights in the Indian C on stitution , with a core of civil liberties, did not fall from the sky fully form ed. It grew out of struggles with an oppressive, hum iliating political regime. Despite attacks and instrum entalist attitudes towards it, the idea of fundam ental rights rem ains potent even today. After all, the d isc o u rs e of civil rig h ts has n o t e x a c tly d isap p eared from India! The fact that it has n o t gone deeper requires expianation* but recognition of this is a far cry from accep tin g the idea that it was knocked out in India before it even took its first faltering steps. M ore im portantly, liberalism m ust n o t be viewed only as a doctrin e of individual rights; nor was it believed to be so by m ore articulate m em bers of the C on stituen t Assembly. F o r e x ­ am ple, take the views of Sardar K.M . Panikkar w ho, in the Sarojini Naidu M em orial Lectu re ( 1 9 6 1 ) argued that Indian lib­ eralism was m ade up of two stream s each w ith ‘a fairly long h istory’. 10 F o r Panikkar, the founder of the first stream was R am m ohun Roy w ho, ‘by em phasizing the right of w om en to freedom and the establishment of casteless society put the Hindu people on the road to liberal transform ation and contributed to the growth of liberal thought in India’.11 The second stream co m ­ prised figures like K .C . Sen and M.G. Ranade, but m ore im por­ tantly Swami Vivekananda, w ho ‘introduced into o rth od o x Hin­ duism the spirit of social ju stice’. By disassociating institutions such as caste and prohibitions like widow rem arriage from the Hindu religion, and by espousing the view that the reform of such practices is a m atter essentially of social ju stice, Vivekananda spurred a m ovem ent of reordering Hindu society infused with liberal principles. Panikkar also argues that Gandhiji’s ascendancy within the C ongrecs initiated a program m e of political action

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based on the sam e ideas for w hich liberalism stood. T he C on ­ gress not only advocated political liberalism but em phasized the ‘rights of the individuals and the value of essential freedom s, the rule of law, secularism in politics and faith in social ju stice ’. Two features stand out in this acco u n t as constitutive o f liberal­ ism: equality and social ju stice. Panikkar’s vision of liberalism in general and of Indian liberalism in particular is far m ore in conson an ce w ith the core values of liberalism than the identifi­ cation of it exclusively with individualistically construed rights. A con cern for liberal ju stice is now here m ore evident than in constitutional provisions for affirm ative action p rog ram m es.12 To tackle the basic inequalities already existing in the Indian social stru ctu re, and to m ake the formal political em pow erm ent of severely disadvantaged groups more effective, the introduction of con stitu tion ally p ro tected preferential treatm en t of these groups was thought necessary. A mere right to vote and to equality of opportunity, it was widely recognized, is insufficient to ensure m eaningful, effective social and political equality. T h u s, apart from several general provisions to the right of equality, special constitutional m easures were taken to p rotect and advance the interests of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. F o r exam ple, A rticle 3 3 4 provides for reservations for seats in leg­ islatures for these groups; similarly, under Article 3 3 5 the claim s of Scheduled Castes and Tribes are taken into con sid eration while m aking appointm ents to public services. Here, the m ak­ ers of the C on stitution appealed not only to backw ard-looking principles justifying com pensation to victim s of past harm , but also to a forw ard-looking liberal principle that aims at future equality of opportunity. Indeed, it was precisely because past in justice con tin u ed to be a sou rce of cu rren t in ju stice th at program m es of affirmative action were believed to be necessary. The claim that in India ‘liberty was understood not as an indi­ vidual right but as a nation’s collective right to self-determ ination’ is deeply prob lem atic.13 To begin with, the two are not m utually exclusive. Some rights are irreducibly collective, su ch as the right to self-determ ination and the right to preserve a culture against potential th reat from other cultural com m unities. O ther rights are irreducibly individual: the right not to be su b ject to bodily harm , not to be detained arbitrarily, not to be prosecuted for expressing dissent against the state or the m ore positive right

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to, say, gainful em ploym ent are all individual possessions. Both kinds of rights can be granted, and though they may o ccasio n ­ ally con flict, they co exist as well. Proponents of the view that individual rights had no place within Indian discourses may accep t this but still argue that the ineffective presence of indi­ vidual rights is explained by the fact that in Indian culture ‘the only place for the individual is in the form of a renou n cer’.14 But I doubt if this acco u n t is plausible even for traditional Indian society and it is certainly less so for urban, m iddle-class India in the post-R am m ohun Roy w orld, in w hich Indians tried som e­ how to com bine or reconcile traditional collectivist and m od­ ern individualist strands. To assert that the issue was settled from the beginning in favour of one is to fail to understand the com p lex w orld of these persons. Indeed, the w orld-view of intellectuals in the late nineteenth cen tu ry was m arkedly different from the intellectual landscape of left-liberals after the Second W orld War. Attempts to reconcile individual and collective identities were not uncom m on within liberal writing at the turn of the century and for roughly three decades thereafter. T.H. Green, L.T. Hobhouse and Jo h n Dewey, to name three prom inent liberals, recognized the im portance of belonging to a cultural com m unity with its m em ories, traditions, cu stom s, and a shared way of thinking and feeling, a com m on lan gu age.15 W ith ou t devaluing individual liberty, such liberals recognized com m unity rights with great philosophical ease. The intellectu al environm ent that inform ed Indian thinking is im ­ bued with liberalism of this hue, rather than the classical liber­ tarianism of the eighteenth century, or the deontological liber­ alism of the second half of the tw entieth century. The question of group rights needs further scrutiny. The pros­ pect of the breakdown of hierarchical com munities, i.e., emotional solidarities that are shot through with asymmetrical relations, pro­ voked many responses. One such viewpoint, known in India as ‘com m unalism ’ legitimizes a full-blooded conflictual relationship betw een com m u nities that m ay view each other as equals, but are obsessively self-focused and intent upon m axim izing their own interests at the expense of the other. D istinct from hierar­ chical com m u nitarian ism and an egalitarian com m unalism , is individualist egalitarianism, a view com m itted to equality am ong individuals and m arked by a drive towards abstract universal-

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ism ; and communitarian egalitarianism that forges a relationship of equal respect am ong com m unities. Two features distinguish the aforem entioned views: one has to do with their attitude to difference, and the other, with their understanding of the source of this difference. In individualist egalitarianism , differences are due to individual choice or to a culturally neutral, socially gener­ ated circum stance that m ust be ignored or elim inated in order to achieve an egalitarian order. In com m unitarian egalitarianism , differences are a resu lt of irred u cib ly diverse cultural b ack ­ grounds, and need to be properly recognized and affirmed rather than be jettisoned from the egalitarian fram ew ork. The strategy of the individualist response is at best to treat difference as a disadvantage suffered by a group; the rem oval of disadvantages by w orking through and eventually dissolving groups into individuals is therefore a natural objective of state policy. From the perspective of the collectivist view point, this strategy fails to understand how groups sustain culture and why every cultural difference is not a disadvantage that must be shed; the eradication of difference is undesirable and impossible. Instead, a parity between irreducibly different cultural com m unities is required. This does not m ean that particu lar cultu ral co m m u ­ nities never disappear or assim ilate into oth er com m unities; how ever, it does m ean that a cu ltu re-n eu tral, hom ogeneous so ­ ciety consisting only of radically self-directing individuals is an impossibility. Though both the individualist and the collectiv­ ist responses w ere in the m aking in the early tw entieth century, p ost-W ar liberalism articulated and theorized the form er at the expen se of the latter. It is im portant not to read the m ind of the political élite in India with the interpretive grid of post-W ar liberalism w hich, to ward off hierarchical com m unitarianism and com m unalism , relies exclusively upon the resources of individualist egalitari­ anism . The Indian political élite m ay not have m ade a d istin c­ tion between hierarchical and egalitarian com m unities— they frequently failed to keep the idea of com m unalism distinct from egalitarian com m unitarianism . But it is difficult to deny that the discourse of m utual respect betw een cultu ral com m unities was always within their reach .16 To cou n ter the challenge of hier­ archical com munitarianism and com m unalism , they relied on and frequently wavered between individualist and non-individualist

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egalitarianism . The C onstituent Assembly debates reflect this ten sion. The political élite in India, w orking with the resources of a ragbag liberalism, was sensitive to both individual and group rights, and wrestled with the tension between them within the co n te x t of a forever threatening anti-liberal conception embed­ ded in the then existing political practice. The C onstitution too, reflects, perhaps was even born out of, this turm oil, and uneasily tries to reco n cile individual w ith group rights.

The Majority-Minority Framework A rticles 2 9 and 3 0 of the C on stitution granted special rights to groups in order to p ro tect their interests and, in particular, to enable them to establish and adm inister their own educational institutions. These group-specific rights were frequently viewed as the rights of m inorities. By the tim e the C onstitution cam e to be w ritten, that is, after Partition , the language of m a jo rity -m i­ nority had taken a firm hold on the dom inant political discourse. A special sub-com m ittee on m inorities was constituted and most of its m em bers accep ted the idea that perm anent m inorities needed special safeguards. So, by incorp oratin g group rights, th e fram ers of the Indian C onstitution accep ted w hat m ight be called the majority-m inority fram ew ork. W as this m ove on their part defensible? In this section I argue that it w as.17 There are two alternative ways of understanding the notions of m ajority and m inority. One is from w ithin the problem atic of com m unitarianism and nationalism , and the other from the van­ tage p o in t of a certain co n ce p tio n of d em ocracy. The m ost familiar dem ocratic notion of m ajority-m inority rests on the rule of preference aggregation. No m atter what its content or who its holder, every preference m ust be taken into a cco u n t and placed on the sam e scale. Social status and econom ic position attached to preferences, the intensity of their expression, judgm ents about their w orth , their im pact and on w hom , are irrelevant. A m ajor­ ity and a m inority emerges when such preferences are aggregated and cou n ted . N otion s of m ajority and m inority w ithin this fram ew ork are predicated on preferen ce.181 shall call them pref­ erence-based m ajority and minority. The idea of preference ap­ pears to but does not depend on the notion of a self-defined inde­ pendently of fundamental com mitments, constitutive attachments

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and com m unities. All it requires is that the self be treated as if, upon entering a com m on public space, it can leave behind co m ­ m itm ents and attachm ents. This implies that the only feature rel­ evant in public con texts is the capacity of the self to choose am ong desires it happens to have. Because the preferences of people are never taken as im m utable w ithin this con cep tion , the idea of a perm anent m ajority or m inority m akes little sense. It is in the nature of preference-based dem ocratic institutions that the m inority of today becom es the m ajority tomorrow. Popu­ lar elections constantly reconfigure majorities and minorities, yet constitutional safeguards may still be required because the basic interests of an individual m ust not be impaired, even temporarily. At any rate, even in this preference-based m odel, m ajorities and m inorities m ay becom e practically perm anent if the outcom e of dem ocratic procedures repeatedly favours one kind of preference expressed by a set of individuals. Constitutional safeguards are necessitated by the need to check the injustice of such outcom es, to prevent pitfalls of an intolerable and congealed stability. There­ fore, certain preferences are excluded from the arena of aggregation and decision-m aking so that, were they to congeal, they would not affect the position or value of other preferences. (F o r exam ple, if m ajority preferences persistently express that m eat-eating be banned, and a m inority equally persistently expresses preference in favour of eating m eat, then any preference one way or another is excluded from decision-making.) On the whole, all constitutions are attem pts to prevent dem ocracy from sliding into despotism by controlling the tyrannical elements of political majoritarianism. The m ove from an aggregative to a con stitutional m odel of dem ocracy involves granting som e guarantees to individuals. This dim inishes in security am ong individuals who reason thus: suppose that it turns out that a set of given preferences held persistently by a small num ber of people is always opposed to or incom patible with those held by larger num bers. Given fur­ ther, that in a d em ocratic system governed entirely by prefer­ ences, policy m aking is unlikely to be shaped by m inority pref­ erences, it is reasonable and in the interest of all to inhibit this untram m eled m ajoritarianism by assuring all relevant individu­ als th at policies exclusively m eant for them be form ulated by their own internal preferences and not by external ones.19 H ence, the necessity of individual rights.

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There is, however, a second conception of m ajority-m inority w hich arises when individuals define them selves and oth ers not in term s of preference, i.e ., the desires people choose to have, but rath er by the m ore or less perm anent attributes that they happen to possess. These attrib utes are widely believed to c o n ­ stitu te the very identity of individuals.20 Such individuals also see them selves as con stitu tin g a group around this feature. As­ sum e tw o such groups w ith differing nu m erical strengths— a m inority and m ajority exists then on the basis of such identity— con stitu tin g features. Let m e call these identity-dependent m a­ jo rity and minority. In a large society w here people do not share the sam e id en tity-con stitu tin g features, m ajorities and m in ori­ ties exist m ore or less on a perm anent basis. (F o r exam ple, Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Q uébécois in C anada, the m any lin­ guistic groups w ithin India, M uslims in B ritain .) Here we can even speak of perm anent m ajorities or m inorities. W hen such perm anent identity-dependent m ajorities and m i­ norities enter the dem ocratic arena, they bring along desires possessed sim ply by virtue of the kind of people they are. I am not of course claim ing that these desires are natural or im m u­ table, only that because they are culturally inherited and collec­ tively reinforced they are relatively stable. In such co n texts, the outcom e of dem ocratic procedures is likely to repeatedly favour not only the preferences of a set of individuals but the m ore or less perm anent desires of a group. M oreover, these desires o f the m ajority m ay be about the basic structure and organization of society, so that m inorities within that society may live as perm a­ nent aliens, in perpetual insecurity. W hen this occurs in reality, a society may be wracked by what I call the majority-minority syn­ drome.11 It follows that constitutional guarantees are needed for perm anent (religious or linguistic) minorities and therefore more imperatively, a m ajority-m inority fram ew ork is necessary to pre­ vent a society from swirling into the vortex of a m ajority-m inority syndrom e.22 I started off with a m in o rity -m ajo rity fram ew ork and later referred to the m in o rity -m ajo rity syndrom e. The two term s are not interchangeable— syndrom e suggests som ething stronger and pejorative. W hen a deep m alaise sets into the fram ew ork causing, for one or other intrinsic reason, a spiralling estrange­ m ent betw een the m inority and the majority, we are saddled

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with a m in o rity -m ajo rity syndrom e. On the oth er hand, a m in o rity-m ajo rity fram ework rests on different self-identifications and a m odicu m of distance between the two groups but im plies no galloping alienation or the ch ron ic m alaise typical of syn ­ drom es. It is im portant here to note that the m ajo rity -m in o rity fram ework operates with strictly egalitarian premises. A dem and for m inority rights is occasionally m ade under conditions where the group claim ing su ch rights has the resources as well as the inclination to dom inate and oppress other groups in society. (T he system of apartheid in South Africa is an obvious exam ple.) However, the entire point of introducing m inority rights, on the view outlined here, is to elim inate hidden inequalities and pos­ sible in justice. The idea is to give m inorities som e pow er to shape the social and political stru ctu re so that they too are able to do or get w h at the m ajority group routinely procures by vir­ tue of the stru ctu ral con d itions in that society. A society th at needs to deploy a m ajority -m in o rity fram ew ork is not the best of all possible w orlds, but in my use of the term it is not at all obvious that it con n otes a terrible, avoidable state of affairs.23 Can the syndrom e be sidestepped in som e way other than by the use of the m ajority-m inority framework? Given the distance it creates between groups is this framework necessary? W hy have notions like m ajority or m inority at all? W hy not rid ourselves of the syndrom e by jettisoning the fram ework itself? There are two issues here. One is the question of feasibility: are other alterna­ tive ways of dissolving the syndrom e available? W h ich of these is really feasible? Second, of those that are feasible w h ich, in the given c o n te x t, is ethically sustainable? Several alternatives are indeed available. By delving deep into the resou rces of our distinctive traditions, particu larly of reli­ gion, we m ay rediscover ways of living togeth er w oven into the fabric of lived experien ce and em bedded in traditional p ra c­ tices. This alternative is developed on the m ore or less co rre ct assum ption th at the m ajo rity -m in o rity fram ew ork is linked to m odern d em ocratic politics and to the form ation of m odern n ation -states. M odernity is the bête noire here; it begets the m in o rity-m ajo rity fram ework and carries all its ills. In this view, then, the only way to get rid of the syndrom e (an d the fram e­ w ork) is to eject the fram ew ork, w hich in turn is done by a rejection of m odernity itself. There is a second alternative. This

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involves the hom ogenization of individuals o r their treatm ent, as if differences am ongst them do not m atter. This is believed possible by transform ing ascriptive, id entity-con stitu tin g fea­ tures into preferences. This involves a conceptual and p ractical m ove from a com m u nitarian id entity-con stitu tin g to an indi­ vidualist, preference-based understanding of the categories of m ajority and m inority. Usually, this entails a refusal to bestow special rights or a withdrawal of privileges from m inority groups and replacem ent w ith a uniform ch arter of rights. A third alternative is the hom ogenization of individuals, not by the process m entioned in the preceding paragraph, but by assim ilating the m inorities w ithin an overw eening m ajority, by a stipulation th at only the id entity-con stitu tin g features of the m ajority co u n t in society. Special rights are w rested away from the m inority; for exam ple, a w atch dog m inorities com m ission m ay be disbanded. It is n ot un com m on to find that when en­ forced uniform ity is resisted, it results in the w ithdraw al of gen­ eral rights as well. Finally, a fourth way in which this syndrom e/ fram ew ork can be done away w ith is by the politics of ‘overlap­ ping good’. This w ould entail that different groups and indi­ viduals, from their respective standpoints, gather to deliberate over the good life, each contributing distinctively from its origi­ nal perspective but converging ultimately on a conception shared to som e exten t by all. W h ich of the above are desirable and can be m et? The first alternative, delving into tradition to discover ways of living to ­ gether, is partially desirable. W h y only partially? M odernity is a con trad ictory p h enom en on; it con tain s two blended ribbons o f the good and the bad. By exp loring resources of tradition it provides an alternative to the evils of m odernity, but by e xag ­ g e r a tin g its im p o r ta n c e it r e m a in s w h o lly b lin d to its inescapability or its good, and fails to harvest its enorm ous ben­ efits. Really, it is too caugh t up in the sim ple-m inded binary opposition of a pristine tradition contrasted with the unrelieved evil of m odernity. Therefore, it is not a wholly desirable option, and in any case, it is not even a real possibility. The second alternative, treating individuals as if group-based differences do n o t m atter, requires a certain pattern of m odernization th at is sociologically naive in its underestim ation of the im portance and desirability of con stitu tive social attach m en ts in the life of

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people. 1 rule it out because of its insensitivity to cultural id en­ tities. People in India are hardly likely to shed their religious identity; indeed, religion continues to be rather m ore like the co lo u r of the skin than a consum able item to be chosen from an array on offer in the m arketplace. T he third alternative, the as­ sim ilation of m inorities, is undesirable because it can be real­ ized, if at all, only by outright m anipulation or force. However, m odern politics is not a zero-sum gam e and has at best only tem porary w inners and losers. Besides, equalization, an in te­ gral and irreversible feature of m odern societies, has m eant that strategies of enforced assim ilation have lost even the m inim al legitim acy they once possessed. Any asym m etry between groups is resisted soon er rath er than later. As a result, it is extrem ely difficult to forcibly assimilate or coerce any group into the m ain­ stream . The final alternative, the politics of ‘overlapping go od ’ is w onderful, if realizable. However, conditions for its realiza­ tion do not always exist and even when they do, the need for a fall-back strategy rem ains. Though a political cond ition of ‘overlapping good’ is a valu ­ able regulative ideal, the m akers of the C onstitution retained the m in o rity -m ajo rity fram ew ork as the only realistic op tion by w h ich to realize a society free of the m ajority -m in o rity sy n ­ drom e. They sought its abandonm ent by specific con stitu tion al safeguards, i.e., by transform ing a sim ple m ajoritarian d em o c­ racy to one with a con stitu tion , by granting groups a degree of co n tro l over their affairs by different rights of self-governm ent, including the right to express cu ltu ral particularity. They b e ­ lieved this strategy would contain discrim ination and rectify perceptions of disadvantage am ong m inorities. It m ight be argued that their position severely underestim ates problem s generated by the m in o rity -m ajo rity fram ework. W h y m ust we put up with a perm anent state of radically distin ct groups, w hich see them selves in num erical term s and rem ain potentially divided, distanced, som ew hat alienated from one an other? W hy not aspire to a political society that recognizes the equal standing of all viable groups and simply jettison talk of m inorities and m ajorities?24 Indeed, why at all take refuge in a divisive discourse of rights? My straightforw ard response to this objection on behalf of the fram ers of the C onstitution is that the best available option is not always realizable. C o n d i­

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tions that enable its exercise may be present in a society but once the opportunity throw n up by the historical process is m issed, it may altogether lose even the chance of securing other m orally defensible but second-best options. Let me explain this point. A pervasive m yth w ithin m od ern ­ ist self-understanding is that m odern conditions destroy every collective form ation and unleash different forms of individual­ ism . In this view, collective identities and com m itm ents cannot survive the m odernist onslaught. Even a cu rsory glance at the processes of m odernity however, reveals that while they under­ m ine som e kinds of groups, they sim ultaneously generate and bolster others. The m ost obvious exam ple of a group m ade pos­ sible and supported by m odem processes is the nation (and other sub-national g ro u p s).25 Now, the sam e processes that generate national identity also produce a sense of equality and intense com petitiveness, ingredients that contribute substantially to the form ation of w hat I called the m ajority -m in o rity syndrom e. It is of course true that a syndrom e is not inevitable. A m ech a­ nism ensuring equality and m utual respect m ay well be in tro­ duced before com petitiveness am ong groups goes too far. If a society succeeds in doing so, then it secures dignified and peace­ ful coexisten ce of groups w ithout even resorting to a fram e­ w ork of rights. However, in m ost instances, the very form ation of groups is dependent upon and accom panied by a sense of equality and radical com petitiveness. Indeed, groups are formed within a process of rivalry that threatens to spiral out of control. One possible solution to contain it, to foster institutionalized toler­ ance is to have a system of group rights. Collective self-government rights, special rights for representation within legislatures, or rights to express distinctive cultural particularities enable viable groups in society to live with dignity. At this stage, a society possesses a sys­ tem of group rights without talk of minority and majority, without what I have called the m ajority-m inority framework. However, if such rights are not granted at the appropriate time, complex feel­ ings of disadvantage and m arginalization grow and a m ajority m inority syndrom e sets in, and once entrenched— precisely this is my argum ent— the only way to eliminate it is to introduce a m ajority-m inority framework. This point can be form ulated differently. Group rights need not always be perceived as m inority rights. They are viewed as

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rights of m inorities if introduced after an irreversible condition of radical alienation between groups has com e into existence. A m inority-m ajority framework is then needed to get rid of the syndrome; no need for the former to exist, if the latter did not exist in the first place. In short, the framework follows the syn­ drome. To insist upon the futility or irrelevance of the framework when in fact the syndrome is already entrenched is to belie, at best, a shallow utopianism and, at worst, to shamelessly disguise inequalities between groups. The point I am hammering home is that societies that grant equal recognition to groups at an oppor­ tune m om ent avoid the m ajority-m inority syndrome, and there­ fore have no need for a m ajority-m inority framework. However, once they miss this opportunity and a syndrome bedevils them, the only ethically defensible option then is to live with a m inoritymajority framework. Other ways of ridding the syndrome are, quite simply, morally unsustainable. On a constructive interpretation of the intentions of the framers of the Constitution, this was the logic behind their acceptance of the m ajority-m inority framework.

A Modern, Indian Secularism The acceptance of group rights and the m ajority-m inority frame­ work had a profound im pact on the concep tion of secularism im plicit in the C onstitution. A variant of secularism was devel­ oped w hich is at once Indian and m o d ern .26 There is a tendency in the literature on secularism in India to first posit a highly idealized version of secularism derived partly from, say, the Am erican or the French experience, and then judge the p ractice of the secular state in India by standards evolved from these m odels. (Secularists have often done this and then lam ented the failure of Indian secularism . Likewise, opponents of secularism have used the ploy to first highlight the inconsis­ tencies of Indian secularism and then conclude that the co l­ lapse of secularism in India is im m inent.) To illustrate this point let me take the exam ple of Donald Sm ith’s India as a Secular State, still the locus classicus on the su b ject.27 Sm ith’s con cep ­ tion of the secu lar state involves three distinct but interrelated relations concernin g the state, religion and the individual. The first relation concerns individuals and their religion, from which the state is excluded. Individuals are thereby free to decide the

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m erits of the respective claim s of different religions w ithout any coercive interference by the state. They are free to revise or reject the religion they were born into or have chosen. (T his is the liberal ingredient w ithin secu larism .) The second con cern s the relation between individuals and the state, from w hich religion is excluded. H ere, the state views individuals w ithout taking into acco u n t their religious affiliation. The rights and duties of citizens are not affected by the religious beliefs held by in di­ viduals; for exam ple, no discrim ination exists in the holding of public office or taxation . (T his is the egalitarian com pon ent within secularism .) Finally, for Smith, the integrity of both these relations is dependent on the third relation, betw een the state and different religions. Here he argues that secularism entails separation of powers, i.e., the m utual exclusion of state and reli­ gion in order that they m ay operate effectively and equally in their own respective dom ains. Ju st as it is not the function of the state to prom ote, regulate, direct or interfere in religion, ju st so is political power outside the scope of religion’s legitim ate ob­ jectiv es. So, for Smith, secularism m eans the strict separation of religion and the state for the sake of the religious liberty and equal citizenship of individuals. Clearly, on this a cco u n t of secularism , any intervention in Hinduism— for exam ple the legal ban on the prohibition of Dalit entry into tem ples— is illegitim ate interference in religious af­ fairs and therefore com prom ises secularism . Similarly, the pro­ tection of socio-religious groups (m inorities) is inconsistent with an individualistically grounded secularism . F o r exam ple, the right to personal laws entails a departure from secularism sim ­ ply on the ground that it depends on a com m unally suspect classification. Together, these policies violate the ideal of neu­ trality or equidistance that plays a pivotal role in Smith’s view of secularism . Smith believed that despite these flaws the Indian state, at least in the early 1 9 6 0 s , was secular. However, he also believed th at these co n stitu ted serious deviations from the model of secularism and unless quickly brought in line, the secu­ lar state in India w ould plunge into crisis. W as he correct? I do not think so. Sm ith rem ained in the grip of a particular model of w estern secularism and therefore, was unable to get a handle on the basic features of Indian secularism . The distinc­ tiveness of the Indian variant of secularism can be understood

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only when the cultural background and social con text in India is properly grasped. At least four such features of this socio-cu ltu ral con text call for attention. First, there exists the m ind-boggling diversity of religious com m unities in India. Such diversity m ay coexist harm oniously but it invariably generates conflicts, the m ost intractable of w hich, I believe, are deep conflicts over val­ ues. Second, within Hinduism in particular and in South Asian religions m ore generally, a greater emphasis is placed on p ractice rather than belief. A person’s religious identity and affiliation are defined m ore by w hat she or he does with and in relation to others, than by the con ten t of beliefs individually held by th em . Since p ractices are intrinsically social, any significance p laced on them brings about a con com itant valorization of co m m u n i­ ties. T hird, m any religiously sanctioned social p ra ctice s are oppressive by virtu e of their illiberal and inegalitarian c h a ra c ­ ter and deny a life of dignity and self-respect. T herefore, from a liberal and egalitarian standpoint, they desperately need to be reform ed. Such p ractices frequently have a life of their ow n, independent of con sciou sly held beliefs, and possess a causal efficacy that rem ains unaffected by the presence of co n scio u s beliefs. F u rth erm o re, a tendency to fortify and insulate th e m ­ selves from reflective critique m akes them resistan t to easy change and reform . It follows that an institution vested w ith enorm ou s social pow er is needed to transform their ch aracter. Fo u rth , in H induism , the absence of an organized in stitu tion such as the C hu rch has m eant that the im petus for effective reform can n o t com e exclusively from w ithin. Reform w ithin Hinduism can hardly be initiated w ithout help from pow erful external in stitution s such as the state. In such a con text, India needed a coherent set of intellectual resources to tackle inter-religious conflict and to struggle against o p p re ssiv e com m unities, not by disaggregating them into a collec­ tion of individuals or by de-recognizing them, but by som ehow making them m ore liberal and egalitarian. A political m ovem ent for a united, liberal, dem ocratic India had to struggle against hierarchical and com m unal conceptions of community, but w ith ­ out abandoning a reasonable com m u nitarian ism . Besides, the state had an im portan t con tribution to make in the tran sform a­ tion of these com m u n ities: for this reason, a perennial dilem m a was im posed on it. The state in India walked a tight rope b e­

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tw een the requirem ent o f religious liberty that frequently en­ tails non-interference in the affairs of religious com m unities, and the demand for equality and ju stice, w hich necessitates in­ terven tion in religiously sanctioned social custom s. Secularism in India sim ply had to be different from the classical liberal m odel that does not recognize groups, and dictates strict sepa­ ration between religious and political institutions. If we abandon the view such as Donald Sm ith’s, that political secularism entails a unique set of state policies valid under all con d ition s, that provide the yardstick by w hich the secularity of any state is to be judged, then we can better understand why despite ‘deviation’ from the ideal, the state in India continues to em body a m odel of secularism .28 This can be show n even if we stick to Sm ith’s w orking definition of secularism as consist­ ing of three relations. Sm ith’s first relation em bodies the prin­ ciple of religious liberty construed individualistically, i.e., as pertaining to the religious beliefs of individuals. However, it is possible to make a non-individualistic construal of religious lib­ erty by speaking not of beliefs of the individuals, but rather of the p ractices of groups. Here religious liberty would mean dis­ tancing the state from the practices of religious groups. The first principle of secularism can then be seen to grant the right to a religious com m unity to its own practices. Sm ith’s second rela­ tion em bodies the value of equal citizenship for all individuals. But this entails— and I can n ot substantiate my claim — that we tolerate the attem pt of radically differing groups to determ ine the nature and direction of society as they best see it.29 In this view, then, the public presence of the religious practices of groups is guaranteed and entailed by the recognition of groupdifferentiated citizenship rights. Sm ith’s version of secularism entails a ch arter of uniform rights for all individuals. But it is clear that the com m itm ent of secularism to equal citizenship can dictate group-specific rights, and therefore differentiated citizenship. Smith’s third principle pertains to non-establishment, and therefore to a strict separation of religion from state, under w hich religion and the state both have the freedom to develop w ithout interfering with each other. Separation, however, need n o t m e a n s t r i c t n o n -i n te r f e r e n c e , m u tu a l e x c lu s io n or equidistance, as in Sm ith’s view. Instead, it could be a policy of principled distance, which entails a flexible approach on the

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question of intervention or abstention, com bining both, depen­ dent on the co n text, nature or current state of relevant religions. It is im portant to understand that principled distance is not m ere eq u id istan ce. In the s tra te g y of p rin cip led d ista n ce , w hether or not the state intervenes or refrains from actio n de­ pends on w hat really strengthens religious liberty and equality o f citizenship for all. If this is so, the state may not relate to every religion in exactly the same way, intervene to the same degree or in the same m anner. All it m ust ensure is that the relation between religious and political institutions be guided by non-sectarian principles th at rem ain consistent with a set of values constitutive of a life of equal dignity for all. It was largely this group-sensitive concep tion of secularism of the principled distance variety that legitim ized the practices o f the state wherein religion was alternately excluded and in­ cluded as an object of state policy. By its refusal to allow (i) separate electorates, (ii) reserved constituen cies for religious com m unities, (iii) reservations for jobs on the basis of religious classification, and (iv) the organization of states on religious ba­ sis, the Indian state excluded religion from its purview on the ground that its inclusion would inflame religious and com m unal conflict and produce another Partition-like scenario. However, the very m otive that excluded religion from state institutions also influenced its inclusion in policy matters of cultural import. For example, a uniform charter of rights was not considered absolutely essential for national integration. Separate rights were granted to m inority religious com m unities to enable them to live with dignity. Integration was not seen as identical to com plete as­ sim ilation. Similar liberal and egalitarian m otives com pelled the state to undertake reform s within Hinduism. By m aking po­ lygamy illegal, introducing the right to divorce, abolishing child m arriage, legally recognizing inter-caste marriages, regulating the activities of criminals m asquerading as holy men, introducing tem ple-entry rights for dalits and reforming temple adm inistra­ tion, the state intervened in religious m atters to protect the ordi­ nary but dignified life of its citizens. To sum up: (a ) m odern secularism is fully com patible with, indeed even dictates, a defence of differentiated citizenship and of rights of religious groups; and ( b) the secularity of the state does n o t n ecessitate strict in terven tion , n on -in terferen ce or

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equidistance but, rather, any or all of these, as the case m ay be. If this is so, the criticism that the C on stitu tion envisages a state th a t c a n n o t be s e c u la r b e c a u s e it e x p l i c i t l y a b a n d o n s equidistance is m istaken. A secular state need not be equidis­ tant from all religious com m unities and m ay interfere in one religion m ore than another. A critique of con stitutional secular­ ism on the ground that it acknow ledges group rights or that it gives up on neutrality, sim ply does not w ash.

Why Universal Franchise? Or Democracy as Nationalism F ran ch ise in India was restricted before the adoption of the C on stitu tion . Citizenship was based on w hat Dahl calls ‘the con tin g en t principle of in clusion’ i.e ., restricted to only those qualified to rule and who could claim c itiz e n sh ip .30 C itizen­ ship in the C onstitution was based instead on the categorical principle of inclusion: to be an adult m em ber in the society is sufficient qualification for full citizenship of the state. Rights of citizen sh ip, including the right to vote, w ere justified by e x clu ­ sive reference to this principle. In a society ravaged by persis­ tent social inequalities and m arked by a subordinate role for w om en w ithin the patriarchal system , how could this com e about? I offer three possible reasons: first, the influence of lib­ eral individualist ideas in w hich the self is constituted not by a place w ithin the group arena, but in abstraction from it. Such ideas are unlikely to have influenced those who played a key role in public deliberations.31 A second reason may well have to do with the less explicit, unselfconscious m otivations of political ac­ tors. In a country dominated by poor peasants belonging either to backward castes or falling altogether outside the caste structure, a restricted franchise would certainly have meant their exclusion from the political process. In a num bers-dom inated dem ocratic system, this could significantly weaken the bargaining power of Hindus. I remain unpersuaded by this strongly com m unitarian, alm ost com ­ munal argument. A third reason might have to do with the growth of the idea of the nation. It is m ore or less integral to the concept of the nation that members who comprise it are equal. If so, and if the idea of dem ocracy has been accepted, then no member of the said nation can be excluded from the exercise of franchise. This response needs further exam ination.

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In 1 9 1 6 , nineteen m em bers of the Im perial Legislative C ou n­ cil that included M adan M ohan M alaviya, Tej Bahadur Sapru and M oham m ad Ali Jin n ah sent a signed m em orandum to the viceroy, outlining a schem e of self-governm ent for India w hich claim ed that w ithout self-governm ent, Indians in India feel that ‘though th eoretically they are equal subjects of the king, they hold a very inferior position in the British em pire’.32‘H u m iliat­ ing as this position of inferiority is to the Indian m ind’, the m em orandum con tin u es, ‘it is alm ost unbearable to the youth of India w hose ou tlook is broadened by education and travel in foreign parts w here they com e in co n ta ct w ith other free races. In the face of these grievances and disabilities, what has sus­ tained the people is the hope and the faith inspired by prom ises and assu ran ces of fair and equal treatm ent by the sovereign.’33 The signatories argued that to regain self-respect the Indian people needed n ot m erely good governm ent or efficient adm in­ istration but a governm ent ‘that is acceptable to the people be­ cause it is responsible to them ’. The m em oran dum to the viceroy reflects how w estern m o­ dernity was lived from the inside by the élites of a conquered culture. A traditionalist refusal of W estern modernity would have entailed a tu rn ing away from popular rule, but Indian élites em braced the idea and com plained in the nam e of that very idea, that to be denied self-rule is to be dem eaned, to be dim in­ ished in on e’s own eyes. M oreover, this loss of self-esteem was a shared exp erien ce— the exp erien ce of hum iliation was irred u cibly collective. The em otional pow er of nationalism is derived from this register o f collective pride and hum iliation.34 T h ere­ fore, self-respect cou ld only be restored and felt collectively. Self-governm ent had to be a collective m atter too. But how large m ust this collectivity be? Should it be restricted to the aspiring élite, denied full access, but already on the m ar­ gins of pow er? It is of course true that a link exists betw een nationalism and self-govern ance and the nationalist dem and is indistinguishable from the dem and for self-governance; but why should the nation include the entire people? W hy could it not have been restricted to a small élite? W hy should everyone gov­ ern or why should som e govern in the nam e of everyone? W h y have universal franchise? W hy m ust nationalism be alm ost iden­ tical to dem ocracy?

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One possible answ er to these questions may be that the par­ ticu lar form of com m unity know n as a nation is a functional requirem ent of a distinctively m odern society where social ranks, no longer fixed and im m utable, are up for grabs, and the sm ooth o p eration of w hich requires flexible, con text-free agents who not only m ove freely across physical and social space, but co m ­ m u n icate easily w ith each other. This freedom from social rank and co n ten t brings with it the ideas of sym m etrical (equal) re­ lations as well as a degree of individualization. It follows that ideas of equality and individualism go hand in hand with the idea of a nation. The m aking of a nation, therefore, is the p ro­ cess of binding together a particu lar kind of people, those who have begun m ore or less to see them selves as individuals and relate to each other as equals. The functional tie envisaged by this acco u n t assures that no particu lar tem poral sequence need be follow ed; a n ation -state m ay precede o r succeed a m odern society o f individualized and equalized hum an beings. If what is said above is true, then we have at least some expla­ nation for why no one within the social order can really be left out of the nation. If social hierarchy and strongly particularized identities cease to matter, then no reason exists to exclude anyone. (O r so it appears, because nationalism brings with it its own forms of strong exclusions.) Liah Greenfeld has helpfully drawn our attention to a change in the semantics of the term ‘nation’.35 In the late thirteenth century the term ‘nation’ m eant a com m unity of opinion where the constituents of the said com m unity were repre­ sentatives of cultural and political authority. In short, a nation was a group of social élites. In the sixteenth century however, the refer­ ence term ‘nation’ changed; it began to be applied to the entire population of a country and became synonymous with the word ‘people’. This change in meaning signalled the symbolic elevation of the rabble into an élite, its m ovem ent from the wings onto centre stage, from irrelevance to relevance. H enceforth, every member of the population could partake of this superior, élite qual­ ity. The transform ation of a rabble into a people and of the people into an élite, presupposes a profound change in the way societies are imagined, i.e., from hierarchical communities to networks con­ sisting of free and equal individuals. This effected yet another change; in their self-understanding, the nation exists prior to and independent of the political organi-

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zation of society w hich has the power to give itself a constitution. 1 have already touched upon the background w hich makes this possible and w hich includes, am ong other things, com plex co n ­ stituents su ch as a p articu lar fram e of tim e and of com m on a c­ tion. The im portan t point I w ant registered is that the idea of the basic rules of society as stem m ing from the com m on action of a people, of a nation, is identical w ith the dem ocratic idea for w hich sovereignty is located w ithin a people fundam entally equal to one another. As Greenfeld puts it ‘nationalism was the form in w hich dem ocracy appeared in the w orld, contained in the idea of the nation as a butterfly in a co c o o n ’.36 This is precisely w hat appears to have happened in India. O nce the idea of a n ation took root am ong the élite, a co n ce p ­ tion of a political order grow ing out of the will of every single m em ber of society, and eventually the idea of d em ocratic selfgovernm ent could not but have followed. The idea of universal franchise lay securely within the h eart of n atio n alism .37 In the C on stitu tion of India Bill ( 1 8 9 5 ) , the first non-official attem p t at drafting a co n stitu tion for India, the author, probably Tilak, did not con test that the ‘sovereign pow er of India is vested in the sovereign of Great Britain and Ireland, the suprem e head of the Indian n atio n ’ or challenge the authority of the viceroy as representative of the sovereign. He did, though, declare at the sam e time th at every citizen , i.e ., anyone born in India, had a right to take part in the affairs of his or her coun try and be adm itted to public office, and therefore hoped that ‘under the benign governm ent of the B ritish’, Indian citizens would ‘in fu­ ture enjoy and use the rights proposed to the greatest advan­ tage of their co u n try and the British govern m en t’.38 The M otilal N ehru Report ( 1 9 2 8 ) reaffirm s this co n cep tio n of citizenship. Section 9 of the report reiterates that every person of either sex who has attained the age of tw enty-one is entitled to vote for the House of Representatives or Parliam ent. It defines the word citi­ zen as any person w ho is b o m or whose father is either b o m or naturalized within the territorial limits of the com m onwealth and has not been nationalized as a citizen of any other country.39 The Motilal Nehru Report is unequivocal about the powers of gov­ ernm ent as derived from the people. In his presidential address to the N ational C on ven tion of C ongress Legislators ( 1 9 3 7 ) , Jaw aharlal N ehru opposed the G overnm ent of India Act ( 1 9 3 5 )

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for not representing the will of the nation. He declared that the convention stands for a genuine dem ocratic state in India where political pow er has been transferred to the people as a whole. Such a state, he said, can only be created by the Indian people them selves, through the m edium of the C onstituent Assem bly elected on the basis of adult suffrage, and having the pow er to determ ine finally the con stitu tion of the country.40 N ot m uch m ore evidence is required to substantiate my claim that d em oc­ racy cam e to India in the guise of nationalism , with universal franchise as the m ost im portant and legitim ate instrum ent by w h ich the will of the nation was to be properly expressed.

Notes 1

1 By not taking into account or drawing upon the world of subalterns, 1 plead guilty, of course, to the charge of ¿litism . 2 Though I explicitly have in mind Sunil K hilnani’s The Id ea o f India (London: Hamish H am ilton), 1997, this is also the predominant im ­ pression 1 have gained from several scholars, most notably from Sudipta Kaviraj. i Khilnani, op. cit., 26. 4 Ibid., p. 24. 5 Ibid., p. 26. 6 Ibid., p. 27. 7 Ibid., p. 34. 8 Ibid. 9 For utilitarianism ’s attractive qualities, see W ill Kymlicka, C ontem po­ rary Political P hilosophy: An Introduction (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1990, pp. 1 0 -1 2 . 10 K.M. Panikkar, In D efen ce o f L ib era lism (Bom bay: Asia Publishing H ouse), 1962. 11 Ibid. 12 In all fairness, this is recognized by Khilnani. He acknowledges that ‘reservations had been intended to be a temporary expedient to a less ju s t society’ (K hilnani, op. cit. p. 3 7 ), but my point is that he fails to see it as reflecting liberal principles. 13 Ibid., p. 26. 14 Ibid., p. 26. 15 On this see, for exam ple, W ill Kymlicka, L iberalism , Community and Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1989, Chapter 10. 16 On th is, see for exam ple, the C onstituent A ssem bly D ebates, vol. VIII, 16 M ay -16 Ju n e 19 4 9 , p. 3 2 6 .

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17 For my reading of the Constitution as embodying a m ajority-m inority framework and for a substantiation of my view that it is ju stified and that this ju stification can be found in the debates of the C onstituent Assembly, see B. Shiva Rao (ed .), The Fram ing o f In d ia’s C onstitution (New Delhi: IIPA), 1967, vol. II, part 111, pp. 3 0 9 -8 6 . See particularly the reply to a questionnaire prepared by K.M. Munshi on the nature and scope of the safeguards for m inorities, by M. Ruthnaswamy, who explicitly makes a distinction between political and national/religious m inorities, and a good case (at least as a temporary measure) for m i­ nority rights; and by Jagjivan Ram who argued that while political safeguards for m inorities may be elim inated after they are convinced that their rights shall be protected even after they remain unrepre­ sented in the legislature or the adm inistration, some of the other safe­ guards, such as those guaranteeing religious and cultural freedom, shall have to remain for all time in the C onstitution. (See pp. 3 1 2 - 1 8 and 3 3 0 -6 . Also see B. Shiva Rao, The Fram ing o f In d ia’s Constitution, op. cit., pp. 7 4 1 -8 0 . 18 By preference I mean a desire that we have because we have chosen it. Preferences may be short term or long term. For the purposes o f this paper, a long-term preference is an aggregation of short-term prefer­ ences. A long-term preference for som ething is a chain of short-term preferences for the same thing. 19 External preferences are preferences held by people on what others may desire to do. This is roughly the same as the distinction between personal and external preference drawn by Ronald Dworkin. See his Taking Rights Seriously (London: D uckw ort), 1977, p. 234. 20 It may be noted that m ajority and m inority cannot be defined inde­ pendently of each other; this presupposes, in turn, a com m on fram e­ work and some com m itm ent, however tenuous, of living together. 21 Since when have m ajorities and m inorities existed? At least since the form ation of states. For example, num erically small religious groups existed in Empire states, such as the Jew s in the Holy Roman Empire. However, enum eration, though necessary, is not sufficient for the co n ­ stitution of m inority and majority. Three other features enter into its current understanding. First, groups must view them selves as a m i­ nority or a majority. Self-identification or the persistent identification by others in these term s, sim ultaneously or subsequently recognized by the group in question, is central to m ajority-m inority form ations. Second, the group must believe that its own identity-constituting fea­ tures have the power to shape the structure of some social and p o liti­ cal order, usually the one they happen to live in. In large dem ocracies this is likely to happen through representative institutions It is only when this belief is accompanied or followed by the inability to exer­

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cise power that the resulting sense of impotence breeds a perception of disadvantage. Indeed, a m ajority-m inority syndrome has set in when this sense of disadvantage slides into an enduring feeling of insecu­ rity. 22 The syndrome need not always be well justified. A group may wish to shape the structure exclusively but not be allowed, or it may try par­ ticipating with others in determ ining it but not be perm itted to do so. In the first example, there is no effective discrim ination against the group, but a m inority-m ajority syndrome is well grounded when the m ajority really discrim inates against m inorities. In such instances, m i­ norities do not merely see themselves in terms of constitutive features that differentiate them from a larger group, but are seen so, and this difference forms the basis of persistent disfavour. 23 The m ajority-m inority syndrome can also be set off when a m inority resists the attem pt by the m ajority to exclusively shape the social and political institutions in accordance w ith its own cultural predilections. Equally, a well-grounded syndrome may be caused by discrim ination of the majority, as the case of blacks in South Africa testifies. 24J . Raz, E thics in the Public D om ain (O xford: Clarendon Press), 1994, p. 159. 25 It would likewise be m istaken to believe that pre-m odern social pro­ cesses undermine every version of individualism and uphold-all forms o f collectivism . These processes also support some individualist ten­ dencies while disrupting others. 26 For a detailed defence of this view and for further elaboration of the idea of principled distance, see my article ‘W hat is Secularism For?’ in Rajeev Bhargava (ed .), Secularism and Its Critics (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1998, pp. 4 8 6 -5 4 2 . 27 D.E. Smith, India as a S ecu lar State, (Englewood: Princeton University Press), 1963. 28 For an interesting critique of Sm ith’s interpretation of Indian secular­ ism as derived from the American model with an ‘extra dose of separa­ tion’, see Marc Galanter, ‘Secularism , East and West’, in Rajeev Bhargava (ed .), Secularism and Its C ritics, op. cit., pp. 2 3 4 -6 7 . 29 T.M. Scanlon, ‘The Difficulty of Tolerence’, in Rajeev Bhargava (ed .), Secularism and Its Critics (New Delhi: Oxford Univeristy Press), 1998, pp. 5 4 -7 0 . 30 Robert Dahl, D em ocracy and Its Critics (New Haven and London: Yale University Press), 1989, Chapter 9. 31 It is not im plausible to claim , however, that for the leaders of the national movement a part of the self could be abstracted from the sub­ stantive com m itm ent flowing from one’s tradition and custom , from family and community. In short, a domain existed where a person could

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be legitim ately viewed simply as an individual rather than as a m em ­ ber of this or that particular community. Significantly, in this domain a person’s unequal status w ithin a particular com munity also had no relevance. The process of individualization went hand in hand with the process of equalization Once this idea of political equality— equal­ ity in the public domain— grew in im portance, universal adult fran­ chise was only a small step away. 32 B. Shiva Rao, The Fram ing o f the Constitution: Select D ocum ents, vol. I, op. cit., p. 21. 33 Ibid. 34 On this aspect of nationalism , see Charles Taylor, N ation alism and Mo­ dernity, unpublished. 35 Liah Greenfeld, N ation alism : F iv e R oads to M odernity (C am bridge: Harvard University Press), 1992, ‘Introduction’. 36 Ibid., p. 10. 371 might have given the impression that nationalism can be extrem ely exclusionary, which of course, is not true. Nationalism can be extrem ely exclusionary as attested by the case of Germany or Russia. However, the point I am making is that both the need to include everyone and the tem ptation to exclude certain categories of people com e from the same source, namely from a sovereign body o f free and equal citizens who ate bonded together in a com m on enterprise of self-rule. Modern conceptions o f dem ocracy and popular sovereignty rule out the possi­ bility of a notion of citizenship that is differentiated and unequal. This means either that every member of the population, regardless of reli­ gion or ethnicity, is viewed as constituting ‘the sovereign people’ or that only som e or ju s t one religious or ethnic group is believed to constitute it— other groups are excluded from the ‘people’. Since there is no place for unequal groups w ithin a democracy, we have either the option of including everyone or simply excluding certain ethn ic or religious groups. It follows that dem ocratic self-rule is consistent with an exclusionary nationalism . As Charles Taylor, from whom I borrow this argum ent, says, ‘Ju s t because a successful dem ocracy requires strong com m on allegiance, there can be an all but irresistible pull to build the com mon identity around the things that strongly unite people, and these are frequently ethnic or religious identities. The very func­ tional requirem ent of a dem ocratic “people” that seems to make (say), secularism indispensable, can be turned around and used to reject it.’ See Charles Taylor, ‘Modes of Secularism ’, in Rajeev Bhargava (ed .), Secularism and Its C ritics, op. cit., pp. 3 1 -5 3 . If the above is true, then my claim that in India ideas of nation and dem ocratic self-rule came more or less together is com patible with both inclusionary and exclu ­ sio n ary n a tio n a lism s. The C ongress party cle a rly a rtic u la te d an

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inclusionary .nationalism , while the Hindu Mahasabha and the Mus­ lim League represented the exclusionary variant. 38 B. Shiva Rao, The Fram in g o f the Indian C onstitution, vol. I, op. c it., pp. 5 -1 4 . 39 Ibid., p. 59. 40 Ibid., pp. 8 6 -9 2 .

The Strong State and the Fear of Disorder PAUL R. BRASS

India’s C onstitution was born m ore in fear and trepidation than in hope and inspiration. Its proceedings began on D ecem ber 9 , 1 9 4 6 in the m idst of the final negotiations for the transfer of power, w hich culm inated w ith Independence on A ugust 15, 1 9 4 7 , and the com m unal bloodshed associated w ith the p arti­ tion of the subcontinent. N egotiations were also taking place under the leadership of Sardar Patel and his principal advisor, V. K. M enon, for the integration of the Indian states (th a t is, the Princely States) into the Union of India. These negotiations were fraught with tension that culm inated in the use of arm ed force in three situations, namely, in Ju n agad h , H yderabad and, m ost seriously, of cou rse, in Jam m u & Kashmir. The C onstituent Assem bly concluded its deliberations w ith the passage of the C onstitution of India on Jan u ary 2 4 , 1 9 5 0 . In the intervening years, the m ass m igrations of perhaps 12 m il­ lion Hindus and M uslims acro ss the partition lines had been concluded with a loss of several hundred thousand lives. So had the integration of the Indian states, including H yderabad, after the entry of the Indian arm y into that state on Septem ber 1 3 , 1 9 4 8 . In Kashmir, whose ruler acceded to India on O ctob er 2 6 , 1 9 4 7 , the cease-fire m andated by the United N ations cam e into force on Jan u ary 1, 1 9 4 9 , dividing the state into two areas of con tro l, with India holding the K ashm ir Valley, Ladakh and a large part of Jam m u , while Pakistan held the w estern portion s. Two other om inous violent forces had also appeared forcefully on the Indian political scene: m ilitant Hinduism and revolution­ ary com m unism . A m ilitant Hindu had assassinated M ahatm a Gandhi on January 30. 1 9 4 8 . an act which was then followed by 4

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a ban on th e activities of the leading organ ization of H indu nation alism , the R ashtriya Sw ayam sevak Sangh (R SS), with w hich G andhi’s assassin had been previously associated. In the Telengana region of Hyderabad state, the issue of its integration into the Indian U nion was com plicated by the com m unist-led in su rrection there, ultim ately suppressed by the Indian arm y after its takeover of the state. There w as, finally, the food crisis that faced India at Inde­ pendence. An estim ated three m illion people had perished in Bengal during the famine in 1 9 4 3 , precipitated by food shortages and the failure of the British during the W ar to take adequate m easures to cope with th e m .1 The fram ers of the C onstitution no doubt felt that stringent m easures m ight have to be taken to deal with continuing shortages of food and potential price rises, as well as possible urban disorder. The national leaders feared that the “provincial governments might not be able to bear the strains” under these and other threatening circum stances of the tim es.2 Thus, India’s C onstitution -m akers thought they had good reason to be fearful of disorder, even chaos, in the subcontinent as a consequence of a m ultiplicity of dangerous forces arising out of political m ovem ents associated w ith M uslim separatism , m ilitant H indu nationalism , H indu-M uslim com m unalism , secessionism and revolutionary com m u n ism . M oreover, these forces were associated with significant acts of violence, e x ten d ­ ing from assassination of the cou n try’s founding father, to revo­ lutionary insurrection and extensive com m unal killings and war. The response of India’s Constitution-m akers to these threats and dangers was to fram e a C onstitution with num erous provisions designed to deal effectively w ith-the threat of disorder through the creation of a strong, centralized state. W hile the threats and dangers w ere real, the C on stitution -m akers had other m otiva­ tions as well for the creation of such a state, w hich will be e x ­ plored further below.

The Fear of Disorder in the Constituent Assembly Debates The fear of disorder did not arise only from the objective cir­ cum stances ju st m entioned. Several m em bers of the Assembly con sid ered d iso rd er an en d em ic co n d itio n of the p eople of India, of w hich the m any forms of real turm oil that the cou n try

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was passing through w ere m anifestations. A m ong such m em ­ bers was Nazjruddin Ahm ad, who spoke at length in favour of granting the president the authority to proclaim an em ergency in the cou n try w henever it m ight be threatened by w ar or exter­ nal aggression or “internal disturbance”. In this speaker’s m ind, as in the m inds of m any oth er participants pro and con , the prim ary question was w hether or n ot the president should have such powers to deal w ith “internal distu rb an ce”, now here de­ fined in precise term s. The issue of defining an “internal disturbance” cam e up in the C onstituent Assem bly in con n ection w ith w hat ultim ately becam e Article 3 5 5 of the C on stitu tion — part of the em ergency provisions— w hich assigned to the U nion the duty “to p ro tect States against external aggression and internal disturbance”. Shri H. V. Kam ath, who was the m ost con sisten t critic of these em er­ gen cy powers and of the aggrandizem ent of the powers of the Indian Union at the expense of the states and the fundam ental rights of the people, argued that the term was too broad; he argued that it would “w hittle down provincial auton om y” , giv­ ing the Union governm ent the right “to intervene in the in ter­ nal affairs of the State on the slightest p retext of any internal d istu rb an ce”.3 N aziruddin Ahm ed, on the contrary, saw no need to define the term “internal disturbance” precisely, nor to lim it, in any way, the powers of the president to declare an em ergency to deal with them , w hatever their cause. He began his speech by com paring the people of India unfavourably with those “in m any oth er cou n tries” w here “d em ocratic in stitu tion s” were well es­ tablished. In such countries, he reasoned, the people “are highly law-abiding and there is very little danger of internal disorder as there is likelihood in India”. By co n trast, in India, “forces of disintegration and disorder” were “already visible everyw here”. However, Naziruddin Ahmed did not refer in his opening remarks to the specific forms of disorder, violence, separatism and insur­ rection noted above, but to a whole host of other characteristics he attributed to Indian society, including “corruption, nepotism, fa­ voritism and inefficiency”! All these, he thought, “may lead to small disorders and gradually to m isgovernment and grave general dis­ order”, against the last of which it was “necessary to guard our­ selves”. He saw “forces of disorder . . . everyw here in the lan d”

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and cited everyday crim inal events as “poin ters” to situations that “m ay develop into a general breakdow n, and then a P ro c­ lam ation of Em ergency m ay be n ecessary”.4 In short, for this m em ber, the prospect of disorder lurked everyw here and arose out of the nature of the Indian people and their daily practices. It was, in effect, against the Indian people and all their wayward char­ acteristics that the powers to proclaim an emergency were required. Shri M ahavir Tyagi, a prom inent C ongressm an from U ttar Pradesh who became a minister in the central government, also spoke in favour of the provisions for a proclam ation of emergency, including assigning to the president the duty to declare one even “before the actual occu rren ce of w ar or aggression or distur­ b an ce”. Shri Tyagi’s support was based prim arily upon his be­ lief in the preem inent necessity to m aintain the unity and peace of India at all costs. He w ent so far as to say that this clause in particu lar was “the only thing that binds the units [of the In­ dian U nion 1 together and prevents the people of one unit a c t­ ing in a m anner prejudicial to the interests of the cou n try as a w h ole”. He noted in support of his con ten tion that there was “no co n tractu al agreem ent between the units and the U n ion”, and now here m entioned in his speech th e existen ce of any sen­ tim ental basis for the U nion. It was, therefore, the duty of the C entre to m aintain “India as one un it”, w hich could be achieved only if “there is absolute peace in all India, and to take prom pt actio n when that peace is th reatened”. Shri Tyagi was clearly con cern ed about the threat of secession, rath er than the gener­ ally wayward characteristics of the Indian people. Yet, his speech too reflects an anti-people bias, for he urged not only the ne­ cessity to prevent “the people of one u n it” actin g against the interests of the unity of the country, but “even the tendency to act in such a m an n er”. If one follows Shri Tyagi’s argum ent to its logical con clu sion, it am ounts to this: there is no co n tra c­ tual o r sentim ental basis for the Indian U nion, w hich can be m aintained only through the suspension of the C onstitutional balance between the U nion and the states and the civil liberties of the people, along w ith the implied use of force or the threat of force to m aintain “absolute p eace”.3 Brajeshw ar Prasad, a Congressm an from Bihar, feared that the em ergency provisions in the draft C onstitution were not suf­ ficient. Am ong other possibilities for strengthening those provi­

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sions further, he opposed the constitutional prohibition against the exten sion of a period of em ergency w ithin any state beyond three years. He th ought there w as no way of know ing before­ hand that an em ergency w ould not last “beyond three y ears”. He was concern ed especially that there be no such tim e re stric­ tion because he thought th at “the forces of disorder and law ­ lessness are increasing and spreading fast in this co u n try ” .6 Yet an o th er p rom in en t C on gressm an , P an dit T h ak u r Das Bhargava of Punjab, spoke on the provisions of w hat becam e the famous A rticle 3 5 6 in the final version of the C on stitu tion , allow ing for the takeover of the adm inistration of any state in the U nion by the central governm ent, in case the g o vern or of the state reported that “the governm ent of the State can n o t be carried on in acco rd an ce w ith the provisions of this C o n stitu ­ tio n ”. A lthough several m em bers thought this provision for president’s rule was so sweeping and the cond itions for declar­ ing it so vague, th at it th reatened to underm ine the au ton om y of the states in th eir own sphere, Pandit Bhargava had no su ch fears. On the contrary, he “wanted to see that the C entre w as given pow ers even when there was no breakdow n of the C o n ­ stitu tio n ” to ensure that “con d ition s” in any state did “not de­ teriorate into ch ao s”.7 Fifty years later, after num erous uses and abuses of the em er­ gency pow ers provided for in the C onstitution of India, op in ­ ion am ong political scientists is divided con cern in g the c o n ­ tinuing threat of disorder, its sources and the abilities of the Indian state to m anage it. Atul Kohli writes of “India’s grow ing crisis of governability”, associated with “grow ing civil disor­ d er” in the country. Its sources are not so m uch in the Indian people as such but in the decline of the effectiveness of a u th o ri­ tative institution s in accom m od atin g and resolving the inevi­ table conflicts that arise in a com petitive polity such as India’s.8 Jam es Manor, in contrast, holds a more sanguine view of the abilities of India’s leaders and its institutions to accom m odate and manage conflict and prevent institutional decay. He sees no “down­ ward spiral leading to collapse” because India’s dem ocratic in sti­ tutions have dem on strated repeatedly a “cap acity for. . . regen­ eration ”. Furtherm ore, in all the post-Independence years in which numerous violent conflicts and disorder have broken out in differ­ ent parts of India, none have turned into “nationwide convulsions”.

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Finally, throughout all these years of conflict and disorder, the In­ dian authorities and its political leaders have developed a discern­ ible and effective mode and sequencing of action to contain and resolve them . T he sequence begins w ith “coercive force to quell d iso rd er”, but is then “swiftly followed by accom m od ation ist m an agem en t”.9 In other words, while disorder and violent co n ­ flict have been en d em ic in India th ro u g h o u t m u ch o f the post-Indep enden ce period, they have all been localized, never a threat to the Indian polity as a whole. Although m any of India’s in stitution s have declined in effectiveness, there is every rea­ son to believe they will recover. Finally, during the past 5 0 years, a con sisten t and effective pattern of con flict m anagem ent has been in op eration and has alm ost always w orked effectively.

The Fear of Disorder, 1947-97: A Critical Assessment I believe that all these views, w hatever the differences am ong them , are of a piece in their focus on disorder, w hether managed effectively or not, and despite disagreem ents am ong members of the C onstituent Assembly and contem porary political scientists on the sources of disorder. There are at least two— and prob­ ably m any m ore— problem s w ith this focus. The first has been well put by G urharpal Singh in considering the case of Punjab, w hich has evidently followed the accom m od ation ist sequence th at M anor has so clearly described. But, G urharpal, in the af­ term ath of the death and destru ction that engulfed the people of Punjab in 10 years of bloody con flict, asks us to change the “p rob lem atic”, to shift o u r atten tion away from how “disorder” has been m anaged to “how ‘ord er’ has been m aintained, ju sti­ fied, and som etim es legitim ized”. 10 W h at is this “order” that has been m aintained in India— and oth er parts of South Asia— at the increasing cost of hum an lives? W h at great and noble purposes have been served by this quest for order that co n tin ­ ues in Kashm ir, that has been m irrored in Sri Lanka and Paki­ stan and Bangladesh, as well, from time to time? The second problem with the focus on disorder is its neglect of the stru c­ tures of dom inance and subordination, the pow er relations that are m aintained in societies so strongly oriented to the quelling of disorder and the m aintenance of order. M arxists w elcom ed disorder, often provoked it in the hope that a new and m ore

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ju st social order would be brought into being. Indian C on stitu tion-m akers and contem p orary political scientists have rejected this M arxist dream as a chim era, but we have also rejected the co n stru ctio n of any serious critique of the social ord er that is m aintained by the Indian state, its ethnographic p ractices, and its policies and non-policies. W e have neglected to see that this focus on com bating disor­ der and m aintaining order has been part of a whole range of ideologies, policies, non-policies and p ractices that have been sustaining not ju st “ord er” in the ab stract, but a p articu lar so­ cial and econ om ic order, particu lar patterns of dom inance and subordination, and particu lar relations of power. For, this fear of disorder has preoccupied the m inds of India’s dom inant up­ per caste and upper class political, social, and econ o m ic élites for the past 5 0 years. It is a fear n ot ju st of disunity, disintegra­ tion, decay and violence, but a fear of the people, of the dan­ gers to their own status and w ell-being if the poor and the low castes should at last begin to assert them selves, to organize, and to challenge their dom inance as m any are now, at last, doing. F ear of the poor has lain behind m any p ost-Indep enden ce poli­ cies and non-policies: from food ration in g and food p rice co n ­ trols to prevent uprisings of the urban poor, to anti-inflationary policies rigorously pursued for the sam e reason, to the n o n ­ policy of elim inating child labour and providing com pulsory, universal prim ary education for the poor children of India.11 After Independence the fear of disorder and the desire for a strong cen tral governm ent, term ed a “strong C en tre” in Indian p arlance, w ent together. On this subject there was virtu al, if not total, uniform ity of opinion in the C on stituen t Assembly, even including critics of the draft C on stitution w ho opposed som e clauses that seem ed to underm ine state autonom y and the fundam ental rights of the people. One can alm ost sense a sigh of relief, alongside the genuine pain felt by m em bers of the Assem bly over the partition of the su b con tin ent, that the origi­ nal (B ritish ) Cabinet plan envisaging a united India could now be discarded. Under that plan, the C entre was to be weak, its powers restricted to only three subjects— defence, foreign affairs, and com m u n ication s— and the residuary powers of the U nion would lie with the provinces. In an early speech in the Assembly, before the acceptance of the Partition Plan, Dr S. Radhakrishnan,

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a future president of India, rem arked w ith resignation that, though “a strong C entre is essential to m ould all the peoples [of India) into one united w h ole” and “events. . . in Bihar and Bengal” had dem onstrated “an urgent need for a strong C en­ tre”, m em bers of the Assem bly would have to accep t instead the developm ent of “a m u lti-nation al State”. 12 O nce the Cabinet plan was rem oved from consid eration with the accep tan ce of the division of India, the strength of senti­ m ent in the Assem bly for a “strong C en tre” becam e evident. One m em ber put the m atter su ccin ctly by saying that “we have always been fighting for a strong C entre”.13 Mahavir Tyagi, in the speech cited earlier, m ade it clear that he thought “that the C en­ tre should be strong” because, if it lacked the “right to interfere” in the governance of the states, “there will be a tendency to­ wards disintegration”, revolt by parties “wedded to violen ce”, and secession on the part of state governm ents “in con ju n ction w ith a neighbouring province or a foreign co u n try ”.14 In u tter co n trast to the deliberations leading to the creation of the United States, there was n ot even a m urm u r from the provincial governm ents them selves against the idea of a strong Centre. There was hardly any conflict between advocates of a centralized state and upholders of provincial autonom y.15 Austin notes that “in tw enty m em o ran d a” subm itted by the “provin­ cial governm ents to the Assem bly” con cern in g the allocation and distribution of revenue sou rces, no claim s w ere m ade on grounds of the need to preserve provincial autonom y or “states rig h ts”, despite the evident fact that the revenue sources allo­ c ated to th e s ta te s w ere in su fficie n t for “th e ir b u d g etary need s”. 16 F o r virtually all Assem bly m em bers, as well as, of cou rse, for the fram ers of the C on stitu tion , a strong C entre and a strong Indian state were underlying assum ptions. This ideal of a strong C entre was itself so strong that m em bers who criticized any of the em ergency provisions of the C on stitution felt obliged to preface their rem arks w ith the defensive statem ent that they, too, shared the com m on goal. O ver and over again m em bers of the Assem bly justified the desire for a strong C entre in term s of the im perative need to com bat threats to the unity of the country that took m any form s. F e a r of disintegration was in the fore­ front of their m inds and they proclaim ed th at, under no cir­

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cum stances, would any further secessionist m oves by any groups or units of the U nion or any of its peoples be tolerated. The Union of India was to be perm anent and indissoluble. It is also evident from the con stitu tion al provisions c o n c e rn ­ ing the fundam ental rights of citizens, as well as the Assem bly debates that took place con cern in g them , that the secu rity of the Indian state took precedence over fundam ental righ ts. The two values were presented as separate, requiring a ch o ice be­ tween them . Shri Brajeshw ar Prasad put it in his usual u n co m ­ prom ising m anner w hen he said: I feel th at if there is a co n flic t betw een the secu rity o f th e State and the personal lib erty o f the individual I w ill ch oo se th e form er and lay stress on the secu rity o f the State. F o r the first tim e in the chequered h istory o f India we have got an in d ep end ent S ta te o f our ow n; are we going to barter it away in the nam e o f som e new ­ fangled n o tion s w hich have been discredited in th eir ow n h o m e ­ la n d s?17

In this m em ber’s m ind, fundam ental rights w ere not som ething sacred to be sacrificed only because of dire necessity o r a grave threat to state security. On the contrary, it was the state that was sacred, and fundam ental rights nothing but “new fangled n otio n s” from abroad. Although Brajeshwar Prasad’s statem ents were generally m ore extrem e than those of the C o n stitu tio n ’s d rafters, the latter clearly shared m any of his sentim ents and ignored the protests of H. V. K am ath, one of the tiny group of two or three m em bers in the entire Assem bly w ho consistently expressed th eir c o n ­ cerns over various aspects of the em ergency provisions, in clu d ­ ing the com plete abrogation of fundam ental rights d u ring the pendency of an em ergency. Shri K am ath pointed out that the fundam ental rights them selves were already “laden w ith five provisos”18 that, taken together, in effect denied the fundam en­ tal ch aracter of the very rights granted in w hat ultim ately be­ cam e A rticle 19 of the C on stitution . Even Mahavir Tyagi w ho, as we saw above, generally defended the em ergency clauses, opposed one that denied the people the right during an em ergency even to approach the co u rts, includ­ ing the Supreme C ou rt, to seek enforcem ent of their fundam en­ tal rights. In rem arks rath er in consistent with his earlier argu ­ m ents, he bem oaned the im plication of such a provision that,

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in effect, “the people w ere to be told that the State is suprem e in India”.19 These protests notw ithstanding, the cum ulative effect of the provisos in Article 19 and the em ergency provisions of the C on­ stitu tion was to provide a range of grounds, som e of them e x ­ trem ely broadly stated, to nullify all the fundam ental rights of the people. The constitutional authority, M. V. Pylee, counted not “five provisos” noted by H. V. K am ath but, w ith regard to “freedom of speech and expression”, “seven restriction s”, as fol­ lows: “the security of the State; friendly relations w ith foreign States; public order; decency or m orality; con tem p t of court; defam ation; and in citem ent to violen ce”.20 All these restrictions were im posed swiftly w ith the passage of the Preventive D eten­ tion A ct under the authority of the C on stitution . O thers were added la te r and the s ta te ’s p o w ers a g a in st the in d ividu al strengthened still further under the D efence of India A ct, the M aintenance of Internal Security A ct, and the Terrorist and Dis­ ruptive Activities A ct, am ong other acts less notable for the se­ verity of their restrictions and the unlim ited powers granted to the state against its citizens. Professor Pylee, a great adm irer of the C onstitution as a w hole, was nevertheless alarm ed in the first edition of his book (published in 1 9 6 5 ) by the sweep of the first two of those acts. He feared that “under the cloak of em ergency these pow ers could be abused by an unscrupulous and pow er-seeking party in office to destroy forever the cher­ ished ideals of the C o n stitu tion ”,21 a fear that seemed to many to have com e true during the Em ergency of 1 9 7 5 - 7 . But were there no oth er underlying reasons behind the de­ sire for a strong C entre, no other m ore positive goals? Indeed there were. Chief am ong them and, accord in g to A ustin, pre­ em inent am ong all the goals declared in the C on stitu tion and expressed in the C onstituent Assem bly debates, were the goals of econ o m ic developm ent and even “social revolu tion ”.22 “The im m ediate goals of the social revolution— im proving the stan­ dard of living and increasing industrial and agricultural pro­ ductivity— provided yet an oth er r ason for a strong central au­ t h o r i t y ” . 23 M oreover, the goals o f e c o n o m ic d ev elop m en t through centralized planning under the lead of the state, were shared by liberals, radicals and conservatives alike,24 though not necessarily the goals of “social revolution”.25 Thus, it w a s .. .

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both for the preservation of the new ly-w on independence and the planned developm ent of the co u n try ” that “cen tral d irec­ tio n ” w as considered “essen tial”, and the decision w as m ade “that w hat India needed w as a strong U nion and com paratively weak S tates”.26 In effect, therefore, these very goals of econ o m ic develop­ m ent and social revolution provided a further ju stification not only for the stron g state, but for restriction s on civil liberties and provincial autonom y, and for establishing the preem inence of the state itself in relation to all other corp orate groups in society. T h u s, freedom of religious practice was con strain ed by the righ t of the state to m ake laws for “social welfare and re ­ form ”.27 Similarly, the judicial review pow ers of the Supreme C ou rt w ith regard to both property rights and “personal lib­ erty ” w ere restricted “in the nam e of the social revolu tio n ”.28 On the o th er side of the divide between labour and cap ital, the Indian state was also able to contain trade union and labour dem ands partly because it had “w on wide accep tan ce for its claim th at it has a special responsibility for nation building and eco n o m ic develop m en t”.29 It could also be argued, as W einer noted in the afterm ath of the F irst General Election s in w hich “no national opposition party had em erged”, “th at as long as there w as a pressing need for rapid econ o m ic d evelop m en t planned by the state, such a program could best be carried out if a single party, with a m inim um of opposition, led the co u n ­ try ”.30 Fu rth er, with regard to provincial autonomy, D andekar noted th at, although the C onstitution provides a long list of subjects reserved to the states, m ost of them , like the p ro tec­ tions for fundam ental rights, contain “provisos and e x ce p tio n s” that enabled the Indian state “to expand and extend its au th or­ ity as and w hen it felt n ecessary”.31

The Record In his analysis of the C on stitution of India, including its actual w orking during the first two decades of Indian in depen den ce, G ranville Austin noted th at, during this period of C ongress he­ gemony, “cabinet govern m en t” had “provided India w ith stable and strong governm ent” and “that Congress m inistries” had “not aggrandized th eir au th ority at the expense of co n stitu tio n a l

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governm ent either in the states or in New Delhi”.32 Thirty years later, no one could m ake the sam e statem ent con cernin g the reco rd established since then. In the intervening years, the In­ dian people have been subjected to an Em ergency, au thoritar­ ian regim e, the underm ining of fundam ental rights through the excessiv e use of a m ultiplicity of preventive detention and in­ ternal secu rity laws, gross abuses of hum an rights in Kashmir, Punjab, the northeast and G ujarat, and routine abuses of their pow ers by the police forces in m any states of the U nion. There has also been a considerable increase in num bers and a prolif­ eration of types of arm ed forces directly under the control of the cen tral governm ent, but used prim arily to m aintain secu ­ rity w ithin the states. These include the C entral Reserve Police F o rce , the B order Security F o rce , the C entral Industrial Secu­ rity F o rce and the Home G uards.33 The use of the military forces to suppress and control riots and other form s of internal distur­ bance and disorder has also vastly increased over the years.34 As for the federal system , Dua conclu ded in 1 9 8 5 , in co n n e c­ tion w ith his survey of the extensive use and m isuse of the im ­ p osition of Presidents’ Rule upon the states and union te rrito ­ ries under A rticle 3 5 6 of the C on stitution , that “the Indian sys­ tem ” am ounted to “a case of the pathology of federalism ”.35 It needs to be stressed that there is no longer anything e x ­ ceptional about the abuse of fundamental rights and hum an dig­ nities by state agencies in India. David Bayley com m ented upon police m isbehaviour in the early 1 9 8 0 s , and in 1 9 8 7 Barnett Rubin placed their behaviour and that of oth er agencies within the broader co n te x t of the hum an rights situ ation .36 Amnesty Internation al, Hum an Rights W atch , and PIOOM (In terd isci­ plinary Program m e of Research on Root Causes of Human Rights V iolations) in the N etherlands have, year after year, since then published reports docum enting in considerable detail the e x ­ ten t of those abuses, placing India in the category of the m ore extrem e u n d em ocratic states of the w orld on this m easure.37 Rubin also placed such violations of civil rights in India within the co n text of the original ideological justification for them that I have noted above, remarking that, above the abusive police and the “chaotic and corrupt” state and local governments, stands the “cen tral ‘s ta te ’, p rom otin g n ation al ‘s e cu rity ’ and pu rsuing dream s of glory far rem oved from the goals of marginalized sec­

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tors of the popu lation’’.38 I have noted elsewhere that individual safety is not one of the im plied gu arantees of life in the Indian state, but is m erely one value am ong others that is obtained through politics, th rough gaining the protection of the dom i­ n an t political leaders and groups w ho con trol the p o lice .39 In the years since Bayley and Rubin w rote their articles, the G overnm ent of India has added further to its enorm ou s arm ory of powers and diminished the rights of its citizens in the struggle against im agined separatism in Punjab and a genuine secession ­ ist m ovem ent in Kashmir. The form er “totalitarian ” Soviet state allow ed the secession of num erous of its form er R epublics, for the m ost part w ithout the use of its arm ed forces, w hile the federal governm ent of Canada w atched, w ithout a drop of blood being shed, the resurgence of a secession ist m ovem ent and its n ear-su ccess in Q uebec. At the sam e tim e the G overnm ent of India was deploying, at a low estim ate, above a quarter of a m illion arm ed m en in several d istinct forces to bring about a term ination of the ch aotic con d ition s in Punjab, using the very seq u en ce of c o e rc io n -a c c o m m o d a tio n ta c tic s d escrib ed by M anor, first to destroy the terrorists and then to hold legislative assem bly elections w ith the aid of these several forces.40 W h at has changed in these intervening years in such a way as to m ake som e of the w orst fears o f that tiny band of critics of the draft C on stitution , com e true? There are several obvious changes that have taken place, each one of w hich— and m ore so , all in com bin ation— provide som e understanding. They in­ clude the shift in leadership quality and style from N ehru to Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi, w hich have been noted by m any observers, including this writer, though it m ust be acknowledged as well that there is a strong opposite point of view. The latter argues that it was not prim arily a difference between the ru th ­ lessness, dem agoguery, and in terv en tio n ist ta ctics of Indira G andhi com pared to her father’s m ore toleran t, principled and m ediating tactics that explains the deterioration in Indian p o­ litical life, including the erosion of provincial autonom y, the abuses of fundam ental rights, and the rise of violence. Rather, it is the changing co n text of increased com petitiveness; rising assertiveness and the m obilization of ever m ore segm ents of the population, particularly from the low er half; and the easy avail­ ability of advanced, destructive small w eaponry that are respon­

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sible, not the actions of individual leaders. O thers have pointed to the decline in effectiveness of India’s leading institutions as a con seq u en ce of som e of the latter factors, as well as because of ram p ant, pervasive, large-scale corru ption. One can go on in this m anner, m ultiplying the causes of the present crises in con tem p orary Indian politics. But, there re ­ m ains som ething broader that frames them all, that has shaped the fundam ental, underlying set of tensions built into the Indian C on stitution and Indian political p ractices and m odes of think­ ing from the beginning. T hose tensions have already been partly illustrated above, especially between centralizing and decen ­ tralizing tendencies, p rotection for fundam ental rights versus the secu rity of the state, authoritarian proclivities in the ready accep tan ce of all kinds o f em ergency provisions versus p ro tec­ tions for the m aintenance of liberal-dem ocratic p ractices. They arise out of the very goal of creating a “n atio n -state”, m odelled on the m onolingual states of Europe in w hich there is also a dom inant cu lture and often a dom inant religion, in w hich all who do not subscribe to the values of the dom inant group are classed as m inorities, to be tolerated in som e cases, expelled in others, or exterm inated . In other w ords, with all the talk and agreem ent about the need for a strong state in India, there has never been a con sen ­ sus on its form . The consequ ence has been th at, while a co n ­ tinuing struggle has taken place— or rather has ebbed and flowed over the decades— over its proper form , the state itself has com e to exist for its own sake. It is forbidden in India— informally, of course— to refer to India as a multi-national state. The secular prin­ ciples prom oted so vigorously by N ehru during his years of dom inance provided a basis not for defining the shape of the Indian state, but for transcending and avoiding a debate over it. The focus was not on the place of all the distinctive religions, languages and cultures of the Indian peoples, but on econom ic developm ent and some form of so-called socialist transform a­ tion of Indian society. European econ o m ic ideologies and categories w ere tran s­ planted to India, but the divisive potential of the ideologies of the European nation-state form were kept out of the discussion. Instead, N ehru and the socialist opposition took the position that all the religions and cultures and languages of the peoples

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of India were to be respected and protected, provided they did not m ake political dem ands for recognition as corp orate politi­ cal groups in the Indian state and society. In p ractice, during N ehru’s tim e, m any political rights were nevertheless conceded to corp orate groups, for exam ple, through the creation of lin­ guistic states or the continued recognition of the partial legal autonom y of religious com m unities in India. In effect, as I ar­ gued in Language, Religion, and Politics in North India, India was developing under N eh ru’s leadership m any of the features of a develop ing m u lti-n atio n al sta te ra th e r th an a h o m o gen o u s n a tio n -s ta te .41 This was done even as a consensus was m ain­ tained that the fundam ental goals of the Indian state had n o th ­ ing to do w ith these m atters; rather, those goals w ere econ om ic developm ent and social transform ation. Secularism was the ide­ ology or, rather, a set of practices that prevented or halted in its tracks or com prom ised or suppressed the in trusion of religious, linguistic, tribal, and oth er cultural dem ands into the cen tre of Indian politics. These m atters were nuisances for, and o b stru c­ tions to, the m ain business of the Indian state. Jaffrelot has articulated this opposition cogently in his book on The Hindu Nationalist Movement in w hich he show s how the drive to consolidate Hindu society and unify the Indian state with an ideology of Hindu nationalism was blocked through out the N ehru period, largely by the focus of the Indian state and the th en -d om in an t political parties in both governm ent and opposition on “secu larism and econ om ic develop m en t”. He notes also, how ever, that w hat he calls “Hindu tradition alist” tendencies in the C ongress itself, especially in n orth India, u n ­ derm ined efforts by the Jan Sangh to capitalize on such dem ands as the prom otion of the Hindi language and the displacem ent of U rdu .42 After the death of N ehru, the failure of centralized econom ic developm ent planning to transform India into either the socialist, industrial society of N ehru’s and the Left’s dream s, or into a dynam ic capitalist society becam e increasingly clear. India failed even to provide for the basic, m inim um needs of m ost of its people. The increased assertiveness of a m ultiplicity of new caste groups in Indian state politics led Mrs Gandhi, her son Rajiv, and the Bharatiya Jan ata Party (BJP) in different direc­ tions from those followed by the Congress under N ehru’s lead­ ership. Secularist practices and the focus on econom ic develop­

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m ent planning w ere gradually discarded w hile the C ongress sought to m aintain its national strength by identifying with back­ w ard caste m ovem ents in several states and with Hindu senti­ m ents in the northern states. A corrupted and divided Congress, however, under Rajiv Gandhi and P. V. Narasim ha Rao, proved incapable of dealing with the forces it helped to unleash. In north India, the new assertiveness of the Scheduled and backw ard castes was fostered and channeled by the Jan ata parties and the Bahujan Samaj Party (B SP), while the BJP and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (V H P) captured overw helm ingly the resurgent and in­ creasingly m ore explicit sentim ents of Hindu nationalism and anti-M uslim feelings through the Ayodhya m ovem ent. The co n ­ sequences of the prolonged m ovem ents leading to the d estru c­ tion of the Babri m osque on D ecem ber 6 , 1 9 8 2 , were several waves of destructive riots across northern and w estern India that left thousands dead in their wake. It also left in tatters the idea that the dying C ongress party could any longer provide even a sem blance of p rotection for the Muslims of the country, or even knew any longer how to act upon the secu lar principles that kept m ilitant Hindu nationalism and its organizations at bay during the first two decades of Indian independence.

Hindu Nationalism, Regionalism and the Future of Federalism The leaders of the BJP are presently operating in their integrationist m ode, as Jaffrelot w ould put it, rather than em phasizing the “ethno-religious” them es th at have brought them to their present ( 1 9 9 8 ) position of pow er in the Indian U nion. Many observers believed that on ce they attained pow er at the C entre, they would becom e m ore m oderate either because they really are m oderate and d em ocratic at h eart, or because of the co m ­ pulsions of operating w ithin a culturally and politically h etero ­ geneous society. The latter factor, the heterogeneity of Indian society, did indeed com pel them to com prom ise w ith regional political forces to gain pow er at the Centre while attem pting to hold at bay the RSS cadres w hose lives have been built upon the dream of co n solid atin g H indu society and creatin g a H indu nation -state that will becom e strong enough to gain the resp ect of the W est. C aught betw een these two sets of forces, the BJP

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leadership found a way to tem porarily transcend them and m ove towards the latter goal with the nuclear explosions of May 199 8 . At the same tim e, the BJP governm ent, including one of its nonBJP m em bers, George Fernandes, indulged in m ilitant and an ­ tagonistic jingoistic rhetoric directed against India’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan for its alleged continu ed support of the in su rrection in Kashm ir. He also m ade strident statem ents re ­ garding the govern m en t’s determ ination to suppress that insur­ rection by w hatever m eans necessary, and responded defiantly to the protests of m ost of the great powers and the san ction s applied by th em , especially the United States, in response to the governm ent’s n u clear policy. In effect, therefore, while b e­ ing forced to com prom ise w ith regional forces to gain and re ­ tain pow er at the C entre, the BJP at the sam e tim e presented itself as the m ost forceful defender of the great Indian n ation against all divisive internal foes and external rivals. However, the BJP has by no m eans been able by this m ethod, to avoid the obstacles posed by regional political forces to its free exercise of pow er at the C entre. I argued fifteen years ago th at, despite the centralizing tendencies that were so p rom i­ nen t during Mrs G andhi’s rise and her consolidation of pow er, the lo ng-term trend in Indian society and politics was tow ards pluralism , region alism and d e ce n tra liz a tio n .43 I continue to believe that the tension between hom ogenizing and pluralist, national and regional, centralizing and decentralizing ten d en ­ cies are at the heart of the struggle for pow er in Indian politics, and that the lo ng-term prognosis rem ains in favour of the latter set of forces. Those forces are represented today by the M arx­ ists in Bengal and K erala, the secu lar parties representing the low er and backw ard castes acting as a brake upon Hindu c o n ­ solidation, and the regional nationalist parties in the sou th , the north east, and the Punjab. A lthough the lon g-term interests of all these forces lie in re ­ sistance to excessive consolidation of pow er at the C entre by a single dom inant party, it is also to be exp ected that co m p ro ­ m ises will be m ade on both sides, m any of them in the form of rank opportunism so ch aracteristic of Indian politics. The BJP assiduously sought electoral alliances and seat adjustm ents with regional parties in m ost of the Indian states in preparation for the 1 9 9 8 Lok Sabha elections. It was equally assiduous in m ak­

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ing deals w ith regional parties to either jo in or support its co a ­ lition governm ent at the Centre or to at least abstain from vo t­ ing against it. Its efforts led to the in co rp oration of both the Akali Dal and the AIADMK into the governm ent, and an agree­ ment with the Telugu Desam to either abstain from voting against it or to support it on cru cial m atters affecting its fate in Parlia­ m ent. The BJP’s alliance with the AIADMK has been p articu ­ larly opportunistic on both sides, and has placed the two parties in som ew hat paradoxical positions on the issue of C entre-state relations. The AIADMK leader, Jayalalitha, desperate both to squelch corruption charges against her and to regain power in Tamil Nadu, pressed the BJP to dism iss the DMK govern m en t and im pose Presiden t’s Rule. The BJP, however, n ot wishing to be seen as m isusing the notorious A rticle 3 5 6 of the C onstitution of India for th is p u rp o se and, thereby, a la rm in g all o th e r regio n al fo rces in th e c o u n try a b o u t its fu tu re in te n tio n s, refused Jayalalith a’s dem ands. It is evident, therefore, that the fundam ental tension in the Indian political order between centralizing and regionalizing forces rem ains its defining feature, and that it is likely to go on indefinitely w ithout a decisive ou tcom e. At the same tim e, it m ust be recognized that the organizations building m ilitant Hindu nationalism represent a lo ng-term tendency in Indian history th at has by no m eans w orked itself ou t. M oreover, it is not ju st pow er in Indian politics that they seek, but greatness in the w orld, a w orld of states dom inated by w estern powers, in which India has been seen prim arily as a cou n try on the dole, a nuisance in international relations, with a vainglorious and pre­ tentious leadership m aking dem ands for recognition that its achievem ents do not justify. They believe that their aspirations for greatness can n ot be achieved until Hindus consolidate and India becom es a nation-state. This striving for Hindu consolidation is som ething utterly different from previous efforts by the dom inant Congress to m aintain its pow er in the face of the pulls of a m ultiplicity of regional and local forces. Nehru, w hose personal position went largely unchallenged after the death of Sardar Patel, m aintained the support of the Indian people in two ways. O ne was through his forthrigh t con d em n ation of all form s of “provincialism , casteism and com m u nalism ”; the oth er was his m oulding of a

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consensus on national econom ic developm ent goals that em ­ braced the C ongress and the principal parties of the Left, and that also shaped the dialogue w ith the parties of the Right. In these ways, he also kept the com m u nists and the Hindu n atio n ­ alists con stan tly on the defensive. His su ccess also depended partly on the use of preventive detention laws— particu larly against the com m unists from time to time— and in banning, and threatening to ban the RSS.44 Extensive vote banks am ong dom i­ nant castes in the states and localities w ere developed by state party bosses w ho w ere allowed free rein as long as they p ro ­ duced the m ajorities required for the C ongress to m aintain its dom inance in nearly every state of the Indian U nion. Mrs G andhi, w ho began her first period of rule from a weak position, and who considered the state bosses obstacles in the way of her personal consolidation of power, had to seek alter­ native support bases. In the process of attem p ting to free her­ self from dependence on regional and local cen tres of pow er, she adopted several m ethods, m ost of w hich w orked against the m ilitant nation alist dreams of Hindu consolidation . She ap ­ pealed directly to categories of voters who had a national spread, particularly the M uslim s, the Scheduled C astes, and the p o or in general. Secondly, she intervened in state p olitics on the side of the new ly assertive backw ard castes, particu larly in states su ch as G ujarat and K arnataka. Fu rth er, she in tervened directly in the p olitics of all the states of the U nion, seeking to divide and underm ine the existin g bases of support of all serious rivals to the C ongress. W h en , towards the end, she still felt th at her su p ­ port bases w ere insecure, and th at she had lost som e or m ost of her following am ong M uslims, Sikhs and Scheduled C astes, she too began to appeal to Hindu nationalist sentim ent. The strategies pursued by N ehru and M rs Gandhi to m ain­ tain their leadership, the dom inance of the C ongress, and the unity and stren gth of the central governm ent w ere, therefore, for the m ost part different from each oth er as well as different from th at of the BJP. Nehru him self believed in the idea of a com posite nationalism integrating all the cultural strands of the Indian peoples, but he was not really interested in prom oting it as such. F o r the national leadership in N ehru’s tim e (as for m ost political .science com m entators on the issues and problem s faced by the new states generally in the early p ost-colon ial years) of

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\

equal, if not greater, im portance than cultural diversity as a pos­ sible obstacle to national integration was the so-called “gap” betw een the C entre and the localities. Insofar as India w as co n ­ cern ed , W einer put it as follows: “From the point of view o f the national leadership, it was ‘p olitics’— in the sense of narrow am bitions for pow er and the parochial loyalties of small m en— w h ich threatened national unity, econom ic developm ent and political order”.45 Secularism was not an ideology for N ehru. On the contrary, he considered it nothing but civilized behaviour practised by all but a few contem p orary states in the m odern w orld.46 His strategy could be characterized as one that sought to transcend cultural differences, accom m odate conflicts arising out of them , com bat parochial and m ilitant Hindu nationalist forces, and get on w ith the business of the state as he saw it. M rs Gandhi, though she fought the RSS and the Jan Sangh and threatened them from tim e to time w ith legal restriction s, did not follow as consistent an anti-com m unal policy as her father. Fu rth erm o re, in her struggles w ith opponents, she built horizontal support bases that drew attention to divisions in In­ dian society betw een Hindus and M uslims, Hindus and Sikhs, and am ong Hindus as well. At the same tim e, she was a strident nationalist in world affairs, w ho apparently believed that the U nited States, in collusion w ith Pakistan and indigenous op ­ position forces, was out to underm ine the unity and strength of India. M rs Gandhi and her son, Rajiv, also played upon the fear of disorder, disunity and instability in ways that N ehru never did. N ehru com batted forthrightly the enem ies he identified. He nam ed them , addressed them , used the powers of preventive detention against them when he thought it necessary or co n v e­ nient, but he rarely, if ever, used alleged threats to the unity of the cou n try as a basis for justifying his rule or that of the C on ­ gress, or the im position of a countryw ide emergency. He m ade it clear to the Nagas in the north east, to M aster Tara Singh in Punjab, and to others elsewhere in the coun try that secessionism w ould not be tolerated under any circu m stances, bu t he did not use their dem ands and their m ovem ents to suggest that the cou n try’s survival was at stake. Mrs Gandhi, however, used such alleged threats to the cou n try’s unity, which she often never

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identified clearly, to ju stify h er own indispensability in the sham eless spreading of the slogan th at “Indira is India”. Rajiv did the sam e, as Hardgrave noted in co n n ectio n with the 1 9 8 4 election cam paign, and as everyone, including this au th or w ho was there at the tim e, also noticed in full page advertisem ents in the daily new spapers, in his speeches and those of C ongress­ m en throughout the country. The “m essage” conveyed “was that the n ation ’s unity and integrity were threatened and that only C ongress could provide strength at the C entre vital to the sur­ vival of India”. 47 T he BJP-RSS strategy, as everyone know s, is in sharp co n ­ trast to those pursued by N ehru and M rs G andhi. They stand, on the one hand, for em phasizing the distinctness and great­ ness of Hindu civilization as opposed to that of the M uslims and the W est. On the other hand, they call for playing down the horizontal divisions am ong Hindus and the integration of all castes and sects, including the Sikhs, into one homogenous whole. These two aspects of the strategy of m ilitant Hindu nationalism com bine to form the one overarchin g goal of establishing India as a hom ogeneous, Hindu n ation -state on its way tow ards the ultim ate goal of achieving the status of a great power, the equal of the great powers of the W est. The BJP strategy is also different from that of Rajiv Gandhi. W h ile it does not shrink from attack in g those w hom it con sid ­ ers threats to the consolidation of Indian nation hood, its m es­ sage is aggressive rath er than defensive. Its leaders do n ot say that only the BJP can save India, but th at only the BJP can tran s­ form India to enable it to achieve greatness. W h at still stands in their way? T he existen ce of linguistic states and the regional parties w ithin them are the principal obstacles to the BJP’s goals. The C ongress under N ehru’s leader­ ship was relu ctan t to con ced e linguistic states, for m any of the Congress leaders feared that these reorganized units would form the basis for new nations that m ight som e day secede from the Indian U nion, causing its further disintegration. T hat fear has so far proved largely unw arranted, but the linguistic states have; nevertheless contributed to a consolidation, in whole or in part, of regional identities, expressed politically by parties such as the DMK and AIADMK in Tamil N adu, the Telugu Desam in A ndhra Pradesh, the Asom Gana Parishad in Assam , the Akali

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Dal in Punjab, and the Shiv Sena in M aharashtra. Some regional parties have already m ade alliances w ith the BJP, such as the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal, but those parties that are m ore securely en sconced in their regional strongholds have n o t done so. The decision of such parties as the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam to ally w ith the BJP in 1 9 9 8 or support it from ou tside, depended on con crete political dynam ics w ithin their regions rath er than upon principled belief in “states’ righ ts”. In the case of the AIADMK, the party’s interest was to use an alliance with the leading centre party against its rival in the state. F o r the Telugu Desam , neither an alliance w ith the BJP co alition nor with the United Fron t provided the necessary support it required to m aintain its pow er in Andhra Pradesh against its principal rival, the Congress; on the contrary, m ore than the BJP it feared a central governm ent coalition led by the C ongress. Initially, therefore, it opted for a neutral stance in Parliam ent, b u t one leaning tow ards the BJP Pylee argued in 1 9 6 5 that, w ith all the unitary features of the C on stitution , “federalism has been a powerful decentralising force”, in w hich “the form ation of linguistic States was the m ost im portant single factor” contributing to that developm ent.48 His judgem ent was prem ature, for neither he n or m ost o th er ob­ servers at the time anticipated the centralizing drives that w ould follow, leading to the erosion of federalism during Mrs G andhi’s long years in and out of power. Today, how ever, the non-H indispeaking linguistic states rem ain the principal bastions of fed­ eralism and decentralization in Indian politics. From these states have com e dem ands for increased regional autonom y and the elim ination or clearer subordination of the IAS officers serving in the states, am ong others. But m ost of all, these states, no m atter w hat opportunistic alliances they m ay m ake in the short term , represent cen tres of autonom ous politics, into m ost of w hich the BJP has not been able to penetrate effectively. In fact, the prim ary consequence of the decline of the C on ­ g re s s in all th e s ta te s o f In d ia h a s b e e n th e c o n tin u e d regionalization of their party system s. In the sum m er of 1 9 9 8 , the Congress was in pow er in only two states, Madhya Pradesh and O rissa; the BJP alone was in pow er only in R ajasthan and G u jarat, in co a litio n w ith o th e r p arties in U .P., H im ach al Pradesh, Punjab, H aryana and M anarashtra; various units or

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splinter groups of the Jan ata Dal ruled in K arnataka and Bihar; CPM -led Left F ro n ts w ere in pow er in Kerala and W est Bengal; in Kashmir, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Assam, distinctive regional parties controlled th eir respective state governm ents. Although the BJP after the 1 9 9 8 Lok Sabha elections had the broadest spread of any party excep t the C ongress, it rem ained then— as it has always been— prim arily a regional party in the states of Delhi, G ujarat, M adhya Pradesh, R ajasthan, Him achal Pradesh and U ttar Pradesh, all (e x ce p t G ujarat) in the H indi­ speaking zone. It had significant electoral strength in Karnataka and Bihar, and gained a foothold in Andhra Pradesh as well, but lost ground in M aharashtra. In Punjab, Tamil N adu, Haryana, Assam , W est Bengal and K erala, it is either insignificant o r a m inor party. It is in the n orth , the h istoric centre of im perial India as well as the strongest post-Independence source of centralizing lead­ ership, that the BJP has retained its strongest base. Here the principal obstacles to the further rise of the BJP have been the large Muslim populations and the continu ing caste divisions am ong Hindus. In large parts of this vast region, M uslims have sufficiently large population co n cen tration s in m any Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha con stitu en cies to hold the balance in elec­ toral contests. Insofar as the divisions am ong Hindus are concerned, the BJP’s predecessor, the Jan Sangh, was stopped in its apparent gradual ascent to power in U ttar Pradesh— increasing its strength in each successive legislative assem bly election in that state from 1 9 5 2 to 1 9 6 7 — after 1 9 6 7 , w hen Chaudhuri C haran Singh left the C ongress, formed a new agrarian party based prim arily on the cultivating middle peasant, so-called “backw ard castes”, and displaced the Jan Sangh as the prim ary opposition to the C on ­ gress. His party, the Lok Dal, becam e the central com p on en t in the Jan ata Party, from w hich all the con tem p orary left-oriented Jan ata parties are now descended. The BJP too arose from the rem nants of the original Jan ata Party, the Ja n Sangh having merged into it w ith the Lok Dal of C haran Singh and the other principal non-C ongress parties in north India. However, support for the BJP remained well behind the several Janata formations in north Indian politics until V P. Singh made his (m is) calculated error in August 1 9 9 0 of adopting the long-

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dorm ant Mandal Commission recom m endations for reservations in central se cto r jobs for backw ard castes. This deliberate effort on the part o f V. P. Singh to strengthen the hold of his Ja n a ta Dal on the backw ard castes, thereby intensifying divisions am ong Hindus w hile sim ultaneously appealing for the votes of M us­ lim s, precipitated the B JP -V H P decision to intensify its m obili­ zation of Hindus to rem ove the Babri m asjid from Ayodhya and replace it w ith a tem ple to Ram. In the election cam paign of 1 9 9 1 , the BJP followed the double strategy of seeking to co n ­ solidate all H indus around the Ayodhya issue, including the deliberate targetting of constituencies with heavy Muslim popu­ lation co n cen tratio n s for special atten tion , on the one hand, while appealing to the resentm ents and fears of upper caste Hindus and m iddle castes left out of the M andal list of b ack ­ ward castes. These double appeals were so successful as to co m ­ pletely transform the social base of the BJP in n orth India. It now becam e a new political form ation quite distinct from its previous in carn ation s in term s of electoral su p p ort,49 and be­ cam e the strongest party in n orth Indian politics as well the principal con ten d er for pow er at the C entre. N evertheless, the BJP continued to be blocked by three things. F irst was the solid opposition of M uslim voters; seco n d , the division of the backw ard castes into supp orters of the BJP and the left Jan ata parties; and third, the near-total hold of the rela­ tively new B ahujan Samaj Party (BSP) upon the m ost num erous castes am ong the Scheduled Caste voters. A lthough the BJP has tw ice entered alliances in U.P. with the BSP, and has attem pted to build its ow n base am ong the dalits, the bulk of the Sched­ uled Caste vote has rem ained closed in the hands of Kanshi Ram and M ayaw ati. The BJP has had to be co n ten t w ith som e sup­ p ort from a few of the less num erous Scheduled C astes, su ch as the Balm ikis and Sonkars. A lthough, therefore, the m obilizing capacity of the BJP has reached a peak in the n o rth , the forces arrayed against it are also divided. W hen the M uslim s, half the backw ard castes, and the Scheduled Castes are united behind the Jan ata parties and the BSP, the BJP can n ot win elections in the north. It can com e to pow er in the n o r l a n d at the C entre only by isolating the Muslim vo ters, capitalizing upon the divisions between the BSP and Jan ata parties, and extending its base am ong the backw ard

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castes. It has been w orking assiduously to do so in all three respects. Since the m ost recen t legislative assem bly electio n s in this state in 1 9 9 6 w hich resulted in a hung assembly, the state has exp erien ced president’s rule and several changes in govern ­ m ent. The latter included a period of alliance w ith the BSP that ultim ately fell apart, and was then followed by a successful move on the p art of the BJP to split the BSP and form a governm ent with the support of a large segm ent of the divided party. This last event was accom panied by bloody violence inside the as­ sem bly am ong the contending political p arties, scen es from w hich w ere filmed and broadcast round the world. In 1 9 9 8 , the BJP was in pow er again in U.P. under the chief m inistership of Kalyan Singh. U nder his chief m inistership and with his com plicity in D ecem ber 1 9 9 2 , the m osque at Ayodhya was destroyed. U nder his leadership w ork was con tin u in g in an area near the site of the form er m osque, including the carving out of “stone pillars for the proposed tem ple”.50 Such activity is m eant to satisfy the m ilitant Hindu cadres of the party, but it also effectively m aintains the H indu-M uslim divide th at the BJP and the VHP have w orked to intensify over the past decade. At the sam e tim e, the BJP governm ent has continu ed its efforts to w oo the backw ard castes by providing reservations for those w hose supp ort it seeks, and supporting the “declassification ” of those w hose support has gone m ainly to oth er parties. It also planned to “launch a drive to fill 7 0 ,0 0 0 vacancies in various [governm ent] departm ents”51 that would provide it w ith ample patronage to distribute am ong backward castes and oth er castes w hose support it seeks. W h at then rem ains of the desire for a strong state and the fear of disorder that has apparently accom panied it since Inde­ pendence? In fact, all the principal parties in n orth India have been deliberately fom enting divisions and disorder for many years including violent disorders such as H indu-M uslim riots, to assist them in gaining pow er locally, regionally and n ation ­ ally. The sheer unscrupulousness of these efforts is at tim es awe­ inspiring, but they also have a long history dating from before and after Independence. Yet the deliberate creation of division and disorder, while using them as a ju stification for the cre ­ ation or restoration of a strong state, are hardly new features in the tw entieth century. They were the tradem ark of all the fas­

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cist m ovem ents that rose to pow er in Europe during the first half of the tw entieth century, and the strategy reappeared, as if in a tim e-w arp, in the hands of M ilosevic of ex-Yugoslavia w ith consequences the world has witnessed during the past few years. India has often been com m ended for its adherence to d em o­ cratic p ractices and other achievem ents. At the sam e tim e, we ought n ot to forget that there are two kinds of disorder: the disorder of Indian politics that is necessary for any kind of socalled “social revolution”, econom ic transform ation, or achieve­ m ent of hum an dignity for its poorest classes; and the disorders that are m anufactured to hide India’s failures and to justify the m aintenance of a strong state in search of glory. Those m an u ­ factured disorders, with all their violent consequences, are likely to con tin u e w ithout end at different tim es and places on the su b con tin en t, in India and in the oth er states of the region as w ell, as long as the tension betw een the desire for strength through homogeneity, on the one hand, and local autonom y and individual dignity on the other, is not resolved.

Notes 1 On the contrary, as Amartya Sen has noted, British policies exacer­ bated the problem by diverting food from the rural areas to Calcutta, among other disastrous actions and non-actions; see his Poverty and Fam ines: An Essay on Entitlem ent and D eprivation (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1981, Chapter VI. 2 G ranville Austin, T he Indian C on stitu tion : C o rn ersto n e o f a N ation (O xford: Clarendon Press), 1966, p. 191. 3 H. V. Kamath, in India, Constituent A ssem bly D ebates: O fficial Report [hereafter referred to as CAD], vol. IX (3 0 Ju ly 1 9 4 9 -1 8 Septem ber 1949) (New Delhi: Governm ent of India Press), 1967, p. 138. 4 Naziruddin Ahmad, in CAD IX, pp. 1 1 6 -1 7 . 5 Mahavir Tyagi, in CAD IX, p. 121. 6 Brajeshwar Prasad, in CAD IX, p. 171. 7 Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava, in CAD IX, p. 168. 8 A tul K oh li, D em o cra cy an d D isco n ten t: I n d ia ’s G row in g C r is is o f G overnability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1990, pp. 1 7 18. 9 Jam es Manor, ‘Ethnicity and Politics in India’, In ternational A ffairs, vol. LXX1I, no. 3 (1 9 9 6 ), p. 472. 10 Gurharpal Singh, ‘Punjab Since 1984: Disorder, Order, and Legitim acy’, Asian Survey, vol. XXXVI, no. 4 (April 1996), p. 421.

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11 Myron Weiner, The C hild and the State in India: C hild L a b or and E d u ca­ tion Policy in C om parative P erspective (Princeton, N .J.: Princeton U ni­ versity Press), 1991, p. 5. 12 Sir S. Radhakrishnan, in CAD II (2 0 to 25 January 1947) (New Delhi: G overnm ent of India Press), 1966, pp. 2 7 2 -3 . 13 Shibban Lai Saksena, in CAD IX, p. 109. 14 Mahavir Tyagi, in CAD IX, pp. 1 1 9 -2 0 . 15 Austin, op. cit., pp. 1 8 6 -9 . 16 Ibid., pp. 2 1 7 -1 8 . 17 Brajeshwar Prasad, in CAD IX, pp. 1 7 0 -1 . 18 H. V. Kamath in CAD IX, p. 183. 19 Mahavir Tyagi in CAD IX, p. 194. 20 M. V. Pylee, C onstitutional Governm ent in India (New York: Asia Pub­ lishing H ouse), 1965, p. 226. 21 Ibid., pp. 3 2 1 -3 2 2 . 22 Austin, op. cit., pp. x i, 45. 23 Ibid., p. 191. 24 Cf. Baldev Raj Nayar, T he M odernisation Im perative and Indian P lan­ ning (D elhi: Vikas), 1972. 25 Austin, op. cit., p. 4 5 . 26 Pylee, op. cit., p. 512. 27 Austin, op. cit., p. 64. 28 Ibid., pp. 1 7 3 -4 . 29 Lloyd 1. Rudolph and Susanne H. Rudolph, In Pursuit o f Lakshm i: T he P olitical Econom y o f the Indian State (Chicago. University o f Chicago Press), 1987, p. 273. 30 Myron Weiner, Party P olitics in India: The D evelopm ent o f a M ulti-Party System (Princeton, N .J.: Princeton University Press), 1957, pp. 20-1. 31 V. M. Dandekar, ‘U nitary Elem ents in a Federal C onstitution’, E c o ­ nom ic and P olitical Weekly (hereafter referred to as EPW J, vol. X X II, no. 44 (31 O ctober 1 9 8 7 ), p. 1865. 32 Austin, op. cit., p. 139. 33 Myron Weiner, ‘India’s New Political Institutions,’ Asian Survey, vol. XVI, no. 9 (Septem ber 1 9 7 6 ), pp. 8 9 8 -9 and David H. Bayley, ‘T he Police and Political Order in India, Asian Survey, vol. XX III, no. 4 (April 1 983), pp. 4 9 2 -3 . 34 Stephen P. Cohen, ‘The M ilitary and Indian Dem ocracy’, in Atul Kohli (ed ), In d ia ’s D em ocracy: An A nalysis o f C hanging S ta te-S o ciety R ela ­ tions (Princeton, N .J.: Princeton University Press), 1987, pp. 9 9 -1 4 3 . 35 B. D. Dua, P residential Rule in India, 1 9 5 0 -1 9 8 4 : A Study in C risis P oli­ tics, rev. edn. (New Delhi: S. Chand), 1985, p. 5. 36 David H. Bayley and Barnett R. Rubin, ‘The Civil Liberties Movem ent in India: New Approaches to the State and Social Change’, Asian Sur­ vey, vol. XXV II, no. 3 (M arch 1987).

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37 See, for exam ple, the PIOOM survey of reports from Amnesty In terna­ tional and the U.S. State Department between 1977 and 1988, scoring 93 countries on a scale relating to ‘observance of integrity of the per­ son’. On a scale of 1 to 5 in w hich 5 was the lowest ranking, India received a score o f 4 on the basis of reports from one or both of those agencies in six of those years; PIOOM N ew sletter, II, no. 2 (Autumn, 1 990), pp. 1 9 -2 0 . 18 Rubin, op. c it., p. 388. 39 Paul R. Brass, ‘National Power and Local Politics in India: A TwentyYear Perspective,’ M odem A sian Studies, vol. XVII, no. 1 (Febru ary 1984), pp. 8 9 -1 1 8 . 40 Singh, op. c it., pp. 4 1 3 -1 4 , among many other sources. 41 Paul R. Brass, Language, R eligion, and P olitics in N orth India (C am ­ bridge: Cambridge University Press), 1974. 42 Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu N ationalist M ovement and Indian P oli­ tics, 1925 to the 1990s: Strategies o f Identity-Building, Im plantation and M obilisation (London: C hristopher Hurst) 1996, citation from p. 9. See also Brass, Language, Religion, and Politics in N orth India, op. cit., pp. 2 0 3 -1 1 , where the discrim inatory policies of the Congress gov­ ernm ents towards Urdu in the post-Independence period are described in detail. For the role of ‘Hindu traditionalists’ in the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, see also Paul R. Brass, F action al Politics in an Indian State: The Congress Party in Uttar P radesh (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1965, pp. 3 5 -7 . 43 Paul R. Brass, ‘Pluralism, Regionalism, and Decentralizing Tendencies in Indian P olitics’, in A. Jeyaratnam W ilson and Dennis Dalton (ed s), T he S tates o f South A sia: P roblem s o f N ation al Integration (London: Christopher Hurst) 1982, pp. 2 2 3 -6 4 ; revised and republished in my Ethnicity and N ationalism : T heory and C om parison (Delhi: Sage), 1991, pp. 1 1 4 -6 6 . 44 On the latter, see especially, Jaffrelot, op. cit. 45 Myron W einer, T he Politics o f Scarcity: Public Pressure and P olitical R e­ sponse in India (Bombay: Asia Publishing House), 1962, p. 3. 46 How else to interpret the following remarks of Nehru in the C onstitu­ ent Assembly debates? “Another word is thrown up a good deal, this secular state business. May 1 beg with all hum ility those gentlem en, who use this word often, to consult some dictionary before they use it? It is brought in at every conceivable step and at every conceivable stage.'I ju s t do not understand it. It has a great deal of im portance, no doubt. But, it is brought in all contexts, as if by saying that we are a secular state we have done som ething amazingly generous, given som e­ thing out of our pocket to the rest of the world, som ething w hich we ought not to have done, so on and so forth. We have only done som e­ thing which every country does except a very few misguided and b ack ­

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ward countries in the world. Let us not refer to that word in the sense that we have done som ething very mighty.” (From CAD IX, p. 4 0 1 .) 47 Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr., ‘India in 1984: C onfrontation, Assassination, and Succession’, Asian Survey, vol. XXV, no. 2 (February 1 9 8 5 ), p. 142. 48 Pylee, op. cit., p. 601. 49 Paul R. Brass, ‘G eneral E lectio n s, 1 9 9 6 in U ttar Pradesh: D ivisive Struggles Influence Outcom e’, EPW, vol. XX X II, no. 38 (2 0 Septem ber 1997), p. 2418. 50 The Hindustan Times, 16 Ju n e 1998. 51 Ibid.

Democracy and Social Inequality SUDIPTA K AVI RAJ

It appears to me beyond doubt th at, soon er or later, we shall arrive, like the A m ericans, at an alm ost com plete equality of con d ition .1 A lex de Tocqueville

I This paper seeks to analyse the question of d em ocracy and its relation to social equality in India from the point of view of historical sociology. Purely form alistic discussions of d em o c­ racy w hich com pare the form al-legal aspects of political in sti­ tutions are at best, unincisive, at w orst, can be seriously m is­ leading. The reason for this is that in form alistic acco u n ts of dem ocracy, at least in the w orld of Indian social scien ce, there is an equation betw een the idea of d em ocratic in stitution s in the abstract and the specific constitutional arrangem ents of B rit­ ain and the USA, the form s that we learn about in our form ative textbooks. This ‘textb o o k ’ picture is likely to be dated: d em o c­ racy in Britain and A m erica m ight have dropped som e of these individual forms and survived happily. Secondly, focusing on Britain and A m erica gives us a parochial picture of w hat de­ m ocracy historically has been. As som e recen t formal studies like L ijph art’s2 show, dem ocratic regimes can take utterly dif­ ferent form s, depending on w hat they consider it their business to deal w ith. D em ocracy can be m ajoritarian or con sociation al, but this taxonom y itself can be read in two different ways. The first way would be to now look for consociation al as well as m ajority form s, and rejoice at this addition to our earlier, som e­

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w hat narrow er, conceptual repertoire. A second way, w hich I prefer, is to read this as evidence th at institutional form s are m obile and plastic, and societies constantly im provise with their institution al tools to tackle the h istorical problem s they face. In d em ocracy therefore, as w ith m any oth er m odern processes, there is a process of differentiation rath er than a singularity of form s. F o rm s of dem ocracy change and its political and in stitu­ tional repertoire increases w ith time. F o rm alistic views tend to lead to unnecessarily pessim istic im plication s. Since we equate dem ocracy w ith either a single or a clu ster of institutional rules, any deviation from these m odels leads to fears of its im m inent collapse. If som e rules of parliam entary privilege, produced by peculiar accid en ts of the history of B ritish aristocracy, are even­ tually abandoned in Indian legislative p ractice, formalists m ight see this as a deplorable decline of d em o cratic norm s. Given a m ore sceptical or sym pathetic historical sociology, we m ight see th at as an incipient innovation. Take a striking exam ple: when politicians we love to hate, BJP or M ayaw ati, decide to alter­ nate as leaders of a coalition ad m in istration , we usually regard this as in congruous and laughable; but when European states decide to take turns in the EU presidency instead of following the m ilitarist and m uscu lar rules adopted by the U nited N a­ tion s, we applaud that as innovation in d em ocratic procedure. W h y do we assum e a co n n ectio n betw een dem ocracy and social equality? D em ocracy and a tendency towards social equal­ ity are usually seen as collusive or collateral m odem processes. To understand this question, we m ust think of the relation be­ tw een d em ocracy and the larger develop m en ts of historical m odernity. M odernity, in my view, is not the nam e of a single process, but a tim e in history in w hich several processes of so­ cial change tend to o ccu r in com bin ation. T hese processes are the familiar ones: the increasing cen trality of the m odern state and its forms of governm entality and discipline, social individu­ ation, capitalist industrialization, the rise of nationalism and dem ocracy. Yet these processes are n o t necessarily functionally related to each other. They differ from one society to another in tw o ways: in their internal sequences (like the sequence be­ tw een con sum er and capital goods industries within the p ro­ cess of in d u strialization ); and the sequen ces between processes (e .g ., w hether universal suffrage com es before widespread lit­

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eracy or not; w hether secularization of the state o ccu rs before d em o cracy is establish ed or a fte r). T he m o d ern ity of every society, what form s m odernity w ould crystallize into and w hat its social consequences w ould be, depends to a large exten t on these sequential conn ection s and influences. Additionally, since m odern processes transform traditional stru ctu res w hich differ from one society to another, it is norm al to expect that m odernity w ould take differentiated form s. A consequ ence of this line of thinking would be to treat dem ocracy not as a set of rules strictly tied to any particular W estern system , English, Am erican or consociational, but as som e general principles w hich we w ould ex­ pect to change through practical im provisation. Thus the ju d ge­ m ent about M ayaw ati’s suggestion w ould hinge not on w hether sim ilar procedures exist in any know n w estern con stitu tion s, but w hether it is con sisten t w ith general principles of dem o­ cratic governm ent. Ironically, politicians who are less ‘educated’ have an advantage in their p ractical thinking: Kanshi Ram, u n ­ like N ehru or Ambedkar, is unlikely to con su lt books on w est­ ern constitutional law before deciding on a course of action ; as a consequ ence, their decisions m ight be m ore unconstrained by historical precedents and they m ight be able to im provise m ore freely. An analysis of the relation betw een d em ocracy and inequal­ ity, however, requires a clearer perception of w hat is m eant by the two term s. A lthough we m ight eventually conclu de that it is in the nature of the two term s to be in som e ways necessarily com plex/p olyvalen t, it is essential to disam biguate them in or­ der to understand clearly w hat m ight m ake the stru ctu re of this relation com p lex or unpredictable.

II

A Tocqueville's Argument The conn ection between dem ocracy and equality has been th eo­ retically interpreted in several ways, but it m ight be useful to take one of the m ost extrem e theses about this historic co n n e c­ tion. Tocqueville argued that d em ocracy is above all an egali­ tarian principle. I find his th eory of dem ocracy wonderfully suggestive, but that does not im ply an accep tan ce of all of the

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propositions of w hich it is constructed. Democracy, he contends, bears a particu larly strong affiliation n ot only w ith liberty but to the principle of equality. He also believes, as a separate th e­ sis, that ‘a com plete equality of condition’ would eventually com e to all societies, and that the aristo cracy in European societies m ust surren der to this h istorical tendency and com e to term s with it, rath er than try to resist its cou rse. The choice before E u ro p e was to be sw ept before this tide by trying to resist it, or to ‘guide’ it to serve other, m ore w orthw hile, and less destru c­ tive, purposes. Tocqueyille uses a traditional, in som e senses, ancien t con cep tu al tradition while talking about dem ocracy. He uses the term in a m anner that was cu rren t in discussions about the extrem e ten dencies of the F ren ch revolution, w hich radical observers celebrated and conservatives feared, equating d em oc­ racy w ith the pow er of the poor majority. Yet, historically, it is quite clear that the stru ctu ral logic of m odern society is not so simple or univocal, or so com pletely determ ined by the political laws of a society. In Europe, the principle of political equality which Tocqueville found so im portant was read very differently by different propertied classes. Precisely because aristocracy was based on form al privilege, the principle of the political equality of citizen s was fundam entally revolutionary for its adherents; yet a bourgeois co n cep tio n of dem ocracy would regard as co m ­ patible, the extrem e equality of political citizenship and an equally extrem e inequality generated by com m ercial society. A noth er difficulty with Tocqueville’s thesis was that the state of distributive relations he designated as ‘equality of co n d ition ’ was am biguous. He appears by the use of that phrase to refer to two rath er dissim ilar states of affairs in distributive term s. The first is the con d ition of the early settlers in A m erica, or the co n ­ dition he found in the outlying w estern tow nships during his visit, w here there were no individuals or families pre-em inent in w ealth, w hich is a cond ition of relatively low inequality. Yet at times he clearly m eans a very different situation— where great inequality of w ealth does exist, but wealth is itself inherently u n certain and unstable, and in his language, is being daily a c ­ quired and lost. This second case is typical of a capitalist class stru ctu re as opposed to a feudal aristocratic one. Som etim es he im plies a third and different reading of the sam e phrase: be­ cause great w ealth is im perm anent, unlike aristo cratic society,

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this does not create durable social prestige for the high bour­ geoisie. They m ay be m ore wealthy than form er aristocrats, but they do not enjoy any social pre-em inence due to their w ealth; on the contrary, he could have added, in a general clim ate of political egalitarianism , the very insecurity of their wealth in­ vites resentful hostility from lower classes. Capitalist classes, in this argum ent, would find it particularly hard to establish patriarchal relations w ith subaltern groups. There are som e cautionary points to be m ade in any use of Tocqueville’s ideas. F irst, the idea I am taking out of his w ork is certainly one of the m ost powerful and vividly expressed, but not by any m eans the only significant on e; it is also not wholly expressive of Tocqueville’s ‘th eory’. Second, in som e ways his theory is so obsessed with dem ocratic transform ation that it then does not pay attention to other strands of m odern life or, illegitim ately and misleadingly, reduces them to m ere effects of the dem ocratic principle. Thus it is the prim acy thesis under­ pinning Tocqueville’s theory that makes it brilliant and m islead­ ing at the sam e time. It illum inates precisely because it distorts, it can see the logic of dem ocracy so clearly precisely because it has subtly introduced a prior bracketing which puts everything else into abeyance. W ithin the European condition, there were several things Tocqueville abstracted from his picture which we would have to re-integrate: absolutism of the state, aristocratic society, the strong growth of capitalist econom ies, etc. It is within this co n text that the force of dem ocracy is operating, and that some structures that dem ocracy is modifying and restructuring, lie. If we are to learn from his theory, we m ust look similarly for the conditions in which the logic of dem ocracy has been intro­ duced in India. There is a second point which is probably more im portant for the present discussion, and that is that there is an exaggeration at the heart of Tocqueville’s thinking, not merely about w hat de­ m o cra cy cau ses, but about w hat d em o cracy is. Clearly, for Tocqueville, dem ocracy stands for, or symbolizes all forms of egali­ tarian tendencies: not only the formal political equality of treat­ m ent before the law, but also the social and cultural fact of the loss o f prestige of the aristocracy, and the economic fact of equal­ ity or equal insecurity of condition. These latter two are different and are constantly invoked by Tocqueville, but som ewhat con ­

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fusingly, either as a single process, or as entirely unavoidable con ­ sequences of the introduction of political equality. This w ay of thinking leads him to the surely in co rrect belief that through the rise of dem ocracy, econom ic inequality was beginning to be modified towards a m ean, being reduced at both ends. This p ic­ ture of a con stan t reduction in econom ic inequality is am bigu­ ous between two versions. If it is m eant as a reduction of feudal inequality, the picture is perhaps m ore persuasive; if it is to be true against econom ic inequalities caused by capitalist p ro d u c­ tion, it is surely im plausible. M oreover, it is linked to a secon d , and in this case co rrect, observation that although individuals accum ulated great wealth it was volatile and im perm anent, be­ cause it was not based on landed property and not secured by legal restriction s; nor did it produce the right conditions for the creation of durable social prestige. The ‘aristocracy’ of m anu­ facture could never be like the real aristocracy of landed prop­ erty. In other w ords, if the dem ocratic principle is con stru ed as narrowly political, its consequences would appear different than if it were given this rather extrem e and expansive form . In that sense, the defect of Tocqueville’s theory is the e x a ct reverse of M arx’s. He underrated the disequalizing powers of the cap ital­ ist econom y and its capacity to m odify and often override the egalitarian principles of formal dem ocracy; M arx underrated the pow er of the dem ocratic political institutions and their cap ac­ ity to im pose m ore egalitarian distributive regim es on societies against relu ctan t capitalist classes.

Equality and the Nature of Indian Society Political principles, including th eoretical ones, are invented through pressures of practice, not deductions from abstract prin­ ciples. Thus the principles of European and A m erican d em oc­ racy were aimed at destroying and fundam entally re-ordering the basic principles of an aristocratic society. I w ould like to argue that traditional Indian caste society was not aristo cratic in the strict sense. An aristocratic society, I suggest, is on e in w hich the various bases of social inequality— ritual-cultural sta­ tus, control over political power, and over econom ic m eans— tend to be sym m etrical and unified. In caste society, there is a tendency towards differentiation, if not system atic asym m etry,

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betw een these aspects. It is the arrival of colonial pow er and the opportunities it opened up for the m od em colo n ia! élite, w hich brings into existen ce som ething sim ilar to a real a risto c­ racy in the Indian con text. Even this process was subject to great regional variation, but the prim ary im plication of this view is that d em ocratic rules and provisions would have to undergo considerable adaptation if they are to attack the types of in­ equality specific to the Indian social form. In discussions on the egalitarian principles of d em ocratic politics or the socially egalitarian effects of the d em ocratic prin­ ciple the idea of dem ocracy, w hich is a specific enough go v ern ­ m ental form , is seen in relation to som ething quite unspecific and abstract— ‘social inequality’. The fault with this way of look­ ing at the problem is th at it tre a ts in eq u ality as s tr u c tu re n eu tral. It speaks about inequality, but in an unhelpfully ab­ stract fashion. Social inequality is always fo rm ed into a stru c­ ture of som e kind, and caused by the reprodu ction of specific types of social relations. Inequality can be stru ctu red very dif­ ferently, accord in g to different principles and w ith different so­ cial consequences. The question could in fact be m ore com p li­ cated, if we allow variation on the oth er end of the relation, to adm it variations in d em o cratic governm ental form s as well. Purely formal differences, like parliam entary or presidential gov­ ernm ent, m ight not have a serious bearing on questions like this (th ou gh som e w ould argue that they do: for in stan ce, the attem pt by som e so-called ‘radical’ advisors to Indira Gandhi to popularize the idea of a presidential form of governm ent, was based on the exp ectation that this form al change would facili­ tate m ore radical social reform , by m aking parliam ent and the cou rts even m ore pliant than they w ere to her ord ers). Clearly, however, form al distinctions of the kind discussed by Lijphart c a n h av e a s e rio u s e ffe c t on th e p a c e o f c h a n g e , s in c e consensualism would im part greater stability to the political or­ der, but reduce the speed of radical reform by requiring the interlocking consent of a chain of groups. But even if we sus­ pend these institutional differentiations on that side of the equa­ tion for the m om ent, it is im p ortan t to see the stru ctu red na­ ture of social inequality. A purely philosophical discussion would sim ply reflect on the relation between dem ocratic d octrines and inequality as a principle, although in that kind of discussion,

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to o, the question quickly turns to: an inequality of w h at? In sociological analysis, that question translates into the problem of the precise configuration of inequality given in a social form . In the Indian co n te x t, it would take us into a discussion of how dem ocracy affects inequality stru ctu red in two different form s, as caste and as class. F o r historical precedents, which m ight show us what the long­ term social effects of the d em ocratic principle can be, w e m ust turn to the history of Europe. But the body of evidence from European history can be read in significantly divergent ways. To take only the m ost w ell-know n traditions, there can be a ‘necessary exten sion ’ thesis, w hich w ould assert that th e under­ lying principle of dem ocracy was not m erely egalitarian in the political sphere, but th at its in trod u ction would necessarily e x ­ tend from the political to the social and econom ic realms, though there m ight be a tim e lag. Follow ing M arx, we can th ink of a possible, but not necessary, exten sion from political to social dem ocracy, dependent on revolutionary m ass action by th e pro­ letariat, to be inevitably ob stru cted by the bourgeois classes, and the bias built into the institutional stru ctu res of capitalist society. U sing these distinctions between the app lication of the principle of egalitarianism to the various spheres (w h ich does not appear entirely unproblem atic to m e for reasons th at ca n ­ not be discussed here in d etail), 3 we can then also think of a third scep tical line of argum ent w hich m aintains that d em o c­ racy is only political equality, and any possible exten sion of its egalitarianism would d istort its logic, turning equality of op ­ portunity tow ards equality of cond ition. W e could call this a n o n -exten sion thesis. The in trod u ction of dem ocracy to any society could yield three distinct possibilities: equality m ight be established only in the econ om ic sphere, or it m ight spread from the political to the social, leaving the econ o m ic a field of u n restricted inequality; or, the m ost radical and, in p ractical term s, the least likely, it m ight exten d from the political to all spheres. In fact, the problem of eradicating social inequality m ight raise further and m ore com plex problem s. Underlying ou r C on ­ stitution and m uch of our party politics, is an unstated co n se n ­ sus about how inequality has to be intellectually analysed and practically reduced. Often one significant aspect of this im plicit

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understanding is not taken up for serious discussion. I shall call th at a flattening of inequality instead of a stru ctu rally specific view of how it fu nctions, and it is surprising to find that even M arxists and others given to a norm ally historical view of so­ cial problem s, in essence agree w ith this approach. Inequalities are flattened if we take them sim ply taxonom ically, and point out th at in con tem p orary Indian society there are the following list of grounds w hich m ake people unequal. But each type of inequality m ight com e from a different stru ctu ral sou rce. Caste inequality is grounded in practices of the caste order; these p rac­ tices are quite specific, based on observance of restriction s on com m ensality, m arriage, e tc ,, denying access to low er caste groups to education or certain types of social functions, or forc­ ing them to carry on the occupations of their ancestors. Inequal­ ity of in com e in m odern sectors is produced by quite a different kind of stru ctu ral logic: by the rise of industries generated and m anaged accord in g to capitalist principles. If we take a stru c­ tural view, we shall be forced to adm it that these inequalities em erged at different points of tim e and, historically, one kind of stru ctu re m ight replace another. But if we believe in a m ini­ m ally functional view of social system s, it would imply that try­ ing to eradicate all types of social inequality at the sam e time m ight not be very prom ising. Thus the radical Jaco b in ism un ­ derlying ou r con stitu tion al dispensation and reform ist political p ractice of the N ehruvian era m ight be m istaken. A m ore tradi­ tional view, on the lines of Russian official M arxism , could ar­ gue that reduction of caste inequality m ight be achieved m ore efficiently precisely through unrestricted developm ent of a capi­ talist econom y and the labour m arket, rath er than by a process in w hich the agency of the state tries to w ork against the stru c­ tural logic of both capitalist and caste inequality. As evidence, it m ight be show n that w here state-driven reform has been the only instrum ent of social change, the reduction of inequality has m ade little headw ay; whereas in the econ om ic zones w hich exp erien ced relatively u n restricted cap italist grow th , either during the colon ial p eriod or after in d ep en d en ce, capitalist econ o m ic p rocesses have m ore su ccessfu lly red u ced the ef­ fectiveness of caste. It m ight then be a safer strategy to play one inequality against an o th er rath er than try to flatten them in a stru ctu re-n eu tral fashion, and attem pt to eradicate them by the

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single im plem ent of state actio n .4 1 do not agree w ith this the­ sis, but I wish to suggest that we should not use the con ven ­ tional structure-neu tral treatm ent of social inequality, but adopt a m ore stru ctu ral and historical understanding instead.

Constitutional Democracy and Inequality There was a sense in w hich the con stitu tion al settlem ent in in­ dependent India was based, on a form of Jaco b in ism ,5 a phase in E u ro p ean h isto ry w h ich m ost p o litica l grou p s ad m ired , though often for co n trad icto ry reasons. W h at was com m on to nearly all branches of opinion in Indian nationalism was the gesture of accep tin g and assum ing a rad ical plasticity of the social; an attitude of radical con stru ctiv ism about the relations that con stitu ted society; a belief that all relations active in In­ dian society could be erased, as it w ere, and entirely new ones w ritten down through a heroic, com prehensive, legislative act. In a sense this act of producing a ‘clean slate’ originary posi­ tion, on w hich acceptable or rationally preferable social prin­ ciples could then be w ritten, was a p recond ition required by all acts of con stitu tion al con stru ctio n . This idea had two parts: the first w as about.the plasticity of the social w orld and the sover­ eign pow ers of the state in bringing p atterns of actio n into be­ ing by legislative co n stru ctio n ; the secon d part was con stitu ted by the pattern of society th at was preferred, and sought to be established in the space thus cleared by the sovereign acts of the state. On the second point, there w ere obviously grave dif­ fe re n ce s am o n g p o litic a l g ro u p s; b u t th e ir v ery d ifferen t program m es presupposed the com m o n idea of u n constrained co n stru ctiv ism .6 Com m unists admired not merely the radical­ ism of this con stru ctivist attitude, they also w anted to im bue radical con ten t in the laws w hich would govern social life. O th­ ers, like N ehru or Am bedkar, w hose tastes in social engineer­ in g w ere d e cid e d ly m ore m o d e r a te , also b eliev ed in the con stru ctiv ist prem ise. But there was som ething peculiar about this accep tan ce of the Jaco b in attitude in the Indian C on stitu ­ ent Assembly. In Europe the Jaco b in gesture usually cam e from politicians of the low er classes, the Parisian sansculottes, for e x ­ am ple. In India, this Jaco b in ism drew upon traditions w hich had been well established during British rule, of invoking the

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pow er of the colonial state to in troduce, and at tim es coercively apply, radical social reform . In cases like the banning of sati or encou raging widow rem arriage in early colonial Bengal, social reform ers established a tradition of seeking support from the alien state pow er to drive through reform s in Hindu society. 7 One p articu lar strand o f thinking in the C onstitution-m aking process cam e directly from this social reform trad ition , and Am bedkar, oddly situated between the élite and the dow ntrod­ den, instinctively resented its im plicit elitism . This strand of social reform was also generous in giving away other peoples’ privileges. Though these reform proposals were driven by groups, and individuals who usually originated from upper caste groups their fortunes w ere secu rely grounded in the professional o c c u ­ pations of the m odern sector, and they had little to lose through such acts of apparent self-sacrifice. In fact, one can argue that Jacob in ism in this sense produces, by its very extrem ism , the con trary effect.8 Precisely by wishing away suspicion and m is­ trust and the w eight of interest and opinion in favour of unjust p ractices, it m obilizes the opposition and gives a sharp and des­ perate edge to their hostility, forces them to reorganize, and therefore eventually retards, rather than accelerates, the reform s that it supports intellectually.

Consensualism and Social Reform The attem p t to reform social inequality w as m ade at two differ­ ent levels. At one level there was the constitu tion al effort to outline a stru ctu re of social relations w hich w ould con stitu te a basic m ap of everyday social con d u ct. In this m ap certain tradi­ tional p ractices w ere dram atically ruled out. Despite a long and deeply entrenched h istory of caste p ractices, practising caste in som e form s was m ade illegal from the m orning of 2 6 Jan u ary 1 9 5 0 . Similarly, in a society w hich was still deeply religious, the use of religious considerations in state activities was banned from th at day. One interesting question is: how could this kind of revolutionary gesture be m ade w ithout trouble? The answer m ust be com p lex. B ecause of illiteracy and lack of inform ation, this radical activity of co n stru ctio n was in effect the interior tum ult of a sm all élite club , its historical significance quite dif­ ferent in scale and significance from the celebrated incidents of

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Eu ropean history that it sought to im itate. T hus, upper caste H indus could happily go on practising untouchability for sev­ eral decades, if they were in areas distant from the state’s co n ­ trol or the m edia’s scrutiny. Everyday discrim ination o r insult to low caste groups form ed a very substantial part of social and political experien ce till very recently. Some part of the exp lan a­ tion m ust be in the reason Parth a C hatterjee gives in his discus­ sion on secularism . Laws w hich declared extraordin ary changes in Hindu religious p ractice were in fact passed after the event. These legislative acts did n o t initiate changes, as in European revolutions, rather they ratified changes w hich had already been accep ted by large parts of H indu society through internal re ­ form . The evidence of this lies in the dissim ilar treatm ent given to Muslim rules of co n d u ct; since Islam ic society in India was strongly opposed to reform s on those lines, the state im m edi­ a te ly re sile d and gav e w a y .9 In a way, th is illu strated the consensualism underlying Indian d em ocratic politics under the C ongress regim e. During the national m ovem ent, it is easy to show, C ongress functioned on the basis of a broadly consensual p rinciple, rath er than strict m ajorities overruling oth er op in­ io n s .10 After independence, during the N ehru years, this im ­ plicit rule of consensus continu ed. Rajni K othari’s w ork illum i­ nates how consensualism w orked inside the Congress in spite o f the form al divide b etw een the g o v ern m en t m a jo rity and opposition m in orities.11 I think we m ust supplem ent K othari’s discussion on the m anner of party functioning with an argu­ m en t ab o u t th e co alitio n al n atu re of class pow er in Indian p o litical life. It is the specific ch aracter of the stru ctu re of class pow er in Indian society w hich eventually im poses a coalitional logic on the party-political scene. E xp erien ce of electoral politics after the collapse of C ongress dom inance since the late Eighties does not falsify this argum ent: it m erely shows that the rule of consensualism is always at w ork, but it can take two forms. If governm ent is controlled by a single party, like the Congress or the Jan ata after the Em ergency, c o n ­ sensual form s operate inside the party, not explicitly in the gov­ ernm ent; if no single party exists w hich can achieve th at result, governm ent itself be'comes exp licitly a coalitional governm ent, as in the recen t cases of the BJP coalition and its predecessor. In fact, the extrao rd in ary exam p le of the BJP failing to form a

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governm ent even as the largest single party in parliam ent after th e n a tio n a l e le c tio n s in 1 9 9 6 , in d ic a te s how stro n g ly th e political culture disapproves of an explicitly homogenizing, anticoalitional politics based on unqualified m ajoritarianism . Significantly, the C on stitu tion abolished som e form s of so ­ cial inequality, and not others. Although a result of contentious debate and often uneasy com p rom ise,12 it eventually accepted a stru ctu ral, not a flat, view of inequality. U ntouchability was explicitly outlaw ed; p ractice of caste in oth er ways m erely dis­ couraged. C ontinuance of m arriage w ithin caste could not be sim ilarly outlaw ed by the C onstitution because it fell w ithin the circle of private decisions im plicitly con ceded by co n stitu ­ tional provisions. This highlighted an interesting paradox: in some instances, a decision actually based on caste considerations could be passed off as a result of personal preference. By co n ­ trast, the right to property, the legal recogn ition of capitalist class inequality, was not seriously cu rb e d .13 Com m unists were therefore right in denouncing Nehru for taking a ‘capitalist’ path, despite the m isleading official rhetoric of a ‘socialist p attern of society’. T h e consigning of dem ands for econ o m ic equality di­ rected against the capitalist principle into the D irective P rin ­ ciples of State Policy, m ight also indicate a deeply evolutionary belief on the part of the N ehruvian élite about how societies progress. They could well have believed that with the exp an ­ sion and entren ch m en t of a capitalist econom y, dem ands for econ om ic equality would gain strength and lead to an historic shift in legal stru ctures. However, at the tim e of Independence, legal institution of m ore egalitarian rules w ould have been pre­ m ature. The general phrasing of the provisions in the C on stitu ­ tion reveals an interesting, but for its tim e, typical, treatm ent of problem s of gender inequality: m ost of the provisions dealing w ith equality denounce differential treatm en t on the basis of race, caste, sex and language, but the reference to gender is ba­ sically p art of a general rh eto ric. The C on stitution is alm ost entirely blind to the fact that gender inequality m ight require treatm ent exactly parallel to ca ste .14 It does ensure equal treat­ m ent before the law, but undertakes no serious exertion to re­ duce or eradicate forms of unequal treatm ent known to exist in society.15 Thus the nature of the constitutional settlem ent, what it seeks to achieve and w hat it deliberately leaves alone, can be

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understood at least in significant part, by paying attention to the im plicit consensualism of decision-m aking inside the C on ­ gress party, and in the C onstituent A ssem bly It did not func­ tion by the rule of the m ajority as com m on ly understood, but by im plicitly consociational principles, as did the Congress party afterw ards. In legal term s, the C on stitu tion consisten tly abol­ ishes discrim ination on the basis of ‘race, caste,' sex and reli­ gion ’, occasionally adding to this list, language and descent, w hich in stru ctu ral term s are all directed against social, but not econ om ic inequality. Clearly, however, this is only part of the relation between d em ocracy and social inequality, since by ‘d em o cracy ’ in ordi­ n ary language is m eant at least two different things. It m eans first a fundamental constitutional order based on political equal­ ity w hich is m eant to be inflexible and con stan t. But it also re ­ fers to a fluid everyday electoral process and its long-term ten ­ dencies. The question of the relation betw een d em ocracy and social inequality m ust therefore be broken up into two: how the constitu tion al arrangem ent settles it, and how it is addressed by the electoral process. It is particu larly im portant to see the question this way, to bring in the second, m ore sociological as­ p ect, precisely because the relation betw een legality and social life in India is vastly different from th at of the W est. The second question, then, is twofold: can electoral dem ocracy be said to have a long-term historical tendency? If it does, is this, as was widely believed, tow ards greater social equality? N ehruvian ideology, w hich drove the high echelons of the C ongress, clearly thought of dem ocracy and electoral politics as part of a general functionalist logic of m odernity. The pro­ cesses of industrialization, on this view, tended inevitably to break down traditional solidarities like caste. The experien ce of electoral dem ocracy was supposed, independently, to go in the sam e direction. All these discrete processes of m odernity w ere expected to corrode traditional social stru ctu res and rein ­ force each other and the m ost fundam ental process of a m odem society, w hich was presupposed by all: individuation. Nehru was evidently entirely clear about the process of individuation be­ ing the basis of all other processes like industrialization and electoral politics. But what has actually happened has really co n ­ founded the N ehruvian ideology of social progress. From that

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perspective som e features of present-day political reality in In­ dia w ould appear strangely contrad ictory, som e trends sh o ck ­ ingly retrograde, others astonishingly ‘progressive’. It is im pos­ sible to m ake sense of what has really happened in Indian po­ litical life through the dich otom ous m odels of m odernity and tradition that lay at the cen tre of the N ehruvian w orld view.

Adaptability of Traditions The progressivist ideology that dom inated political thinking and p ractice in the Fifties seriously un derrated the capacity of tra ­ ditions to deal w ith historical change. There was in this sense a strong parallel between N ehruvian ideology and m ost academ ic m odernization theories. They com m o n ly m isunderstood the nature of tradition, con struing it to be prim arily stagnant and unable to change. Successful traditions in fact dem onstrate ju st the opposite: traditional structures m aintain themselves for long periods precisely because of their flexibility in the face of his­ torical ch an g e.16 If we adopt a different view of tradition, m is­ trust its rhetoric of im m utability and acknow ledge its enorm ous cap acity for structural adaptation, the actu al historical process need n ot appear utterly inexplicable. In retrosp ect, it is not sur­ prising that authors sceptical of the progressivist dichotom ies of m odernization theory were the first to discern the perp lex­ ing trends in electoral p o litics.17 Caste groups, instead of cru m ­ bling w ith historical em b arrassm en t,18 in fact, adapted them ­ selves surprisingly well to the dem ands of parliam entary poli­ tics. Congress itself had to subm it to the pressure of instant elec­ toral m obilization a year after the C on stitution cam e into force, and faced three possibilities regarding the m anner in w hich the electo rate could be m obilized. F irst, and m ost im probable, was that they would be m obilized, like intellectuals, by the power of th eoretical ideas. Second, they could m obilize them selves in term s of m odern interest groups— as classes, in other w ords— w hich they did, w herever the historical cond itions existed. But su ch p o ck ets were very few quite and sm all. T hus, electoral m o b ilizatio n , o n ce the g reat u n ifyin g, id eolo gical language of anti-colonialism becam e redundant, could take place only on the basis of the principles of the e lecto rate’s everyday self­ recognition embedded in rural social p ractice, based on the logic

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of caste. So the use of caste in electoral m obilization was n o t, in retro sp ect, that surprising. But such m obilization im m ediately brought a new elem ent into caste p ractice: in a cu rio u s sense, all caste groups acquired im m ediate political significance. E le c ­ toral politics thus altered the stru ctu ral properties o f caste in one fundam ental respect: it created a ‘d em o cracy ’ of castes in place of a ‘hierarchy’. F o r political parties, w hat was significant was their num bers and their spatial co n cen tratio n , rath er than their social status in the traditional ranking order. T his was a w holly untraditional and m odern use of the pow er o f caste; in­ stead of restrictin g groups to their traditional occu p atio n s and their relative status level in a hierarchy, this allow ed them to deploy their num erical strength in electoral supp ort for parties and candidates. To the exten t castes w ere able to respond to this electoral need, they created for them selves a m eaningful place in the m odern political world. T hus, the way N ehru posed the alternatives was proved false.19 The institutional ord er w ithin w hich Indian d em ocracy had to function had som e internal difficulties, although it seem s in co rrect to see them as inconsistencies or legal design faults. R ather these w ere com prom ises and con cession s im posed by the peculiar circu m stan ces of an independence m arred by Par­ tition. In the discourse of politics w hich developed th rough the nationalist m ovem ent, there was no serious defence o r elabora­ tion of liberal p rin ciples.20 After the m oderate constitutional­ ists, w hose influence was swept aside by the extrem ists and later by G andhi, no serious liberal and individualist political posi­ tion was argued out con sisten tly or acquired m uch influence. Rather, the two lines of argum ent w hich becam e w idely influ­ ential w ere the idiosyn cratic positions of Gandhi and various forms of leftism , w hich were both generally critical of individu­ alism . Significantly, those in the national m ovem ent who w ere critical of Gandhi and the Left them selves show ed little sym pa­ thy for liberal or individualist political thinking, favouring in­ stead the idea that religious com m u nities should be considered the fundam ental political actors. Given this co n te x t of political discourse, the legal structure of the Constitution was a surprising one, since a large part of its fundam ental principles and tech n i­ cal legal apparatus presuppose a lib eral-in dividu alist under­ standing of dem ocratic p o litics.21 The C onstitution introduced

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som e types of rights and legal provisions w hich recognized co m ­ m unities as bearers of rights. The fact th at m any of these provi­ sions w ere m eant to continue for strictly specified periods is evidence of the C onstitution-m akers’ belief that these were situ­ ational adjustm ents; equally, the fact of the indefinite co n tin u ­ ation of these provisions in actu al p ractice show s th at the so ci­ ety for w hich they legislated failed to think as they did.

Electoral Democracy and Inequality Usually, w hen we refer to d em ocratic form s, we m ean two dif­ ferent aspects of institutions: the con stitu tion al stru ctu re set­ ting dow n perm anent rules; and the electo ral process and flux of everyday politics. Although the con stitu tion al and electoral levels of d em ocratic politics are d istin ct, there has to be a re ci­ procity between them , established through com m on understand­ ing generated and upheld by quotidian political p ractice. The con stitu tion al provisions secu ring m inority rights and special advantages were form ulated in a language w hich im plied they were im perm an ent; but electoral p ractice often belied this. The exact ch aracter of the electoral appeal of the C ongress to m i­ nority religious groups altered over tim e. N ehru was quite e x ­ plicit and undefensive about the special protection needed by the M uslim m inority in India after P artition ; and the support of the M uslim vote for the C ongress un d er N ehru could be de­ fended by those strictly con ju n ctu ral argum ents. Subsequently, however, Congress appeal to the m inority vote cu t loose from specific historical argum ents and often degenerated into a dis­ tinctly less highm inded search for perm anent group loyalty in elections. This could not w ork efficiently if M uslims did not feel a certain vague but endem ic insecurity. However, it is im ­ p ortan t to keep in mind that during the N ehru period, the ques­ tion of social equality was quite cen tral to ideological debates betw een m ain political parties. C om m u n ists, who rath er sur­ p risingly becam e the largest o p p osition group in parliam en t after the first general elections, con strued that to m ean inequali­ ties of class and in com e. The response of the C ongress to this c ritic is m by fash ion in g th e Avadhi re so lu tio n callin g for a ‘socialistic pattern of society’ also clearly implied the same read­ ing of the problem . Historically, how ever, political dem ocracy

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appeared an unsuitable, or at least an ineffective, in stru m en t in the cause of reducing class inequality. It becam e quite obvious fairly early in the h istory of the republic that the C ongress un ­ der N ehru was unlikely to take serious initiatives in this d irec­ tion. The com m u nists, in retro sp ect, show ed lim ited political im agin ation, confin ing them selves to voluble op p osition to N ehru’s policies instead of m aking seriously costed egalitarian policy suggestions. F ro m the late Seventies, when com m u nist governm ents enjoyed relatively long incum bencies in state gov­ ernm ents, and a nearly perm anent one in W est Bengal, their policies show ed very lim ited im agination about the strategies by w hich econom ic inequality could be reduced. Interestingly, by the Seventies, th rough increasing assertion of caste politics, the question of ‘social inequality’ cam e to stand alm ost e x c lu ­ sively for disadvantage based on caste rath er than class. A m ore striking exam ple of the effect of dem ocracy on social inequality could be found in the politics of caste. O ften, the use of caste appeal in con stitu en cies w ith a distinct caste m ajority was self-defeating in term s of strict electoral arithm etic, because all parties would norm ally nom inate candidates from the sam e caste, cancelling out advantage for any one of them. Conversely, any party trying out a heroically idealist strategy of nom inating a candidate from a different, locally undom inant caste was bound to suffer. U nder cond itions of endem ic caste rivalries, m ost par­ ties played safe. Ironically, though this m ay have failed to se­ cure any im m ediate advantage to any single party in a specific election, it legitim ized the practice of caste-politics as a gen ­ eral d em ocratic principle. Such electoral p ractices in everyday dem ocratic politics m ade it im possible for the lo ng-term trend to m ove un am biguously in the d irection desired by N eh ru , A m bedkar and o th e r C o n stitu tio n -m a k e rs. The n a tio n a list m ovem ent was, apart from other things, a gigantic pedagogic process, in w hich ideas about how to look at and handle the political w orld w ere being constan tly generated and dissem i­ nated through mass politics: m eetings, dem onstrations, discus­ sions, calls upon people to act. The m obilizational politics of nationalism urged people to act in ways strikingly different from the segm entation and com m u nity-orien tation in their daily life. W ith the arrival of independence, this im m ense pedagogic p ro­ cess falls silent, and because of the startling neglect of ordinary

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education in the N ehruvian developm ent p roject, it is n o t re ­ placed by any other expedient. Undoubtedly, a ‘public spere’ of the circu lation and d isp u tatio n of o p in ion s on the fu n d am en ­ tal co n stitu tio n of society developed through the N ehru years, m ainly th ro u gh E n g lish -lan g u ag e n ation al n ew sp ap ers and jo u rn a ls . By the Seventies, this upper class public sphere was being slowly overtaken by a m uch wider circle of active interest expressed in p o litics by o rd in a ry p eop le w ho w ere o u tsid e th is h igh ly restrictive ‘public opinion’. The sociological co n ­ stitution of these groups is quite different, and their life-con ditions som etim es consid erab ly unstable. As this new ‘public sphere’ of social groups with m uch m ore heterogenous ed u ca­ tional, social and cognitive com positions com es into being, its internal processes of operation are also bound to be u tterly dif­ ferent. It was im m ediately apparent how different this political universe was in its political discourse— its rh eto ric, its sto ck of inform ation, its historical memory, its vernacular language. One of the m ost striking features of this discourse, w hich m akes it utterly different from the discourse of high nationalism , is that it does not have a ready ‘m em ory’ of w estern history. Above all, the fragm entation of this political public sphere m ade it im p os­ sible for the traditional political élite to address all its segm ents and to perform its earlier functions of pedagogic in stru ction or public opinion form ation. Even if the nationalist élites had the will to lecture their fellow citizens about the rules of m odern behaviour, they had lost the m eans. It is interesting to n o te how segm ents of N ehruvian political opinion w hich still rem ain are confined to a m ediating function between various regionally entrenched groups. They have lost the capacity to im pose their m odel of politics on others; but they are still crucial in playing an essential role in m ediating between groups w ith m ore re­ gional, or often purely local, political horizons. U nder these conditions, they simply do not have the capacity to set the term s of political discourse any m ore. Q uotidian d em ocratic politics, how ever m uch we try to co n ­ fute its m ajoritarian reading, brings into play a relentless search for con textu al m ajorities, and thus creates a general potential for the m obilization of all possible social groups, not ju st the ‘m odern’ ones. A ctual electoral politics of the parties, p articu ­ larly at the in te rm e d ia te level of s ta te s and d is tric ts , had

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reco u rse to com m on peoples’ everyday self-understanding in term s of caste for gathering vo ter support. The intensity of elec­ toral dem ocracy, therefore, con trary to the fram ers’ h istorical beliefs, constan tly reconfirm ed ordinary people’s com m u n ityorien tation s instead of underm ining them . Gradually, the lan­ guage of expressing grievances in term s of ‘peoples’ righ ts’ be­ cam e increasingly com m o n , but the norm al bearers o f these rights w ere seen to be prim ary groups rather than individuals.22 Since society outside the cities did not experien ce substantial sociological individuation, even grievances in everyday life about w h ich political agencies w ere called upon to act— to dem and preference, or redressai of ill-treatm en t— were expressed co m ­ m only in term s of group rights and discrim inations. O ther institutional m echanism s also served to reinforce these identities. As the state was a main provider of em ploym ent, both high and low, reservation o f job s provided by the C on stitu tion becam e a m ajor channel for upward social mobility. The ch ar­ a cte r of econ om ic developm ent in India, with its huge reliance on the state, m ade this ten dency particularly strong. The p ro­ tectio n and possible expan sion of these em ploym ent avenues for the relevant groups began to occu p y a central place in party polijjcal conflict. Political parties directly based on caste identi­ ties are som etim es blamed for this trend, unfairly, in my opinion. Indistinct caste-based policies were often pursued by C ongress politicians in the years w hen their electoral dom inance had not been threatened. The internal politics of Congress state organi­ zations were already riven by caste-based political rivalries be­ tw een chief m inisterial candidates in m any areas. T he estab­ lishm ent of political parties directly interested in reservation politics m erely brought this trend into the open. F o r several distin ct reasons, and in several ways, the functioning of state in stitu tion s in India slowly w orked towards a persistent rein­ forcem ent of caste identities instead of their erasure, as the fram­ ers of the C on stitution had planned. The intensification of caste politics has led to several inter­ esting and unforeseen consequences. C onventional w isdom e x ­ pected electoral politics, parallel to industrial econom ic p rac­ tices, to break down and erase patterns of caste action, and in­ creasingly produce an equality between individuals, irrespective of caste origins. The conventional view was right in anticipating

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that an aspiration towards equality was to be articulated through political dem ocracy, but it was w rong in exp ectin g that the op­ eration of political institution s w ould lead to strong individua­ tion. In fact, w hile caste p ractice declined in its traditional are­ nas of social behaviour, like com m ensality and m arriage, it was given a pow erful new life by electoral p olitics, w here people started to claim equality on the basis o f caste, w ith ou t giving up their caste identity. The equality or dignity that caste politicians like Kanshi Ram o r Laloo Prasad Yadav dem and is not as indi­ viduals, irresp ective of their caste, but em phatically as m em ­ bers of their caste. It is unprofitable to speculate about how in tellectuals like N ehru would have responded to con tem p o­ rary caste-based politics: they m ight have deplored its strident casteism and aggressive assertion of the difference between vari­ ous groups, instead of a liberal, individualistic stripped-dow n equality; at the sam e tim e, they ought to be happy about the d em ocratic, th at is, egalitarian ch a ra cte r of this politics. Caste politics in one sense has m erely transposed to its own level the rules of equal treatm ent and equality of opportunity. D em ocratic equality has been m ainly translated as equality betw een caste groups, not am ong caste-less individuals. M akers of the C on ­ stitu tion dream t of a future of equality w ithout caste; we m ight eventually have an u n exp ected h istorical stage of the equality of castes. The reason for this apparently strange developm ent is not difficult to understand. Electoral politics turns basically on num ­ bers: political parties and groups naturally try to m obilize e x ­ isting group loyalties or try to create new ones through politi­ cal cam paigns. G roups can vary accord in g to their num bers, stability of m em bership and internal cohesion. O lson’s w ork jo in te d ou t an inverse relation betw een num bers and cohesive­ n ess.23 In India, we have to inflect and m odify this insight to include the pecu liar nature of m em bership of individuals into caste groups. F irst, caste m em bership is not m erely one of iden­ tity in the o rd in ary sense; b ecause of the stro n g co n n e ctio n between caste affiliation and productive roles, it contains a pow ­ erful elem ent of interest. A lthough appeals to caste and religion are b o th c o rre c tly regard ed as exam p les o f id en tity p o litics, it m ust be seen th at caste has a m uch stronger and plausible relation w ith econ o m ic interest. Second, because of its stability

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(p erm an en ce) it im parts a strong cohesion to the group’s per­ ception of self-interest, unless in dustrialization dissolves these ties. Loyalties or affiliation to groups can be of two different types (to use classical sociology) acco rd in g to w hether these are prim ary or secondary groups, communities or associations. In classical w estern theory, the problem did not arise so p rom i­ nently because of the specific h istorical sequence of w estern modernity. Capitalist industrialization transform ed societies into vast fields of association al interest-based activity, the realm of the ‘civil society’— at least that was w hat classical historical so ­ ciology w anted us to believe. In any case, it is not surprising th at it is in P areto, w riting in relatively backw ard Italy, th at we find the idea that the arrival of d em ocracy brings into play both types of social groups, based on different form s of solidarity. In his w ritings on ‘dem agogic p lu to cracy ’ Pareto observed the dif­ ferent ch aracter of these two types of groups and their co n se ­ quences for dem ocracy, calling them ‘aggregates’ and ‘com bina­ tio n s’.24 C om binations, or class-based groups, suffer the obvi­ ous disadvantage of im perm anence in two senses: the individu­ als con stitu tin g groups keep changing, and the groups th em ­ selves in their stru ctu re, solidarity and pow er, tend to depend on the volatile forces of a m odern econom y. In a society like m odern India, the social and econ om ic con d ition s in w hich ‘classes’ can form are particularly com p lex. It is in relatively sm all parts of the cou n try that class-based com binations can be used by parties involved in dem ocratic p o litics.25 By com pari­ son, Pareto s ‘aggregates’— or caste-iden tifications in our case— are perm anent, and since these are exp licit and not latent, it requires little extra effort to bring them to self-consciousness. To play on a M arxian locu tion , there is no objective caste w hich is not a subjective caste. If such affiliations can be m obilized, their force in d em ocratic politics is obvious. This how ever brings us back to the con flict betw een p a rtici­ pation and procedure: caste m ajorities are by nature perm anent, and obviously any perm anent m ajority w ould m ake dem ocracy unbearable for oth er groups. This is precisely the paradox of the Mandai C om m ission politics: although it begins with argu ­ m ents of social ju stice, it su ccu m b s too easily and quickly to the strong tem ptation of a relentless m ajoritarian ism .26 Ironi­ cally, this shift to the m ajoritarian argum ent im m ediately in­

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cites responding to m ajoritarian ideas, particularly the vicious attem pt to trum p it with the alleged aspirations of the Hindu majority, to which the BJP has mysterious and privileged access. No doubt the prim ary purpose of this politics is to attack and render im possible the practice of social inequality in a p articu ­ larly odious form ; yet the m anner in w hich it seeks to do so goes against one of the m ajor principles of dem ocracy. It is also quite clear that in som e cases, like the adm inistrations of Laloo Prasad or M ulayam Singh Yadav (as in the earlier precedent of Indira G andhi) there is a tendency to use the logic of social reform against dem ocratic fo rm , in a way Tocqueville an tici­ pated, leading to situations that com e close to elective despo­ tism , justified in the nam e of im patience for reform . Several problem s arising out of this d em ocratic conflict for equality have becom e increasingly apparent in India. At tim es, it appears that the object of these political forces after cap tu r­ ing state power, is not to secure equality in the strict sense by opening the gates of op p ortu nity to form erly disadvantaged groups, but to close them to other groups who have tradition­ ally enjoyed dom inance. It can be argued that often, because of the entrenchm ent of vested in terests, this is the only way of securing greater access for backw ard groups, and eventually achieving equality. N ehru’s thinking behind the in trodu ction of reservations was clearly to enable backw ard groups to catch up with others: ‘therefore, not only m ust equal opportunities be given to all, but special opportunities for educational, econom ic and cultural grow th m ust be given to backward groups to en­ able them to catch up to those who are ahead of them ’.27 Inter­ estingly, however, one aspect of such dem ocratic power has been to deny access to others, rath er than make it universal. Given the decline of the culture of consensualism and the fragm enta­ tion of a public sphere of debate in w hich such social principles are debated and generally accepted, dom inant social groups take recourse to policies calculated to defend their advantage. This m ight intensify the upper c la s s-c a s te groups’ support for two types of policies in the econ om ic and political spheres. They are likely to support policies of econom ic liberalization, w rench­ ing large sectors of industrial em ploym ent out of the state’s co n ­ trol and handing them over to the unrestricted m arket, w hich is bound to distribute opportunities disproportionately in their

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favour. This can be supplem ented by support, in party politics, to the BJP w hich is the m ost powerful force opposing castebased reservations. Although in the short term, the BJP is hostile to policies of liberalization, in the longer term , the logic of so­ cial support m ight reconcile them to these. Already there is some evidence in electoral statistics for a trend towards this kind of convergence in voting profiles. There is another peculiarity of Indian dem ocracy which takes it in an illiberal direction. Since the state is regarded by both Nehruvian reform ists and populist politicians as the prim ary agency for creating equality, the pressure of dem ocracy has para­ doxically led to a con stan t increase in the powers of the state. The state is seen as an agency supporting equality for two rea­ sons: first, in purely ju rid ical term s, it is the legislature which has the pow er to enact reform legislations, and the executive to im plem ent them ; second, since the state is the m ajor provider of em ploym ent, enlargem ent of the econ o m ic orbit under its control helps translate such legislation into reality. The discourse of this d em ocratic force does not propose an encirclem ent of the state by an active, oppositional, con stan tly vigilant ‘civil society’; on the contrary, it justifies expan sion of the powers of the state, and som etim es show s scan t respect for juridical re­ straint in the nam e of the urgency of the reform s it undertakes. Analyses of Indian politics should pay m ore careful attention to the p recarious balance betw een the elective and oth er aspects of dem ocratic politics and procedure. Elections are surely an im ­ m ensely significant elem ent in the procedural structure of de­ m ocracy but there are other, equally significant procedural and deliberative aspects. An overvaluation of the elective side can lead to a collapse of confidence in the entire stru ctu re if politi­ cians persist in the idea that elections are essential, because the party that gets the electoral m andate has the right to disregard legal ru les.28 It is particularly im portant to note a strong recent trend to argue, in cases of im portant appointm ents, that people belonging to a particular caste can only tru st politicians or offi­ cials from the sam e com m unity. This m ight seem a plausible, even defensible, m easure com ing from disadvantaged groups; but it m ust be recognized that exten sion of such an argum ent would com pletely underm ine im personal rules of the operation of political power. It will m ake trust w holly segmentary, and

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m ake it im possible to run a m odern dem ocratic polity. To asso­ ciate trustw orthiness with individuals and their social identity im plies a corresponding lack of confidence in tru st w orking through im personal institutions. This creates a sociologically unprecedented situation: instead of the segm entation of so ci­ ety in sm all, local groups it ushers in a period of segm entation into im m ense cross-regional entities. Persistent clashes between these groups m ight create a situation where the im plicit assum p­ tion of w estern dem ocratic form s adopted in the C onstitution— that the m ajorities and m inorities would be shuffling, im per­ m anent and fluid rather than fixed— w ould becom e defunct.

Limits to Caste Mobilization Already, however, som e lim its of this kind to caste politics can be seen fairly clearly. The election of Laloo Prasad Yadav or M ayawati has of course been of im m ense sym bolic value for Indian society. It m arks a decisive step ahead from the cultural presuppositions of the Seventies, w hen a politician of the sta t­ ure of Jagjivan Ram could n o t be given a position of highest em inence for no other discernible reason than an im plicit up­ per caste consensus against him . Yet, in som e ways, the politics of reform that Jagjivan Ram represented, now replaced by the politics of challenge exem plified by Kanshi Ram or Laloo Prasad Yadav, had greater h istorical im portan ce. An enorm ous am ount of the energy of the new politics of the disadvantaged is spent in sym bolic acts of retaliation w hich have increasingly tended to replace substantive m easures directed against inequalities. State-funded statues of Am bedkar in every Indian village m ight give Dalit politics greater prestige, but does nothing to alter the stru ctu ral bases of privilege in ed u cation , health and other op ­ portunities, w hich serve to reproduce the inequalities against w hich the politics of the low er castes is directed. Am bedkar or Jagjivan Ram , presumably, w ould not have been satisfied with the sym bolic hum iliation of upper caste officials, or display of regal and cou rtly grandeur coupled with a quasi-absolutist co n ­ tem pt for procedures. If we divide the process of distribution into two and call som e of these, access goods, the argum ent m ight becom e clearer. There is a level of distribution in incom e, h onou r, cap ital, pow er and so on, to individuals and groups

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con stitu tin g cu rren t society. But in the longer term , this is im ­ plicitly determ ined by oth er goods, by m eans of w hich access to these goods can be achieved— for exam ple, education, health, literacy, etc. — and on w hich they ultim ately depend. Politics of low er caste assertion has, in a sense, retreated from a m ore m undane reform ism to a sp ectacular exch an ge of sym bolic acts. Sym bolic exchanges do not have the pow er to affect the level of prim ary distribution of access goods, co n cen tratin g on a sp ec­ tacular redistribution of prestige on a very sm all scale. Thus this politics can create enorm ous sp ectato r interest through the parliam ent and media, but the satisfaction drawn by low er caste groups is prim arily sym bolic and episodic. It does not to u ch the institution al sources w hich reproduce inequality in society. D uring the N ehru years the pow ers of the state w ere con stan tly increasing, along with its resou rces, though there is clear evi­ dence that the state did very little to rem ove inequalities of ei­ th er type, leading to the breakdow n of tru st in im personal in ­ stitu tions. But sym bolic politics of this kind is likely to prove equally ineffective, precisely because resources and legal au ­ thority to act upon these secto rs are being w renched from the state’s grip. The m ore education and health are prised away from the con tro l of the state in the process of liberalization, the m ore unequal their distribution is likely to becom e. The political equality of dem ocracy would then lose its capacity to exert pres­ sure tow ards social equality.

Capitalism and Democracy To return to som e of the them es m entioned in the first part of the paper: although the strategy for red u ction of inequality ap­ peared stru ctu re-n eu tral and, therefore, directed at both social and econ o m ic inequality, in fact the in stitution s of free India treated them differentially. C on stitution al provisions co n trib ­ uted to the am elioration of caste p ractices in two different ways. They directly prohibited particularly egregious p ractices like untouchability, and instituted greater access to access goods through reservations in education . But the indirect effects of con stitu tion al provisions were probably m ore far-reaching: by designating them as Scheduled C astes, instituting a new p oliti­ cal category, these provisions encou raged a politics of electoral

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consolidation . T hrough electoral politics and by an increasing assertion of low caste groups, traditional caste discrim ination has been reduced even further. W ithou t any doubt, this has been one of the great successes of Indian dem ocracy, but it appears to m e to have been accom plished at a certain cost. E co n o m ic inequality generated by the expansion of capitalist prod uction has faded from the cen tre of equality debates. Two different forces, em anating from different directions and using very dif­ ferent argum ents, are creating a discursive clim ate suited to the rapid developm ent of capitalist inequality. A lthough the recent politics of the BJP do not appear to explicitly support capitalist ideology, its hostility to affirm ative action assists classes w hich are better placed in the distribution of access goods. Alongside, increasing pressure tow ards liberalization will tend to force the state to abandon the provision of these opportunities to poorer social groups. Privatization of these sectors w ould enlarge and intensify the inequalities in health and edu cation th at already exist. If we con sid er the distinction betw een these two types of social inequality relevant, then the historical lessons of Indian d em ocracy are very interesting. Social inequality of the trad i­ tional type— the Indian equivalent of Tocqueville’s aristocratic privilege— has been seriou sly u n d erm in ed by the pow er of dem ocratic politics; but the logic of d em ocracy has not seri­ ously opposed the logic of capitalist developm ent and inequali­ ties associated w ith that process.

Notes 1 Alexis de Tocqueville, D em ocracy in A m erica, Vol. I, p. 14. 2 Arend Lijphart, D em ocracies, (New Haven: Yale University Press), 1984. 3 The reason for that primarily is that concepts like the econom y— or indeed society in the narrower and specific sense in which they begin to be used in Europe from the seventeenth century onwards— are h is­ torically specific. There is no reason to believe that these are wired into hum an minds transcendentally; and everywhere human beings would spontaneously think of segm ents of human life as these spheres. Conceiving a special sphere of reality called the ‘econom y’ facilitates or makes possible some types of practices w hich are now considered to be autonom ous, with their own laws, interference with which is thought to cause unspecified but horrendous damage to the life of society. W hile this line of reasoning is quite consistent and widespread

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in the modem W est, there is no reason to believe that social actors in all societies would use these precise distinctions. 4 It should be noted that the tendency to translate inequality exclu ­ sively into deprivation is not always analytically, or even practically, helpful. For instance, caste inequality is hard to grasp by this concep­ tual grid unless it is expressed in terms o f material disadvantage. It is true that Scheduled Caste groups would normally also be econom i­ cally and educationally backward com pared to others. But one can imagine a situation where two castes, scheduled and non-scheduled, may have very sim ilar econom ic or deprivation levels; yet to treat them as equal victims of inequality would be grossly wrong, since the first would be victims of untouchability taboos, the second not. 5 1 am not using the term here to stress what is central to Gram sci’s use, or the entire M arxist tradition, which emphasizes the social radical­ ism of this strand of thought and practice, their w illingness to go to the most extreme steps to attain the revolutionary ends they wished to achieve. I wish to emphasize a different aspect of their political imagi­ nation: the idea that social relations through and inside which people lived could be radically altered by a deliberate willed action, reflected in the etymology of constitutionalism . 6 For instance, the phrasing of Ambedkar’s valedictory address to the Indian Constituent Assembly, and similarly, Jin n ah ’s statem ent in his inaugural address to the Pakistan CA, declaring that from now on people are ‘no longer Hindus or M uslim s’. This is particularly aston­ ishing com ing from som eone who played on the power of religious sentim ents so crucially, yet considered these forces to be surprisingly resistible. W hen he wanted these forces to go back hom e, he clearly thought as did Nehru that they would obey his command. 7 I do not wish to be misunderstood on this point. I am not at all sug­ gesting that these reforms were imposed by a colonial power against universal opposition from Bengali society. On the contrary, colonial authorities were often hesitant, persuaded eventually by enthusiastic Hindu reformers. Nor did those who wish to introduce reform rely exclusively on the support of the colonial state. Each of these reforms was intensely disputed in the emerging vernacular public sphere. Even­ tual legal reform was first preceded by considerable open controversy, and usually had the support of a sizable part o f the native élite society. 8 There is an argument that is quite sim ilar in Francine Frankel, ‘Com ­ pulsion and Social Change in India’. It raises a whole host of other, difficult questions w hich ought to be discussed. My own feeling is that its predominantly econom ic view of inequality makes it suscep­ tible to some of the criticism 1 have made earlier, though I did not get time to think about these things carefully. Broadly, I feel a sociological

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ap p reciatio n o f th ese p rob lem s, follow ed by a com p arison w ith Frankel’s more econom ic view could be highly instructive. Cf. Frankel, in Kohli (ed .), The State and D evelopm ent in the Third W orld (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1 986.) Her criticism s of Myrdal’s appar­ ently ‘radical’ attitude o f im patience should be analysed more seri­ ously. I also believe that her line of argument com es very close to the differences Nehru expressed with more radical groups like the com ­ munists. But at the heart of Myrdal’s thesis lies a confusion about the question of legality. A dem ocratic state need not be a soft state; at least the ‘softness’ of the state does not derive from its dem ocracy as Myrdal rather casually suggested, but from other sources, probably the consensualism of democracy, rather than dem ocracy itself. 9 Partha C hatterjee, ‘Secularism and Toleration’, Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, 9 Ju ly 1994. 10 It is im portant to rem em ber the famous excep tion s, lik e G andhi’s obstinate refusal to be reconciled to Subhas Chandra Bose’s m ajority; but despite these aberrations, it remains true that Congress decision­ making followed broadly consensual principles. 11 Rajni Kothari, P olitics in India (Delhi: Orient Longm an), 1970, Chap­ ter 5. 11 The debates in the Constituent Assembly on the legal arrangem ents about the ju sticiability of rights are highly instructive in this regard, because they show the divergent ideological positions being argued in their relatively pure forms, as well as the eventual shape these prin­ ciples assume as a result of political compromise. 11 The abolition of Article 31 and the relevant interconnected clause from Article 19 of the Constitution by subsequent amendments created a peculiar disjuncture between reality and legality. 1 feel it is dangerous to use the C onstitution like an election manifesto— to include into its clauses formally legal principles w hich are at serious variance with actual social practice. 1 can understand the argument that such decla­ rations announce a weak value consensus in the political system , but fear that it is in fact too weak to be read that way. It is more likely to give rise to the idea, particularly dangerous in a democracy, that rules included in the C onstitution need not always be taken as literally en­ forceable. I acknowledge that this particular case about the right to property might not be specially vicious because it is a negative en act­ m ent— repealing a right, rather than installing one. But the brutish good health of Indian capitalism is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the C onstitution does not guarantee a right to property. 14 This is an evidently anachronistic criticism directed at the document, w hich simply reflected the context of political arguments of its time. But as a Constitution, precisely because of its im portance, it contains

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expedients making its alteration extraordinarily difficult; this becom es a particularly troublesome anomaly. 15 However, the Nehru adm inistration did introduce serious changes in the legal status of women in som e important respects, like inheritance of property, by changes in the Hindu laws. 16 It m ust be noted that Nehru uses both views of a tradition in his own writing. In the D iscovery o f In dia (Bombay: Asia Publishing House), 1972, at various points, the suppleness of the caste system is observed. However, when it com es to the large ideological reflexes, he falls back into the thesis that traditions are entirely static. 17 Kothari, P olitics in India, op. cit, Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne H. Rudolph, The M odernity o f Tradition (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press), 1968. 18 Note Nehru’s awkward but significant phrase: they are ‘incom patible’ (presumably with the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the tim es,) he talks about in the same paragraph in D iscovery, p. 521. 19 i n the context of society today, the caste system and much that goes with it are wholly incom patible(?), reactionary, restrictive, and barriers to progress. There can be no equality in status and opportunity within its framework, nor can there be political democracy and, much less, econom ic democracy. Between these two conceptions conflict is inherent and only one o f them can survive.’ (Nehru, D iscovery o f India, p. 257, emphasis m ine.) But at other places in the same work, Nehru had a som ew hat different view of caste as ‘flexible and expanding’, and capable of historical adaptation (p. 251). ‘Somehow the new, though very different, appears in term s of pre-existing patterns, and thus cre­ ates a feeling of a continuous development from the past, a link in the long chain in the history of the race. Indian history is a striking record of changes introduced in this way, a continuous adaptation o f o ld ideas to a changing environment, old patterns to the new.’ (p. 517, emphasis m ine). 20 This does not mean that Indians were unfam iliar with principles of liberalism . The interesting historical fact is that liberal ideas spread into the Indian intelligentsia in the early phase of modern Indian cu l­ ture. The Bengali intelligentsia of the m id-19th century read the works of M ill and Spencer with keen interest. The arguments for reform of Hindu society advanced by the progressive in tellig en tsia drew on ra tio n a list critiq u e s o f H indu relig iou s orthodoxy. L ib eral ideas exerted the greatest influence on the political ideas and activities of the ‘m oderate’ constitutional nationalists. After the turn of the cen ­ tury, liberal-individualist ideas were subjected to serious criticism from two directions— Gandhi, and various strands of socialism . It is clear however that Nehru, unlike the com m unists, always regarded social­ ism as an extension of the political principles of liberalism .

Democracy and Social Inequality

1 19

21 This was largely due to Nehru’s understanding of socialism which was viewed as an extension, rather than an overcom ing, of liberal prac­ tices. 22 We are simply going with the general belief that secondary groups do not have harmful effects for dem ocratic principles. 23 Mancur Olson, T he L og ic o f C ollectiv e A ction (Cam bridge: Harvard University Press), 1965. 24 Vilfredo Pareto, S elected Writings (ed. S. E. Fin er) (O xford: Blackw ell), 1966, p. 316. 25 Though I think the success of the C PI(M ) in rural West Bengal after 1977 has shown that class politics of a certain kind need not be con ­ fined only to urban and industrialized areas, I can im mediately see that a counter-argum ent can claim that the influence of com m unists does not necessarily indicate class politics, and that the secret of the C PI(M )’s success in West Bengal is its ability to keep its class inclina­ tions in check. 26 Strictly speaking this m ight not be correct about the C om m ission’s actual report, which begins by making a social ju stice case, but loses nerve and often seeks to firm it up by crudely m ajoritarian arguments. Unfortunately, however, the translation of the more careful Mandal Com m ission line has been into popular politics by politicians who use the second type of reasoning much more than the first. 27 Discovery o f India, p. 521. 28 Once more it must be remembered that such trends were first shown by Indira Gandhi’s Congress party and not by the present state govern­ ments of U.P. and Bihar. In our political commentary, there is a de­ cided preference for English-speaking authoritarianism over more ver­ nacular forms, reflected in recent times in the much greater hostility to the elevation of Rabri Devi to the post of ch ief m inister, compared to the idea of bringing in Sonia Gandhi to the leadership of the C on­ gress.

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge: trends of bahujan participation in electoral politics in the 1990s YOGENDRA YADAV

This paper has a very lim ited am bition. It exam ines the avail­ able evidence to understand the changing nature of political p articip ation in India in the 1 9 9 0 s. In particular, it disaggre­ gates the turnout and other participation related figures in term s of regions and different social groups. Analysts of political par­ ticip ation have usually drawn their inferences either from the aggregate data on electoral tu rn out o r from survey data on p o ­ litical behaviour. This paper brings both types of data, along w ith survey evidence on participation-related attitudes, together. This decade— known and rem em bered both in popular and academ ic literature for its governm ental instability, rise of co a ­ lition politics, decline of the C ongress and rise of the BJP, and the subterranean politics of econ o m ic liberalization— has w it­ nessed a fundam ental though quiet transform ation, best ch ar­ acterized as the ‘second dem ocratic upsurge’. A lthough overall tu rn ou t figures have not increased dram atically, the social co m ­ position of those w ho vote and take p art in political activities has undergone a m ajor change. There is a participatory upsurge am ong the socially underprivileged, w hether seen in term s of caste hierarchy, econom ic class, gender distinction or the ru ra lurban divide. They do not lag behind the socially privileged as they did in the past; indeed in som e resp ects they are m ore active today than the former. If this is true, this profile differs not only from India’s own past but also from that of m ost e x ist­ ing dem ocracies for w hich we have inform ation. It also does not square with the dom inant ways of m aking sense of Indian politics. As su ch , the lim ited point this paper makes may have deeper im plication s for our understanding of con tem p orary

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Indian d em ocracy; con clu d e by reflecting on w hat those im pli­ cations m ight be. In characterizin g this change as the ‘second d em ocratic up­ surge’, the point of reference is the decade of the 1 9 6 0 s w hich, by all acco u n ts, m arked the first dem ocratic upsurge following the establishm ent of Indian d em ocracy Its basic thrust was to ­ wards an expansion of the participatory base of Indian dem oc­ racy Voter turn out w ent up at all levels as political com petition becam e serious and alternatives to the one-party dom inance of the Congress began emerging. There were some signs of the deep­ ening of political particip ation as well, as ‘low er’ castes began to enter the w orld of p olitics. The second upsurge intensifies this downw ard th ru st and involves in it nearly all the groups that suffer from one form of social deprivation and backw ard­ ness or another. Bahujan, a w ord draw n from the political v o ­ cabulary of the con tem p orary dalit m ovem ent, offers a b etter description of these diverse social groups than any co n cep t drawn from m odern social scien ce. In its cu rren t usage it in­ cludes dalit, adivasi, OBC and all the m inorities, but not w om en or the poor; the political scope of the concept allow s, and in fact requires, us to expand its usage to include all oth er victim com m unities of social d ep rivation .1

National and Regional Turnout Patterns If we focus ou r atten tion only on the aggregate tu rn ou t in par­ liam entary elections (Table 1 ), we are unlikely to find clear evi­ dence for a d em ocratic upsurge. Since m uch analytical atten ­ tion is paid at this level, the upsurge at the low er levels and beneath the deceptive aggregates has been ignored by m ost ana­ lysts. After a steady rise in the first two decades of com petitive politics, tu rn o u t in the Lok Sabha elections reach ed a plateau around the 1 9 6 7 elections. There is no clear grow th, or even clear pattern, discernible after that, except that the ‘norm al’ elec­ tions after the Lok Sabha com pleted its full term ( 1 9 7 7 , 1 9 8 4 , 1 9 8 9 , and 1 9 9 6 ) tended to attract a higher tu rn ou t than the m id-term elections (1 9 7 1 , 1 9 8 0 , 1 9 9 1 ). However, the 1 9 9 8 m id­ term poll has upset this trend as well by recording an even higher tu rn out than the ‘n o rm al’ election of 1 9 9 6 . It m ay be prem ature to read the rise in aggregate national turn out in 1 9 9 8 as the

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Table 1: Turnout in Lok Sabha and major assembly elections, 1 9 5 2 -1 9 9 8 Lok Sabha elections Year 1952 1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980 1985 1989 1991 1996 1998

Turnout (%) 45.7 47.7 55.4 61.3 55.3 60.4 57.2 64.1 61.9 55.9 57.9 62.1

Major state assembly elections Year No. of states 1952 22 1957 13 1960-62 15 1967 20 1971-72 21 24 1977-78 16 1979-80 1984-85 18 1989-90 18 — 1991 1993-96 25 4 1998

Turnout 46 48 58 61 60 59 54 58 60

— 67 63

Source: CSOS Data U n it Note: A 'major7round of assembly elections is defined here as one which involved, within a year or two, elections to at least 2000 assembly constituencies. The figures for the last column do not conform to this definition. Calculations include provisional figures for state assembly elections held in 1995, the report for which has still not been released by the Election Commission.

beginning of a m ore enduring trend , and there is no reason to be confident th at an o th er m id-term poll will n o t see a reversal of the 1 9 9 8 picture. O n the w hole, then, average national tu rn ­ out in the last four parliam entary elections is about the sam e as in the previous four elections during the 1 9 7 0 s and 1 9 5 0 , fol­ lowing the first d em ocratic upsurge. Turnout figures for the assem bly elections aggregated at the national level (Table 1) do show an upward trend, though som e­ w hat tentatively. In the first tw o decades of d em ocratic politics turn out at the state level rose w ith each parliam entary election ; but in the following two decades of plebiscitary politics at the national level, w hen assem bly elections becam e a m atter of en ­ dorsing the national verdict, enthusiasm for elections at the state level show s a clear decline, to a level low er than that of parlia­ m entary elections. As politics becam e decentred in the 1 9 9 0 s , the d em ocratic urge found prim ary expression at the state level. The aggregate national tu rn ou t of assem bly elections held since 1 9 8 9 show s an upw ard trend, specially in the elections held between 1 9 9 3 and 1 9 9 6 (w hich covered all the states excep t Jam m u & K ashm ir and Punjab). W e can also note a weak trend

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in the sam e d irection for the previous decade. As in the case of Lok Sabha elections, it is too early to say w h ether the rise seen in that round will carry forw ard, but it seem s clear that elec­ toral particip ation in state level politics is m ore intense than in national politics. Does the sam e trend continu e when we go further down to the third tier in dem ocratic governance? Unfortunately, there is no reliable com pilation of aggregate data on the tu rn ou t in panchayat elections across various states, but lim ited data and episodic new spaper reports indicate that the turn out at that level is m u ch h ig h er th an both state and n a tio n a l le v e ls.2 N onempirical fieldwork also confirms that since the 7 3 rdAmendment, panchayat elections are fought w ith m uch greater intensity and invite m ore enthusiastic particip ation than assem bly or parlia­ m entary elections. If this reading is c o rre c t, we already have the first ch aracteristics of the second d em ocratic upsurge: its intensity varies by the proxim ity or otherw ise of the tier of de­ m ocracy to the citizen ; the closer the dem ocratic tier, the higher the particip atory urge. It should be noted th at this trend is un­ usual in the com parative d em ocratic co n te x t: d em ocracies in advanced industrial societies have often reported a low er tu rn ­ out in local elections. N ational level aggregates con ceal regional trends and p at­ terns that are far from uniform . The 1 9 8 9 and 1 9 9 8 Lok Sabha elections provide an interesting point of com parison for changes in the state-w ise (Table 2 ) and zone-w ise (Table 3 ) patterns of turnout during this decade. Though the overall turn out in both elections was about the same, the figures underw ent an interest­ ing change at the low er aggregates. Com paratively speaking, the turnout in the traditionally h igh -tu m ou t states of the south de­ clined by six percentage points. The east and the w est also re­ corded a decline, though the quantum is less significant here. It is only in the n orth Indian Hindi heartland th at the tu rn out has risen in the last decade: N orth India record ed a m arginal gain (m ainly in R ajasthan and H aryan a); the real change cam e about in the H indi-speaking region, nam ely U ttar Pradesh, Bihar and M adhya Pradesh, w h ich registered a gain of nearly five percen t­ age points during this period. One m ust not rush to a quick generalization from these trends. F irst of all, at least in som e of these states (e .g ., M aharashtra,

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Table 2: State-wise turnout in Lok Sabha elections, 1977-98 State

1977

1980

1984

1989

1991

Andhra Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh Assam Bihar Goa Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Manipur Meghalaya Mizoram Nagaland Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Sikkim Tamil Nadu Tripura Uttar Pradesh West Bengal A & N Islands Chandigarh Dadra & Nagar Haveli Daman & Diu Delhi Lakshwadeep Pondicherry All India

62.5 56.3 54.9 60.8 62.8 59.2 73.3 59.6 57.9 63.2 79.2 54.9 60.3 60.1 49.9 49.9 52.8 44.3 66.8 55.9 **•*

69.0 75.5 79.7 58.8 71.8 57.9 66.8 61.5 66.4 65.7 77.1 57.5 61.8 85.8 54.5

70.4 59.2

61.4 51.3 75.3 60.4 42.4 44.0 65.8 57.4 *•**

67.1 70.1 56.1 60.6 71.0 67.4 68.5 ****

56.9 68.6 53.4 51.9 69.5 55.4 64.8 58.7 47.7 57.7 66.6 53.4 56.8 81.7 51.2 56.1 63.9 46.3 62.7 54.7 44.7 66.8 80.0 50.0 70.7 84.5 63.9 72.8 •***

66.5 56.3 67.6 57.0 57.6 73.0 77.3 55.8 78.6 78.8 68.9 74.6 •***

71.3 84.6 73.6 60.4

64.9 88.8 80.4 57.2

64.5 87.0 72.3 64.1

60.2 58.2 54.6 64.4 63.9 25.7 67.5 79.3 55.2 59.9 71.8 51.9 58.3 74.7 59.3 62.7 56.5 72.0 66.9 83.9 51.3 79.7 71.7 65.7 72.9 66.0 54.3 85.0 66.7 61.9

1996

63.0 55.0 78.5 59.5 56.3 35.9 70.5 57.6 49.0 54.8 60.2 73.3 71.1 44.4 54.1 48.8 52.5 69.7 75.0 61.6 53.6 73.4 58.6 77.1 88.3 53.8 59.2 24.0 62.3 43.4 47.3 77.4 58.8 63.9 66.9 79.1 67.3 46.5 49.2 82.7 76.7 64.4 62.0 57.8 . 58.4 77.0 66.5 67.0 70.7 50.6 48.5 80.4 89.0 67.7 75.4 55.9 57.9

1998 66.0 59.2 61.1 65.2 61.2 59.3 69.0 71.1 41.2 64.9 70.1 61.7 57.1 56.8 74.4 69.6 45.4 58.0 60.1 60.3 67.1 58.0 80.9 55.5 79.2 63.7 53.7 77.4 72.8 51.3 85.1 62.8 62.1

Source: CSDS Data Unit. Notes: **** denotes no election / state did not exist.

M.P. and U.P.), there is also a considerable difference in the tu rn ­ out am ong the different regions w ithin the state. Second, no single factor satisfactorily explains either the direction or the q u antu m of the chan ge in tu rn o u t in different states. U sual explanations like the m obilization strategy of the political par­ ties, greater keenness of the con test, co n te x t of regim e alter­ ation , or the E lection C om m ission’s efficiency, do not seem to

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Table 3: Turnout by zone, Lok Sabha elections, 1977-98 Zone

1977

1980

1984

1989

1991

19%

1998

South East West North Heartland

66.5 54.9 60.0 63.8 57.5

61.0 63.3 56.5 58.6 51.0

70.7 72.7 60.6 62.4 57.1

70.0 72.8 58.1 57.2 54.9

62.5 69.9 47.1 45.8 51.5

64.8 75.4 47.0 53.3 51.9

64.0 70.0 57.9 59.9 59.6

Source: CSDS Data Unit. Notes: States are grouped according to their geographical location. South = Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, A & N Islands, Lakshwadeep, Pondicherry. East = Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal. West = Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu. North = Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi. Heartland * Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh.

w ork here. Regim e alteration or keen con tests could well be the ou tcom e rath er than the cause of the increase in tu rn ou t. In som e ways this trend represents a con vergence towards the national average due to a belated ‘catch in g up’ by the Hindi heartland. But even if this is the case it still rem ains for us to ask why it should o ccu r at this ju n ctu re. W hile it w ould take m ore in -dep th research to offer a satisfactory answ er to this question, it m ay not be ou t of place to note the fact that the region and the period that have w itnessed a rise in tu rn ou t have also been centres of the M andalization of politics. In other words, w hat appears to be a regional difference m ay turn out to be a reflection of a deeper social difference.

Turnout Patterns by Social Groups and Sectors If the argum ent about the dem ocratic upsurge is valid, one would exp ect to find a clearer pattern when particip ation data are disaggregated by social categories rath er than regions. Two of the distinctions relevant to ou r argum ent— the ru ra l-u rb a n and the gender divide— can be.exam ined w ith a fair degree of precision by using the official election results released by the E lection C om m ission itself. The data on ru ra l-u rb a n tu rn ou t (Table 4 ) show a secular trend over the last two decades: the tu rn o u t in the rural areas has gradually overtaken the urban areas. E arlier evidence sug­ gested that before the 1 9 7 0 s the urban tu rn ou t was significantly

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Table 4: Locality-wise turnout, Lok Sabha elections, 1977-98 Constituencies 1977 Rural Semi Urban Urban

421 59 63

60.2 60.4 62.1

1980

1984

1989

1991

1996

1998

56.7 57.8 57.9

64.1 64.8 62.9

62.2 62.7 60.0

56.6 56.8 50.4

58.6 59.0 53.4

62.8 62.9 56.7

Source: CSDS Data Unit. Note’. All the Lok Sabha constituencies were grouped according to the estimated percentage of urban electorate there: less than 25 per cent is 'Rural', between 25 and 50 per cent is 'predominantly Rural' and more than 50 per cent is 'Urban'. The estimates are based on a comparison of the 1991 Census figures for urban population with the size of the electorate in the 1991 elections.

higher than the rural; in the following two decades the gap nar­ row ed steadily. The 1 9 8 4 election w as the dividing line, when the rural turnout overtook urban tu rn out for the first time. Since then the gap has increased and now stands at six percentage points. To be sure, these con clu sion s are based on aggregate data for Lok Sabha constituen cies grouped by degree of urbanity. The u n it is still so large that one cannot rule out the possibility of ecological fallacy. It needs to be ch eck ed , ideally, by polling bo oth or at least assem bly segm ent level tu rn out record s, for the distinction between an urban and a rural unit is fairly neat (absolutely, in the case of polling b o o th ) at that level, but the p attern show n in the table here is so clear and system atic that th ere can n ot be m uch doubt about the direction of change. If anything, the booth-level data m ight show a sharper change in the sam e direction. Besides, this p attern does not vary across states or regions. The national trend of rural turnout being higher th an urban tu rn ou t is replicated in virtually every m ajor state. It ca n be safely con clu d ed , th erefore, th at the p articip atory upsurge draws m ore underprivileged participants in the ru r a lurban divide. A ggregate data give a clear picture of the trends in w om en’s tu rn o u t, for the figures for this category are officially released, thus avoiding the need for sam ple survey or statistical infer­ ences. Yet the conclusions on this are n ot obvious, for m ost ana­ lysts have adopted som ew hat crude m easures. Table 5 unfolds various possible readings. The first colu m n looks at the per­ centage of w om en who turned out, but it does not enable us to

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Table 5: Women's turnout and women as proportion of total voters, Lok Sabha elections, 1957-98 Year

Women % (turnout)

1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980 1984 1989 1991 1996 1998

38.8 46.6 49.0 49.2 54.9 51.2 59.3 57.5 50.5 53.4 61.0

Men % (turnout) 55.7 62.1 61.0 61.2 65.4 62.2 68.4 66.4 60.7 62.1 65.9

Women % Turnout index (of total voters) 38.3 39.8 42.0 42.4 43.6 43.1 44.5 44.1 42.9 44.0 46.9

0.81 0.84 0.88 0.89 0.91 0.90 0.93 0.93 0.88 0.92 0.98

Odds ratio

0.50 0.53 0.62 0.61 0.65 0.64 0.67 0.68 0.66 0.70 0.81

Source: CSDS Data Unit. Notes: (1) Column 4 shows the percentage of women as a proportion of the total turnout. (2) The turnout index controls for the uneven size of the male and female electorate by expressing the proportion of women in turnout relative to the proportion of women in the electorate. For ex­ ample, in 1998, women accounted for 46.9% of the total voters and 47.7% of the total electorate. . We can therefore express the proportion in turnout as a fraction of the proportion of the elector­ ate. Thus, 46.9 / 47.7 = 0.98. If women had accounted for 47.7% of the total voters, then their proportion in turnout would have been equivalent to their proportion amongst the electorate and the turnout index would have equalled 1. (3) The odds ratio measure the ratio between the odds of women voting and men voting.

see this trend in relation to the tu rn ou t am ong m en presented in the n ext colu m n . Since both figures tend to vary in the same d irection, this first m easure can be seen as a not very useful guide to understanding w om en’s participation relative to m en’s. O nce we con tro l for the general changes and look at the pro­ portion o f women among voters, we get a clearer pictu re in the third colum n. W e can see that despite an occasion al in crease in their tu rn ou t, there was very little discernible change in the p rop ortion of w om en am ong voters in the two decades up to the 1 9 9 6 elections. The ratio has ju m p ed by nearly three per­ centage point in the 1 9 9 8 elections and now stands at an u n ­ precedented 4 6 .9 per cent. In retrosp ect we can discern an up­ ward trend since the 1991 elections. This needs to be fine-tuned further to con tro l for the p rop ortion of w om en am ong the elec­ tors. This picture, presented in the fourth colu m n as ‘Turnout Index’ confirm s our earlier reading that, com pared to m en, there has indeed been a significant rise in the tu rn ou t am ong w om en.

12 8

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Table 6: Women voters as proportion of total voters by states, Lok Sabha elections, 1977-1998 State Andhra Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh Assam Bihar Goa Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Manipur Meghalaya Mizoram Nagaland Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Sikkim Tamil Nadu Tripura Uttar Pradesh West Bengal A & N Islands Chandigarh Dadra & Nagar Haveli Daman & Diu Delhi Lakshwadeep Pondicherry Total

1977 47.0 41.6 39.9 39.7 49.8 45.5 45.3 44.9 39.2 44.8 50.8 41.0 45.8 54.9 45.6 44.7 42.4 39.7 45.5 42.7 ****

1984 47.7 47.5 46.4 39.7 49.7 45.0 43.5 47.1 42.8 45.5 51.1 41.8 46.2 51.9 46.0 ****

48.3 45.9 39.9 41.6 36.5 41.7 48.2 ****

1980 46.0 44.8 39.0 39.9 49.5 44.4 43.1 34.9 38.8 43.9 49.4 39.8 44.7 51.1 46.7 50.7 46.7 40.3 44.1 42.0 45.0 47.3 47.3 39.5 43.0 37.7 31.9 48.3 ****

42.9 47.0 48.9 43.6

42.9 50.6 49.4 43.0

44.9 50.8 49.0 44.5

44.6 41.6 44.6 41.6 40.7 48.8 46.Ô 41.3 44.5 40.7 43.4 50.4 ♦***

1989 47.5 44.4 *•** 38.8 47.2 43.7 42.4 47.7 62.8 46.4 50.9 41.1 45.1 49.1 46.9 47.5 44.9 42.0 43.0 41.6 44.8 47.9 47.6 40.7 44.7 41.2 43.5 49.3 53.0 42.7 49.8 48.1 44.1

1991 46.1 43.1 44.3 38.2 45.4 40.9 43.6 46.1 •••• 43.8 50.5 38.6 42.1 50.3 46.1 48.1 45.5 40.4 40.2 39.1 39.1 47.6 44.7 40.6 44.9 41.7 42.7 48.1 50.8 40.5 50.3 48.6 42.9

1996 47.3 44.8 45.8 39.8 46.3 40.1 45.0 48.4 37.2 45.4 50.9 42.0 43.7 49.5 49.2 50.4 46.1 43.8 46.5 40.0 45.5 48.1 47.8 39.9 46.3 42.3 43.5 48.8 51.3 41.8 49.4 49.9 44.0

1998 59.2 46.2 46.4 48.0 47.8 45.2 43.4 49.9 38.4 46.3 51.4 52.5 44.9 49.6 50.0 49.9 44.9 43.7 45.5 43.4 44.6 47.0 48.0 40.7 46.2 43.3 42.1 48.8 49.7 40.3 49.7 49.6 46.9

Source: CSDS Data Unit.

The odds ratio (see m ethodological note at the end about this m easure used often in this paper) highlights the con clu sion starkly: although the odds that a w om an will vote are still low er than a m an, there has been a non-trivial gain in this resp ect in the last decade. After a long stagn ation, then, there are clear signs of particip atory upsurge am ong w om en. A closer look at the state-w ise pattern of this rise in w om en’s

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge

129

turnout shows a good deal of regional variation. Earlier, the turn­ out deficit generally followed the m ap of w om en’s deprivation in different states, w ith Bihar, U.P., M.P. and Rajasthan showing the greatest deficit. The generally low er level of tu rn ou t also seem s to be related to the additionally low er tu rn ou t am ong w om en as in the case of G ujarat. It is in teresting th at the m axi­ m um rise in the p rop ortion of w om en am ong voters has been recorded in Bihar, M.P. and Rajasthan, besides an extraordinary and som ew hat puzzling leap in Andhra Pradesh. T he m ost significant question about bahujan upsurge in the 1 9 9 0 relates to social groups w hose tu rn out cannot be estim ated from aggregate data alone. F o r any reliable estim ate of the turn­ out trends am ong dalits, adivasis or M uslim s, we can only use som e broad inferences from aggregate data. In the case of OBCs, even this is not possible. Survey data are necessary here both as independent evidence and a double ch eck on the conclusions draw n from aggregate data. Aggregate data-based inferences are m ost useful in the case o f the reserved (ST ) con stitu en cies, for these constituen cies are alm ost invariably areas of high adivasi con cen tration . Here the trend of the last decade (Table 7 ) is very striking, though hardly n oticed by any analyst or new sperson. After decades of lagging behind the average tu rn ou t by nearly 10 percentage points, the

Table 7: Turnout (%) by different types of constituencies: Lok Sabha elections, 1962-1998 Year 1962 1967 1971 No. of seats 1977 1980 1984 1989 1991 1996 1998

All India

General

55 61 55 543 60.4 57.3 64.1 62.1 55.8 57.9 62.1

SC

ST

Gap: Gen-SC

Gap: Gen-ST

56.6 62.4 57.0 425

53.6 61.0 51.4 77

43.7 49.0 43.4 41

3.0 1.4 5.6

12.9 13.4 13.4

61.5 58.2 65.2 62.7 56.6 58.3 62.2

59.5 55.6 62.6 61.8 55.4 57.1 62.0

48.6 48.2 54.1 53.2 48.8 55.6 59.9

2.0 2.6 2.6 0.9 1.2 1.2 0.2

12.9 10.0 11.1 9.5 7.8 2.7 2.3

Source: CSDS Data Unit. Note:The 'gap' is the difference in turnout (in percentage points) between general and scheduled caste/scheduled tribe constituencies.

13 0

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Table 8: Changes in the turnout gap between general and reserved (ST) constituencies in major states: Lok Sabha elections, 1 9 7 7 -1 9 9 8 Year

All India

1977 12.9 1980 10.0 1984 11.1 1989 9.5 7.8 1991 1996 2.7 1998 2.3

Andhra Bihar Gujarat Pradesh 15.9 8.0 9.9 3.1 1.9 0.3 1.4

22.6 14.7 16.5 14.6 12.3 4.9 5.5

5.9 3.1 7.3 8.3 5.7 -2.8 0.5

Madhya Pradesh

Maha­ rashtra

Orissa Raja­ sthan

West Bengal

9.8 10.1 8.2 8.7 8.0 -3.4 2.4

6.0 11.4 7.8 8.7 5.2 11.5 11.0

14.2 16.8 16.1 17.2 10.6 1.2 0.6

0.4 1.2 -1.3 0.5 1.0 3.8 -4.0

1.3 1.7 5.2 4.2 2.0 5.1 6.4

Source: CSDS Data Unit. Note: Table entries stand for Tg -Tst, where Tg stands for turnout in general constituencies and Tst for turnout in the reserved (ST) constituencies in the state concerned. The states chosen here for comparison are those with a significant number of both kinds of constituencies.

Table 9: Turnout (%) in constituencies grouped by proportion of Muslim electorate: Lok Sabha elections, 1 9 7 7 - 1 9 9 8 Year

All India

Low Medium (upto 10%) (11-20%)

No. of constituencies

543

309

167

67

1977 1980 1984 1989 1991 1996 1998

60.4 57.2 64.1 61.9 55.9 57.9 62.1

60.3 58.0 63.7 61.7 53.6 57.5 61.4

60.0 55.1 62.7 62.0 56.1 56.1 61.6

61.6 59.3 69.2 63.2 67.0 64.9 66.0

High (21% +)

Gap High-Low

1.3 1.3 5.5 1.5 13.4 7.4 3.6

Source: CSDS Data Unit Notes: (1) Table entries in the last column stand for the percentage point difference in the turnout of the two extreme categories. (2) Proportion of Muslim electorate as per estimates given in H .D. Singh, 543 Faces o f India (New Delhi: Newsmen), 1996. These rough estimates have been found to be erroneous in many instances.

reserved (S T ) constituen cies have rapidly caught up w ith the rest in this decade. The 1 9 8 9 election was the turning point in this resp ect. The gap reduced significantly in 1 9 8 9 and 1 9 9 1 and then very sharply in 1 9 9 6 . A further reduction in 1 9 9 8 proves that the trend of 1 9 9 6 was not an outlier. This is true of all the m ajor states with a significant tribal population, excep t

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge

131

Table 10: Odds ratio for voting: 1971, 1996 and 1998 Hindu Upper Hindu OBC SC ST

1971 1.11 0.82 1.04 0.65

1996 0.90 1.07 1.22 0.91

1998 0.97 0.94 1.21 0.95

Muslim Sikh Christian

1.59 1.53 2.29

0.92 0.86 1.13

1.12 1.60 1.05

Very poor Poor Middle Upper middle Upper

0.89 0.98 1.14 1.06 1.38

1.24 1.13 0.94 0.89 0.75

0.92 1.05 1.18 0.96 0.75

Illiterate Up to middle College Graduate

0.82 1.49 1.29 1.07

1.03 1.01 1.05 0.70

0.91 1.33 0.91 0.66

Sources: National Election Study (NES) 1971, NES 1996 and NES 1998. Notes: The variable for constructing the economic status of the respondents was derived from their type of occupation and amount of land owned, and in 1971 and 1996, family's monthly income, and in 1998, the type of accommodation.

M aharashtra and, to a lesser exten t, Rajasthan and Bihar (Table 8 ) . The pattern of aggregate data thus clearly suggests that there is a definite though silent jum p in tribal electoral participation. The survey data confirm that this con clu sion was not an eco ­ logical fallacy. The odds that an adivasi will vote have im proved substantially betw een 1 9 7 1 and 1 9 9 6 and have recorded an in­ crease thereafter, the sam e trend as seen in the aggregate data. The odds that an adivasi will vote are now nearly as high as an upper caste or an OBC Hindu (Table 1 0 ). In the case of dalits, a simple disaggregation of the turnout data by general and reserved (SC ) con stitu en cies is not helpful beyond a point. Reserved (S C ) con stitu en cies bear a very weak relationship to the size of the dalit electo rate, given the latter’s even dem ographic spread th rough out the cou n try and within m ost states. If we look at the tu rn ou t data w ith this lim itation in m ind, we find a steadily narrow ing gap between the general and the reserved (SC ) con stituen cies (Table 7 ). Between 1 9 7 7 and 1 9 8 4 the gap was in the range of tw o percentage points; it fell to around one percentage point after th at. In the 1 9 9 8 elec­

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

tion it has becom e negligible. As m entioned above, it may be erroneous to draw any definite conclu sions about dalit tu rn out from this difference; the gap is better interpreted as the differ­ en ce between various degrees of com petitiveness, for reserved con stitu en cies hitherto w itnessed less keen contests. Survey data provide m ore reliable evidence regarding trends in dalit tu rn ou t (Table 1 0 ). It seems that dalit voters were al­ ready well mobilized by the first dem ocratic upsurge. Their odds of turning up to vote were alm ost as high as the upper castes in 1 9 7 1 ; since then their odds have registered a noticeable increase, although the pattern is still highly uneven across various states. D alit tu rn out in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan is still low er than that of upper caste H indus. The gap is made up, above all, by U ttar Pradesh where the odds of dalit tu rn out are substantially higher than for the upper castes. There are no signs of a dram atic change in the turnout of OBCs between 1971 and 1 9 9 8 (Table 1 0 ). It has remained fairly close to the average, gradually moving from the lower edge to the up­ per in this period. Survey evidence does not offer anything more by way of a distinctive pattern for the OBCs. Perhaps OBC is too large and heterogenous a category to offer meaningful patterns. The data categorization does not yet allow us to separate the lower OBCs from the dom inant p easant-prop rietor OBCs. It is possible that this period has seen a significant internal m ovem ent within various strata of the OBC itself that we are unable to capture here, but it m ay be safe to infer that the first stage of OBC m obi­ lization was com pleted before 1 9 7 1 . If OBC politics has gained during this period, it has done so not by increasing the volume of votes but by m aking them m ore effective with the help of better aggregation in social and political term s. C onclusive evidence for long-term trends in M uslim turnout is n o less difficult to obtain. D isaggregation of con stitu en cyw ise tu rn out data by proportion of M uslim electorate (Table 9 ) show s a general tendency for con stitu en cies with high M uslim electo rate to have a higher than average tu rn ou t. The turnout gap between the constituencies w ith high and low M uslim elec­ to rs widened dram atically to 13 percentage points in the co m ­ m unally charged election of 1 9 9 1 , bu t has steadily declined th ereafter to reach ‘norm al’ levels. W h atev er the gap, there is little to support the popular m yth of extraord in arily high tu rn ­

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge

133

out am ong the M uslims. A higher turn out in constituencies with a high M uslim electorate does not m ean a higher than average turnout of Muslims. In all likelihood, it is a function of the higher com m u nal tension or keener political com petition in su ch co n ­ stitu encies w hich leads to m ore intense m obilization of both com m unities. The period that saw an increase in tu rn ou t am ong higher Muslim electorate con stitu en cies m ay have actually e x ­ perienced a low er tu rn out am ong the M uslims. The figure for 1 9 7 1 conform s to the usual im pression that the odds of a M us­ lim were higher than that of an average Hindu w hen it cam e to voting. By 1 9 9 6 , the odds ratio had becom e slightly unfavourable to the M uslim s; by 1 9 9 8 , how ever, there was a reversal as the odds ratio picked up again. This confirm s a popular im pression th at the decline in M uslim tu rn o u t was only a tem porary phe­ n om en on in the post-Babri m asjid dem olition phase. It needs to be em phasized that the evidence for the decline in 1 9 9 6 is n o t highly significant and can n o t be relied upon in the absence of corrob orative evidence. W h at we do know is th at unlike the oth er deprived groups, there does not seem to be any sim ple linear trend am ong M uslims from a low to a high tu rn ou t. It is possible that here again treating the entire com m u nity as one group m ay have concealed in ternal but politically significant patterns am ong, say, lower caste M uslims. W ith the partial excep tion of M uslim s, then, we can say that the second d em ocratic upsurge has a bahujan ch aracter. India is perhaps the only large d em ocracy in the w orld today where the tu rn ou t of the lower orders of society is well above th at of the m ost privileged groups. A com parison of upper caste H in­ dus, seen here as representing inherited social privileges, w ith all oth er caste groups or com m u nities excep t the OBCs, show s the form er in an unfavourable light. W h at is m ore im portan t, the odds of an OBC, dalit o r adivasi voting are m uch higher today than in 1 9 7 1 . In the case of upper castes how ever, the odds ratio is m ore unfavourable than it was in 1 9 7 1 . The trend is not exclusive to bahujans as defined in term s of caste or co m ­ munity. The sam e applies to educationally and econom ically privileged groups. The odds ratio for different econom ic strata in 1 9 7 1 was quite like the rest of the w orld. The rich er you w ere, the greater the likelihood that you would vote. By 1 9 9 6 there was a neat reversal of this pattern. The data for 1 9 9 8 show

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

highest tu rn ou t for middle incom e groups, but the rich est co n ­ tinue to be the low est in tu rn ou t. The pattern of odds ratio for categories of education is m ore com plicated, with the school educated m ost likely to vote. Yet it confirm s the basic trend reported here: the group th at has seen the sharpest decline in odds of voting is that of the highest educated. W hile the last two decades have w itnessed a decline in the p rop ortion o f illit­ erates, they have also seen an in crease in the propensity of illit­ erates to vote.

Beyond the Vote: Behavioural and Attitudinal Aspects Is this trend confined to the act of voting? Can we read into it anything m ore than a habit, a reflex action? Does voting m ean very m uch in term s of how ordinary citizens relate to d em o c­ racy? These are valid questions and need to be responded to at this stage. Clearly, voting is not the only act of political p a rtici­ pation. If the argum ent of a d em ocratic upsurge has m erit, one should exp ect other behavioural attributes of particip ation to register a sim ilar change. Besides, the translation of voting as behaviour into the act of political participation depends on the m eaning stru ctu res in w hich this act is em bedded. A survey is not the ideal instru m en t for ascertaining the nu ances of this m eaning system , but in the abs.ence of sensitive an th rop ologi­ cal research we have to m ake do w ith the rough picture of a tti­ tudes and opinions offered by survey responses in a standardized setting. At the very least, it enables us to distinguish betw een voting as a m ech an ical resp onse from votin g as m eaningful political actio n .3 Let us begin w ith a very sim ple behavioural in d icato r of particip ation in electo ral p o litics other than votin g, nam ely attendan ce at election m eetings. Between 1 9 7 1 and 1 9 9 8 this attendance has m ore than doubled (T a b le ll). It is significant because the ben ch m ark here is an election that is rem em bered for its fiery ‘Garibi Hatao’ campaign, and is being com pared to two rather lacklustre cam paigns of 1 9 9 6 and 1 9 9 8 . M ore im portantly the com position of those who attended at least one election m eeting has changed along exp ected lines. The odds ratio of w om en, dalits, adivasis and the poor attending an election m eet­ ing underw ent a strikin g im provem ent in this period; m ore

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge

135

Table 11: Respondents (%) who attended at least one election meeting: 1 9 7 1 , 1 9 9 6 and 1 9 9 8 Category

1971

1996

1998

12.0 2.5 19.7

16.3 7.7 24.7

25.8 13.4 37.8

0.19 1.80

0.43 1.68

0.44 1.75

Hindu Upper 15.2 Hindu O BC 10.5 SC 9.5 ST 5.6

15.8 17.4 17.8 10.1

26.2 24.8 27.3 22.9

1.49 0.86 0.77 0.44

0.96 1.08 1.11 0.58

1.02 0.95 1.08 0.85

Muslims Illiterates Up to middle High school Graduate Very poor Poor Middle Upper middle Upper

16.9 9.4 19.1 24.7 20.5 14.2 14.5 18.2 18.9 17.4

28.9 18.7 29.4 33.6 30.4 21.0 24.2 27.8 26.7 26.3

1.47 0.36 1.59 3.77 4.84 0.44 0.72 1.56 1.95 1.80

1.04 0.53 1.21 1.68 1.32 0.86 0.88 1.14 1.20 1.08

1.17 0.66 1.20 1.45 1.26 0.74 0.92 1.11 1.05 1.03

All Women Men

15.0 4.7 17.8 33.9 39.7 5.6 8.9 17.5 21.0 19.7

1971 Odds ratio -

1996 Odds ratio -

1998 Odds ratio -

Sources: NES 1971, NES 1996, NES 1998.

remarkably, w hat is noted is the reduced effect of higher edu ca­ tional levels on political participation. In oth er w ords, greater participation need not be linked to better or m ore education. A m uch higher level of activity on this continu um of politi­ cal participation w ould be taking up m em bership of a political p arty N otw ithstanding w idespread claim s of depoliticization, the num ber of those who said they were m em bers of a political party w ent up alm ost two times betw een 1 9 7 1 and 1 9 9 6 (Table 12B ). W hile every section of society has registered an increase, the odds of a w om an, and adivasi or illiterate citizen are still way below others in this m ore dem anding form of political par­ ticip ation. Even for these groups, the change is substantial, as can be seen in the colum n percentages of the same figures (Table 12A ). The proportion of m en, upper castes and graduates among those who are party m em bers has declined substantially since 1 9 7 1 . In other w ords, the direction and the exten t of change in both these aspects of political behaviour is quite sim ilar to what

TRANSFORMING INDIA

136

Table! 2A: Changing social composition of party members, 1971 and 1996 column percentages Men Women

1971 93.5 6.5

1996 81.1 18.9

Rural Urban

64.5 35.5

71.1 28.9

Hindu upper Hindu OBC SC ST Muslims

36.3 26.7 12.6 1.5 16.3

28.0 37.2 18.8 1.5 10.0

Illiterate Up to middle High school Graduate

16.9 47.1 31.6 4.4

16.6 37.9 35.8 9.7

Sources-. NES 1971, NES 1996. Note: Table entries here are different from the pattern followed above. These stand for the per­ centage of members who belong to the specified categories rather than the percentage of the respondents who are members in each category. Some of these groups do not add up to 100 per cent because some minor categories have been excluded here.

Tablel 2B: Changing social composition of party members, 1971 and 1996 row percentages and odds ratios 1996 Odds ratio 1.66 0.37

1971

1996

All Men Women

3.6 6.1 0.5

6.3 10.0 2.4

1971 Odds ratio 1.76 0.14

Rural Urban

3.0 5.8

5.9 7.5

0.84 1.66

0.94 1.21

Hindu upper Hindu OBC SC ST Muslims Illiterate Up to middle High school Graduate

4.5 3.1 2.8 0.8 5.9 1.0 6.0 11.3 8.2

6.8 7.2 6.4 2.2 5.9 2.5 7.4 11.1 10.3

1.27 0.86 0.79 0.22 1.69 0.27 1.73 3.44 2.41

1.09 1.16 1.02 0.34 0.94 0.38 1.19 1.86 1.71

Sources: NES 1971, NES 1996.

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge

137

Table 13: Interest in election campaigns among different sections, 1971 and 1996 1971 Odds ratio

1996 Odds ratio

1971

1996

Alt Men Women

27.9 37.1 17.5

35.3 45.0 25.3

-

-

1.52 0.55

1.50 0.62

Rural Urban

27.1 34.0

34.1 39.1

0.96 1.33

0.95 1.18

Hindu upper Hindu O BC SC ST Muslims

34.0 23.3 24.0 22.2 31.6

38.3 35.9 34.7 22.5 35.9

1.33 0.78 0.82 0.74 1.19

1.14 1.03 0.97 0.53 1.03

Illiterate Up to middle High school Graduate

18.6 36.1 54.3 56.1

21.8 39.7 51.4 52.4

0.59 1.46 3.07 3.30

0.52 1.21 1.94 2.02

Sources-, NES 1971, NES 1996.

we observed in the case of voting. It seem s reasonable to think therefore that we are dealing not only w ith an upsurge in tu rn ­ ou t, but in political participation in general. The increase in political particip ation has taken place not only in the realm of objective behaviour; it is also registered in the subjective assessm ent of participants. As com pared to the high-pitched cam paign of 1 9 7 1 , the p rop ortion of those who felt that they took no interest in the election cam paign declined, while those who took som e’ or la lot’ of interest increased by nearly 5 0 per cent in the otherw ise dull cam paign of 1 9 9 6 (Table 1 3 ). The increase in interest was m ore or less even across all section s. This m eans that the odds ratios have not changed as sharply here as in the earlier tables, though there has been a substantial reduction in the differences across various edu ca­ tional strata. If the class of those who took an in terest is broken down into those who took ‘som e’ interest and those w ho took a ‘great deal’ of interest, the real increase has been in the m oder­ ate category. T he p ro p o rtio n of stro n g e n th u siasts has not changed since 1 9 7 1 .

13 8

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Table 14: Sense of efficacy among different sections, 1971 and 1996 1971

1996

1971 Odds ratio

All

48.4

58.7

-

-

Men Women

58.3 35.9

66.2 50.9

1.49 0.60

1.38 0.73

Rural Urban

44.2 64.4

56.9 64.1

0.85 1.93

0.93 1.26

Hindu Upper Hindu OBC SC ST Muslims

56.2 45.7 42.2 30.5 49.9

61.0 57.6 60.3 47.5 60.3

1.38 0.90 0.78 0.47 1.06

1.10 0.96 1.07 0.64 1.07

Illiterate Up to middle College no degree Graduate and above

35.7 62.3 76.8 83.6

47.0 62.5 70.9 79.5

0.59 1.76 3.53 5.43

0.62 1.17 1.71 2.73

Very poor Poor Middle Upper middle Middle

37.9 43.4 54.8 68.9 68.0

50.7 54.9 61.5 67.7 66.1

0.65 0.82 1.29 2.36 2.27

0.72 0.86 1.12 1.48 1.37

1996 Odds ratio

Sources: NES 1971, NES 1996. N ote:Table entries are for the percentage of respondents who said 'has effect'to the question, * Do you think your vote has effect on how things are run in this country or do you think your vote makes no difference?*

M oving to the stron ger attitudinal issue of efficacy, we find that in this period, the electo ra te ’s sense that their vote m atters, th at it affects the way things are run in the country, has becom e stronger (Table 1 4 ). The prop ortion of those who held no op in­ ion on such a cru cial question has declined sharply. In every group the num ber of th ose w ho responded positively to this question increased, although the socially privileged still feel m ore efficacious than the rest. O nce again, the odds ratio has n ot changed dram atically, but the sharp effect of educational and econ om ic privileges has been significantly reduced. The odds that a dalit believes that he m akes a difference are about the same as that of an upper caste Hindu. It needs to be em pha-

Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge

139

Table 15: Support for democracy among different sections, 1971 and 1996 1971

1996

1971 Odds ratio

1996 Odds ratio

All

43.4

68.8

-

-

Men Women

52.4 32.0

73.4 64.1

1.44 0.61

1.25 0.81

Rural Urban

39.4 59.0

69.0 68.2

0.85 1.88

1.01 0.97

Hindu upper Hindu OBC ST Muslims

50.9 38.8 38.2 41.2 39.6

73.7 65.5 67.3 66.4 72.2

1.35 0.83 0.81 0.91 0.85

1.27 0.86 0.93 0.90 1.18

Illiterate Up to middle College no degree Graduate and above

30.6 56.2 75.8 75.3

61.6 73.0 75.9 74.2

0.57 1.67 4.08 3.97

0.73 1.23 1.43 1.30

Very poor Poor Middle Upper middle Upper

32.3 37.2 54.1 59.2 55.7

63.5 67.8 72.3 72.2 69.6

0.62 0.77 1.54 1.89 1.64

0.79 0.95 1.18 1.18 1.04

sc

Sources-. NES 1971, NES 1996. Note: Table entries are for the percentage of respondents who said 'no'to the following question;'MDo you think that the government in this country can be run better if there were no parties or assem­ blies or elections?*

sized that unlike voting, the advantage of the deprived in this case is only relative. T h ose w ho belong to dom inant social groups (m en , well educated, upper caste, upper class) still have a m uch greater sense of pow er than those w ho don’t. Finally, does all this affect the way citizens react to the dem o­ cratic system ? If answ ers to standard stim uli in a survey setting are anything to go by, it does. Along with higher efficacy, people’s trust in the legitim acy of the d em ocratic system has also grown betw een 1 9 7 1 and 1 9 9 6 (Table 1 5 ). It needs to be rem em bered that the legitim acy of the political system need not translate into the legitim acy of the regim e and that it certainly does not translate into tru st in representatives and leaders. Interestingly,

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the highly educated are the only group am ong w hom enthusi­ asm for dem ocracy has declined during this period. Faith in dem ocracy has registered highly significant gains am ong the m ost m arginalized groups: dalits, tribals and M uslims. Unlike efficacy, the legitim acy of the regime is not necessarily higher in the eyes of the powerful. Like all other indicators we have discussed, the m ovem ent is unm istakeably in the direction of reduction of differences caused by social privileges.

Implications W h at does all this add up to? At this stage it is easier to see the negative im plications, to say w hat the evidence presented above does not support, rather than offer an alternative positive read­ ing. The sto ry of con tem p o rary Indian p olitics is often re ­ coun ted, in its popular and academ ic versions, in term s of an im pending catastrophe: it is a story of the decline and collapse of the d em ocratic edifice, of growing apathy and widespread indifference, and of a resultant loss of popular legitim acy for the political system . The evidence presented in this paper does pose serious difficulties for this popular reading. This reading appears to be based on assum ptions that do not stand the test of em pirical scrutiny. Even if d em ocratic politics is headed for a catastrophe, it is not because there is any decline in the most obvious indicators of political participation. The impression that there is such a decline seems to be an unwarranted generalization of the behaviour and attitudes of the socially privileged. Trends and patterns of bahujan participation do not appear to have re ­ ceived the analytical attention they require. At a general plane, this evidence also poses difficulties for som e of the cu rren t middle level theories of dem ocratization. The idea that political participation is a function of social privi­ leges does not seem to apply in this case. That the recen t In­ dian experien ce is alm ost exactly the reverse of the rules of es­ tablished dem ocracies calls for rethinking the received m odels of d em ocracy and dem ocratization. This evidence also does not sit com fortably with the suggestion that too m uch participation was after all not such a good thing for new dem ocracies. F irst popularized by Samuel H untington, this theory saw ‘excessive’ participation in the absence of early institutionalization as a

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recipe for revolution, of rising frustration and the eventual co l­ lapse of dem ocracy. T hat too does n ot seem to have happened in India. Despite an am biguous record on institutionalization, the d em ocratic upsurge of the last decade has not resulted in the widespread erosion o f legitim acy or sense of efficacy am ong the bahujan, those who should have experienced the highest degree of frustration. It seem s that the trajectory of dem ocracy in India is different from w hat the H untingtonian m odel e x ­ pected it to be. One has to be m ore careful in spelling out the positive im pli­ cations of this evidence. In particular, there is a need to avoid a hurried coun ter-readin g, a sim ple-m inded optim ism about In­ dian dem ocracy. If the dom inant bleak picture of Indian de­ m ocracy needs to be review ed, we m ust n ot replace it with an all-is-w ell-w ith-our-dem ocracy attitude. In this paper, we have looked at som e indicators of particip ation and even fewer indi­ cators of efficacy and legitim acy. At any rate, participation and political attitudes are only one aspect of d em o cracy There are various other aspects th at cannot be read off from the logic of participation. In other w ord s, what this paper calls for is not the celebration of the dem ocratic upsurge but an attem pt to understand its ch aracteristics, achievem ents and pathologies in its specificity. In itself, the argum ent advanced in this paper does not provide us with or even indicate the con tou rs of the big picture of Indian dem ocracy. But I hope it contributes to that big picture, not only by providing som e em pirical evidence but also by indicating that o u r task is to theorize the trajectory of Indian d em ocracy in its historical specificity.

I would like to thank the participants at the CAS1 seminar for bombarding me with questions and comments that helped me think through my argument. The main argument was also presented at a seminar organized by the Department of Political Science, Panjab University (Chandigarh) and has benefitted from the reactions of participants there. 1 am grateful to Professor Anthony Heath for reading the draft version and helping me with several technical issues regarding the Odds Ratio. 1 would also like to thank Alistair McMillan and Oliver Heath for research support and Himanshu Bhattacharya, and Hilal and Kanchan Malhotra of the CSDS data unit for data analysis.

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Methodological Appendix 1. Data Sources CSDS D ata U n it: C en tre for the Study o f D eveloping S o ciet­ ies, 2 9 R ajpur R oad, D elhi. The aggregate data on elections are based on the official reports of the E lection C om m ission. W herever official data have not been released, provisional data in the com puters have been used. N ational E lection Study 1 9 7 1 [N E S 1 9 7 1 ] con d u cted b y CSD S, data sto red a t CSDS d ata u n it. National representative sam ple: Size 3 8 0 0 in 8 0 Lok Sabha co n ­ stituencies. C ro ss-sectional. N ational E lection Study 1 9 9 6 [N E S 1 9 9 6 ] con d u cted by CSD S, data stored at CSDS d ata u n it. N ational representative sam ple: 9 8 3 3 interview s in 1 0 8 Lok Sabha constituen cies. C ross-section al panel study, three waves. N ational E lection Study 1 9 9 8 [N E S 1 9 9 8 ] con d u cted by CSD S, data sto red a t CSDS d ata u n it. N ational representative sam ple: 8 1 3 3 interview s in 1 0 8 Lok Sabha constituen cies. C ross-section al panel study, two waves.

2. Odds Ratio Odds ratio can be un derstood as a ratio of two different ratios. This sum m ary m easure provides a standardized base for co m ­ parison, both over tim e and between groups. F o r exam ple, the 1 971 data revealed that 4 9 .2 per cen t of w om en voted in the Lok Sabha elections. This can be expressed as odds o f 0 .9 7 :1 , w hich in oth er w ords m eans that for every 1 0 0 w om en who did not vote, there were 9 7 w om en who did. The tu rn ou t for m en was 6 1 .2 per cen t w hich reduces to odds of 1 .5 8 :1 . F o r every 1 00 m en that did not vote 1 5 8 did. Thus the ratio between these two odds can be calcu lated as ( 0 .9 7 :1 ) / ( 1 .5 8 :1 ) w h ich equals 0 .6 1 . An odds ratio of 1 .0 would have m eant that the odds of wom en voting are exactly the sam e as the odds of m en voting. In that case, we could have said that sex and tu rn out are inde­ pendent of each other, w hich is to say that the former does n ot have an effect on the latter. The degree to w hich values deviate

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from this baseline represents the level of association . The same calcu lation for the year 1 9 9 8 yields an odds ratio of 0 .8 1 . It m eans th at over this period the association betw een sex and voting has declined. Thus an odds ratio of 0 .6 1 has stronger association than an odds ratio of 0 .8 1 . On the o th er hand, an odds ratio of 1 .8 in dicates stronger association than 1.6. 3 . Reported Turnout and Actual Turnout The paper does not m ention the raw percentage of reported turn­ o u t (th e num ber of respondents who responded positively to the query, ‘C ould you cast y o u r vote in x x x electio n ?’ in a post­ poll survey) for it can be highly m isleading. The experien ce of survey research all over the w orld show s that the tu rn out re­ ported in the survey tends to be higher than the actual turn out recorded officially. In the British c o n te x t, Professor A nthony H eath has isolated three factors at w ork here. F irst, of course, there is m isreporting, for the resp ond ent wishes to conform to the perceived exp ectatio n of the surveyor and w ould rather say ‘yes’ than ‘n o’ to a question involving civic virtue. Second, there is availability bias, for those who are available for survey inter­ views are also m uch m ore likely to have been available for v o t­ ing. T hird, in accu racies in the official electoral roll m ean that it contains several nam es of persons who could not have cast their vote for various reasons (d eath , perm anent shift in residence, clerical erro rs, bogus nam es) and thus depress the official tu rn ­ out figure. Of these three factors, the first— m isreporting— is actually a m in or one. N one of these factors, how ever, affects the utility of the reported voting figures for analysing the inter­ nal com position of the voters. Such an analysis operates on a safe assum ption that these biases are not system atic, i.e., it does n o t lead to excess reporting for one group m ore than another. F o r the reco rd , the reported (actu al in parenthesis) turnout figures for the three CSDS surveys are: 1 9 7 1 : 7 8 .3 per cent (5 5 .3 per c e n t); 1 9 9 6 : 8 7 .2 per cen t (5 7 .9 per c e n t); 1 9 9 8 : 9 1 .5 per cent (6 2 .1 per ce n t). The increasing gap betw een the reported and the actu al could be due to the progressive reduction in the time lag betw een the date of polling and that of survey. In 1 9 9 8 , the survey was carried out w ithin a w eek (w ithin 2 4 hours, for the third phase co n stitu en cies) of the polling w hen the avail­

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ability bias operates at its strongest. There has been no study in India to em pirically determ ine the respective strength of these three factors in causing over-reporting. Such a research is h am ­ pered by the fact that the inform ation on w ho voted and w ho did not is not m ade available officially. NES 1 9 9 6 included an exercise to gather background in form ation about the sam pled persons who could not be interview ed. Its findings confirm that the second factor operates very strongly. Of those who could not be interview ed, only 3 6 .9 per cen t w ere reported to have voted, as against 2 8 .2 per cent w ho had not voted (as m any as 3 4 .9 per cent fell in the ‘u n su re’ categ o ry ). Even if we exclu d e the ‘unsure’, it is clear that those who were not interview ed w ere m u ch m ore likely to be n on -voters. The survey did n o t, h o w ­ ever, find any significant deviation from the m ean reporting bias for any social group excep t m igrant labour. Thus we can c o n ­ clude that the gap betw een the reported and the actual tu rn o u t does not affect the conclusions of this paper regarding the ch an g­ ing com position of those who tu rn ou t to vote.

Notes 1 The other serious contender is the concept of shudra as used in the social­ ist tradition. For Ram Manohar Lohia it did not refer only to the shudra vama. It included all the non-twice-bom among the Hindu social order, including dalits and adivasis. He also insisted that every woman, irrespec­ tive of her caste is a shudra. For Vivekananda too the concept was a gen­ eral gesture towards all the deprived groups, but the non-existence of a significant political tradition of shudra politics has reduced the scope of this concept to its more narrow sociological usage. 2 State

West Bengal Rajasthan Madhya Pradesh

Lok Sabha Year Turnout % 1998 1996 1996

79.2 43.4 54.1

Panchayat Year Turnout % 1998 1995 1994

80.0 70.0 65.0

Sources. CSDS Data Unit & Data Centre on Panchayati Raj, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. 1 would like to thank Dr George Mathew for his help in accessing these figures.

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3 It has often been asked if non-voting represents a questioning of the politi­ cal system. This is a big question and some psychological aspects of it do not admit of an empirical answer. But survey evidence can help rule out some of the more obvious anxieties. All the CSDS surveys have probed reasons for non-voting in detail. None of the surveys found indifference or fear to be significant reasons. For example, the 21.8 per cent respondents in NES 1996 who reported that they had not voted gave the following rea­ sons for not voting (per cent of valid responses in parentheses): “Out of station” (5.9); “Not well” (2.2); “Not interested” (1.7); “Fear of violence”/ “Was prevented” (0.3); “Someone else had already voted” (0.2); Other re­ sponses (2.4). Other surveys do not provide a different picture.

Representation and Redistribution: the new lower caste politics of north India ZOYA HASAN

A com plex scenario is unfolding in India: the state is in retreat, institutions are in decline, caste and com m unitarian assertions have grow n and political instability has increased. The 1 9 9 8 election was the twelfth since 1 9 4 7 , but its fourth since the last decade— a sign of the fragmented state of the polity. At the sam e tim e, there is evidence of the vitality of Indian d em ocracy : throughout the 1 9 9 0 s , turnouts for elections to parliam ent and state assem blies have risen steadily and significantly. The data collected by the C entre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi m ake it clear that the steadiest increases in particip ation have com e from those in the low er social order, from the poor and illiterate. This process has been aided by the regionalization of the polity, the em ergence of a coalition of regional groups/ parties, and the entry of hitherto m arginalized groups into the political system . Still th ere rem ains a cen tral co n tra d ictio n at the h eart of Indian dem ocracy: an inclusive polity has so far not m ade for a m ore ju st and equal society. W h at, then, is the m eaning and significance of greater political participation? W h at is the rela­ tionship between d em ocracy and social and econom ic equal­ ity? W h at are the consequences of appealing to the electo rate in ethnic or group term s, or making group demands on the state? Do political parties m erely m irror divisions, or do they help to deepen and extend them ? In 1 9 4 9 , B.R. Am bedkar noted an in congruity between p o ­ litical equality and social and econom ic inequalities that w ould effectively exclude sections of the population from the d em o­ cratic process. He stated in the C onstituen t Assembly:

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O n the 2 6 th o f January, we are going to en te r a life o f co n tra d ic­ tions. In p o litics we w ill have equality and in so cial and econ om ic life we w ill have inequality. In p o litics we w ill be recognizing the p rin cip le o f one m an one vote value. In o u r so cial and econ om ic life, we sh all, by reason o f our so cial and eco n o m ic stru ctu re, c o n ­ tinue to deny the p rin cip le o f one m an one value. How lon g shall we co n tin u e to live this life o f co n trad ictio n s? How long shall we co n tin u e to deny equality in our so cial and econ om ic life? If we co n tin u e to deny it for long, we do so only by pu ttin g our p o litical d em ocracy in p e ril.1

Fifty years later, the co n trad ictio n persists. In fact, it has com e to the fore in the last two decades of com petitive politics. Seen from the vantage point of the 1 9 9 8 election s, d em ocratic poli­ tics is distinguished by a fundam ental transform ation: a dra­ m atic upsurge in political participation in north India. That, of course, is not the whole story: the upsurge is m ost marked am ong the socially underprivileged in the caste and class hierarchy. M ore­ over, the downward thrust of particip ation is entw ined w ith struggles of groups w ho have been m obilized under banners of ethnicity, caste and religion. In these processes, group identity has supplanted class interest as the ch ief vehicle of political m obilization; hen ce, the increasing dependence of all m ajor political parties on ethnic appeals. E th n ic strategies of political m obilization have drawn new groups in to the political arena; yet, these struggles o ccu r in a w orld of great m aterial inequal­ ity— staggering inequalities in incom e and property ow nership, in access to em ploym ent, education and health care. In fact, m aterial inequality is on the rise in India and the socially privi­ leged rem ain econom ically powerful. This chapter focusses on the relation between the two trans­ form ations: the upsurge in participation of hitherto m arginal groups and the increasing dependence of political parties on eth­ nic appeals to facilitate participation. Opening up the institu­ tional space to greater participation by m arginal groups is vital; equally crucial however, is how this can be achieved and the term s on w hich it is taking place. In part, this m eans looking at the relationship between the ‘struggle for recognition’ of marginal groups, and social and econom ic equality. In addressing this prob­ lem atic, I shall focus on axes of injustice that are sim ultaneously cultural and socio-econom ic, and paradigm atically, caste and

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class. In w hat follows, I consid er only one aspect of the prob­ lem . Under what circu m stances can the ‘politics of recogn ition ’ foster participation and em pow erm ent? Can su ch politics help prom ote redistribution? And w hen is it likely to underm ine it? These questions are addressed through an exam ination of the career of a lower caste political party, notably the Bahujan Samaj Party, and is based on secondary sources and interview s with political leaders in U ttar Pradesh, India’s largest state. The BSP has made rapid progress on the electoral front. During the 1 9 8 9 election it received 2 .0 7 per cen t of the votes and obtained three seats in the Lok Sabha. By 1 9 9 6 , its grow th enabled the party to obtain the status of a national party w inning 2 0 per cent of the vote and five seats. How and why has the BSP’s m obilization strategy succeeded in attractin g voters? And how successful has it been in achieving its goals from the standpoint of equality? W h y U .P ? F o r one thing, this m ega-state of 1 4 0 m illion people, located in the northern Hindi heartland, is one of the m ost backward in India. It is also one of the m ost deprived e co ­ nomically, giving its citizens less than som e of the w orst per­ form ing econom ies in sub-Saharan Africa. However, it sends eighty-five m em bers to the Lok Sabha, out of a total of 5 4 5 . This makes it politically the m ost cru cial region in term s of determ ining the form ation of the cen tral governm ent in New Delhi. It is also the chief locale for the transition to a p ost-C on gress polity, and is the pivotal site of con testation between nonCongress groups. Inter-caste conflict, assertive low er castes and Hindutva politics all m anifest them selves in U .P Potentially, the m ost radical challenge to upper caste hegemony, the ou tcom e of w hich would affect the overall stru ctu re of social inequality, is taking place in U .P The way in w hich conflicts between castes and com m unities are played out in U.P. will influence the course of dem ocratic politics in north India and alter the ways of w rest­ ing and sustaining political pow er at the national level.

I The im petus for political transform ation originated in the rapid realignm ents that began to take place in the late 1 9 8 0 s. The state was controlled by the Congress party until 1 9 8 9 , w ith its social base drawn from the B rahm ins, the M uslims and the

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Scheduled Castes. Operating as a centrist party, Congress attracted the support of a wide range of groups. As elsewhere, die centrepiece of its hegem ony was a strategy th at vertically aggregated the interests of different section s of society. It was an aggregation based on an inclusive ideological package of nationalism , secu ­ larism and N ehruvian socialism . Congress succeeded in retain ­ ing its hold because it deftly persuaded the low er orders to be­ lieve th at the existin g political arran gem ents w orked in their interest. It was quite a while before the C ongress was challenged by the coun ter-hegem onies created by new social forces. The main social conflict in U.P., apparent since 1 9 7 7 , has been between the upper castes, represented by the C ongress, and backw ard castes, backed by socialists w ho had been a m ajor political force in U.P. from the days of the anti-colonial struggle. Eventually, the backw ard castes were m obilized under the aegis of the Jan ata Dal form ed in 1 9 8 9 by V.P. Singh (w ho had left the Congress in 1 9 8 8 to establish his own party), and included some of the older socialists. D edicated to m oral probity and social ju stice, he prom ised the backw ard castes reservations in edu­ cation and governm ent service. D uring the brief period from 1 9 8 9 to 1 9 9 0 , the Jan ata D al-led governm ent in New Delhi carved ou t a distinctive ideology based on the dual dem ands of the rural m ajority. One was for greater op portu nities through investm ent in agricultural infrastru cture and em ploym ent, and the other for higher social status through quotas for low er castes and OBCs in recru itm en t to the élite all-India services. Ironi­ cally, the Jan ata Dal itself was the m ajor victim of its political m obilization strategy. Subsequently, state and local leaders of the backw ard classes and dalits rejected the m ediation of n a­ tional parties su ch as the Jan ata Dal, even though it was essen­ tially a party of OBCs. Instead, they attem pted to enhance their access to public resources of the state through direct particip a­ tion in the bargaining process th at preceded the form ation of governm ents at both the central and state levels. The political pattern that em erged in the early 1 9 9 0 s dem ­ onstrated that the Hindu nationalists rath er than the Jan ata Dal or its successor, the Samajwadi Party, had displaced the C on­ gress as the dom inant party. The grow th of the BJP, w hich had not won even a quarter of votes or seats in the U.P. Assembly before 1 9 9 1 , was an extraord in ary developm ent. It changed the

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dynam ics of electoral com petition and facilitated the em ergence of the BJP as a national con ten d er to the C ongress. The decisive electoral battles of this period were fought in U.P., w here C on­ gress fortunes declined dram atically. The m ost significant fac­ tor responsible for its electoral defeat was the party’s inability to retain its traditional support base that had cu t across caste, class, and com m u nity lines. F u rth erm o re, C ongress’ actions re­ garding Ayodhya, the disputed site of the Babri m asjid, claim ed by Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Ram, alienated devout v o t­ ers am ong both Hindus and M uslims, acceleratin g the p arty’s decline. In 1 9 8 6 , a dispute about the status of the Babri m asjid, built centuries earlier by Babar on or near an ancient site sacred to H indus, took an u n exp ected political turn. The district ju d ge, presum ably on in stru ction s from Congress authorities at the C entre, allowed the padlock to be rem oved to allow H indus to worship at the site. An unprecedented Ram Janm abhu m i m ove­ m ent organized by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (V H P), an orga­ nization affiliated to the BJP and the R ashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh (RSS) dem anded the building of a new Ram m andir at the site of the m osque. The C ongress, in N ovem ber o f 1 9 8 9 , allowed the foundation-laying cerem ony of the Ram m andir to take place on the disputed site. Although it later prohibited the co n stru ctio n of the m andir, pending a co u rt decision on the rights of each com m u nity to the area, the foundation-laying cerem ony em boldened m ilitant Hindus associated w ith the BJP. This helped the VH P-RSS to start a popular m ovem ent w hich significantly changed India’s political agenda. Designed to re­ verse the dwindling appeal of the Congress by buttressing the ‘H indu’ vote, the leadership’s perm issiveness in allow ing the fou n d ation -layin g cerem ony, w hile h o lding the line against building the tem ple, alarm ed M uslims and disappointed H in­ dus, ironically con trib u tin g to the party’s downfall. At the national level, the political ground shifted in 1 9 9 0 when the central governm ent adopted the recom m end ation s of the M andal C om m ission to establish reservations. The in itia­ tive, m otivated by V.P. Singh’s effort to strengthen the Ja n a ta Dal’s influence on the backw ard castes, intensified divisions am ong Hindus. This confrontation spurred the BJP to support the m ovement led by the VHP, and aimed at reintegrating lower castes

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into the Hindu hierarchy through a religious appeal to all Hindus to demolish the Babri masjid and replace it with a Ram mandir. In U.P., the BJP com bine provoked stiff resistan ce from the Samajwadi Party led by M ulayam Singh Yadav, U.P. chief m inis­ ter from 1 9 8 9 - 9 1 . M ulayam Singh was busy consolidating his own power base by exten din g reservations for the backward castes in state educational in stitu tion s and adm inistrative ser­ vices. O nce the new reservation policy was set in m otion, the u p p e r c a s te s re a c te d v io len tly . T h e c o n f lic t b etw een th e Mulayam Singh governm ent and the upper castes in 1 9 9 0 spilled into com m unal conflagration that engulfed U.P. from O ctober 1 9 9 0 to M arch 1 9 9 1 . The disaffected upper castes, who had tra­ ditionally voted the C ongress, transferred their support to the BJP. They resented the rise of backw ard-caste parties and lead­ ers in the state, and the patronage extended by the central C on­ gress leadership in New Delhi to M ulayam Singh. He m aintained his hold on U .P , even after the m inority Jan ata Dal-led National F ro n t governm ent collapsed at the C entre, on ce the BJP w ith­ drew its support in the wake of the M andal-M andir controversy. The conflict betw een M ulayam Singh’s governm ent and the up­ per castes becam e the m ost enduring confrontation in U.P.’s con ­ tem porary political history. Political leaders and party strategies played the determ ining role in instigating caste and com m unal crusades, and in support­ ing political m obilization around issues of caste discrim ination, social recognition and religious identity. But the two m obiliza­ tion strategies in question, caste and com m unity, are quite dif­ ferent in the ou tcom es they prod u ce, even though both speak to particularistic interests. By polarizing castes into blocs and dem anding representation on a bloc basis, the politics of caste identity disrupts the traditional definitions of caste-based hier­ archy in Hindu society. Using political rath er than religious cri­ teria, caste-based political m obilization converges on control of the state. Such strategies of caste polarization can destabilize the political system , but appear necessary to achieve ju stice for low er caste groups. In other w ords, w hat may be seen as desta­ bilizing political process from one perspective, can be seen as deepening dem ocracy by those groups who capture state power for the first time. By contrast, the politics of com m unalism prac­ tised by the BJP attem pts to unify all Hindus within a traditional

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and hierarchical social order. The BJP is not known for its co m ­ m itm ent to ju stice o r dem ocracy. The very con cept of pluralism which is at the heart of India’s dem ocracy is challenged by its project to privilege a singular, m ajoritarian identity.

II A lthough the OBCs and Scheduled Castes co n stitu te m ore than half its population, and ju st over 20 per cen t of U.P.’s popula­ tion belong to upper castes; it is this 2 0 per cen t th at has dom i­ nated U.P. society and politics. In recen t decades, however, the entry of OBCs into the political system has m ade a profound difference. Even m ore im portant than the rise of Hindu n ation ­ alism for the transform ation of politics in the state, is the grow th of backw ard and low er caste politics. Caste politics, admittedly, are n o t new. F o r several decades, in ter-caste conflicts have fur­ nished the p rin cip al cleavage in electo ral m ob ilization and played a key part in stru ctu rin g inter-party com petition . C aste calculations have affected m ost aspects of social and political relations in rural and urban U.P. They set the term s of political com petition for en titlem ent and status am ong groups who see themselves as having equal claim s to rights and power. The Hindi satirist, H arishankar Parsai, captured this cen trality in a liter­ ary piece. He claim ed to have persuaded Lord K rishna to co n ­ test for a seat in the state assem bly: We talked to som e people active in p olitics. T hey said, 'O f cou rse. W hy sh o u ld n ’t you ? If you w on’t run in the e le ctio n , w ho w ill? After all, you are a Yadav, aren’t you ?1 K rishna said, ‘I am God. I don’t have a c a ste .’ T h ey said, ‘Look, sir, b eing G od w on’t do you any good around here. No one w ill vote for you. How do you e x ­ pect to w in if you d on ’t m aintain your caste ?’2

W hat is new is the heightened political aw akening am ong the low er castes and dalits, a process hastened by the fragm enta­ tion of the old C ongress coalition into con stitu en t groups of upper castes, M uslim s and dalits. W hat is also new is the for­ m ation of local and regional parties that represen t m arginal groups hitherto un der the Congress um brella. The stru ctu re of representation pow er-sharing conceived and practised by the Congress was at odds w ith the way the new groupings w anted to represent them selves. T he drift has unm istakably been to ­

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w ards seeking direct control over the state by hitherto excluded groups. A m ong these disadvantaged groups, the Scheduled Castes con stitu te m ore than 2 0 per cent of the population of U.P. After Independence, policy m easures for their uplift were designed to m oderate the harshness of the caste system . R eservation for them in elected legislatures and in recru itm en t to educational in stitu tion s and governm ent services, as set out in the C on sti­ tu tion , w ere justified or grounds of the extrem e social discrim i­ n ation they had suffered for cen tu ries, resulting in educational and econ om ic backw ardness. M ost rem ained p oor and illiter­ ate, either casual or landless labour. Despite reservations, in 1 9 9 1 , only 2 2 .9 2 per cent of Scheduled C astes were literate. T heir level of urbanization was 1 1 .8 0 per cen t com pared to 2 2 per cen t for others. As m any as 8 1 .5 9 per cen t were engaged in the agricultural sector, as against 6 9 .4 2 per cen t for oth ers; and only 1 8 .5 9 per cen t were em ployed in no n -ag ricu ltu ral o ccu p a­ tions, w hile for others the prop ortion was 3 0 .5 8 per cen t. Al­ though the disparity betw een groups in literacy had narrow ed since 1 9 7 1 , as of the early 1 9 9 0 s only 1 4 .4 3 per cent of Sched­ uled C astes population had received any kind of form al ed u ca­ tio n .3 Again, while blatant form s of caste discrim ination have disappeared, m ore subtle form s rem ain w idespread, especially in rural areas.4 Com pared to their upper caste peers, Scheduled C aste legislators seem ed to have very little influence over the day to day im plem entation of public policies, underlining the real constraints on political em pow erm ent. They could not bring about a substantial change in the distribution of agrarian as­ sets, the m ost im portan t determ inant of the m aterial cond ition of the rural p op u lation .5 In theory, zam indari abolition and land reform s should have em pow ered the dalit com m u nity in U.P. However, it is widely accep ted that these reform s, w hich w ere only partially su ccess­ ful, m erely underm ined the pow er of the upper caste landlords. The w ider benefits of reform reach ed out to the erstw hile ten ­ ants or the interm ediate and backw ard castes, not to the u n ­ touchable com m unities or agricultural labourers and agrestic serfs.6 In fact, the growing pow er of the backw ard castes in the wake of the Green Revolution obliged the states in n orth India, m ost notably U.P., to initiate the M andai C om m ission reform s.

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These translated the increasing political and econom ic influ­ en ce of the backw ard castes into bu reau cratic power. Despite the lim itations of land reform s, the logic of extending the franchise to all adults and allow ing d em ocratic po litics, finally created a social milieu in the 1 9 9 0 s in which dalit voters at last confronted the dom inance of the upper and backward castes. Aware of the logic of dem ocratic politics in which a m ajority is w on on the basis of the first-past-the-post-system , the num erical strength of low er caste groups gives them an advantage. It is im portant to note that dalit voters had already been mobilized by the dem ocratic upsurge of the 1 9 7 0 s : the odds of the dalits tu rn ­ ing out to vote becam e as high as those of the upper castes. Since then, the odds of dalit voter tu rn ou t is 7 0 per cent higher than that of the upper castes.7 This encouraged dalit leaders to launch th eir own platform s. A ccording to social anthropologist, R.S. Khare, the impact of the dem ocratic culture is unmistakable when a dalit, V h o custom arily has a non-com petitive subjugated sta­ tu s’, discovers through experience, especially of other groups, that com petition is one of the m ajor m echanism s of social recu ­ peration.8 To com pete is to claim a political right. In the forefront of dalit politics are the new professional and adm inistrative élites, a group that is still very small but quite aw are of its prestigious social placem ent. Politically con sciou s, b etter educated and assertive tow ards the hierarchy of caste and class, m em bers of this group have contributed to strengthening the processes of socio-p olitical change. The striking feature of this agenda is the belief that real im provem ent in their lives can only com e through a discourse that focuses on political pow er and organization as the key to th eir social advancem ent. The logic of dalit politics, they argue, involves three m ajor them es: a challenge to the very definition o f Hinduism as the m ajority religion and the core of Indian trad ition ; an extension of this them e beyond dalits to include all section s of those oppressed and m arginalized by the process o f caste exploitation ; and a synthesis of econom ic and p o litical issues with the need for cultural recognition.9 At the heart of the m atter is whether it is m ore im portant to change state policy outcom es, or the processes that produce them. The strategy of dalit assertion clearly indicates it is more im portant to acquire power as a means of changing state outcom es, than to change the structures that produce them.

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Given the dual inequalities of status and in com e/occu p ation built in to the caste system , the dom inant tendency am ong dalit leaders has favoured a change in the pow er stru ctu re, so that opportunities could be channeled to the deprived sections of society. The O BC -dom inated Jan ata Dal, led by Laloo Prasad Yadav in neighboring Bihar, cam e to pow er on such a platform : ‘sm ash the upper castes, destroy the B hura-bal’. An exam ple of his rh eto ric is the following: J u s t as peddlers v isit you r villages saying, ch o o se w hat you lik e for four an n as, the officers o f my governm ent w ill com e to you w ith w hatever you w ant. Free sarees, free dh otis. T h ey w ill cam p in your villages. T hey are your servants. Take w hat you want.

The cen trality accord ed to pow er was ju st as clear in the re ­ m arks o f form er Prim e Minister, V.P. Singh, the chief arch itect of the social ju stice platform : T hrou gh M andal I knew we were going to b rin g in changes in the b asic nature o f power. I was pu tting my hand on the real stru ctu re o f power. I knew I was n o t giving jo b s , M andal is n o t an em ploy­ m ent sch em e, b u t I was seek in g to place people in the in stru m ent o f pow er through the use o f governm ental p o w er.10

The m ost rem arkable ch aracteristic of low er caste politics is the pu rsuit of power. Like the OBC leaders, the dalit leaders are preoccupied with the question of w ho governs and how the new political order should be established and m aintained. Both a t­ tach great im portan ce to gaining governm ent positions, and m easure social and econ om ic progress by their groups’ share in public life: ed u catio n , professions and public em ploym ent. Kanshi Ram, the pioneer of the m ovem ent to politically orga­ nize the bahujan samaj (w hich sim ply m eans the non-upper caste m ajority, M uslims in clu d ed ), puts the m atter bluntly: ‘We have a one point program m e— take pow er.’11 The BSP’s p rin ci­ pal slogans underscore this thrust: mat hamara raj tumhara, nahi chalega nahi chalega or, vote se lenge PM/CM, arakshan se SP/ DM .12 By con trast, in the 1 9 7 0 s , Kanshi Ram ’s activities were focused on welfare and reform . By the late 1 9 7 0 s his strategy had changed and he no longer believed in the prim acy of social reform ; rather, it is a share in political and adm inistrative power w hich will bring about the desired social ch an g e.13 O pposed to this argum ent stand the unlovely structures of social dom inance w ithin n orth Indian society that traditionally

TRANSFORMING INDIA

15 6

com pelled dalits to vote in accord an ce w ith the wishes of up­ per caste landlords. Am bedkarite in ideological inspiration, the new leadership w ants to tu rn this stru ctu re upside down and con stru ct, instead, a new political order based on the active par­ ticipation of hith erto deprived groups in governm ent and pub­ lic adm inistration. T hrough controlling power, they hope to ensure that m em bers of low er castes secure jobs and places in educational in stitu tion s. A lthough reservations have secured som e upw ard mobility, dalits have a m ajor grievance that the reservation quota is seldom filled. In the early 1 9 8 0 s , only 5 .8 per cen t of Class I officials, and 6 .2 3 per cen t Class II officials were Scheduled C aste, although 18 per cen t positions were re­ served for them . Even w hen the quota was filled, the Scheduled Castes com plained of social discrim ination in prom otions and postings. H ence the dalit upsurge was stirred principally by the upwardly m obile m iddle strata am ong the Scheduled C astes, who w ere pow erless to secure im portant postings and proper recognition in governm ent and society. The origins and support of the party am ong educated governm ent em ployees is cru cial for understanding both the institutional nature of its strategy and its su ccess, a su ccess that was lim ited to élite in co rp o ra­ tion into state institution s.

Ill A developm ent of critical im portance in U.P. has been the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party w hich was able to form the go vern­ m ent in 1 9 9 5 and 1 9 9 7 . The BSP benefitted cru cially from the collapse of the Congress in U.P. Its rise to prom inence was partly due to the vacuum caused by the decline of the C ongress, partly because of its ow n appeal, and also because the C ongress dis­ couraged highly assertive advocates of the oppressed castes and classes w ithin its ranks. M ore im portantly, the disintegration of Congress rule transform ed the m anner in w hich ethnic id enti­ ties w ere catapu lted onto the political arena. The w aning of the Congress coin cid ed w ith an escalation of direct ca ste -co m m u ­ nity appeals m ade by non-C ongress parties, w hich led to an e x o ­ dus of groups that w ere under the Congress um brella tow ards the Samajwadi Party and the BSP. These two parties picked up additional supp ort as they gathered m om entum .

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A cru cial step in this direction was the form ation in 1 9 7 8 of an organization called the Backw ard and M inority Classes E m ­ ployees F ed eration (B A M C EF) by Kanshi Ram. Established in Punjab, it was later extended to U.P. Its chief aim was to orga­ nize the élite of the bahujan samaj who had benefitted from quotas in governm ent service. They becam e the chief ideologues and w ork ers of the organization that eventually becam e the Bahujan Samaj Party. By the early 1 9 9 0 s , BAM CEF had alm ost 2 0 0 ,0 0 0 m em b ers.14 It m obilized governm ent officers on the assum ption that their further individual progress was closely linked to the collective standing of their group.15 It prepared the ground for the form ation of the BSP in 1 9 8 4 ; its goal was to cre­ ate a coalition of m inorities that actually constituted a m ajority: the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, M uslims, C hris­ tians and Sikhs, that is, all those not included in the Hindu upper castes. Unable to establish itself as a party of all the m inorities, the predom inant base of the BSP cam e from the politicized dalits who w ere receptive to its radical m essage of political em pow er­ m ent. Today, its core support com es from those castes w ho have been the m ain beneficiaries of the state’s reservation policies. The nu cleu s of its support com es from the Cham ar caste, by far the largest and m ost politicized low er caste in U .P Backed by the BSP, dalit assertiveness succeeded in underm ining the dom i­ nation of upper castes and, by the m id -1 9 9 0 s, they were begin­ ning to supplant them in elected governm ent bodies.16 The ascen t of M ayawati to the powerful office of the chief m inister of U.P. in less than a decade of Scheduled Caste m obili­ zation, highlights the success of this strategy in U.P. M ayawati, a Jatav w om an, becam e the chief m inister in 1 9 9 5 . She is the first dalit wom an to have reached the highest office in an Indian state, but gender was not the m ost im portant aspect of her accession. Its significance arises from the m obilization strategy of the BSP, centred on dalits themselves. The control of the governm ent by a dalit had a stirring effect on dalits, who felt that they had u n e x ­ pectedly pulled the ground from beneath the feet of upper castes, so that those at the bottom ruled over those at the top. This event established the dalits as a central political force in their own right and not as a vote bank to be exploited by upper castes. Before the 1 9 9 3 assem bly elections, Kanshi Ram had entered into a w inning alliance w ith M ulayam Singh. Against the b ack ­

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ground of the M andal-M andir con troversies, this alliance a s­ sum ed a new relevan ce for the Bahujan Sam aj’s access to pow er. It helped the BSP and the Samajwadi Party to im prove their sup­ p o rt in the 1 9 9 3 elections: the Samajwadi Party w on 10 9 seats ou t of 4 2 5 and 2 5 . 8 3 per cen t of the vote, and the BSP w on 6 7 and 11. 11 per cen t of the vote, and form ed the governm ent w hich lasted nearly tw o years. But the alliance was dogged by differences over the distribution of benefits. This was by no m eans a natural alliance, since the two com m unities were en ­ gaged in som etim es violent conflict over land and wages in the villages. The BSP was w orried by advances m ade by the Yadavs under the chief m inister M ulayam Singh Yadav’s dispensation, w hile backw ard castes used every opportu nity to tease and tor­ m ent dalits and also check the latter’s efforts towards social m o ­ bility. The alliance fell th ro u gh am idst considerable b ick er­ ing and bitterness over atrocities against dalits in May 1 9 9 5 , and the BSP quickly m oved on to form a new alliance with the BJP which helped Mayawati to becom e the chief m inister in Ju n e 1 9 9 5 . But this alliance was ju st as expedient as the previous one, its chief purpose being to con tro l M ulayam Singh Yadav, w hose increasing political influence both partn ers wished to curb. But, m ore im portantly, it helped the BSP to be in go vern­ m ent. Given the overw helm ing im portan ce of acquiring pow er in the BSP schem e, its leadership was willing to enter into an alliance with the BJP or any other party to form a governm ent. T he BSP’s app roach is fundam entally different from oth er parties. F o r it, political society is con stitu ted by groups, and not individuals. It treats group identity as the defining one and does not consider class, gender or occupation as relevant. H ence, its political strategy hinges on activating this id entity Im plicit in it is a belief that universalist ideas associated w ith the p o st­ colonial politics of the state were unjust, because they favoured the dom inant groups w ithout m aking adequate allow ance for the inequities from w hich low er castes suffer. Seen invariably in collective term s, disadvantage and inequity are regarded as the unfair treatm en t of w hole caste groups, by the state or o th ­ ers. The new low er caste politics draws upon a growing prefer­ ence for the recogn ition of group claim s on grounds of social discrim ination. This has been used to increase group-based rep­ resentation in existin g political in stitu tio n s.17

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In accordance with this strategy, the BSP advocates a one-point program m e: proportional representation for all groups in gov­ ernm ent, bureaucracy and educational institutions. This system appealed to dalits precisely because it addressed their political aspiration, an aspiration neglected by the C ongress. It effec­ tively superceded the welfarist approach of the C ongress that stressed m aterial benefits such as jobs, houses and sanitation for dalits, m inorities, and wom en, but did not offer them a share in power. It treated dalits prim arily as an underprivileged group requiring a program m e of action to am eliorate poverty. Quite deliberately breaking from this policy, the BSP defined dalits as a ‘com m unity of hum iliated’ who could be liberated only by gaining political pow er of th eir ‘ow n’, and n ot ju st m aterial gains.18 Under C ongress rule, despite the im portance of the dalit vote, they achieved very little representation in the governm ent and party organ ization, and the few positions that they did get w ere due to the benefaction of the upper castes. In a w ord, the significance of the dalit vote did not translate into perceptible influence for individual m em bers in the organization or govern­ m ent. By contrast, M ayawati’s rise to the office of chief minister was the result of the autonom ous m obilization of dalits, itself the product of dem ocratic politics, and the politics of reservation, w hich has made available to them new forms of political self­ definition. Dalits, as m uch as the OBCs, are a category of political action . Political actio n has been an im portant m eans of affirm ­ ing their political equality vis-à-vis upper castes and a way of regaining self-esteem and self-respect. A lthough M ayaw ati’s first stint in pow er did not entail any stru ctu ral changes in the econom y or polity to benefit the vast num bers of the subaltern classes, the BSP nevertheless co m ­ m anded pivotal support am ong the dalits throughout its period in office and even thereafter. By the 1 9 9 6 election it had emerged as an im portant political force: it notched up an im pressive 2 0 per cent of the vote and m anaged to get 5 9 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. This was an im provem ent of eight per cen t on the 1 9 9 3 e le c tio n , a s ig n ifica n t d ev elo p m e n t. S ig n ifican t b ecau se it derived not from m ilitant m ass m obilization, but from captur­ ing state pow er via anti-high caste propaganda. An additional reason was M ayaw ati’s distinctive style and culture of adm in­ istration and her d eterm in ation to prom ote Scheduled C aste

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officers. F o r exam ple, all the upper castes holding im portant positions, such as chief secretary and chief m inister’s private secretary were replaced by Scheduled Caste officers. This change provoked resen tm ent and, correlatively, the dalit assertion p o­ larized the upper and low er castes. During her two term s in office, and especially her second term , Mayawati succeeded in building a new political presence for dalits. She tried to m ake good the prom ise of political em pow erm ent by filling the reserved quota for Scheduled Castes and appointing them to im portant positions in the governm ent. This was acco m ­ plished through large-scale transfers of bureaucrats; 1 3 5 0 civil and police officials were transferred during her six m onth tenure in 1 9 9 7 . As m any as 4 6 7 m em bers of the Indian Adm inistrative Service, 3 8 0 officers of the Indian Police Service, 3 0 0 m em bers of the Provincial Civil Service and 2 5 0 Provincial Police were transferred. Dubbed as a ‘transfer industry’ by the Allahabad high cou rt, the large-scale transfers placed dalits in key positions in the state and local ad m in istration . At the end o f M ayaw ati’s second term in office, a quarter of the district m agistrates and superintendents of police and m ore than a quarter of the prin ci­ pal secretaries in 1 9 9 7 belonged to the Scheduled Castes. In term s of new policies or program m es there was little to show from her two term s of governm ent. But it could be argued that the BSP had not been in pow er long enough to initiate m a­ jo r developm ent program m es. M ayawati, however, claim ed that h er governm ent had done som e indispensable w ork for dalits during two short stints in power. These achievem ents were: (i) sharpened em an cipatory cam paigns am ong the dalits; (ii) co n ­ fronted the existin g upper caste bias of the state apparatus in order to m ake w ay for low er castes; (iii) accelerated the pas­ sage of resources and funds via governm ent program m es for the Scheduled C astes; and (iv) secu red dalits’ access to som e gov­ ernm ent land. Serious land reform was not on the BSP agenda. It lim ited itself to efforts that enabled dalits to take possession of land they had already been allotted. N onetheless, land re ­ form s have given a m easure of land and secu rity to the dalits: 1 5 8 ,0 0 0 dalits w ere given possession over 1 .2 0 lakh acres of land. In addition, unauth orized possession by dalits of Gaon Sabha land prior to Ju n e 1 9 9 5 was regularized, benefitting 1 5 0 0 Scheduled C aste fam ilies.19

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The m ost significant program m e of her second term has been the Ambedkar Village Development Scheme, which provided de­ velopm ent funds and infrastructure to 1 5 ,0 0 0 Ambedkar villages, with a 3 0 per cent dalit population. Basically, model villages were built by transferring funds and resources from other programmes spread over large areas, and concentrating them in smaller pock­ ets. T h o u g h it is to o early to assess th e p o licy im p a ct of Ambedkarization or reveal how many people have benefitted from the program m e, there is no denying that the initiative generated considerable enthusiasm am ong BSP cadres and the masses, even as it kindled the hostilities of oth er castes, particularly those w ho are ju st as p oor as the dalits. Though m odest, som e of these m easures— su ch as doubling the am ount of scholarship m oney to high school students belonging to the Scheduled C astes, or the decision to double the scholarship adm issible to children belonging to the families engaged in unhygienic occu p ation s— have boosted dalit confidence sim ply by the preference given to them by a dalit-led governm ent. W ithin the larger adm inistration of the state, M ayawati of­ fered her con stitu en cy the greatest possibilities of obtaining access to jobs, offices, and power. In a state where caste politics is deeply entrenched, BSP’s caste-based analysis of dalit depriva­ tion was bound to appeal to them . Benefits in U.P. were distrib­ uted on the basis of patronage, consequently, dalits supported their ‘ow n’ élites in the exp ectatio n that they would share the spoils of pow er and wealth on ce they obtained governm ent p o­ sitions. But the BSP has succeed ed in retaining dalit supp ort w ithout always delivering m aterial benefits or political office.20 It could be argued that its success owed m uch to the radical em phasis placed by the party on con testin g upper caste oppres­ sion. This aspect of its m obilization program m e is critical be­ cause the party did not subscribe to any econ om ic program m e or ideology and hardly ever proposed new policies. In these cir­ cu m stan ces, the politics of sym bolism and recognition has been given priority to encourage the grow th of their own co n stitu ­ ency. An enorm ous am ount of its energy has been spent in the politicization of dalits through sym bolic acts of dalit em pow er­ m ent and resisting upper caste hegemony, rath er than in secu r­ ing m aterial benefits. As one IAS officer put it, ‘The dalit fight is not for econ om ic em ancipation, it is a battle for social re co g ­

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nition. If the dalit assertion was for econ om ic rights then we would back the C om m unist parties. W e are struggling for dig­ nity and p articip ation in governm ent w hich gives us social sta­ tu s.’21 Towards this end, the BSP em phasized the them es o f re ­ covering dignity and status. In this con n ection the m ost flam ­ b o y an t g e s tu re o f M ay aw ati’s g o v e rn m e n t w as to build a Parivartan C how k in the centre of Lucknow th at would have statues of the great anti-B rahm in leaders: Jyotib a Phule, Periyar E.V. Ram aswam y N aicker, Am bedkar, Shahu M aharaj. This was supplem ented by the installation of Am bedkar statu es in every village and tow n; organization of Am bedkar m elas; developm ent of Am bedkar parks in every d istrict; carving ou t new districts and nam ing them after dalit leaders; and instituting aw ards in m em ory of a pantheon of dalit heroes. These sym bolic m ea­ sures w ere m eant to challenge the upper castes’ political and cultural hegemony. Indeed it had an electrifying effect on the collective social statu s of the dalits. Although gains in dignity and self-respect are im portant, they make sense because they were linked to the m ore tangible prom ­ ise of political em pow erm ent for the Scheduled Castes, as well as som e im provem ent in econom ic opportunities.22 Ultim ately the principle of proportional representation played a key role in helping the party retain its hold on dalit loyalties. M ayawati achieved an increased representation of Scheduled Castes by an overt focus on caste identity as the sole criterion for distributing tick ets and posts. This resulted in the political em p ow erm en t of dalits in U.P., g reater than in any o th er state. It is certain ly true that the stable vote of Scheduled Castes for the BSP was the principal reason why it could prom ote dalit em pow erm ent. The preferential treatm ent given to dalits in turn contributed to its durability, and undoubtedly, this was because they had ‘their’ party and their ‘ow n’ chief minister, and power was exercised for their benefit. In other w ords, U.P.’s political experience indicates that dalits used their votes to, at once, affirm identities and avenge past hum iliations, as well as to secure instrum ental benefits.

IV The significant political transform ation brought about by th e dalit assertion should n o t, however, be allowed to m ask the in ­

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equalities that continued to exist for the m ajority of dalits within U.P. Benefits have flowed to a privileged m inority w ithin the low er castes; the dalits still rem ain the m ost dispossessed and disadvantaged g ro u p .23 A point w orth noting is that low levels of incom es and education , rath er than ju st underrepresentation and n on -recogn ition , is the m ajor con strain t on access to and spread of social op portunities. Yet, m ost of the new ly m obilized people in U.P. con tin u e to see them selves as m em bers of castes and com m unities an xious to preserve their group, rath er than individual o r class, interests. Even though political com p eti­ tion is intertw ined w ith an intensification of social conflict at the class level, the tendency is to use m obilization as a m eans for w inning political power, and not as a cond ition for in tra­ group equality and developm ent. Redressing disadvantage and deprivation w ithin this fram ew ork of em pow erm ent from above prevented the rectification of inequalities of class, especially at the lower rungs of the social order. The strategy of the Samajwadi P arty and the BSP certainly enhanced the political pow er of the O BCs/dalits and their ability to influence state politics, but this can n o t substitute for radical social and econom ic change that is im perative in U.P. It is difficult to im agine how the abbrevia­ tion of the political pow er of dom inant castes could be limited to the governm ent sector. It is hardly possible for the BSP to preside over go vern an ce w ithout addressing the land question or w ithout doing som ething about the econom ic and e x tra -e co ­ nom ic oppression of agricultural labourers, for exam ple. The BSP faces a strategic predicam ent: its autonom ous politics has raised the political profile of dalits at the local level, w hich re ­ quires the govern m en t to support local resistance. But tackling local problem s entails a class approach to pressurize the gov­ ernm ent for im plem entation of econ om ic redistribution, w hich a caste-based follow ing can n ot achieve and w hich the party w ants to avoid. F a r from generating social and political dyna­ m ism , caste m obilization and sectional governance tend to block m uch-needed stru ctu ral change. The failure to address inequalities in education, health and em ploym ent op portu nities, w hich are in fact a reflection of in­ equalities in the social and econom ic powers of different groups, is not a unique feature of low er caste parties. Equity in distri­ bution was never the priority of any governm ent. The political

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im portance of the state notw ithstanding, U.P. rem ains one of the p o orest and least developed states in the U n ion . T his is reflected in its high levels of mortality, fertility, morbidity, under­ nutrition, illiteracy, social inequality, and the slow pace of poverty d eclin e.24 The m ost striking is the high degree of inequality e x ­ perienced by w om en in term s of life expectancy, literacy, access to health facilities and property in land. Even the redistributional program m es in trod u ced in the early 1 9 7 0 s , at the height of the garibi hatao cam paign have produced insignificant results be­ cause the state lacked both the com m itm en t and institution s required for their im p lem en tatio n .25 These institution s include the Public Distribution System, the Integrated Rural Development Program m es, and the Integrated Child Development Schemes. These programmes— which involve transfers of various kinds to target groups and no redistribution of assets between different classes— are easier to im plem ent and, y et, the gap betw een prom ise and delivery is very wide. There were no significant initiatives— com parable to health care in Kerala, social secu rity in Tamil Nadu, land reform s in W est Bengal, em ploym ent guar­ antee schem es in M aharashtra and panchayati raj in Karnataka— to prom ote social developm ent. No serious social reform , after zamindari abolition in the early 1950s, ever made headway in U.P. Social and econ o m ic developm ent have been stym ied by an unbridgeable chasm betw een the rhetoric of developm ent and the ground realities of im plem enting so cio-eco n om ic policies w hich required stru ctu ral changes in the pattern of social rela­ tions. In this c o n te x t an im portan t im pedim ent has been the nature of agrarian p o litics. These have revolved around the in­ terests of surplus prod u cers in receiving input subsidies and procurem ent prices for foodgrains. The leadership of political parties and farm ers’ m ovem ents has been firmly in the hands of this class. D istributive policies could not be sustained in the absence of significant public action from below. The state m a­ chinery, police and village-level bureaucracy were tilted in favour of landed groups, n o t least because the bureau cracy recruited from the upper castes shared the con cern s of the rural rich. The privileges of governm ental con trol have been exploited for s e c ­ tional benefit of those w ith political and bu reau cratic power, or those w ith the opportunity to influence political action to ch al­ lenge the oppressive patterns of caste, class, and gender relations.

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By contrast, trends in south India, and Kerala in particular, point to the m ajor role of collective action and structural change in the advancem ent of lower castes and classes. In Kerala, the major ben­ eficial im pact of public policy has com e from strategies directed to the w hole population and n o t m erely to specific grou p s.26 This is tru e in relation to the greater life expectancy, increased literacy, and above all the dignity of dalits. It has the best social in d icato rs of any state in India. A lthough in dicators for the Scheduled Castes rank low er than the state average, they are better than th eir cou n terp arts in other states, and even though Kerala has been derelict w ith regard to fulfilling the reserved quota, dalits have benefitted from the general welfare policies o f the s ta te . F u rth e r m o re , th e e x p e rie n c e s of K erala and M ah arashtra u n d erscore the im p ortan ce of collective public actio n for effectively im plem enting the provisions of reserva­ tion policies. M arginalized groups w hich are politically un or­ ganized are even less effective in pressurizing the state to fulfil its w elfare com m itm en ts. M ore broadly the effectiveness of res­ ervations in favour of the OBCs in south India seem s to indi­ cate th at a general im provem ent in education and a m easure of land redistribution are im portan t cond itions for the rapid p ro­ m otion of equality. H istorically, the new groups in U.P. have had a m ore difficult tim e achieving w hat non-B rahm ins achieved in south India, at least partly because lower caste politics in U.P. lacked ideological co n ten t. In the south, the non-B rahm in m ovem ent in stitution­ alized participation at an early stage, and developed gradually enough to allow upper castes tim e to adjust to their loss of pow er; this sm all m in o rity m oved into th e com m ercial and in dustrial sectors. In U.P., the upper castes form a fifth and the Brahm ins nearly 10 per cent of the population. Besides, the orga­ nized se cto r was n o t the m onopoly of B rahm ins alone. Diverse groups su ch as Kayasths, Banias and élite sections of M uslims shared power. The w ider range and large proportion of upper castes m ade it harder to organize a non-B rahm in m ovem ent to displace th em .27 The upper castes dom inated the governm ent and political organizations. W hile the reservation of govern­ m ent jo b s was the principal channel of upw ard m obility for the OBCs and the Scheduled Castes, governm ent jobs rem ained the m ost attractive career option for the upper castes as well because,

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in co n trast to the south, alternative avenues of em ploym ent in U.P.’s stagnant industrial econom y w ere lim ited. An o p p ortu ­ nity for political change in UrP arose only when the upper castes abandoned the Congress in favour of the BJP. This led to the disintegration of the Congress vote, creating a cru cial opening for the disadvantaged groups to rally behind caste-based par­ ties com m itted to social ju stice for deprived groups. Eventually, such a group-em powerm ent strategy cannot bring about substantive change. The two subjects that have the greatest capacity to influence the well-being of subordinate groups— land reform and education— cannot be addressed w ithout stru ctu ral reform . In fact, the BSP is the only party w hich can push land reform legislation in U .P and accelerate the painfully slow p ro­ cess of m ass education, since it draws support from the Sched­ uled C astes and lower sections of the OBCs. However, the BSP has rarely spelt ou t policies on these basic issues; they consid er them irrelevant to the bigger project of w inning power. Though the party has attem pted to im plem ent the existing policy of re ­ distribution in favour of dalits, it can n ot energetically and pur­ posefully pursue this without a m ajority of its own. This is clearly ruled ou t in the fragm ented party system of U.P., stru ctu red by rough parity in num bers betw een the m ost privileged upper castes, the bloc of backward castes, and dalits. In reality both the stren gth and weakness of the BSP stem s from its caste-b loc politics. Its strength is that the Scheduled Castes are evenly spread across the state and a dalit vote gives the party a ch an ce in a large num ber of con stitu en cies, but it also m akes it logi­ cally im possible to win even a single seat w ithout strong su p ­ p ort from oth er groups. It has not how ever been able to a ttra ct significant support from backw ard castes and M uslims. It has received their support only when it fielded candidates and gave organizational responsibilities to cadres from am ong them . V Although the benefits of em pow erm ent have been captured only by a sm all élite am ong the subordinate groups, yet U.P.’s p oliti­ cal system has been transform ed. The em ergence of the BSP has added a vital dim ension to the ground level econom ic and p o ­ litical developm ent of the low er castes. The new entran ts see

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electoral trium ph as the necessary m eans to gaining pow er and challenging the dom ination of the established élite. I have ar­ gued elsew here th at w ith all its lim itations, caste-based m obili­ zation has proved to be a successful vehicle for the political em pow erm ent of the populous backw ard ca ste s.28 It has gener­ ated a shift in the balance of political pow er in the governm ent and legislature: the gap between the upper and low er castes has been steadily narrow ing since 1 9 8 9 , when the Ja n a ta Dal cam e to power. This is evident from the significant increase in the num ber of low er caste legislators and senior civil servants in influential governm ent positions. However, it rem ains to be seen w hether the benefits of state con trol can be distributed to larger section s of the population. At the sam e tim e, the rise of the low er castes has provoked the hostility of upper castes, espe­ cially in U.P., w here the Samajwadi Party and the BSP em erged as m ajor political forces. In reaction , the votes of these castes w ere transferred en bloc to the BJP. Even before these co n tro ­ versies cam e on to the political centre stage, the predom inant con flict was betw een the backw ard and upper castes. The rise o f dalits and their consolidation behind the BSP intensified this con flict, but it is clear that caste-based m obilization alone ca n ­ n ot con tin u e to win m andates for low er caste leaders. U ttar Prad esh ’s political scene presents a p arad oxical com b i­ nation of low er caste party fragm entation and the con solid a­ tion of Hindu nationalist sentim ent and political appeal. The 1 9 9 8 e le ctio n s m ark ed a w atersh ed , a cce le ra tin g the B JP ’s grow th. The party again won a m ajority of the Lok Sabha seats from U .P , increasing its electoral strength from fifty-two to fiftyseven seats. In fact, since 1991 a m ajor com ponent of its strength in the Lok Sabha has com e from U.P. Betw een 1 9 9 1 and 1 9 9 6 , its grow th was obstru cted by low er caste parties and it was ar­ gued that the party’s strength had peaked due to its inability to garner the supp ort of lower castes, who overw helm ingly voted for the Sam ajwadi Party and BSP.29 C aste divisions am ong Hindus and in ter-caste hostility c o n ­ tinue to play a critical role in determ ining political conflict. The BJP has not been able to dow nplay these divisions; however, it has m anaged to w eaken them by w inning over som e backw ard castes to its side. A lthough it is still heavily dependent on the double appeal of Ayodhya and the continued resentm ents of

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upper castes towards Mandal, it has m arshalled a respectable chunk of the OBC vote, especially of the middle castes excluded from the Mandal list. It is well known that Kurmis and Lodhas, the caste to which the BJP chief m inister Kalyan Singh belongs, have previously backed the BJP The new developm ent that has contributed trem endously to the BJP’s electoral success is the support of the Jats, an interm ediate caste, in w estern U.P., and of the smaller backward castes throughout the state.30 An early attem pt to m obilize the low er castes was m ade dur­ ing the Ram Janm abhum i cam paign, w hich in the w ords of L.K . Advani ‘succeed ed in sublim ating caste tensions’. But the sup­ port gained then was lost after the Babri m asjid was dem olished in D ecem ber 1 9 9 2 . Many am ong the low er castes looked at the assault as an upper caste backlash against the Mandal m ove in i­ tiated by the Jan ata Dal governm ent. This resulted in an alli­ ance of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP w hich halted the B JP’s advance in the 1 9 9 3 assem bly elections. It encouraged the BJP leadership to con cen trate its attention on splitting the low est castes. This strategy succeeded in 1 9 9 5 , splitting the Sam ajw adiBSP alliance forged in the 1 9 9 3 elections and bringing dow n the M ulayam Singh Yadav governm ent. The BJP then put its support behind the BSP, w hich allowed M ayawati to com e to pow er as chief m inister. This proved im portant in ch eck in g the consolidation of the low er castes, since the coop eration of the backward and Scheduled Castes presents a formidable challenge to the BJP and can potentially prevent it from com ing to power. W orking in sm all-tow n, upper caste m ilieus, the BJP has on the w hole kept away from caste reform . However, in the years after the M andal C om m ission, they have had to m ake gestures of accom m od ation tow ards the low er castes. Follow ing a policy of social engineering, the BJP has been inclined to broaden its base, but its effort has been opposed by leaders of the RSS. T his organization considers caste assertion as essentially divisive and remains logically irreconciled to affirmative action. There is thus a tension between the BJP leadership’s advocacy of social engi­ neering and the traditional RSS view based on the varna hierarchy. Owing to the com p u lsion s of electo ral p o litics, the B JP -R S S com bine has had to m ake room for the low er castes, but it has not been able to assim ilate these groups w ithin the electo ral and decision-m aking stru ctu res. The upper castes rem ain over­

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represented not only am ong its supporters in the electorate, but also am ong M Ps, MLAs, and m inisters. The BSP’s w ithdraw al from the B JP-B SP alliance in O ctober 1 9 9 7 saw the break-up of parties, barring the SP, on caste lines. A lm ost all the upper caste MLAs from oth er parties defected to the BJP and reinforced its upper caste orien tation. But in spite of being upper caste and openly identified with the socially privi­ leged strata, the BJP has gained the votes of the backw ard castes. A ccording to the CSDS post-poll survey, the BJP m ade crucial inroads into OBC votes in 1 9 9 8 . M ore OBCs have swung to ­ wards the BJP in this election than any oth er com m unity.31 It rem ains to be seen w hether the BJP will change its ch aracter as a result of appealing to the OBCs and dalits. As for the BSP, it m anaged to consolidate the Scheduled C astes behind the party: according to the sam e survey, 6 3 .4 per cen t of them voted for the party, as against 2 6 per cent non-Yadav O BCs, 4 .3 per cen t Yadavs, 4 .7 per cen t M uslims and less than one per cen t upper castes.32 In this election it m aintained its 1 9 9 6 strength, but its strong p erform an ce was restricted to eastern U.P. A m ajor set­ back was the defeat of Kanshi Ram in the Bahujan-dom inated Saharanpur constituency. In fact, the Samajwadi Party is the only party besides the BJP that marginally im proved its position (from sev en teen to tw en ty s e a ts) in th e 1 9 9 8 e le c tio n s . But the Samajwadi Party, w hich is limited to Yadavs and M uslim s, ca n ­ not alone thw art the B JP’s chances of com ing to pow er in the absence of backing from the Scheduled Castes, who solidly voted for the BSP. Given the B JP’s continu ed dom inance in U.P. politics, there are two possible strategies available to low er caste leaders. One is a form of all-em b racin g distributional politics com m itted to channelling state resources towards the im provem ent of all, re ­ gardless of p articu larism . This is con sp icu ou s by its absence from the U .P scene. The difficulties of this policy under present political con d ition s is evident from the C ongress perform ance in the 1 9 9 8 election s, when the party failed to win a single seat from the state. In 1 9 9 8 , its vote fell below eight per cent and a m ajority of its candidates forfeited their deposit. The seco n d alternative is a coalition of the low er castes and m inorities led by the Samajwadi P arty-B S P com bine. Such a broad-based social coalition , or even an electoral adjustm ent

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betw een the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, would deny pow er to the upper castes and the BJP in U.P., pow er that is critical to its con tro l of the C entre. In the p rocess, they could bag m any m ore seats and em erge as im portan t players in state and n a­ tional politics. This was the lesson of the 1 9 9 6 elections. In them, the absence of an understanding betw een secular parties helped the BJP to win fifty-two seats. The Sam ajwadi Party and BSP togeth er polled 4 5 .6 per cen t of the vote but only w on eighteen and six seats respectively. In th irty-fou r of the fifty-tw o seats th at the BJP w on, its share of popular vote was less than the com bined vote of the Samajwadi Party and BSP. Yet, backw ard and low er caste leaders are averse to the form ation of a broad alliance. Rather, they are engaged in a bitter struggle for pow er as both com pete for scarce state resources. The increasing im ­ p ortance of the BSP and the assertiveness of its leaders has co m ­ plicated patterns of social conflict and the possibility of m ak­ ing such alliances. T heir autonom y and independence have no doubt increased the political con sciou sn ess of dalits and p ro­ m oted their em pow erm ent, but they have also brought them into conflict with both the Samajwadi Party and the BJP. This is also w hy the BJP w as relatively su ccessfu l in b reak in g the Samajwadi Party-B SP allian ce.33 Even after the BJP’s seizure of power, the OBCs and the Sched­ uled C astes, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, persisted w ith their rhetoric over which one authentically represented the lower castes. Although the break-up of the BJP-BSP alliance was a good opportunity for the non-u pp er castes to com e together, they did not. This was due partly to ground-level O B C -d alit hostility, and partly to the pow er struggle betw een the two groups w hich has m oved from being a con test betw een unequals to a struggle for pow er betw een near equals, facilitated by the BSP’s pursuit of a dalit em pow erm ent agenda since 1 9 9 3 .34 Even as caste interests proliferate, there is how ever no sim ple dualism of upper castes versus low er castes; rather, the grow ­ ing pow er of the BJP could subvert the hard-w on gains of the latter. Backw ard and low er caste parties can act as a brake on Hindu consolidation only when they are united on a com m o n platform . Should the M uslim s, m ore than half the backw ard c a s te s , an d th e S ch e d u le d C a s te s be u n ite d b e h in d th e Samajwadi Party, the BSP and w hat rem ains of the Ja n a ta Dal,

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the BJP w ould n ot win electoral m ajorities in U.P. It has com e to pow er by capitalizing on the divisions betw een these co m ­ peting castes and parties. This is the cen tral point of the 1 9 9 8 parliam entary election s, w hen the BSP w on only four seats, de­ spite w inning m ore than 2 0 per cen t of the vote. In reality, the consolidation of dalits behind the BSP has been advantageous for the BJP. By refusing to com e to term s w ith the changed p o­ litical situ ation and allow ing their egos to clash, the leaders of both the Samajwadi Party and the BSP have caused serious dam ­ age to th eir own in terests. The predicam ent is that the BSP’s unreliability as an electoral partner stands in the way of an alli­ ance w ith any party, particularly the Sam ajwadi Party; on the other hand, the high vote of the BSP clearly establishes its elec­ toral clou t, m aking an alliance with it im perative. It is with this clout th at BSP leaders hope to be in a position to d ictate o u t­ com es at the national and state levels. Presumably, the low er caste leaders recognize the damage caused by these divisions but are n ot prepared to subdue them because they can still obtain political office, and hen ce do not feel an urgent heed for coalitions. Undoubtedly, caste co n stitu ­ encies help them to bargain with national parties, but it also lim its their horizon , and especially the p rosp ect of extending their political influence to other sta te s.35 T here m ust still be room to navigate betw een these con strain ts to find new ways th at do n ot altogeth er abandon self-em p ow erm ent, and to pur­ sue them w ithin coalitions. Surely, low er caste parties need caste constituencies to gain access to governm ent, as well as a broader coalition to uphold and stabilize th eir access. In the absence of such coalition s they will rem ain stalem ated and trapped within the specific castes they seek to represent, w hile the BJP presses ahead w ith its m obilization on eth no-religious lines. Today, there is little doubt that the grow th of political co n ­ sciousness around caste issues and related strategies of em pow ­ erm ent has provided a discursive vehicle for the m obilization of what has clearly been a progressive social and political force. It has also un derw ritten a new argum ent for secu larism , one that opposes caste to com m unalism . But it has left behind a legacy in w hich caste has been bolstered as a focus of political identity and affiliation, one that m ay exclu d e broader social com m itm en t and collective action.

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N orth India's recent history, and that of U ttar Pradesh in par­ ticular, indicates that for collective action to becom e a real force, political parties m ust go beyond caste. The challenge is to a c ­ com m odate interests and identities w hich are electorally disag­ gregated into a negotiable frame of governance. In the m eantim e, low er caste parties have m anaged to fragm ent the legacy of the Congress; they have also rebutted the BJP’s claim of Hindu unity by forcin g it to n eg otiate separately w ith co m p etin g H indu groups, rath er than w ith Hindus as con stitu en ts of a single h o ­ m ogeneous com m unity. Although the low er caste parties do not have an agenda of structural reform , they have m anaged to bring form erly m arginal groups into the govern m en t and diverted public resources and flow of benefits to them . U nlike the past, it is now difficult for any governm ent to ignore the interests of dalits. Significantly, this has opened new spaces for the low er castes to en ter the urban middle classes. This cou ld well be the beginning o f a m ore radical dem ocratization of n o rth Indian society, as the m ajority o f dalits and OBCs begins to realize th at its eco n o m ic and social condition has n ot im proved m uch as a result of proportional representation in the state.

Notes 1 Constituent A ssem bly D ebate, vol X, O fficial Report (New D elhi), 19 8 9 , p. 979. 2 H arishankar Parsai, S elected Satire, (D elhi: Manas Publications), 1996. 5 P rim ary C ensu s A b stract f o r S ch ed u led C a stes an d S ch ed u led T ribes, Paper 1, 1993. 4 For exam ple, in Palanpur female literacy varies from zero for Sched­ uled Caste fem ales to 100 per cent for Kayasths. Jean Drfcze and Haris Gazdar, ‘U ttar Pradesh: The Burden of In ertia’, in Je a n Drfcze and Amartya Sen (ed s), Indian D evelopm ent: S elected R egional P erspectives (D elhi: Oxford University Press), 1997, pp. 8 3 -6 . 5 Barbara Jo sh i, ‘W hose Law, W hose Order? “U ntouchables”, Social V io­ lence and the State in India’, Asian Survey, n o. 7, (July 1 982), p. 6 8 4 . 6 For a discussion o f the impact of land reforms on different groups, see my Quest f o r P ow er: O ppositional M ovements in U ttar P radesh (D elhi: Oxford U niversity Press), 1998, Chapter 2. 7 For details o f the dem ocratic upsurge, see Yogendra Yadav in th is volum e. 9 R.S. Khare, The U ntouchable as H im self: Ideology, Identity and P ra g m a ­

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tism am ong the Lucknow C ham ars (Cam bridge: Cambridge University Press), 1984, p. 129. 9 G ail Om vedt, D alit Visions. Tracts f o r th e Tim es 8. (D elh i: O rien t Longm an), 1995, p. 87. 10 Quoted in Seema Mustafa’s biography of VP. Singh. The Lonely Prophet: A Political Biography o f VP Singh (Delhi: Wiley Eastern, 1996), p. 191. 11 The Bahujan Samaj Party’s most popular slogan is: ‘Brahm in, ban ia, thaku r, chor, B aki sab DS4' (Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Sam iti). It has gone m uch beyond other dalit organizations by projecting itself not as a ‘dalit party’ but as a bahujan party of dalits, non-Brahm ins and m inorities. See Gail Omvedt, ‘The Anti-Caste Movement and the Discourse of Power’, in T.V. Sathyamurthy (ed .), Region, Religion, Caste, G en der and Culture in C ontem porary In dia (D elhi: Oxford University Press), 1996, pp. 3 4 4 -6 . 12 Translation: ‘We vote you rule, this cannot go on. Through the vote we will take the posts of prime m inister and chief m inister; through reservations we will take the posts of district magistrate and superin­ tendent police.’ 13 Oliver Mendelsohn and Marica Vicziani, The U ntouchables: Subordina­ tion, Poverty and the State in India, (Cam bridge: Cambridge University Press), 1998, p. 223. 14 Gail Omvedt, ‘Kanshi Ram and the Bahujan Samaj Party’ in K.L. Sharma (ed .), C aste and Class in India (Jaipur: Rawat), 1994, p. 163. 15>Interviews with dalit IAS officials in August 1997 in Lucknow high­ lighted this point. 16 The OBC and dalits comprised 231 MLAs in the 422-member Uttar Pradesh assembly in 1993. By contrast, Brahmin MLAs declined from 23 per cent in 1980 to 10 per cent in 1993. Their participation expanded with the extension of reservations to the panchayats in 1993 after a rapid census ordered by Mulayam Singh Yadav to estimate the caste-wise configura­ tion. Equally significant is the changing composition of the Cabinet. The percentage of upper castes which, according to a study conducted by a member of the Uttar Pradesh Backward Classes Commission, was as high as 64.7 per cent at the time of chief minister Sripat Misra, had come down to 50 per cent under Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1990, while non-upper caste representation increased from 35 per cent to 50 per cent. H.S. Verma, Ram Singh and Jay Singh, ‘Power Sharing: Exclusivity and Exclusion in a Mega State’, Monograph presented to a panel on Deprivation, Backward­ ness and Social Transformation of the Backward Classes, Twentieth AllIndia Sociological Conference, 1993, Mangalore, p. 14. 17 On this see Marc Galanter, ‘Group Membership and Group Preferences in India’, in his Law and Society in M odem India (D elhi: Oxford Uni­ versity Press), 1989, p. 133.

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18 Kanchan Chandra, ‘W hy does the Bahujan Samaj Party Succeed? A Case Study of the BSP in Hoshiarpur’, Paper presented at the annual m eeting of the A ssociation of Asian Studies, W ashington D C ., March 1998. 19 T he Times o f India, 18 September 1997. 20 Interview, S.R. Darapuri, Inspector G eneral of Police, Econom ic In tel­ ligence W ing, U.P. government. 21 T his point was emphasized in a number o f interviews with Scheduled Caste officers in Lucknow. The point was repeatedly made by S.R. Lakha, Cane Com missioner, U.P. government. Interview, Lucknow, 22 August 1997. He is also the Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh IAS A sso­ ciatio n . 22 Interview, Rohit Nandan, D irector of Inform ation, U.P. governm ent, 22 August 1998. 2J Caste differences in educational levels are even now very marked. W ide­ spread illiteracy makes it difficult for disadvantaged groups to ensure that their needs receive due attention in public debates and resource allocation. Education is an im portant tool for effective participation in dem ocratic politics. Yet, there were no political campaigns or bold initiatives to improve basic education in the state. On the contrary, there is evidence of a serious decline in real per capita expenditure on education, by 20 per cent between 1 9 9 1 -2 and 199 3 -4 . K. Seeta Prabhu, ‘Structural Adjustm ent and Financing of Elem entary Education: The Indian Experience’, Jou rn al o f Educational Planning and A dm inistration, no. 9 (1 9 9 5 ), p. 37. 24 F o r instance, child survival, m ortality and literacy levels are below alm ost all other states. Jea n Drfcze and Haris Gazdar point to three social failures: low levels of education, the restricted role of women in society, and the poor functioning of public services. Jean Drfcze and Haris Gazdar, ‘U ttar Pradesh’, op. cit., pp. 4 0 -6 1 . 25 Ibid. 26 O liver M endelsohn and Marica Vicziani, The U ntouchables, op. cit., pp. 1 1 8 -2 4 . 27 F o r a discussion of caste m obilization based on a critique of caste hierarchy, see Nandini Gooptu, ‘Caste, Deprivation and Politics: The U ntouchables in U.P. Towns’, in Peter Robb (ed .), D alit M ovements and the M eaning o f L abou r in India (D elhi: Oxford University Press), 1993. 28 See my Quest f o r Pow er, op. cit., especially Chapter 4. 29 See Paul Brass, ‘G eneral E lections, 1996 in U ttar Pradesh: Divisive Struggles Influence Outcom e’, Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, 20 Sep­ tem ber 1997. 30 Ibid.

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31 India Today com m issioned CSDS to conduct a special post-poll survey to track the pattern of voting. India Today, 16 March 1998. 32 Kanchan Chandra and Chandrika Parmar, ‘Party Strategies in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections, 1966’, Economic and P olitical Weekly, 1 February 1997, p. 215. 33 Mulayam Singh Yadav argues that his party suffered too much under Mayawati’s ch ief m inistership for him to consider a patch-up with her. Mayawati feels that Yadav’s open opposition to the A trocities Against Dalits Act during her term in office would harm the party’s attempts to consolidate its political base. 34 Interview , D ire c to r In fo rm a tio n , U.P. g o v ern m en t, Lucknow , 22 August 1997. 35 Kanchan Chandra and Chandrika Parmar, ‘Party Strategies in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections, 1996’, op. cit., pp. 2 1 9 -2 0 .

Negotiating Differences: federal coalitions and national cohesion BALVEER ARORA

The difficulties of building and sustaining coalitions have been accorded considerable significance in the theorization on federal solutions to the problems of diverse societies. Federal coalitions differ in im portant ways from other strategies for power-sharing through coalitional means, such as caste/class or religious coali­ tions. They seek to reconcile territorially-based identities within a cohesive frame even in the absence of shared ideologies. F o r in ­ stance, Daniel Elazar, one of the leading exponents of federalism, considers ‘shared rule’ to be as im portant as ‘self ru le’ in e x p la in ­ ing the possibilities of federal p ow er-sharing.1 Similarly, Arend Lijphart, w hose understanding of m ulti-party coalition s in the Netherlands led him to formulate the theory of consociationalism, has argued that India has evolved distinctive forms of powersharing w hich can be better understood within this fram ew ork.2 C om parative studies on the relationship between federalism and d em ocracy also focus on the capabilities of federal system s to reconcile, recuperate and even reintegrate potentially secession ­ ist m ovem ents w ith innovative acco m m o d atio n .3 Finally, a fed­ eral cu ltu re w hich tolerates difference and n o t only accep ts but celebrates diversity is considered central to the con solid ation and stability of federal co alitio n s.4 C om parisons betw een the coalition al p ractices of different system s are difficult, given variations in political history, cu l­ tu re, and trad ition .5 In addition, insights from unitary parlia­ m entary system s can be m isleading because federal stru ctu re s significantly alter both the tim e-horizons and the con texts of p o­ litical con flict.6 Situating India’s recent experience with coalition governments in a comparative perspective therefore presents som e

17 7

Negotiating Differences

difficulties. They arise in part from the number and range of coali­ tion partners, in turn linked to the number of parties and the size of the electorate. W ith these caveats entered, let us nevertheless look at some of the insights thrown up by a com parative study of m inority and coalition governm ents. W e shall subsequently a t­ tem pt to evaluate their significance in the Indian context through an analysis of the coalition al exp erien ce that followed the 1 9 9 8 Lok Sabha elections.

I In explaining the su ccess or failure of coalition s, political cu l­ ture is generally considered an im portant factor. F o r instance, low levels of tru st in op portu nistic political cultures are held to reduce the tim e-horizons of coalition partners engaged in m ulti­ level political com bats. A nother prem ise of coalition cu ltu re is that while each p artn er w orks tow ards an im proved vote/seat share, efforts are sim ultaneously deployed to contain rivalry and prevent antagonism s th at could be fatal to the coalition itself. Political cultures w hich acco rd a central place to accep tin g and negotiating differences are considered conducive to the consoli­ dation and stability of federal coalition s. In su ch co n te x ts, par­ ties w hich understand and seize the possibilities offered by co a­ lition building have an advantage, those w ho can m ake the sys­ tem work are rewarded, while those who are unable to reconfigure it to their advantage are gradually m arginalized. The Indian experience offers suggestive evidence in confirm a­ tion of som e of these propositions, and also throws up new dimen­ sions which need to be integrated into theorization on coalition practices in federal parliamentary systems. W hile the struggle for power between castes and classes dominates political life in the primary arena of state and panchayat politics in India, regional aspirations are significant factors in the political calculations that parties make when they enter the secondary arena, which is more concerned with national policy cohesion and federal governance.7 Such calculations play a determining role in forging coalitions and therefore have im portant institutional consequences. It must be further noted that ideological affinities and programmatic alliances do not preclude regional aspirations: the stability of coalitions, even between natural allies, m ust take into account the ambitions of ter­

17 8

TRANSFORMING INDIA

ritorial consolidation and expansion of its partners.8 These powersharing arrangements of the political class cannot be dismissed as m ere ‘élite accom m odation’, for they are constitutive elem ents of tactical calculations based on ground-level cleavages. Elsew here it has been show n that coalition s based on id eological affinity frequently end in splits or schism s after quarrels over tu rf be­ tween covetous allies, and the bitterest contests are often between like-m inded parties seeking a reconfiguration of political space. O n the other hand, federal coalitions based on the acco m m od a­ tion of regional aspirations can arguably be converted into stable arrangem ents with greater ease.9 E ach polity has evidently to evolve its ow n ground rules for m anaging coalitions. H ow ever, it is in stru ctive to take a brief look at som e of the p ractices and conventions evolved in other parliam entary dem ocracies w ith m ulti-party system s. F o r in­ stan ce, in F o u rth Republic F ra n ce , the spoilers and w reck ers of coalitions w ere generally n o t rewarded by the electo rate, espe­ cially if they were seen to have been m otivated by personal power am b ition s.10 This ground ru le was sum m ed up as: ‘If yo u can ’t m ake it, don’t break it.’ W h ile corn erin g credit and evading blam e was the nam e of the gam e, expanding at the expen se of coalition partners required consum m ate skill. The trick was to break the coalition w ith o u t appearing to do so, and to succeed in m oulding public p erception of the collapse. This logic seem s to find evidentiary support in recen t Indian exp erien ce. W h en the Congress flouted this basic tenet and trium phantly brought down the Gujral governm ent in N ovem ber 1 9 9 7 , it appeared to have made a serious m iscalculation. There is som e evidence from opinion surveys to suggest that the electoral verdict on its role w ould have been far m ore dam aging had Sonia G andhi n o t in ­ tervened to salvage the situ ation , with w hat her grateful party w as later to describe as a ‘H erculean effort’.11 O ther insights from com parative analysis relate to th e role of independent institutions and agencies, particularly during pe­ riods of governm ental instability and transitions. W h ile som e ground rules are self-enforcing, the observance of oth ers is in large m easure ensured by the perm anent civil service, reinforced by a free press w hich can shape perceptions. M ore transparency and rule-bound governance can also m inimise som e of the fric­ tion that is inevitable in coalition governm ents. F o r this, it m ay

Negotiating Differences

179

be necessary to sacrifice som e of the m aneuverability and discre­ tion that perm issive, flexible arrangem ents provide to parties in power, but w hich can becom e a liability in coalitional situations. The relationship between India’s parliamentary federalism and coalition politics is in som e significant ways sui generis, because there are no polities with a comparable configuration of party sys­ tems at multiple levels. The distinction between national and state parties is not on the basis of the arena in which they com pete, since most of them contest in both assembly and parliamentary elections. Some national parties are in fact coalitions of state parties, espe­ cially those whose support base is restricted to a few states. Simi­ larly, state parties are som etim es localized in a few districts, having their support base in specific castes or communities. Since the states of India differ vastly in term s of population and size, they play for different stakes in the national parlia­ m ent. Small states often perceive them selves as being on the pe­ riphery of national agendas, and seek to m axim ise the returns from their m inuscule representation. The dominance of local con­ cerns in the calculations of smaller state-based parties is therefore not unexpected. National level tie-ups are negotiated and justified primarily by their beneficial im pact on state-level struggles. W hat appears to be political opportunism in fact has its roots in the compulsions of local political processes, which need to be taken on board as legitimate aspirations before they can be woven into a cohe­ sive national fabric. The institutional consequences of com peting local logics are often neglected in the com parative analysis of coalition behaviour. In a federal polity, national governance is com plicated by the existen ce of m ultiple m ajorities being con cu rren tly m ade and unm ade in the states. D ifferent political waves o ccu r during national elections, determ ined by pow er stakes at the state level with an eye to the n ext assem bly elections. The interplay be­ tween state and central m ajorities is perforce com p lex, in a pol­ ity where regional plebiscites do not always add up to a m ajority in the Lok Sabha. It has been noted that while state parties may jo in federal coalitions for a variety of reasons, they invariably seek favourable policy ou tcom es w hich could enhance their lo­ cal political prospects. A certain degree of im permeability between espoused national causes and regional concerns has also been observed in recent

TRANSFORMING INDIA

180

electoral consultations. Because of the predom inance of local co n ­ cern s, leaders of state-based parties are shielded and insulated to som e exten t from the consequences of their actions at the na­ tional level.12 Occasionally there is an overriding national event or issue capable of generating a ‘wave’, but the last such wave was arguably seen in 1 9 8 4 , after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Local issues invariably prevail in non-w ave conditions, especially when questions of identity and dem ands for space, voice and esteem in the wider polity dominate the electoral consultation. O ne of the significant legacies of the C on gress-d om inan ce phase is that in m ost states, the C on gress/an ti-C on gress cleav­ age continues to determ ine decisions relating to the ch o ice of alliance partners. It provides the c o n te x t for ou r analysis of the regionalization of the party system and the advent of coalition governm ents in India.

II Reconciling regional aspirations and the im peratives of national policy cohesion has always been a m ajor objective of federal political processes. Federal coalitions, within or between parties, have also been a constant feature of India’s political development. Congress dominance began to wane as the party became less dem o­ cratic and m ore centralized. Conventional wisdom confers water­ shed attributes on the 1 9 6 7 general elections, as they m arked the beginning of the end of Congress dom inance and the advent of the first non-C ongress governm ents in the states on a large scale. F o r our purposes, it is the Em ergency of 1 9 7 5 - 7 w hich has a stronger claim to this description because it perm itted, or rather provoked, the forging of the first federal coalition to capture power at the Centre. It was a defining m om ent for state institutions, ju st as Partition was for civil society thirty years earlier.13 Even though the Jan ata governm ent ( 1 9 7 7 - 9 ) included w ithin itself strong centralist forces w hich pre-em pted its further developm ent as a durable federal alternative, it did m ark the beginning of India’s experience with coalition governm ents. After this first experim ent, w hich collapsed as a result of deft m anoeuvring by the C ongress, there was an apparent retu rn to single-party m ajority rule during the Eighties. Sim ultaneously there was a con solidation of non-C on gress alternatives in the

Negotiating Differences

181

states, largely due to C ongress’ inability to effect this re co n cili­ ation w ithin itself. Though it had substantial m ajorities in two successive full-term Lok Sabhas and provided stable go vern ­ m ents for an entire decade, the state of the nation at the end of this period of central stability was far from edifying. Internal strife and unrest attained unprecedented levels because the C on ­ gress failed to respond adequately to dem ands for a m ore federal and decentralized dispensation w hich w ould allow p articip a­ tive pow er-sharing. It continued to neglect inner-party d em o c­ racy and to ignore regional sensitivities. The Nineties have witnessed a succession of minority or coali­ tion governments which, though reflecting the intense dem ocratic churning in the states, were not able to generate confidence in their governance capabilities. Both the National Fron t ( 1 9 8 9 - 9 1 ) and the United F ro n t ( 1 9 9 6 - 8 ) were m inority governm ents, pre­ carious from the start and short-lived.14 They were stigmatized by their opponents as dominated by regional leaders preoccupied with regional interests, and the sceptre of disintegration was freely b ran d ish ed .15 This experience gave rise to apprehensions that coalition s m ight not con stitu te a viable m ode of governance for India. Some even w ent to the exten t of suggesting a regim e shift w hich would ‘insulate’ the executive from the vagaries and u n ­ certainties of shifting alliances in Parliam ent. In interpreting India’s coalitional exp erien ce w hich is long and rich at the state level, it is im portant to rem em ber that m ost state-based parties have risen to prom inence by building an tiC ongress co alitio n s.16 In m ost federal system s, state-based par­ ties have h istorically preceded the developm ent of pow erful national p arties.17 However, given the range and m agnitude of diversities, it should not com e as a surprise that a polity-w ide tw o-party system has not em erged, despite the ‘first-p ast-th ep ost’ electoral system . Interestingly, the hankering for su ch an orderly arrangem ent of alternation in pow er is deep-seated, par­ ticularly in the face of un certain m ajorities and ‘hung’ parlia­ m ents. Some observers interpret the forging of coalitions as a first step tow ards the consolidation of a stable bipolar arran ge­ m ent, as close as one can get to the seem ingly irresistible ideal of a tw o-p arty system . The fragm entation of parties for reasons w hich are som etim es ideological but frequently not is one of the major developments of

182

TRANSFORMING INDIA

the last few decades. One of the mainsprings of this fragmentation has been the articulation of interests by state-based parties. The com bined effect of ‘M andalization’ and the politics of H indutva has given rise to new parties, notably in U.P. and Bihar, w h ich are dedicated to the advancem ent of the backw ard classes and the p rotection of M uslim s.18

Table 1: Lok Sabha elections 1977-1998: results for five main National Parties Election Year Total no. of seats Indian National Congress Bharatiya Janata Party Janata Party/Janata Dal Communist Party (Marxist) Communist Party of India Total five national parties % of total seats

1977 542 154 @ 298 22 07 481 88.8

1980 1984 529 542 353 415 @ 02 10 31 36 22 11 06 431 455 81.5 84.0

1989 529 197 85 143 33 12 470 88.9

1991 511 227 119 56 35 13 450 88.1

1996 543 140 161 46 32 12 391 72.0

1998 543 141 182 06 32 09 370 68.1

Sources :For the 1977-91 results: Subrata K. Mitra and James Chiriyankandath (eds), Electoral P olitics in India (New Delhi: Segment), 1992, and Election Commission Re­ ports for 1996 and 1998. The BjP was a constituent of the Janata Party in these elections.

The 1 9 9 8 elections to the Lok Sabha w ere held against the b ack ­ drop of the collapse of the United F ro n t m inority coalitipn, led initially by Deve Gowda and then by Inder Gujral, as a resu lt of the abrupt withdrawal of Congress support.19 W e begin our analy­ sis of the election results by com paring the perform ance of the two m ain national parties, the Indian N ational C ongress (IN C ) and the Bharatiya Jan ata Party (B JP ), relative to the tallies of single-state and m u lti-state p arties.20 (Table 2 )

Table 2: State-wise distribution of seats between parties in the ______ twelfth Lok Sabha________________________________________ Zone I: 245 Seats: North and Northwest [8 States + Delhi NCT + Chandigarh UT] Zones/States

Seats INC

BJP

Other Details of other parties

1. Uttar Pradesh

85

00

57

28

2. Bihar 3. Madhya Pradesh 4. Rajasthan

54 40 25

05 10 18

20 30 05

29 00 02

Samajwadi P 20/BSP 04/Samata 02/ SJP 01 (Chandra Shekhar) / Ind. OKManeka Gandhi) RJD 1 7/Samata 10/JD 01/RJP 01 00 AIIC(S) 0 1 (0 la )/ln d .

Negotiating Differences

183

5. Punjab + Chandigarh

14

00

04

10

6. Haryana

10

03

01

06

7. Delhi NCT 8. Jammu & Kashmir 9. Himachal Pradesh

07 06 04

01 01 01

06 02 03

00 03 00

Total North N-West Zonal Percentage

245 100

39 15.9

128 52.3

01 (Buta Singh) S.A kali Dal 8/JD1 (Gujral)/ Ind1 (Satnam) H LokDal 04/H Vikas P 01/ BSP 01 00 J&K National Conference 03 00

78 31.8

Zone II: 88 Seats: East and Northeast [10 States] Zones/States

Seats INC

BJP

Other Details of other parties

1. West Bengal

42

01

01

40

2. Orissa 3. Assam

21 14

05 10

07 01

09 03

4. Seven North Eastern 11 states (see Table 6)

03

00

08

Total East North-East Zonal Percentage

19 21.6

09 10.2

60 68.2

88 100

CPM 24/Trinamul Congress 07/ RSP 04/ CPI 03/Forward Bloc 02 Biju Janata Dal 09 ASDC 01/UMF 01/lndep.(Bodo SMC) 01 CPM 02/Arunachal Cong 02/CPI 01/Manipur Cong 01/Citizens Common Front 01/Sikkim Demo Front 01

Zone III: 78 Seats: West: [ 3 States + 2 UTs] Zones/States

Seats INC

BJP

Other Details of other parties

1. Maharashtra 48 2. Gujarat+D&D,D&NH 28 3. Goa 02

33 07 02

04 21 00

11 00 00

Total West Zonal Percentage

42 53.9

25 32.0

11 14.1

78 100

Shiv Sena 06/RPI 04/PWP 01 00 00

Zone IV : 132 seats : South : [4 States + 3 UTs] Zones/States

Seats INC

BJP

Other Details of other parties

1. Andhra Pradesh 2. Tamil Nadu + Pondicherry

42 40

22 00

04 03

16 37

3. Karnataka 4. Kerala

28 20

09 08

13 00

06 12

5. Lakshadweep+Anda- 02 man & Nicobar Islands

02

00

00

Total South Zonal Percentage

132 100

41 31.1

20 15.1

71 53.8

T O T A L SEATS T O T A L PER C EN TA G E

543 100

141 2 6 .0

182 3 3 .5

220 4 0 .5

TDP 12/CPI 2/JD 01/MIM 01 AIADMK 18/PMK 04/MDMK 03/ TRC 01 (V. Ramamurthy)/JP OMS.Swamy) DMK 06/TMC 03/ CPI 01 Lok Shakti 03/ Janata Dal 03 CPM 06/ CPI 02/ Muslim League 02/Kerala Cong (M) 01 /RSP 01

184

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Sources: Compiled from Election Commission, Statistical Report on the G eneral Elec­ tions 1998 (Vol. 1) National & State Abstracts, supplemented by media reports for alliances and subsequent changes, for 543 elective seats. Two Con­ gress seats in Rajasthan were vacant when the Lok Sabha was dissolved on 17 April 1999.

It may be noted that in our definition of zones we have departed from other classifications which, for example, place Bihar in the east and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the w est.21 The guid­ ing factors in adopting such a classification have been linkages between party systems arising from ethno-linguistic continuities and the historical intertwining of polities. Similarly, in our classifi­ cation of parties, we have preferred the term single-state or multi­ state parties to designate those which are commonly clubbed under the ‘regional’ label. The smaller national parties are in reality m ulti­ state parties, because the Election Com mission accords them this status if they are recognized in at least four states.22 T here are striking zonal differences in the supp ort base of parties: w hile electoral con tests are dom inated by the C ongress and the BJP in the north and the w est, state-based parties dom i­ nate elsewhere. It is im portant to rem em ber that m ost state-based parties th at acco u n t for 4 0 .5 per cent of the seats are n ot new political form ations: they have stood the test of time and su cces­ sive elections. The Novem ber 1 9 9 8 state assembly elections were atypical because the C ongress and BJP confronted each o th er directly in only five states, and three of them w ere involved in that con test.23 The party system today consists of the two m ain polity-w ide parties that could organize coalitions, and the ‘coalition ab le’ parties, an am algam of over forty state-based parties that co n sti­ tute the pool from w hich federal coalitions can and m ust be

Table 3. Polity-wide and state-based parties in the twelfth Lok Sabha Zones North & North-western states East & North-eastern states Western states Southern states

Grand Total Sources: As for Table 2.

Seats No

Congress No %

BJP No

%

Others No %

245 88 78 132

39 19 42 41

15.9 21.6 53.9 31.1

128 09 25 20

52.3 10.2 32.0 15.1

78 60 11 71

31.8 68.2 14.1 53.8

543

141

26.0

182

33.5

220

40.5

Negotiating Differences

185

Table 4. The Indian National Congress-led group of parties Type

Seats

Distribution

1. Indian National Congress (INC)*

Parties

National

141

2. Republican Party of India (RPI) 3. Muslim League 4. Kerala Congress (Mani) 5. M ajlis-i-M uslim een 6. United Minorities Front 7. A ll India Indira Congress **

Single-state

04

A ll states except Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu Maharashtra

Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state

02 01 01 01 01

Kerala (IUM L) Kerala Andhra Assam Rajasthan (Sisram Ola)

Total

151

Sources: As for Table 2, supplemented by media reports. * W hen the Lok Sabha was dissolved on 26 April 1999, two Congress seats from Rajasthan were vacant due to the demise of G .R.Yadav and the resignation of Ashok Gehlot on his appointment as chief minister. Orissa chief minister G.Gam ang had not yet resigned his seat and cast a controversial vote against the Vajpayee government. ** Merged with the INC on 1 September 1998.

forged. As Table 3 show s, single-state and m ulti-state parties acco u n t for as m any as 2 2 0 seats, and dom inate political life in the eastern and southern states. In the sections that follow, we exam ine successively the attitudes of the Congress party and the United Front/Third Force parties towards coalition governm ents. We then exam ine the BJP’s strategic shifts, both before and after the 1 9 9 8 Lok Sabha elections, w hich enabled it to forge a major­ ity and com e to power.

Ill The electoral strategies and governance policies of the Congress party over the past two decades provide the co n te x t w hich has shaped and determ ined the developm ent of coalition politics. As the political system dem anded m ore federalism , the C on­ gress responded w ith less. There is by now sufficient evidence of its inability to secure a m ajority on its own strength for the last two decades.24 It can be argued that it has not obtained a convincin g m ajority since the 1 9 8 0 Lok Sabha elections, for political assassinations scram bled voter preferences in 1 9 8 4 , and again in the second round of the 1991 elections. Deluded by the fortuitous and patently artificial m ajority it was able to m uster

18 6

TRANSFORMING INDIA

then, the C ongress persisted w ith its policy of com bating re ­ gional parties as the principal obstacle to single-party majority. The C on gress’ decision not to particip ate in coalition gov­ ernm ents that it supported was based on this refusal to accep t the need for new forms of pow er-sharing at the national level. Even though it repeatedly denounces the ‘evil forces of regional­ ism ’ in its election m anifestoes, the Congress has in fact had a long history and a rich tradition of coalition building at the state level. As a party with a unifying vocation, it perfected with co n ­ siderable finesse its rallying skills during the national m ovem ent, and developed a coalitional strategy based largely on assim ilation th rough co-o p tation . After Partition , it gradually slipped in to a cen tralist m ould, and its federal m ainsprings w ere pushed into the background. The question of an attitude shift tow ards coalitions w as de­ bated w ithin the C ongress party after the 1 9 9 6 elections, w hen there was som e pressure to abandon the ‘support from ou tside’ strategy and p articip ate in governance. The argum ents against particip ation w ere forcefully articulated by V N . Gadgil, who prefaced his statem ents w ith Ram say M acD onald’s quip: ‘C oali­ tions are detestable and dishonest ’25 He defined a coalition as ‘an alliance betw een two or m ore h itherto separate or even h os­ tile groups or parties formed in order to carry on the go vern ­ m ent and share the principal offices of the State’, and proceeded to advance three main argum ents against Congress participation. The first was a principled objection based on the im m orality of entering into a ‘dishonest’ arrangem ent. C ritics pointed out that it ignored the possibilities of ‘honest’ alliances and drew suste­ nance from a typically British aversion, w hich could be an u n re­ liable guide to governance alternatives for a federal polity. They also added that the United Kingdom ’s record of negotiating and resolving differences through m ethods other than partition was unim pressive. The second argum ent against coalitions was the negative im pact on governance, notably on the principle of co l­ lective responsibility and on the powers of the office of prim e minister. Protagonists of coalition governm ents pointed out that while there was undeniably a difference in this respect because of the absence of party discipline m echanism s, the contrast was per­ haps not as sharp as made out. It is widely recognized that heads of governm ent do not really have absolute freedom to choose,

Negotiating Differences

1 87

shift and remove colleagues. Some impose themselves by virtue of their political weight, while others cannot be rem oved with im ­ punity. W e also know that regional, caste and m inority represen­ tation have always played a role in cabinet form ation. All these factors only becom e accentuated in coalition governm ent situa­ tions. The third and m ost im portant reason cited was the im pact on party prospects in future elections, and on the m orale of state party cadres. This was the determ ining calculation, particularly as the problem atic was situated within the framework of repeated attempts at the same goal, that is, single-party m ajority Ultimately, this was the option that was retained, and the party stayed out. The calculation that control over oppositional space was m ore beneficial, electorally, than participation, prevailed. It is striking that the BJP and the Congress drew diam etrically opposite conclusions from the results of the April 1 9 9 6 general elections. W hile the BJP moved to a vigorous search for allies and coalitions, the Congress party under president Sitaram Kesri chalked out a totally different strategy Rejecting the inevitability of coalitions and reaffirming the attainability of single-party m a­ jo rity rule, the line adopted at the C alcutta plenary session of the Congress in August 1 9 9 7 , was clear and unam biguous: T h is session firm ly believes that the C ongress party has the w ill and cap acity to ensure and acquire the su p p ort of the people of th is cou n try for a viable and stable on e-p arty governm ent in the co u n try .26

Kesri further developed this point in his presidential address: A ccording to a sch o o l of th ought, we have reached an era o f c o a ­ litio n and the days of single-party m ajo rity are over. T h is thesis, (w h ich ) is anch ored to a ph ilosoph y that co-op erative federalism can be o p e ratio n alized in a b e tte r m an n er th ro u g h a c o a litio n govern m ent o f regional parties, is erron eou s, dangerous and fac­ tu ally in c o r r e c t.27

Elaborating, he m aintained that ‘it is too sim plistic to com e to such a con clu sion from the results of one or two general elec­ tions’, and declared: ‘The voting behaviour of the Indian elec­ torate com pletely rejects the thesis that they have lost faith in single-party m ajority ru le.’28 D enouncing the very idea of coali­ tion politics, he said that it was a ‘propaganda (th a t) is vigor­ ously carried on by those parties who can never com e to power at the C entre on their program m e or their own stren gth ’ to gain

188

TRANSFORMING INDIA

legitim acy. It was in pursuance of this line that the C ongress party provoked and went to the polls in February 1 9 9 8 , w ithout forging m uch-needed electoral alliances with regional p a rtie s .29 It is indeed paradoxical th at the C ongress, trapped in its own shrill electoral rhetoric w hich accen tu ates the d ich otom y be­ tw een national and regional parties, should have persisted on a cou rse w hich had shown disastrous electoral results. W h ile p re­ p aring for victory, it did n ot plan for defeat. On the o th e r hand, th e BJP seized the opportunity and very swiftly m oved in to this space. Responding to w hether the BJP was now joining the m ain­ stream , Vajpayee declared: *We are going to becom e th e m ain­ stream . The C ongress is vacatin g the space. Apart from the BJP n o one can fill this vacu u m .’30 Though the INC won 141 seats w ith 2 5 .9 per c e n t o f the vo te, as against 1 4 0 seats w ith 2 8 .8 per cen t votes in 1 9 9 6 , its overall position did not really im prove. W hereas it was second in 2 4 7 /5 3 5 seats in 1 9 9 6 , it was the runner-up in only 1 5 4 /5 3 3 seats in the 1 9 9 8 election s.31 This decline prom pted som e ana­ lysts to speak of a post-C on gress polity, but it is im p ortan t to rem em ber that its control over oppositional space in a large num ­ ber of states constitutes an electoral asset w hich cannot be easily ignored. If one com pares this to the earlier occasions w hen it failed to gain a majority, its vote share was 3 4 .5 per cen t in 1 9 7 7 , 3 9 .5 per cent in 1 9 8 9 , and 3 7 .6 per cen t in 1 9 9 1 . Beyond represen tation in term s of seats, it is to be noted that the trad i­ tional support base of the C ongress am ong the m inorities, w hich earlier cu t across regions, has been eroded. F o r in stance, only 3 7 per cent of the M uslims voted for the C ongress in 1 9 9 6 , as com pared to 59 per cent in 1 9 7 1 .32 Finally, the decim ation of th e Congress in its traditional bastions of the G angetic Plain is indeed striking: it obtained m erely 6 .0 2 per cent of valid votes polled in U ttar Pradesh, and 7 .4 per cent in Bihar. In Tamil N adu, w here the two dom inant DMK/AIADMK-led alliances con tin u e to hold sway, it could only m uster 4 .7 8 per c e n t.33 In its attitudes and policies tow ards state-based parties, the C ongress proceeded on the assum ption that it could have no stable alliances w ith them if they chose to retain their d istin c­ tive identities. All that it offered them were electoral adjust­ m ents, even w hen its own state units w ere in p oor shape. It seemed to be averse to a strategy of crafting an alternative m ajority

Negotiating Differences

1 89

that required sharing contested spaces. Consequently, the big ques­ tion that emerged was whether the Congress was still capable of putting together and leading a winning federal coalition. Interestingly, Presiden t K.R. N arayanan ch a ra cte riz e s the present national situation as dom inated by ‘parties based on frag­ m ented interests, narrow ly organized on the basis of castes and sects, o r on personalities and personal am bitions of leaders’, and suggests that coalitions can succeed under certain conditions: T h e K erala exp erien ce has show n that c o a litio n governm ents can provide p olitical and ad m inistrative sta b ility and indeed produce rem ark able resu lts for the b en e fit o f the people. (. . .) T h e Kerala p attern o f two F ro n ts organ ized arou n d o n e m a jo r party, w ith sm aller but stab le allies in a m u lti-p arty situ a tio n , w ith each F ro n t having an even ch an ce, m ore or less, o f b ein g elected to pow er is, p erh ap s, the em erging m odel for the g o v ern an ce o f India from now on . (. . .) C onsid ering the m u lti-p arty p h en om en on in India and th e lu xu rian tly p lu ralist nature of ou r society, one has to loo k upon th is kind o f co alitio n as a provider o f stab le g o v e rn m e n ts.34

A few conditions appear to be essential for the success of such experim ents. W hile governm ent form ation via distribution of m inisterial berths between partn ers is an integral part of the a c­ com m odation that sustains coalition s, the pow ers of the head of governm ent are necessarily circu m scrib ed w ith regard to the appointm ent and dismissal of m inisters, or even the reallocation of portfolios. M oreover, clear ground rules becom e necessary for the co n d u ct of governm ent business. F o r in stan ce, it is im por­ tant to specify clearly those m atters w h ich require the prior ap­ proval o f the cou n cil of m inisters, as also the norm s applicable to independent policy statem ents by m inisters. W hile a co m ­ m on program m e and a code of conduct for m inisters are no doubt im p ortan t, at the end of the day w hat really sustains a coalition is the successful negotiation of differences. IV The parties of the U nited F ro n t (U F ), w h ich shared pow er with outside support from the C ongress during the Eleventh Lok Sabha ( 1 9 9 6 - 8 ) took a serious beating during and after the 1 9 9 8 elections. The secularism cem en t proved inadequate when p it­ ted against the com pulsions of anti-C ongressism . The losses suf-

190

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Table 5: The United Front / third force / unattached parties in the twelfth Lok Sabha Table 5.1 Left Parties Parties

Type

1.

CPI(M)

Multi-state

32

2.

CPI

M ulti-state

09

Single-state+

05

Single-state Single-state

02 01

Single-state

01

3.

Revolutionary Socialist Party 4. Forward Bloc 5. Auton. State Demand. Cttee. 7. Peasants & Workers Party

Total

Seats

Distribution W .Bengal 24/Kerala 06/ Tripura 02 W .Bengal 03/Kerala 02/ Andhra Pradesh 02/Tamil Nadu 01/Manipur 01 W.Bengal 04/Kerala 01 (RSP) W .Bengal (AIFB) Assam (J.Rongpil(ASDC) Maharashtra (PWP)

50

Table 5.2 Non-Left.Parties 1. Samajwadi Party* 2. 3.

Rashtriya Janata Dal* Janata Dal

Single-state Single-state M ulti-state

20 17 06

4.

D .M .K.**

Single-state

06

5.

Bahujan Samaj Party

Single-state*

6. 7.

Tamil Maanila Cong Samajwadi Janata Party * Janata Party

Single-state Single-state

05 01 03 01

Single-state

01

8. 9.

Independent*

01

Total

60

Uttar Pradesh Bihar Karnataka 03/Punjab 01/ Andhra 01/Bihar 01 Tamil Nadu 05/ Pondicherry 01 Uttar Pradesh 04/Haryana Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh (S.Chandrashekhar) Tamil Nadu (Subramaniam Swamy) Buta Singh (Rajasthan)

Sources: As for Table 2. Single-state* denotes parties w hich have marginally exceeded the confines of a single-state. Small/single member parties and independents are often identified via the name of the leader/MP. * Members of the short-lived Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha (National Democratic Front) formed in June 1998 to work for a non-BJP alternative majority. The RLM, w hich also included the RJP, split up after the fall of the Vajpayee government over the leadership of an alternative government, and Buta Singh rejoined the Congress party. ** Voted for the Vajpayee government in the April 1999 confidence motion.

fered by the non-L eft segm ent of the U F show ed that it was n o t able to derive political advantage from the m anner in w h ich it was first destabilized and then toppled by the C ongress. In fact, U F leaders turned their attention away from nation al politics to

Negotiating Differences

191

constituency-related concerns, and no alternative leader was pro­ jected .35 W hile the Left parties m anaged to substantially retain their earlier tally, there was a sharp decline in the political fortunes of som e key non-Left m em bers of the F ro n t, with others detaching them selves and m oving tow ards a closer understanding w ith the BJP-led majority. The defection of the Telugu Desam party and the National C onference left the United F ro n t badly truncated. The final blow cam e on 17 April 1 9 9 9 w hen the DMK broke ranks and the Samajwadi Party subsequently decided to block the em ergence of an alternative C ongress-led majority. W hile the Left parties rem ain united in their opposition to the BJP, they are divided in th eir attitude tow ards the Congress. The RSP and the Forw ard Bloc also balked at the idea of a C ongress-led governm ent and sealed the fate of Sonia G andhi’s bid for pow er after the fall of the Vajpayee governm ent. Before we move to the coalitional strategies of the BJP, it would be useful to factor in th e special situation of small parties and states in the forging of federal coalitions. The parties of the seven sm all states of n o rth -east India provide a good exam ple of the com pulsions of unequal size. They have traditionally dem on­ strated flexibility and have readily adapted to ch an g es in the pow er stru ctu re at New Delhi by supporting or even affiliating them selves w ith the ruling party of the m om ent. Viewing their represen tation in the L ok Sabha prim arily as a m eans of draw -

Table 6: Parties in the north-eastern states : 11 seats State/UT 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Tripura Manipur Meghalaya Arunachal Nagaland Mizoram

7. Sikkim

Total

Seats 02 02 02 02 01 01

INC

BJP

02 02

CPI (M) 2 Manipur State Congress 1/CPI 1

02

Arunachal Congress 2*

01

Mizoram Citizens Common Front (Indep.) Sikkim Democratic Front

02 01

01

11

Others Details of other parties

01

03

00

08

Source : As for Table 2. * The Arunachal Congress subsequently split into two and the Mitthei faction captured power in the state. It has since merged with the Indian National Congress

192

TRANSFORMING INDIA

ing attention and resources to the region, they constitute a prim e catch m en t area for federal coalition building. As we noted earlier, the dom inance of local co n cern s in the calcu lation s of sm aller state-b ased parties is n ot unusual. It is worth recalling that the Congress/anti-Congress cleavage rem ains a dom inant factor in decisions relating to the ch o ice of alliance partn ers in m ost states. Even larger state parties openly ju stify national level shifts by their beneficial im pact on state-level elec­ toral prospects. F o r in stance, at a p ost-election review confer­ ence, the Telugu Desam reiterated its basic philosophy of antiC ongressism while justifying its decision to leave the U nited F ro n t. It declared that ‘cond itional and issue-based’ su p p ort to the BJP-led coalition was extended because, * excep t for the TDP, the N ational C on ference and the A som Gana Parishad, oth er constituent parties adopted a pro-Congress approach’.36 Exp lain­ ing a sim ilar decision, the Sikkim D em ocratic F ro n t said it ‘is backing the BJP-led G overnm ent at the C entre for the sam e rea­ son as M r Naidu of Telugu D esam , despite the fact that Sikkim has a lone MP to offer in the bargain’. 37

V W hile the particip ation of the BJP in the Jan ata governm ent ( 1 9 7 7 - 9 ) in the afterm ath of the Em ergency was the o u tco m e of an extraordinary situation, the 1 9 8 9 - 9 0 rapprochem ent w ith the National Fron t/L eft F ro n t governm ent ended in a rupture w hose after-effects are still being felt. T he BJP, w ith its specific agenda and carefully nurtured support base, had never really been co m ­ fortable w ith the idea of federal coalitions. Being essentially an ideological party in its co re, its first preference was u n derstand­ ably for like-m inded parties w ith w hom it has shared pow er at the state level, viz., the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal. D eter­ m ined initially to tread a lonely path as a party unlike any other, it m oved w ith astonishing rapidity tow ards dem on strating that it could be a party like any other. The BJP drew im p ortan t lessons from its failure to secu re a m ajority, both at the polls and in parliam ent during those th ir­ teen fateful days in May 1 9 9 6 w hen Vajpayee stood alone. D e­ spite his best efforts at m od eratio n and con ciliatio n , the prim e m inister-designate was unable to m uster the requisite supp ort

Negotiating Differences

193

for a m inority governm ent and had to resign. In the 1 9 9 8 elec­ tions, w hile its own tally increased only marginally, it m oved towards a parliam entary m ajority on the strength of its alliances. Its clim b to pow er began in Ju n e 1 9 8 9 , when it decided to m ake H indutva and the Ram m andir issues its m ain electoral planks. T hough it scored im pressive initial gains, a plateau was reached fairly rapidly. The social profile o f its electorate also revealed con strain ts on exp an sion .38 W hile stressing that the rapid advances m ade by the party during the period 1 9 8 9 - 9 6 w ere due largely to id eological factors, p arty president L.K . Advani adm itted th e lim its of the H indutva agenda: ‘But since (th e) 1 9 9 6 electi6ns, it is n o t the sam e ideological factors w hich have sustained ou r grow th. Equally em phatically, it is not these ideological factors w hich have brought us new political allies in different states.’39 The sto ry of how the m ajority of 2 8 M arch 1 9 9 8 was co n ­ stru cted is a to rtu ou s one, capped by an eleventh h ou r deal w ith A ndhra Pradesh chief m inister Chandrababu N aidu, who got the speaker’s chajr for a TDP nom inee. It is evident that the distribution of m inisterial berths is an integral part of the powersharing w h ich sustains coalition s. The AIADM K-led group of parties, w ith 2 7 seats, engaged in stiff bargaining prior to gov­ ernm ent form ation.40 W ith the notable exception of the Trinamul C ongress, m ost oth er m ajor pre-election allies were included in the governm ent. As Table 7 show s, the m ovem ent led by A.B. Vajpayee attracted som e im portant post-electoral adhesions, too. How did the BJP in terp ret the m andate of the 1 9 9 8 election? Its leaders felt that the electoral verdict ‘vindicates our stand on national issues and gives us the responsibility of setting right the grievous w rongs of the p ast’.41 L.K. Advani spoke of the aspiration of becom ing the new ‘natural party of govern an ce’ and of th e dem ands of coalitional situations: (. . .) th e in terests o f the co alitio n at the C en tre are param ount. T h e party’s strategies in the states m ust be su b ord in ate to its n a ­ tional strategy. As a broad policy, it shou ld be ou r endeavour to develop the rig h t c o a litio n chem istry w ith ou r allies by con stan tly enlarging the area of com m on in terests and sh rin k in g , or at any rate in activ atin g , the area o f d ifferen ces.42

H ow ever, keeping in view the com position of the m ajority put together by the BJP, it is possible to argue that the verdict was

194

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Table 7: The Bharatiya Janata Party-led majority.________________ Parties

Type

Seats

Distribution

7.1 Pre electoral arrangements 1. Bharatiya Janata Party 2. Al Anna DMK (O) 3. Samata Party (O) 4. Biju Janata Dal (O) 5. Shiromani Akali Dal (R+) 6. Trinamul Congress (O) 7. Shiv Sena (R+) 8. Pattali Makal Katchi (O) 9. Marumalarchi DMK(O) 10. Lok Shakti (O) 11. Haryana Vikas Party (R+) 12. Tamizhaga R ajiv Cong(O) 13. Independents

National Single-state Single-state* Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state Single-state

7.1 Sub-total

182 18 12 09 08 07 06 04 03 03 01 01 02

A ll states except Kerala & North east Tamil Nadu (AIADM K) Bihar 1 0 / UP 02 (SP) Orissa (BJD) Punjab (SAD) West Bengal (T O Maharashtra (SS) Tamil Nadu (PMK) Tamil Nadu (MDMK) Karnataka (LS) Haryana (HVP) Tamil Nadu (V. Ramamurthy) Maneka Gandhi (UP), Satnam Singh Kainth (Punjab)

256

7.2. Post electoral adhesions 14. Indian National Lok Dal (O) 15. Arunachal Congress *(R) 16. Sikkim Democratic Fro nt(R ) 17. Manipur State Congress Party (R) 18. Citizens Common Front (O) 19. Bodoland State Movt. Cttee. (O) 20. Telugu Desam (R) 21. J&K National Conference **(R) 22. Anglo-Indians ••• 23. Unattached ****

7.2.Sub-Total Total T 7 . U T 7.2

Single-state

04

Haryana (IN LD )

Single-state Single-state

02 01

Arunachal Pradesh (AC) Sikkim (SDF)

Single-state

01

Manipur (MSCP)

Single-state

01

M izoram (Independent)

Single-state

01

Assam (Independent) (BSMC)

Single-state

11

Single-state

03

Andhra (excludes Speaker) (TDP) Jammu & Kashmir (J&K NC)

Nominated Defection

02 01

Bihar (Anand Mohan Singh)

27 283

Sources: As for Table 2. Note 1: (O )* Opposition; (R) = Ruling party and (R+)= Ruling coalition with BjP at the state level. Single-state* denotes parties w hich have marginally exceeded the confines of a single-state. Small/single member parties and independents are often identified via the name of the leader/MP. Note 2: Two other MPs were o riginally members of this m ajority: (a) Subramaniam Swamy, who absented him self during the March 1998 confidence motion and w as subse­ quently instrumental in engineering the defection of the 18-member A IA D M K group, precipitating the fall of the Vajpayee government; (b) Buta Singh (Ind), who defected to the Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha and ultimately rejoined the Congress.

Negotiating Differences

195

•Split into two at the state level: the AC (Mitthei) came to power and subsequently merged with the INC. One MP crossed over and voted against the Vajpayee government. ••The National Conference abstained during the confidence motion vote on 28 March 1998 and in itia lly offered only issue-based support to the BJP-led majority. It subse­ quently moved closer and even expelled its MP, Saifuddin Soz, who voted against the April 1999 confidence motion. ••• On the recommendation of the Vajpayee government, two members from the AngloIndian community were nominated by the president under Article 331 of the Constitu­ tion: Lt. Gen. Foley and Dr (Mrs) De Souza. Both voted for the government in the March 1998 and April 1999 confidence motions. •••• Elected as the Gujarat-based Rashtriya Janata Party's nominee, Anand Mohan Singh defected towards the Samata-BJP alliance and was expelled.

n ot as m u ch a m andate for the BJP as a vote of confid ence in its leader, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and his capabilities. Such m ajori­ ties are not unknow n in parliam entary system s: they rally round a leader, but do not necessarily transfer subsequently to the party. D uring the election cam paign, Vajpayee consisten tly skirted the issue of a program m e-based coalition but spoke of the co m ­ pulsions and con strain ts th at m ight em erge: You have to m ake a d istin ctio n betw een our allies. T h ere is one set o f p arties w ith w hom we are already sh arin g pow er in (th e ) states su ch as the Shiv Sena, Akali D al and HVP. In ad d ition , we have found som e new allies. T h ey are part of a m ovem ent th at we are leading and if we have to take th eir sup port for form ing the govern m ent, we w ill have to w ork o u t a program m e. C ontrover­ sial issues w ill no t gom e in the way.43

H aving m anaged to p u t to g eth er a p a rlia m e n ta ry m ajority, Vajpayee w as confronted w ith the task of con vertin g it into a coalition governm ent. After som e initial confusion, a co-o rd in a­ tion com m ittee was set up to sm oothen relations betw een the twelve pre-poll p artn ers, represen tin g eight states.44 This co m ­ m ittee how ever proved largely ineffective, m ainly because it did not m eet often enough. M ajor differences w ithin the coalition were either resolved bilaterally or aired in parliament. Fo r instance, an increase in the price of fertilizers included in the Union Budget for 1 9 9 8 -9 had to be reversed on the insistence of the Akali Dal and the AIADMK, who also demanded and obtained major changes in the proposed reform of the electric power sector to ‘protect’ the interests of their farm ers.45 The AIADMK also pressured vocifer­ ously for the dismissal of the governm ent in Tamil Nadu, while the Trinamul Congress even suspended its support to the coalition for a week to express its dissatisfaction with governm ent policies con-

196

TRANSFORMING INDIA

cem ing W est Bengal. Throughout its thirteen-m onth tenure, the Vajpayee government was beset with internal crises caused by frac­ tious and disputatious allies. Despite these irritants, it is rem ark­ able that, when it fell, the Vajpayee governm ent managed to retain the support of most of its alliance partners. It lost 2 0 MPs (AIADMK 18, J& K National Conference 1, Arunachal Congress 1) but gained 6 (DMK) to finish with a tally of 2 6 9 against 2 7 0 that the opposi­ tion was able to muster. It is said th at while the fox knows m any things, the hed ge­ hog knows one big thing. Has the BJP m ade the transition from fox to hedgehog in its quest for political pow er? Is there m eta­ m orphosis or only cam ouflage? The answ ers to these questions are central to the interpretation of trends in the further develop­ m ent of federal coalitions.

VI Is India becom in g ungovernable? The tw elfth Lok Sabha lasted barely th irteen m onths and the cou n try will go to the polls in Septem ber 1 9 9 9 for the third tim e in four years to elect an o th er governm ent. A sum m ary recap itu lation of the last two elections clearly show s that the BJP and the C ongress togeth er only m ar­ ginally increased their vote share and, betw een them , obtained 5 9 .5 per cen t of the seats. As Table 8 , on the relative share of national and regional/state parties, reveals there is a m arked in-

Table 8 : National and state parties in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections Parties

1996 Seats %

1998 Votes %

Seats %

Votes %

Congress BJP

25.8 29.6

28.8 20.3

26.0 33.5

25.9 25.5

51.4

Sub-total

55.4

49.1

59.5

Other national parties *

18.8

20.0

11.8

16.6

Sub-total

74.2

69.1

71.3

68.0

25.8 1 0 0 .0

30.9 1 0 0 .0

28.7 1 0 0 .0

32.0 1 0 0 ,0

State parties and others

Total

*1996 = CPI (M), CPI, Samsta, Janata Dal, A IIC (Tiwari) and Janata Party; 1998 = CPI (M), CPI, Samata, Janata D al, and BSP. Sources: As for Table 2. N = 543 seats for 1996 and 1998 per cent seats, but N = 539 seats for 1998 per cent votes.

Negotiating Differences

197

crease in the represen tation of single-state parties, at the e x ­ pense of sm aller m ulti-state ‘national’ parties notably the Ja n a ta Dal, w hich seems to be on its way to political oblivion as it has in effect becom e a loosely-knit front of state parties pursuing often conflicting alliance strategies. W ith the erosion of its credibility on the nationalism and so ­ cialism projects it earlier espoused, the C ongress today is in search of m obilizing strategies capable of enthusing the elector­ ate. Electoral statistics and trends of the past two decades show that a single-party m ajority is outside its reach. N evertheless, its polity-wide organizational spread still makes it a formidable po­ litical force, capable of m obilizing an alternative majority. C on ­ gress party leaders m et at a ‘brainstorm ing cam p’ at Pachm arhi to take stock and map out a strategy for the Novem ber 1 9 9 8 state assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi. One of the background papers admitted that ‘the Indian political scene has reached a point where one-party dom inance appears to be a thing of the past’.46 In her inaugural address, party president Sonia Gandhi outlined the tasks before the party: We m ust acknow ledge that we have n o t su ccessfu lly acco m m o ­ dated the aspirations o f a w hole new g eneration o f dalits, adivasis and backw ard p eople, p a rticu la rly in th e n o rth e rn parts o f th e country. C ould this be one of the reasons for our d eclin e in states lik e U ttar Pradesh and B ih ar ? ( . . . ) W h at is distu rbing is the loss o f ou r so cia l b ase, o f th e so cia l c o a litio n th at su p p orts us and lo o k s up to u s.47

In her conclu din g rem arks she alluded to the ‘hot top ic’ of co a litional strategy: F rien d s, th ere has been m u ch talk abou t the C on g ress’ attitu d e tow ards a co alitio n governm ent. T h e fact that we are going th rou gh a co alitio n al phase at n ation al level p o litics reflects in m any ways the d eclin e xif-the C ongress. T h is is a passing phase and we w ill com e b ack again w ith full force and on ou r own steam . But in the in terim , co alitio n s may w ell be need ed .48

T he co n text for these discussions was provided by the grow ing unpopularity of the BJP governm ent for its inability to ch eck rising prices of food staples, notably onions. Fu rther, since the upcom ing assem bly elections w ere m ostly straight contests be­ tw een the Congress and the BJP, there was no urgency to take a

198

TRANSFORMING INDIA

m ore categorical stand. The question resurfaced w ith th e abrupt collapse of the Vajpayee governm ent on 17 April 1 9 9 9 . R eject­ ing the idea of a governm ental coalition , Sonia Gandhi staked h er claim for heading a m inority governm ent w ith outside sup­ port. W hen she failed to m uster the necessary numbers, she with­ drew and declared: ‘W e are not ready to support a T hird F ro n t, F o u rth F ro n t or w hatever it is called. W e will not give o u r sup­ p o rt to anybody else.’49 R ecent exp erien ce w ith th e instability of m inority and coali­ tion governm ents has undeniably generated m isgivings. Sup­ port to m inority governm ents has been proffered and w ithdrawn w ith bew ildering frequency, and often for reasons w h ich strain credibility. Political m alp ractices and even dow nright co rru p ­ tion have further aggravated the malaise. The Congress perceives an anti-coalition m ood in the electo rate and is th erefore averse to any pow er-sharing com m itm en t at the national level which w ould im plicitly legitim ize the co alition idea. The c h o ice it offers is again betw een th e stability of on e-p arty rule and the instability of coalitions. Sonia Gandhi has spelt out the strategy for the 1 9 9 9 elections in these term s: ‘W h en the electo rate sees us strong, united and single-m inded, and con trasts us w ith the m ulti-headed m onster the BJP is fielding, there is no doubt that their vote will go to the solid, reliable, tim e-tested stability which the C ongress has on offer.’50 Sum m ing up the situ ation w hich led to the dissolution of the twelfth Lok Sabha, President K.R. N arayanan observed that ‘the ruling alliance had lost its m ajority because of a lack of cohesion w ithin its ranks, and those who voted out the alliance show ed the sam e lack of cohesion when trying to form an alter­ native governm ent’.51 W hile Vajpayee was able to m uster a m ajority, w h eth er he succeeded in forging a viable coalition rem ains a m oot point. His experience underscored n o t only the need for credible public pacts but also the im portance of taking sub-agendas seriously. The absence of effective co-ord ination to resolve in tra-coalition spats was one of the notable failures of the Vajpayee govern­ m ent. Its partners repeatedly com plained of being ignored or n o t being consulted often enough on m ajor policy issues. They felt that sharing pow er had not resulted in their being able to influence policies. On the oth er hand, efforts by the dom inant

Negotiating Differences

199

party to push forward its own reserve agenda provoked sharp protest, notably its policy tow ards religious m inorities and the resultant attack s on C hristian m issionaries. The BJP crafted a m ajority but had not yet evolved a strategy of living in peace w ith m inorities. The traditions of the Sangh Parivar and its u n ­ fulfilled p rojects arguably prevent it from seriously negotiating differences. W h en the BJP execu tive m et at Bangalore in Jan u ary 1 9 9 9 against the backdrop of the party’s dismal perform ance in the recent state assembly elections and the attacks on Christian places of w orship, there was an attem pt to redefine governm ent-Sangh Parivar relations. Vajpayee succeeded in getting his m oderate line partially in corporated in the political resolution w hich said: ‘Any attack on a place of w orship, w hether a church o r tem ple, is deplorable and can n o t be con d on ed .’52 This trend towards granting greater m anouverability to the governm ent wing is also reflected in the strategy approved by the BJP national execu tive for the 1 9 9 9 Lok Sabha elections. Recognizing that its organ iza­ tio n al base is still in ad eq u ate in m any s ta te s , it decid ed to exten d a pow er-sharing offer to all regional parties engaged in state-level co n tests w ith the C ongress and d eclared: ‘In d ia’s in terests can be served best by involving regional parties in the process of governance.’53 W hat is even m ore significant, the party decided not to issue its own election m anifesto afresh but to w ork towards a jo in t m anifesto based on the national agenda for g o v ern an ce evolved earlier.54 C ontrasted with the C on gress’ continu ed resistan ce to coalition s, the BJP appears to have em ­ braced them wholeheartedly. The Vajpayee experim ent in coalition governm ent has throw n up som e im portan t lessons. W hen coalitions are viewed as a dharm a to be suffered till better karm a brings the rew ards of undiluted pow er and dom inance, broader questions of federal pow er-sharing and the participation of states in national policy­ m aking are n o t addressed in any serious way. Robust federal coalitions w hich reconcile the demands of regional interests with the need for national cohesion can emerge only if coalition leaders are com m itted to developing it as a form of governance. F o r this, they m ust see in it not merely necessity but also some virtue. If state-based parties assert themselves to defend their vital inter­ ests, they are invariably castigated for being parochial. In reality,

200

TRANSFORMING INDIA

the polity has still to evolve appropriate institutions and processes for the effective articulation and aggregation of these interests. This grave lacuna has its inevitable consequences for governm ental sta­ bility and periodically plunges the country into political turm oil. The political gridlock in w hich the party system finds itself today is probably the greatest challenge the Indian political class has faced so far. Never before have power-sharing deals been struck under such intense media coverage. Smaller parties seeking to extend their influence and defend their interests in the national policy arena use every possible leverage, even at the risk of being charged with opportunism and inconsistency. Few things are inevitable in politics. N evertheless, in the c o n ­ text of India’s diversity, coalitions may well be one of them . To hold that coalition politics is not only here to stay but can also becom e a viable alternative to earlier arrangem ents is not m erely the trium ph of hope over experience. It is based on an un der­ standing that dem ocratic accountability is best achieved in plural societies through parliam entary federalism. Those who bem oan the costs of coalition governance ignore sim ilar deals cloaked in the secrecy of dom inant party discipline. The m ultiplicity of partners and sub-agendas obviously brings about greater tran s­ parency, but the policy ou tcom es are not necessarily different or even inferior to those em erging from single-party dispensations. In sum , coalition s are likely to rem ain unstable till su ch tim e as one of the core coalition -m akin g parties adopts the co a litional strategy on a durable basis as a deliberate political op tion. As long as both view them as transitory arrangem ents in th e chim erical quest for single-party majority, they will fall prey to the pow er m axim ization calculations of sm aller partners w h o will quite naturally take full advantage of the situation. The cy cle of repeated elections and elusive m ajorities can only be brok en by bold reorientations. As o f now the BJP has opted for co n so li­ dating its existin g coalition and facing the electorate on a c o m ­ m on platform . An alternative coalition is now here in sigh t, bu t may yet em erge.

I am indebted to Douglas Verney for his detailed comments on an earlier version of some portions of this paper, which appeared as Regional Aspirations and National Cohesion: Federal Coalitions in the 1998 Lok Sabha Elections’, in West B engal Political S cien ce Re\iew (Calcutta), vol. 1, 1998.

Negotiating Differences

2 01

Notes 1 Daniel Elazar, Exploring F ed eralism (Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press), 1987. 2 Arend Lijphart, ‘The Puzzle of Indian Democracy: A Consociational Inter­ pretation’, in Am erican Political Science Review, vol. 90, no. 2 (June 1996). 3 Cf. Alfred Stepan, ‘Democracy and Federalism’, Sem inar, November 1997. See also his case for the parliamentary variant ‘Constitutional Frameworks and D em ocratic C onsolidation: Parliam entarism vs Presidentialism ’, W orld P olitics, vol. 4 6, no. 1 (O ctober 1993). 4 Rasheeduddin Khan, B ew ildered India: Identity, P luralism , D iscord (New Delhi: H ar-A nand), 1994. 5 A notable attem pt is E. Sridharan, C oalition Politics in India: Lessons from Theory, C om parison and Recent History (New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research), 1997. 6 The im pact of m ulti-level governmental structures is not adequately reflected in theorization on coalitional stability in parliamentary sys­ tems, since m ost of them are unitary states. Cf. David P. Baron, ‘Com ­ parative Dynamics of Parliamentary G overnm ents’, A m erican P olitical Science Review, vol. 9 2 , no. 3 (Septem ber 1998), pp. 5 9 3 -6 0 9 . 7 Francine Frankel and M.S.A. Rao (eds), D om inance and State P ow er in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1990, 2 vols. 8 Exam ples of such tensions are to be found in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra. Cf. Mahesh Vijapurkar, ‘BJP Forces Sena to Concede Its Demands’, The Hindu, 20 August 1998. 9 This is particularly applicable to coalitions w ith a predom inance of par­ ties in power at the state level. On the other hand, coalitions with parties in opposition seeking alliance to capture power with the help of central intervention as pivotal members could prove unstable. The power to dislodge state governments under Article 356 is now subject to judicially determ ined norms, and current levels of federal development would im ­ pose heavy political costs on overtly discrim inatory practices. For a rul­ ing/opposition classification of allied parties in the BJP-led coalition see Table 7. 10 Cf. Philip W illiam s, Politics in Post-W ar F ran ce: Crisis and C om prom ise (Harlow: Longm ans), 1964, 3rd edn. 11 V. Athreya, ‘Sonia Effect Checks BJP Advance’, Frontline, 6 March 1998 and A .C . Nielson, ‘Congress Resurgence’, Outlook, 16 February 1998. A sim ilar fall out was sought to be averted by disclaim ing responsibility for the fall o f the Vajpayee government. The counter-cam paign of the BJP portrays Vajpayee as a hapless victim of intrigue ( ‘W hat wrong did this man d o?’) and vows ‘Let us teach them (Sonia Gandhi, Laloo Yadav, Jayalalitha, Harkishan Surjeet and Mayawati) a lesson, and bring back the true leader of India’, Indian Express, 27 April 1999,

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12 Cf. Jam es Madison, ‘Men of factious tem pers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people’, in Alexander Hamilton, Jam es Madison, Jo h n Jay, The F ederalist (Bom bay: Popular Prakashan/Harvard University Press), 1961, p. 53. 13 Nirmal M ukaiji and Balveer Arora (ed s), Federalism in India: Origins and D evelopm ent (New Delhi: Vikas), 1992. 14 V.P. Singh (4 .1 2 .8 9 -1 0 .1 1 .9 0 ) quit when the BJP withdrew support, and Chandrashekhar ( 1 1 .1 1 .9 0 -2 1 .6 .9 1 ) resigned in March 1991 w hen the Congress pulled the plug. The 1991 Lok Sabha elections were conducted in two stages, and Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in the intervening period demonstrably improved the Congress tally. The United Front prime m in­ isters, Deve Gowda (1 .6 .9 6 -2 1 .4 .9 7 ) and lnder Gujral (2 2 .4 .9 7 -1 8 .3 .9 8 ) were both victim s of the abrupt withdrawal of support by the Congress. 15 Cf. ‘Naive federalists think the rise of regional parties heralds a more federal India that will be more unified. ( . . . ) The entire ethos of regional parties is to magnify local interests and ignore those of the rest o f the country. So, far from creating a happier country, the rise o f regional parties could spell more tension.’ Editorial, ‘Unity in Unhappiness’, The E conom ic Tim es, 13 August 1996. 16 On the origins and growth of parties based on local particularisms during the phase of Congress party dominance, see Christiane Hurtigand Balveer Arora, Les Partis Politiques Indiens (Paris: Documentation Française), 1972. 17 Jam es Manor, ‘Regional Parties in Federal Systems: India in Comparative Perspective’, in Balveer Arora and Douglas V. Verney (eds), M ultiple Iden ­ tities in a S in g le-state: Indian F ed era lism in C o m p a ra tiv e P ersp ectiv e (D elhi: Konark), 1995. 18 The Mandai Commission recommended jo b reservations for backward classes: it was implemented by the VP Singh government in 1990. Hindutva is the credo of the BJP and acquired political salience at the same time. It led notably to the demolition o f the Babri masjid at Ayodhya in 1992. 19 For an analysis o f trends leading upto the 1996 Lok Sabha elections see Paul Brass, ‘Regionalism, Hindu Nationalism and Party Politics in India’s Federal System’, (pp. 1 3 7 -1 6 5 ), in Ian Copland a n d jo h n Rickard (eds), F ed era lism : C o m p a ra tiv e P erspectives fro m India and A u stralia (New Delhi: M anohar), 1999. On the regionalization of the party system, see Zoya Hasan, ‘Region and Nation in India’s Political Transition’, ibid., pp. 166-83. 20 The Election Com m ission lists seven national, 30 state and 139 regis­ tered and unrecognized parties which actually contested the 1998 elec­ tions. It terms national, any party which is recognized as a state party in at least four states. T his categorization is reviewed after each election. For instance, the Samata Party was de-recognized as a national party by

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the Election Com m ission in the light of the 1998 results, as it m et the m inimum criteria in only three states: Bihar, Haryana and Manipur. On the proliferation of parties and a proposal for curbing fragm entation through disincentives, see Douglas Verney, 'Improving C oalition G ov­ ernm ent in India’, D enouem ent (New Delhi) Ja n -F e b 1999. 21 As for instance in David Butler et al, India Votes 1952-91 (New Delhi: Living Media), 1991, p. 73. 22 In com mon parlance, all parties except the INC and the BJP are dubbed ‘regional parties’ with the possible exception of the two com m unist par­ ties. We have borrowed from Alfred Stepan the term ‘polity-wide’ for the INC and the BJP, since ‘national’ could have normative or ideological connotations w hich are not intended when we use it. 23 Apart from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi where elections were held, there is a C ongress-BJP face-off in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The sixth state where the BJP has sizeable support is Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress has been replaced by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. These six states accounted for two-thirds of the BJP contingent in the twelfth Lok Sabha. 24 The last genuine m ajority was arguably in 1980, since political assassina­ tions scram bled voter preferences in 1984 (Indira Gandhi) and in the second round of the 1991 elections (Rajiv Gandhi). On the progressive consolidation of the non-Congress alternative during the Eighties and how the idea of a Federal Front took shape see Balveer Arora, ‘India’s Federal System and the Demands of Pluralism: Crisis and Reform in the Eighties’, i n j. Chaudhuri (ed.), IndiaS Beleaguered Federalism : The Plural­ ist C hallenge (Tempe: Arizona State University Press), 1992, pp. 5 -2 5 . 25 V.N.Gadgil, ‘C oalition Politics: Congress Must Stay O ut’, Times o f India, 1 3 Ju ly 1996. 26 Political Resolution of the 80th plenary session of the Indian National Congress held at Calcutta on August 9 - 1 0 , 1997. 27 Cited by Vijay Sinha in Indian Express, 10 August 1997. 28 Ibid. Sitaram Kesri was removed from his post on 14 March 1998 and form ally replaced by Sonia Gandhi at the New D elhi A1CC session on 6 April 1998. Subsequently, party statutes were amended to enable her election as leader of the parliamentary wing, even though she was not a member of either House. 29 There was an electoral understanding with the Samajwadi Party in Maharashtra. The relationship with Laloo Yadav’s RJD and Mulayam Yadav’s SP have been hotly debated within the Congress, as state party units seek to regain a foothold. On changes at the state level see Yogendra Yadav, ‘Reconfiguration in Indian Politics: State Assembly Elections, 1 9 9 3 -9 5 ’, Econom ic and P olitical Weekly, vol. XXXI, nos. 2 - 3 (1 3 -2 0 January 1996), pp. 9 5 -1 0 4 .

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50 Interview citation in Indian Express, 25 January 1998. 31 W hile the 1996 figure is m entioned by Gadgil, (art. c it.), the 1998 figure excludes two states (J& K and H.P.) and is compiled from R ajiv jain (ed .), D irectory o f 12th LS & RS M em bers 1998 (New Delhi: India Investm ent Centre), 1998. 32 This rose to 39 per cent in the 1998 elections. Cf. Yogendra Yadav, ‘Post Poll: W ho Voted for W hom ?’ India Today, 16 March 1998. Its tally in the reserved SC/ST constituencies has also decreased over the years. 33 Election Com m ission, Statistical Report on the G en eral Elections 1998, (Vol. 1, Ver 1 for 5 3 9 seats), p. 50. 34 K.R. Narayanan, speech at the inauguration of the new state legislature com plex at Thiruvananthapuram , 22 May 1998. 35 W hile I.K. Gujral withdrew to nurse his Jalandhar constituency with the support of the Shirom ani Akali Dal, other UF leaders rarely campaigned outside their states. Laloo Yadav had earlier broken away from the Janata Dal to form his own party (RJD) in Bihar, and advocated a tie-up with the Congress. 36 Political resolution adopted at the annual conference (Mahaanadu) held on 27 May 1998. T he resolution further recalls the contribution o f its founder N.T. Rama Rao to building the (1 9 8 9 ) anti-Congress National Front coalition. ( T he Hindu, 28 May 1998). Even the Samata party, an avowedly non-regional BJP ally, voices prim arily Bihar-related demands within the coalition, viz., dismissal o f the Rabri Devi governm ent and financial compensation for the proposed Jharkhand/Vananchal state. More recently, the DMK moved to the BJP camp because the AIADMK had moved out. 37 Mohan Dungmali, General Secretary, SDF, in a letter to Hindustan Tim es, 31 May 1998. The North-Eastern Council meeting of 8 May 1998 decided to admit Sikkim as its eighth member. Legislation for restructuring the Council is on the anvil, and the deputy chairm an of the Planning Com ­ mission would replace the senior-m ost governor of the region as its head. The Hindu, 9 May 1998. 38 On this point, see Jam es Chiriyankandath, ‘Tricolour and Saffron: C on­ g re ss and th e N e o -H in d u C h a lle n g e ’ in S u b ra ta M itra and J . Chiriyankandath (ed s) E lectoral P olitics in India (New Delhi: Segm ent), 1992 and Yogendra Yadav, ‘W ho Voted for W hom ?’, op. cit. 39 Presidential address at the meeting of the National Executive on 11 April 1998, cited in The Hindu, 12 April 1998. 40 This group com prised four other local parties (PMK, MDMK, TRC and JP ). The letters of support that President Narayanan required before inducting A.B. Vajpayee as prime m inister were not forthcom ing im m e­ diately and were obtained only after protracted negotiations. W hen the AIADMK finally withdrew support after thirteen m onths of uneasy co ­

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habitation and repeated threats, the PMK, MDMK and TRC remained with the Vajpayee government. 41 Political Resolution adopted by the National Executive at its meeting of 1 1 -1 2 April 1998. 42 Speech at the National Executive M eeting, cited by Anil Saxena, The Tim es o f India, 12 April 1998. Sonia Gandhi had earlier spoken of the need to restore the Congress to its earlier position o f ‘the natural party of governance’ after assuming the presidency of the party at the AICC session of 6 April 1998. 43 Interview with PR. Ramesh, The Econom ic Times, 26 January 1998. 44 Jasw ant Singh was initially appointed convenor, with Advani represent­ ing the BJP on the committee. George Fernandes assumed the convenor’s role in October 1998 because Jasw ant Singh’s services were com man­ deered for the delicate post-Pokhran II diplomatic talks with the United States. Of the post-poll adherents, only the Arunachal Congress received representation in the ministry. 45 ‘Power Reform: Stalled Again?’ Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, 23 May 1998, p. 1215. 46 ‘Political Scene and the Indian National Congres’, cited by Harish Khare in The Hindu, 31 August 1998. 47 AICC, Brainstorm ing Cam p at P achm arhi: Septem ber 1998, p. 7. On the strategy vis-à-vis the BJP led coalition she said, in te rn a l contradictions are being exposed day by day. ( . . . ) Our stand of not rushing into bring­ ing this government down has been appreciated all round.’ 48 Ibid., p. 29. The political resolution adopted considered ‘the present diffi­ culties in forming one-party governments a transient phase’ and decided ‘that coalitions will be considered only when absolutely necessary, and that too on the basis of agreed programmes which will not weaken the party or compromise its basic ideology’, p. 17. 49 Cited by Arati Jerath, ‘Poll Clouds Gather’, Indian Express, 26 April 1999. Parties which were resolutely opposed to a Congress m inority govern­ m ent included Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party and two members of the Left Front, the Forward Bloc and the RSP. 50 Address at the m eeting of state party presidents, chief ministers and heads of legislature parties at New Delhi, 6 May 1999. Electoral under­ standings and adjustm ents at the state level were not ruled out. The Hindu, 7 May 1999. 51 Rashtrapati Bhavan, Press Com muniqué, 26 April 1999 (President’s Secre­ tariat). 52 Mosques were significantly not mentioned! The Econom ic Times, 4 Jan u ­ ary 1999. 51 Political Resolution adopted at the New Delhi session on 2 May 1999, The Hindu, 3 May 1999. Advani justified the need for a broader coalition

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w hich would be a rallying point for all parties w hich have wrested political space from the Congress: ‘The decline of the Congress was more rapid than the growth of the BJP and the vacuum was filled by oth er parties.’ 54 It would thus steer clear of controversial item s on its earlier agenda, i.e ., Ayodhya, a com m on civil code and A rticle 3 7 0 , regarding which Advani said: ‘We have not changed our views but the issues have been kept in abeyance as per requirem ent of coalition politics.’ Indian Ex­ press, 3 May 1999.

Economic Policy and the Development of Capitalism in India: the role of regional capitalists and political parties

SANJAYA BARU*

An im portan t aspect of the d em ocratic transform ation of India over th e last half cen tu ry has been the developm ent of private enterprise and the m ovem ent of private surplus from agricu l­ ture to industrial enterprise. In m any parts of the country, a new generation of industrial entrep ren eurs has em erged since Independence and has begun to successfully challenge estab­ lished business houses, m any of w hich had m erchant capitalist origins and cam e into being in the earlier part of this century. Political econom ists have not paid the sam e attention to these con tem p oraneou s trends in the developm ent of capitalist en­ terprise as econom ic historians have to historical trends in this regard. W hile there is a rich and varied literatu re on the origins of business enterprise in British India, there is as yet scanty lit­ erature on the changing nature of capitalist enterprise in postIndependence In d ia.1 M oreover, even this lim ited literature is devoted largely to the analysis of ‘big business’ or ‘m onopoly capital’, w ith relative neglect of the ‘n o n -m on op o ly’, ‘regional’ capitalist class.2 Indeed, even the acad em ic literature on Indian ‘big business’ or ‘monopoly capital’ is considerably out of date since m ost of it is based on obsolete analytical concepts developed by the various official com m ittees of inquiry w hich studied the ‘co n cen tratio n of econ o m ic pow er’ in the 1 9 6 0 s and 1 9 7 0 s . There has been considerable change in the stru ctu re of ow ner­ * Acknowledgment: I would like to thank Francine Frankel, Mario Rutten, D. N arasim ha Reddy, Rama Vaidyanathan Baru, A.K. Bagchi and E. Sreedharan for com m ents on an earlier draft. I am also grateful to a referee for editorial changes and com ments.

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s h ip in th e p r iv a te c o r p o r a t e s e c t o r , th e r a n k in g o f b u s in e s s

houses, their co n tro l over various m arkets and industries, the nature of their op eration s, and so o n .3 M uch of this has been w ritten about in the financial m edia, but th ere is very little detailed academ ic analysis of these trends, and of the la tte r’s significance for an understanding of the nature of Indian cap i­ talism. Given this academ ic neglect of the changing nature of Indian ‘big business’, it is not surprising that trends in the grow th of the ‘n o n -m o n o p o ly ’, ‘r e g io n a lly -b a s e d ’ b u sin ess class have attracted even less academ ic atten tio n , especially from e co n o ­ m ists.4 Interestingly, of the published research on ‘regional’ busi­ ness enterp rise m ost of it has been authored by sociologists, largely n o n -In d ian s!5 A detailed analysis of the em ergence of a new, post-Indep enden ce generation ‘n on -m on op o ly’, regional business class is required to understand the dynam ics of cap i­ talist developm ent in India. If econom ists have ignored these dynam ics, political scientists have also been guilty of n eg lect­ ing the analysis of the politics of regionally differentiated cap i­ talist developm ent, and the im plications of the em ergence of a new regional business class for state-level politics. Thus, the nature of the link betw een different segm ents of the business class and different layers of the political leadership has also not been adequately analysed.6 In this paper, I discuss the im plications of the em ergence of new entrepreneurial groups and regional differentiation in capi­ talist developm ent for national econom ic policy, as well as som e of the em erging links betw een these processes of econ om ic change and political pow er in India.

Regional Differentiation in Capitalist Development E con om ic historians have for long recognized the existen ce of regional variations in the developm ent of capitalist enterprise in the Indian su b con tin en t.7 However, in the post-Independence period the desire to discern national trends in capitalist indus­ trialization m ay have discouraged a m ore detailed inquiry into the dynam ics of state-b ased capitalism . The fact th at the sub­ continen t had been united under a single national governm ent which was now responsible for form ulating national policies

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partly shifted the focus of atten tion to national trends. Perhaps ideology also played a role. The need felt by som e analysts to discover ‘all-India’ trends and tendencies in order to show that the national econom y had a dynam ic of its ow n, that a ‘national bourgeoisie’ had com e into existen ce, th at national policy m ust be aim ed at supporting such a national capitalist class, and so on, m ay also have encouraged glossing over these differences. There is no doubt th at the integration of the hom e m arket w as an im p o rta n t o b jectiv e o f planned in d u stria liz a tio n in India, and th at a considerable degree of such in tegration had taken place even at the time of independence. Indeed, even his­ torically we icnow that m erchant capitalists from the W est had travelled to both the East and the South, and subcontinent-w ide netw ork s o f trade and in vestm en t had been established. At Independence, dom estic ‘big business’ had nationw ide op era­ tions. T hus, M arwari enterprise had acquired a base in such faroff places as C alcutta, M adras, Hyderabad, and Kanpur. Gujarati enterprise was well settled in Bombay, although Parsi enterprise was m ostly localized in w estern India. W h at the p rocess of planned in dustrialization did was to deepen this process of in­ tegration of the hom e m arket. The new opportunities for private investm ent that planned in d u strialization created w ere naturally exploited m ostly by those best positioned to do so, namely, either foreign co m p a­ nies or the already entren ch ed dom estic business groups. By the 1 9 6 0 s , after alm ost two decades of industrial developm ent, m ost private investm ent was controlled either by m ultinational com panies o r by the M arwari, G ujarati and Parsi enterprise that had m ade the best use of the new opportunities that cam e along. It is not surprising, therefore, that there was con cern about the ‘co n cen tratio n of econ om ic pow er’, of the grow th of ‘m onopoly capitalism ’ and so on. W hile this led to new legislation that sought to curb this tendency, it also led to political m obiliza­ tion against ‘m onopoly capitalists’. Interestingly, in som e parts of the country, such m obilization acquired a ‘regional’ dimension, a fact not adequately researched. F o r in stance, in M aharashtra in the 1 9 5 0 s , the state governm ent con sciou sly discrim inated against Parsi and Gujarati capitalists and encouraged Maratha capital in newly emerging industries like sugar, as well as in traditional industries like cotton textiles. So %

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was the case in Uttar Pradesh, where Charan SiAgh com m issioned a study in 1 9 6 9 on ‘n o n -local’ capitalists in the sugar mill in­ dustry and dem anded the nationalization of their assets and its transfer to ‘local’ grow ers on the grounds that ‘national cap ital­ ists’ had not re-invested the surpluses they had extracted from their investm ent in sugar mills back into the industry. Instead, they had siphoned off these surpluses and invested them else­ w h ere.8 However, w hat is interesting is that in M aharashtra, G ujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh regional capitalists w ere able to e n te r th e su g ar m ill in d u s try in a big way, m arginalizing som e of the older, national big business houses, while in Bihar and U ttar Pradesh, the absence of a regional busi­ ness class m eant that either the national big business survived the political onslaught of state politicians or allowed their mills to be nationalized. Indeed, the sugar m ill industry offers an excellen t illustra­ tion of a wider phenom enon, since observed in textiles, steel, cem en t, and chem icals and fertilizers, w herein regional busi­ ness groups have been able to m ake substantial headway, re­ ducing the relative presence of national big business groups. Some regional groups, like N agarjuna of Andhra Pradesh, have in fact been able to expand and acquire a national position. In the sugar mill industry, m ost of the expansion of capacity has occu rred within the cooperative sector, facilitating the em er­ gence of an agrarian capitalist class in H aryana, Punjab, w est­ ern U tta r P rad esh , G u jarat, M ah arash tra, A ndhra P rad esh , K arnataka, and Tamil Nadu. At the sam e tim e, the grow th of the private, jo in t-sto ck sector, to the exten t new mills have been set up, has enabled regional capitalists like M ahalingam (Tam il Nadu Sugars) and Rajshree in Tamil Nadu, the KCP G roup, H arischandra Prasad (Andhra Sugars) and N agarjuna in Andhra Pradesh to expand their business activity. Interestingly, the new opportunities for foreign investm ent in sugar are increasingly being exploited by these regional business groups (N agarjuna and Rajshree have recently set up sugar mills in Vietnam) rather than the national big business groups like Shriram and Birla. W hile some sociologists have studied the conflict between regional and national capitalists, econom ists studying the de­ velopm ent of cap italist en terp rise in India have largely ig ­ nored this aspect of capitalist developm ent. The fact that the

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industrial licensing system had been used to pre-em pt capacity was well recognized by econ om ists. This recognition did not, how ever, encourage m u ch inquiry into the kind of con flict of in terest between ‘m onopoly capital’ or ‘big business’, w ith in­ fluence in Delhi, and the ‘non-m on op oly’ capitalists w ith lo cal­ ized influence in som e regions, as a consequ ence of such a par­ tisan system . By the 1 9 7 0 s , however, it becam e difficult to ig­ nore either the sharp inter-regional variations in capitalist de­ velopm ent or the lines o f tension within the dom estic business class betw een the so-called ‘national, m onopoly’ capitalists and the ‘regional, n on -m on op o ly’ capitalists. In a fascinating essay on industrial developm ent in India published in 1 9 7 6 , K.N. Raj called for a different kind of planning from the sort we have had so far— much more aware of the inter-regional differences within the country, hence more decentralized, and m ore genuinely experim ental and innova­ tive with fewer models, directives and guidelines imposed from above. This in turn would naturally require a more decentralized system of decision-m aking and therefore of political arrangem ents.9

W h at are the factors th at m ay have played a role in regionally differentiated or state-b ased cap italist develop m en t in p o stIndependence India? M ost com m en tators on the subject are agreed that history was the single m ost im portant determ inant of this process. That is, the regional pattern of development that was shaped by two centuries o f colonial rule, the differential im pact of land settlem ent system s, developm ent of urban m arkets, pro­ letarianization of peasantry, and so on, were so enduring that post-Indep enden ce planning and state intervention could do little to alter the historical bias in regional d evelop m en t.10 W hile there is no doubt that long-run historical factors re­ m ained influential, state intervention and planning also played their part. The uneven progress of the Green R evolution, very m u ch a prod uct of a nationally planned intervention , further accen tu ated this h istorical differentiation. Banerjee and G hosh m ake the point that state and central governm ents have inter­ vened m ore effectively to support capitalist private enterprise where the regional capitalist class was already influential (as in Punjab, Haryana, G ujarat, M aharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and A ndhra P rad esh ), and where it has traditionally played a m ore im portan t political role along with the rich peasantry.11

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Conversely, they argue, the support given to private en terp rise has been w eak in eastern India, where the indigenous cap italist class is weak. This argum ent does not address the qu estion as to why the ‘nation al, m onopoly’ capitalist class, w ith a signifi­ cant h istorical presence in eastern India, was unable to secu re greater supp ort for its grow th in this region, but it does draw attention to the fact th at capitalist developm ent has been s tro n ­ gest w here a local business class cam e into its ow n and had access to state power. Exp lorin g the influence of differential agricultural grow th on industrialization, or grow th of non-farm enterprises, Raj ( 1 9 7 6 ) argued th at regional variations in output grow th and su rp lu sgeneration are bound to influence the potential for cap italist developm ent in different regions. To quote him: W hen the incom es of the rural com munity fluctuate considerably, the purchasing power left for buying industrial products w ill also n atu ­ rally vary a great deal. This is bound to affect the emergence and growth of industrial enterprises, particularly of small enterprises in the rural and sem i-urban areas. And, w ithout the rapid growth o f such indus­ trial enterprises, industrial growth in the larger enterprises can have but a lim ited im pact on a relatively small section of the cou n try’s population. View ed from th is a n g le , it w ould appear th at c o n d itio n s are favourable for the more extensive and rapid growth of sm all-scale industries in only some regions of India (that is, those w hich have recorded moderate to high rates o f growth of agricultural output w ith­ out being subjected to serious fluctuations). It is probable that a large part of the favourable linkage effects have been taken advantage of more by large than sm all enterprises through their superior m arket power. Nevertheless, the linkages which already have been or could be established in states like Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, need to be closely examined in the light of this analysis. . . . [The available data) do support the hypothesis that the rate of growth of sm all-scale e n te rp rise s.. . is generally higher in states w hich are characterized by high or even moderately high rates o f growth of agricultural output and w hich are at the same time not su b je ct to sharp year-to-year fluctu ations.12

Raj can be excu sed for his over-optim ism about K erala, bu t the non -in clu sion of Andhra Pradesh points to the lim itations of using state averages. C oastal Andhra had already exhibited all the potential for the grow th of non-farm enterp rises w h ich Raj

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refers to. T hu s it is Punjab, H aryana, G ujarat, M aharashtra, K arnataka, Tamil N adu, and Andhra Pradesh w hich em erged, by the late 1 9 7 0 s , as the m ain centres of a m ore broad-based cap italist developm ent in the post-Independence period. W h ile Raj’s sem inal essay was followed by several studies on the m acro -eco n o m ics of regional differentiation in econ o m ic g ro w th ,13 few exam ined the im plications of such differentiation for capitalist developm ent and public policy. Krishna Bharadwaj cam e close to exp lorin g this relationship, stating: Certain parts of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka in the south, Haryana in the north, and G ujarat and parts of M aharashtra, have shown prom inently dispersed growth. . . . We note the im portance of agricultural surpluses in adequate quanta to sustain industrial e x ­ pansion. The regions sharing some industrial vitality appear to be the ones where agricultural growth has also been prom ising.14

W hile Bharadw aj expressed co n cern at w hat she called the ‘dich otom ou s dynam ics of grow th’, she did not exam ine the im ­ p licatio n s o f th ese dynam ics for region al v ariatio n s in th e grow th of capitalist enterp rise. In a perceptive essay on the em erging p olitics of regionally differentiated econ om ic devel­ op m en t, Ravi Srivastava argued that the ‘central feature of re ­ cen t changes [in policyl has been an increase in the influence o f the newly em ergent classes on the state at the national as well as the regional levels’. 15 Regrettably, however, Srivastava does not elaborate on an interesting observation he m akes: There is a new rural élite which has benefited from the siphoning off of the increased flow of resources from the state. . . . There is an objective basis for a sharpening of the contradictions between the interests of the regional bourgeois-landlord classes and the aspiring sections of the petty-bourgeoisie in the states, on the one hand, and the interests represented by the Centre, on the other.16

Presum ably th e ‘C entre’ represents the interests of the national big business class. There is, in this literature, recognition of at least two features of the regional differentiation of capitalist development. First, that historical factors have had an enduring im pact on this phe­ nom enon; and second, that post-Independence trends in agrar­ ian change and agricultural growth have played an im portant role in shaping the process of capitalist developm ent across regions, and in creatin g a new class of ‘regional’ cap italists.17 I suggest

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that other factors m ay also im pact on inter-state differences: for in stance, (a ) the policies pursued by individual state gov­ ernm ents, som e m ore supportive of local enterprise than o th ­ ers; (b) the im pact of central governm ent decisions, especially the location of public secto r enterprises (su b -co n tractin g and ancillarization have been im portan t stim ulants of new enter­ p rise); and (c ) the investm ent decisions of national big busi­ ness w hich catalyze local business activity, m uch like public secto r enterprises do through sub -con tractin g, ancillary devel­ opm ent, dem and for support services, dealerships, etc. These factors individually or in com bination have influenced the differential developm ent of capitalist enterprise in different regions of India. Consequently, a new generation of capitalists, as distinct from national big business w ith origins dating back to the pre-Independence period, cam e into existen ce in som e regions. It is to the analysis of this phenom enon that I now turn.

The Regional Capitalist Class This paper con cern s itself only with the role in in dustrializa­ tion of ‘regional capitalists’ w ith rural roots or agrarian links going back n o t m ore than one generation. The core business of the ow ner/prom oter is confined largely to his state of dom icile. Typically, such businessm en are born in agrarian, m erchan t/trad­ ing, m oney-lending or professional m iddle-class families. They have had no p rior family-based exp erien ce in running an in ­ dustrial enterp rise, and acquire this first while w ork ing for another private or public secto r enterprise, or in a com pletely different occu p ation ranging from farm ing to governm ent ser­ vice. In an increasingly visible phenom enon, nearly a quarter of the top one hundred private com panies in India today, is ow ned by first-generation businessm en. There are regional capitalists w ho have had no links with the agrarian econom y for several generations and have m oved into m anufacturing business from com m erce or oth er professions. I have not considered such e x ­ am ples in this paper. Fu rth er, no distinction has been m ade within the category of ‘regional business’ class betw een sm allscale and m edium or large com panies. Adm ittedly such a dis­ tinction is necessary, especially to com m ent on the survival of firm s, their access to political power, and so on. However, for

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the purposes of this study 1 have not explored the im portance o f this distinction. One of the consequences of this is that while the businessm en in Rutten and Upadhya are m ostly sm all-scale in dustrialists, ou r own case studies refer to m edium and large bu sin esses.18 G orter’s exam ples are drawn from both grou p s.19 The literature on regional capitalists is lim ited largely to so ­ ciological inquiries pertaining to particu lar states, caste groups or industrial cen tres; no attem pt has been m ade so far to quan­ tify the phenom enon of industrial entrepreneurship at the n a­ tional level. This is surprising, since in m any industries cap ac­ ity enhancem ent has com e both through the expansion of already existing national big business, as well as through the entry of new business groups. In such diverse industries as textiles, cem ent, sugar, chemicals, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, electronics, steel and engineering goods, industrial expansion in the 1980s has facili­ tated the growth of new business groups, often first-generation en trep ren eu rs, in states like Punjab, H aryana, M ah arashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh, for exam ple; m ost of the large-scale m anu­ facturing establishments set up during the 1 9 5 0 s and 1 9 6 0 s were either in the public sector or owned by national big business houses like Birla, Thapar, Shriram , etc. However, in the 1 9 8 0 s , a substantial share of the new capacity in cem en t, sugar, phar­ m aceu ticals and electron ics was controlled by regional first- or secon d -gen eration business families like R.S. Raju (Raasi C e­ m en t), K.V.K. Raju (N agarjuna grou p), and so on. The same was true in Gujarat, M aharashtra, and Punjab. Regional capitalists m oved confidently into new avenues of investment supported by state governm ents, public financial institutions and their inherent ability to act quickly. The inertia of large business houses, internal family quarrels and their fear of losing control over their corporate fiefdoms may have slowed them down in this race. I now offer som e case studies from a few states to illustrate the process of transform ation underway.

Andhra Pradesh Follow ing from Baru w hich d rew atten tio n to the phenom enon of ‘capitalist farm ers’ and ‘landlords’ m oving into m anufactur­ ing activity in Andhra Pradesh in the 1 9 7 0 s ,20 Upadhya exam ­

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ined in som e detail the characteristics of one such ‘ru ral-u rb an entrepreneurial class’, the Kammas o f coastal A ndhra.21 Upadhya traces the history of the ‘regional capitalist class of coastal Andhra region’ to the late nineteenth and early tw enti­ eth centuries. The con stru ctio n of the G odavari and K rishna an icu ts and the in trodu ction of canal irrigation in these deltas during this period, increased the prosperity of paddy farm ers in th e region. The m ain beneficiaries o f these changes, accord ing to U padhya, were the Kam m as, a peasant caste on par with Reddys and Velamas. The rich Kam m a peasantry utilized this surplus first to invest in education and the acquisition o f urban property. This was followed by m ovem ent into business and com m erce, especially agri-business. Rice m ills, sugar m ills and the rice and tobacco trade were typically the avenues for Kamma capital to m ove from farm ing into n on-farm business. U padhya draw s attention to the supportive role of ‘caste affiliations’ in enabling Kam m a peasant families to m ove into business. Says U padhya: To establish and run an enterprise successfully, an entrepreneur re­ quires a network of acquaintances, friends and relatives holding im ­ portant positions in the right places, especially when starting out in a new town. In this regard, caste becom es significant as a potential source of new social connections. Thus, business entrepreneurship depends in part on the ability to build extensive and useful social net­ works, which may be based on caste, kinship, or other relationships.22

U padhya’s study, which is limited to Kam m a businessm en alone, shows how the Kamma businessmen of Vishakapatnam have used these networks to establish their pre-em inent position within this nascent industrial township. O ther caste groups have also m ade use of such kinship networks to help make the transition from agrarian to industrial capitalists. F o r instance, the exam ple of the late K.V.K. Raju of the Nagarjuna group illustrates how even Rajus have used the caste network to establish their businesses. K.V.K. Raju cam e from a family of landow ners from north coastal Andhra. They belonged to a landowning caste regarded as superior to the Kammas in the caste hierarchy. His family in ­ vested in his education in order that he might acquire a profes­ sional degree. This enabled him to go to the United States for further education and to secure a job with a U.S. m ultinational firm . After w orking with Union Carbide for several years, in

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India and abroad, Raju returned to Andhra Pradesh and decided to set up his own business. He travelled extensively in the coastal d istricts, and through his kinship netw ork was able to m obilize a substantial sum of money. H undreds of rich peasant families lent him sum s as fixed deposits. Raju used this money, along w ith his own funds, as ‘equity’ capital. He then borrow ed funds from public financial institutions to get into the chem icals and fertilizer m anufacturing business. The Nagarjuna group was able to expand its activities into steel, engineering, and finance. Re­ cently it has show n interest in the pow er sector. W h en the G overnm ent of India decided to license a new fer­ tilizer plant in Andhra Pradesh in the early 1 9 8 0 s , Raju saw him self com peting with the Birlas for the license. He entered into a financial and technical collaboration with Snam progetti of Italy, and this ensured that he secured the license! The lob­ bying for the fertilizer license show ed how Birla, a national big business group, began with a headstart and, fairly early in the race, entrenched its position by securing the support of the C ongress Chief Minister, C henna Reddy. However, Raju beat Birla by linking up with Snam progetti and secu ring access to Indira Gandhi through her family. The fertilizer deal was im ­ p o rtan t for Raju, taking him into the ‘big league’; but it also show ed how regional business groups were increasingly able to com pete against national big business, with support from a range o f new political pow er centres. The second exam ple is Ramoji Rao, a Kam m a. Rao belonged to a rich peasant family from the Krishna d istrict of coastal A ndhra Pradesh. In his youth he was an active m em ber of the C om m unist Party of India, a party popular am ong the Kam mas. (T h e Kamma dom inance of the CPI [and later CPM] has a t­ tracted such barbs as the CPI being called the ‘K am m anist Party of India’). Rao began his career in business by floating a chit fund com pany (sim ilar to a U.S. ‘savings and loan’ com p an y), M argadarsi C hit Fu nd s, that operated from a small office in H yderabad in the 1 9 6 0 s. By the 1 9 7 0 s , Rao was expanding into new spaper publishing ( Eenadu), hotels, and real estate. He sub­ sequently branched out into food processing, ship-breaking (breaking down of old ships for scrap ) and films. A third exam ple is G.V. Krishna Reddy (G V K ). The Reddys are a differentiated caste am ong the Telugus. In Telengana there

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are rich peasant Reddys as well as feudal landlord Reddys (the la tte r often u se the su ffix o f R ao ra th e r th a n Reddy, like R am eshw ar R ao, the erstw hile Raja of W an ap arth i). In coastal A ndhra, Reddys are m ainly rich peasants. G.V. K rishna Reddy, like his kinsm en Kasu Brahm ananda Reddy and T. Venkatram Reddy (form er publisher of the D eccan Chronicle) , is from south coastal Andhra Pradesh. As a civil co n tracto r he m ade his m oney in public w orks— the co n stru ctio n of the N agarjunasagar Dam, for instance— and m oved into m anufacturing business only in the 1 9 8 0 s . GVK m oved from co n stru ctio n and real estate into hotels (th e K rishna O beroi) and into the pow er sector. GVK Pow er is one of the earliest private pow er com panies to have been com m issioned from am ong the recen t p rojects approved by the governm ent un der its new pow er policy. A fourth exam ple is Anji Reddy, C EO of Dr Reddy’s L ab o ra­ tories. Dr Reddy is a first-generation professional who w as em ­ ployed by the public secto r ph arm aceu tical com pany, Indian D rugs and Pharm aceuticals Lim ited. He quit ID PL, taking the tech n ology th at IDPL had secu red on license from drug m u lti­ nation als, to start his own com pany. Dr Reddy’s Labs em erged as a m ajor m anufacturer of bulk drugs and soon becam e a m an u ­ facturer and an exporter of Ibuprofen. It is D r Reddy’s Ibuprofen exp o rts to the U .S. that attracted legal actio n in U.S. co u rts for p ro d u ct paten t violation in the 1 9 8 0 s . This becam e a cause célèbre during the early 1 9 9 0 s w hen India was nam ed u n d er the U.S. trade law Super and Special 3 0 1 , a U.S. law that re stricts im ports from coun tries identified as violating U .S. principles of fair trade. W hile Dr Reddy w on his case in the U.S. co u rts, he read the w riting on the wall and decided to globalize his op era­ tions. D r Reddy’s has since set up a p rod u ctio n base in Russia, being one of the first Indian com panies to m anufacture drugs ou tside India. Dr Reddy’s raised U.S. $ 5 0 m illion in the global d ep ository receipts (GDR) m ark et in 1 9 9 5 and has invested heavily in m edical research and health care. A part from pharm aceuticals, regional business has m oved in a big way into private corp orate hospitals. All the m ajor private co rp o rate hospitals in Andhra Pradesh, as well as in Tamil Nadu and som e oth er states, have been set up by first-gen eration m edical professionals w ith agrarian roots. R. Baru show s how K am m a cu ltivato rs invested in the professional ed u cation of

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their children. They then becam e m edical d o ctors, accum ulated capital w orking abroad (m ostly U SA ), returned hom e to m obi­ lize additional finance locally and from th e state governm ent, and th en set up corp orate hospitals. The expan sion of this sec­ tor and the em ergence of som e of these corp orate entities, such as A pollo, into national business enterprises with foreign co l­ laboration is a story that R. Baru has clearly docum ented.23 There are sco res of such exam ples of first generation ‘regional’ busi­ nessm en , som e of w hom have even been able to globalize their op erations. They show that A ndhra Pradesh has becom e a fer­ tile breeding ground of capitalist enterprise. It is not an a c ci­ dent th at the political dynam ics of the state have produced a first generation businessm an, C handrababu N aidu, as its new p olitical leader. He began life as a sm all farm er w ho later diver­ sified into poultry and dairy products. The exam ples I have cited above are of first-generation re­ gional entrepreneurs who have now becom e big players in the m arket. An equally im portant phenom enon in Andhra Pradesh, as in oth er Green Revolution states, notw ithstanding Ranji Sau’s skepticism , has been the proliferation of sm all-scale enterprise. I exam ined this phenom enon and show ed how urban centres like Hyderabad, Vijayawada, V ishakapatnam , and Tirupathi had witnessed a sharp increase in the num ber of sm all- and m edium scale enterprises in the early 1 9 8 0 s .24 R utten m ade a detailed analysis of the m ovem ent of agrarian capitalists into sm all-scale m anufacturing activity in G u jarat.25 T hat this process is intrinsically linked to the rise of regional politics in states like Andhra Pradesh has been widely co m ­ m ented upon. It is not an accid en t that the Telugu Desam Party is dom inated by Kam mas and its chief financiers, as well as key leaders, rem ain Kam ma businessm en.

Gujarat Rejecting the traditional u rb an -ru ral dualism , Mario Rutten sees a con tin u u m em erging betw een agrarian surplus and industrial in vestm en t.26 R utten’s study finds a ‘tendency am ong large farm ­ ers and rural industrialists in central Gujarat to make investments in a m ultiplicity of areas and to participate in a variety of activi­ ties sim ultan eou sly’. Ju st as U padhya saw caste and kinship

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n etw o rk s used exten siv ely am on g the K am m as of A n d h ra Pradesh, Rutten sees evidence of them in building business links. In a detailed study of sm all-scale industrial enterprise in two villages— nam ed for the purposes of the study as Vepargam and Udyoggam — along the Bom bay-A hm edabad highway, Rutten ob­ serves: ‘E con om ic diversification based on the accum ulation of local capital deriving from agriculture is the typical feature in these two villages.’ He calls the large farm ing families of these villages the ‘agrarian capitalist entrepreneurs’ who have branched out into m anufacturing business from farming. Pieter G orter extended R utten’s w ork to cover urban firstgeneration entrepreneurs, and supports the findings of Baru and Upadhya. He offers further evidence from G ujarat of the grow th of a ‘stratu m of sm all- and m edium -scale industrialists w ho are striving for political influence’. G orter’s exam ples from Vapi industrial estate are first-generation industrialists w ith an ur­ ban, m iddle class background. Based on his case studies, G orter com es to a rem arkable political con clu sion : The planning system is dism antled, lower castes and classes are m ak­ ing a bid for political power, and as a response to this threat from below the upper castes and middle classes support right-wing, com m unalist political parties. These changes force the industrial m iddle groups to take a stand. They are com m itted to an ideology o f free enterprise (even if this is not always in their interests) and em brace the ideal of the self-made man, together w ith a m oralistic call for clean politics. W ith their business organizations, product- or estatebased, and the financial resources at their disposal, they promise to becom e a political force in Indian society.27

This con clu sion is relevant in the co n te x t of the tran sform ation of the BJP governm ent in G ujarat into a ‘regional’ party g o v ern ­ m ent. It now has a first-generation industrialist as chief m in is­ ter, m irrorin g the em ergence of the Telugu Desam Party as a regional political party dom inated by Kam m a capitalists.

Maharashtra The co n trast between regional and national big business has now here been as sharp as in M aharashtra, w here Bom bay (n o w M um bai) was the centre of national big capital. This was d o m i­ nated by Parsi, Gujarati, Jain and M arwari enterprise. The first

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battle betw een non-local m etropolitan business in M aharashtra, and regional capitalists took place w ithin the sugar mill indus­ try.28 Initially, all the p rivate jo in t-s to c k su gar m ills in the Bom bay Presidency w ere ow ned by M arw ari or G ujarati busi­ nessm en. Even before Independence, political leaders in the Bom bay Presidency had cam paigned against private sugar mills and dem anded the setting up of sugar coop eratives run by local peasantry. The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISM A), controlled as it was by national big business, opposed the policy of giving coop eratives preference over jo in t-sto ck m ills. G overnm ent of India policy, under pressure from state governm ents, supported peasant coop eratives. The role played by sugar cooperatives in the em ergence of agrarian capitalism in M aharashtra and the subsequent b ranching ou t of sugar m illers into oth er business ventures, has been extensively analysed. Going beyond sugar, we find the em ergence of first-generation M aratha enterprise even in the co tto n textile (p ow er loom se c­ to r) and the food-processing industries. They have dem onstrated increasing clou t in M umbai. Indeed, at one level it is possible to view the politics of M aharashtra, as in the case of Gujarat and the south ern states, as a process of the rise to prom inence of a regional party with the support of regional capital. The co n ­ version of the H indutva alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena into a regional alliance of a M aharashtra Congress and Shiv Sena, espousing the cause of regional capital, can n ot be ruled out.

Tamil Nadu Despite the history of capitalist developm ent associated with the M adras Presidency, Tamil business was never viewed as part of national big capital. This was m ainly because there were very few Tamil business groups that had made it to the apex of the business pyram id co n stru cted by the H azari and other com m it­ tees inquiring into m onopoly capital. Even groups like T.V. Sundaram (T V S ), M adras Rubber F a cto ry (M R F) and Lakshmi were n ot part of the top tw enty business houses. However, a distinction can be m ade betw een the national big businesses based in Tamil N adu, like the K otharis, TVS, M RF and so on, and the new regional capitalist class, products of the post-Green

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R evolution phase of developm ent. Interestingly, m any o f the latter com e from in term ediate and backw ard castes, th e equiva­ lent of the K am m as, and have generously supported D ravidian political parties. The sugar in dustry in the state has a fair share o f first-generation entrepreneurs, so have textiles, ele ctro n ics, chem icals, and engineering goods. Political scientists have yet to analyse the sign ifican ce of the ideological transform ation of the Dravida M unnetra K azhagam . F ro m being a party that espoused Tamil nationalism largely in its cultural and social form , it has today becom e a pow erful advocate of Tamil business in terests. The p ro-active role played by the form er U nion Industry M inister M urasoli M aran in p ro ­ m otin g Tamil business (m u ch like A ndhra’s Vengal Rao p ro ­ m oted Andhra business w hen he was U n ion in dustry m in ister in the m id -1 9 8 0 s ), show s th at regional capital has com e to th e fore in Tamil politics as well. The a cco u n t of agrarian ca p ital­ ism in Tamil Nadu by A threya, D jurfeldt and Lindberg su b stan ­ tiates the w ork of R utten and U padhya and offers m ore evidence of the rural roots of em erging business en terp rise.29

Regional Capital, Regional Politics and National Policy T he above are ju st a few case studies or exam ples. Sim ilar stu d ­ ies for states like Punjab, H aryana, and K arnataka also reveal the em ergence of regional capital in the post-G reen R evolu tion period and its m ovem ent into industry.30 K.N. Raj had in fact predicted that these three states w ould be the first to exh ib it this tendency. It m ay be asked w h ether the d istinction 1 draw betw een ‘re ­ gional’ and ‘national big’ is useful to understand the d ynam ics of capitalist developm ent in India. M ay this not be a tran sien t distinction, with som e ‘regional’ capitalists jo in in g the ranks o f the ‘national big’ and vice-versa? Does the distinction throw any additional light on the potential for capitalist developm ent th at a m ore generalized study of ‘Indian business’ can n ot? W as th is distinction all that relevant historically, w hen Indian business was struggling to com e into its ow n in the face of co m p etitio n from foreign capital? F irs t, the relevan ce of the distinction betw een ‘regional’ and ‘n ation al’ is prem ised on the hypothesis that there is indeed a

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conflict between the two, w hich is in fact defined as such. There is evidence to support this hypothesis. The cen tralization of p olitical authority under the ‘licen se-p erm it raj’ created a rift betw een those w ho could effectively lobby the central go vern ­ m en t, and others w hose political and business influence was restricted to a state or a region w ithin that state. Second, unlike the m erchant capitalist and largely m etropolitan origins o f the ‘national big’ business groups, the new generation of business­ m en we call ‘regional’ have agrarian origins and rural roots. The dynam ics of this regional capital is linked to agrarian change, w h ich has been uneven across states. Prim arily for this reason, the grow th of such regional capitalists has accen tu ated already existin g inter-regional variations in capitalist industrialization in India. The ability of states like G ujarat, K arnataka, A ndhra Pradesh, H aryana, and Punjab to catch up w ith M aharashtra, and to overtake W est Bengal and the Kanpur region of U ttar Pradesh as the new industrial cen tres, is linked to the varied patterns of agrarian change. Finally, there is som ething called th e self-con sciou sn ess of bu sin essp erson s: how do they see them selves? Indian national big business, w hich supported the national m ovem ent, funded the C ongress party, authored the Bom bay Plan, and influenced national policy for over four de­ cades, had an image of itself as related to the central go vern ­ m ent and national political parties. This can be con trasted w ith the self-identity of the newly em ergent regional groups. The lat­ ter w ent through a phase in th eir grow th w hen G overnm ent of India support was regarded as inadequate and national policies as discrim inating against them . They invested in regional po­ litical parties to gain political supp ort at the state level and en­ tered into collaborations with foreign investors to gain m arket leverage over national big business. B oth from the literature I have cited above, as well as from m y ow n ran d o m and o c c a s io n a l in te rv ie w s w ith reg io n al bu sinesspersons,31 a clear perception em erges w ith resp ect to the attitude of regional business tow ards national industrial policies. It is clear that they have felt less able to influence na­ tional-level decision-m aking directly. It is true that there have been instances where regional business groups have secured industrial licenses in com petition with national big business, like N agarjuna’s battle w ith the Birlas for the award of the li­

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cense for a fertilizer factory in Andhra Pradesh. Generally speak­ ing, however, the licensing system was considered inequitable, benefiting big business. This system , as well as cum bersom e bu reau cratic procedu res, becam e effective barriers to entry for new firms and in creased the cost of establishm ent. H en ce, re­ gional business groups becam e increasingly opposed to the erst­ while ‘licen se-p erm it raj’. Of cou rse, big business was also in ­ terested in ending the licensing system because it restricted their grow th. W ith this system being term inated, m any firms ow ned o r controlled by big business houses have been able to expan d capacity freely, and this would have helped them face the ‘c o m ­ petition from below’ from sm aller firms ow ned by regional busi­ ness groups. However, the fact is that entry barriers have eased for new groups. T hus the term ination of the licensing system has benefited both national big and regional businesses. From actual exp erien ce it also becam e clear to regional bu si­ ness groups that any system w hich increased the leverage of the state governm ent over the central governm ent w ould in crease their relative strength vis-à-vis national big business. The e x p e ­ rience with state- and national-level public financial institutions was an im portant factor in this understanding. Com plaints from regional businesspersons against the pro-big business bias of national public financial institutions like Industrial D evelop­ m ent Bank of India, Industrial Fin an ce C orporation of India, e tc., and their easier access to state finance and industrial de­ velopm ent co rp oratio n s (S FC s and SIDCs) have often been r e ­ ported in the m edia. A strong developm ent of these institution s at the state level has been a necessary cond ition for the grow th of regional businesses. Equally im portant has been the deepening and w idening of the capital m arket, both prim ary and secondary. It is n o t a c o ­ incidence that states like G ujarat, M aharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil N adu, and K arnataka have had the m ost active prim ary capital m ark ets, w ith a large num ber of public issues being subscribed here. The rapid developm ent of the B angalore stock exchange in K arnataka and the Hyderabad exch an ge in Andhra Pradesh testify to this phenom enon. Nine states now have stock exchanges (M aharashtra, G ujarat, K arnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, A ndhra Pradesh, U ttar Pradesh, W est Bengal, and D elhi). Andhra Pradesh has had a significant num ber of new

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businesses set up w ith funds m obilized from both the prim ary and secondary m ark ets.32 The em ergence of regional business, its ability to grow in the face of both m arket and n on -m ark et barriers to entry im posed by national business and national policy, was undoubtedly aided by the supportive role of the state governm ents and political leadership. However, in m ost states it is now clear th at the in ­ ability of the national political party— that too, a highly ce n ­ tralized one like the C ongress party of the Ind ira-R ajiv era— also encouraged regional business groups to turn increasingly to regional political parties, to fund them and ensure their a c ­ cess to them . It is not a coin cid en ce, for exam ple, that the key econ om ic m inistries in the 1 9 9 6 - 8 United F ro n t governm ent w ere held by the DMK (in d u stries) and TDP (co m m e rce ), and even Finance M inister P. C hidam baram becam e increasingly re­ ceptive to the dem ands of regional business. R ecent trends in private investm ent since the im plem enta­ tion of the new eco n o m ic policy, show an in creased level of activity by regional business groups as opposed to the older, big business houses. In the pow er sector, for in stance, m ost of th e ‘fa st-tra ck ’ p riv ate p ow er p ro je cts have been set up by regional business houses. B oth Spectrum and GVK Pow er in Andhra Pradesh belong to this category. Though Nagarjuna ven­ tured into power, it has since decided to call off its proposed p roject in M angalore. Regional groups have also been active in setting up enterprises abroad. Dr Reddy’s Labs has set up a p ro ­ duction facility in China (n ear Shanghai), from where it exports drugs to the U .S.! N agarjuna has set up fertilizer and sugar units in South E ast Asia. The increasing corporate presence of regional business groups has also been articu lated in the m em bership and organizational structure of regional branches of national cham bers of com m erce and industry. G orter reports the case study of how a business association in Vapi, G ujarat, was ‘taken over’ by regional busi­ nessm en, w resting co n tro l from national big business.33 At the national level, this process is reflected in the grow ing profile of regional business groups in the Confederation of Indian Industry and in A ssociated C ham ber of C om m erce, while the Fed eration of Indian Cham ber of C om m erce and Industry continu es to be dom inated by the national big business grou ps.34

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Conclusion C ontrary to long-held notions of Indian capitalism being ‘re­ tarded’, ‘stunted’, or ‘dependent’, the process of agrarian change in m any parts of the cou n try has laid the foundations for capital­ ist developm ent in the non-farm sector. This process has allowed a new gen eration of agrarian capitalists or oth er m iddle-class professionals to m ake the transition to capitalist entrepreneurs. In states like Punjab, H aryana, G ujarat, M ah arashtra, Tamil N adu, A ndhra Pradesh and K arnataka, a dynam ic first-genera­ tion business class has em erged over the last two decades. This class rem ains d istinct from the traditional ‘n ation al’ business class in a variety of ways. F irst, w hile the origins of the latter are m ostly traced to trade, com m erce and m oneylending, the m ajority of the new regional business class is drawn from the agrarian econom y. Second, the failure of national political par­ ties and the cen tral governm ent to address the needs of em er­ gent regional business groups encou raged the latter to seek p o ­ litical and m aterial support from state governm ents and regional political parties. It is n ot surprising th at regional political par­ ties have been m ost active in States where regional business groups have been more dynamic and assertive. The link between the emer­ gence of regional capitalism and regional parties is too stark to be ignored. Finally, while regional business groups initially began in food-processing or low technology intensive areas, they have been quick to m ove into new industries and also enter into joint ven­ tures with foreign com panies, som etim es with the purpose of tak­ ing on com petition from national big business groups. This paper offers anecdotal evidence, the results of prelim i­ nary or m icro-level studies, to draw attention to an im portant econom ic and political process under way. The phenom enon of capitalist developm ent in India deserves a closer look than has been on offer so far. State level studies m ust be encouraged to study the dynam ics of agrarian change and industrial develop­ m ent. Political econom ists have not adequately recognized the potential for capitalist industrialization in India. W hile legitimate concerns can be expressed about grow ing regional disparities, the fact rem ains that som e states in India have exhibited the p o­ tential for high grow th. If m arket forces are left unfettered, re­ gional differentiation can generate political tensions. However,

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for this reason, state intervention should n ot inhibit rapid capi­ talist developm ent; rather it should address the problem s of un ­ equal and unequalizing growth and intervene to resolve such problems. This is the m odel China has followed in the recent past— allowing grow th to take off in som e regions and then in­ tervening to redress the problems of inter-regional inequality in development. This calls for new and m arket-friendly instru­ m ents of planning, based on greater decentralization of political authority, rather than the blunt instrum ent of centralized plan­ ning and bureaucratic intervention by the central governm ent.

Notes 1 On the economic history of indigenous enterprise in India see for ex­ ample, A.K. Bagchi, Private Investment in India, 1900-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1972; Rajat K. Ray, Industrialisation in India (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1979; R.S. Rungta, Rise o f Business Cor­ poration in India, 1851-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1970; and Dwijendra Tripathi, Business Communities o f India: A Historical Perspective (Delhi: Manohar), 1984. There are also several studies in the economic history of capitalist enterprise in specific regions or for specific groups as, for instance, Jam es G. Berna, Industrial Entrepreneurship in Madras State (Bombay: Asia Publishing House), 1960; Raman Mahadevan, T h e Origin and Growth of Entrepreneurship in the Nattukottai Chetty Community of Tamil Nadu’, Unpublished M. Phil thesis, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 1976; Thomas Timberg, The M arwaris: From Trad­ ers to Industrialists (New Delhi), 1978; D.H. Buchanan, The Development o f Capitalist Enterprise in India (New York), 1934; and Dwijendra Tripathi (ed.) Business and Politcs in India: A Historical Perspective (Delhi: Manohar), 1991. 2 For exam ple, R.K. Hazari, The Structure o f the C orp orate P rivate Sector (Bombay: Asia Publishing House), 1966, L.A. Jo sh i, C entral o f Indus­ try in In d ia: A Study in A spects o f C o m b in a tio n an d C on cen tra tio n (Bombay: Vora and C o.), 1965. N.K. Chandra, ‘M onopoly Capital, Pri­ vate Corporate Sector and the Indian Economy: A Study in Relastive Growth, 1 9 3 1 -1 9 7 6 ’ in A.K. Bagchi and N. Banerjee (eds), Change and C hoice in Indian Industry (Calcutta: K.P. Baghi and C o.), 1981. 3 For instance, half of the top twenty business houses listed in 1969, ranked by asset size, are no longer anywhere near the top (Bangur, Scindia, Bhiwandiwala, Kirloskar, W alchand, Modi, Sarabhai, Macneil & Magor, Lalbhai and IC I), having broken up through partitioning of assets, or being absorbed into other corporate entities, etc. On the other hand, several new business houses have moved into the top

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twenty, including, Reliance, Nagarjuna, Abhay Oswal, M ittals, and Ruias (Essar). Others on the threshold include Bajaj, Mallya and 1TC. New entrants to the top 100 include Ranbaxy, Hero, Videocon, TVS Sundaram, etc.). 4 Tyabji was an exception. The paper not only recognized the importance of the ‘non-monopoly’ business class but also drew attention to the no­ tion of a regional’ capitalist class. Says Tyabji: ‘In more specific terms we might say that the ‘unintegrated’ nature of the economy leads to distinct cycles of reproduction of capital, one of which might be defined as na­ tional and the others as regional; and initially define big business to be that which operates at an all-India level both for its sources of capital and the market for its products; small or regional business is localised in both aspects’. See Nasir Tyagi, ‘Stratification of Indian Business’, in Bagchi and Baneijee (eds), Change and C hoice, op. cit. However, corporate sector analysts today question the validity of the notion o f ‘m onopoly’ capital, given the structural changes that have taken place, and the traditional classification of Indian business into ‘m onopoly’ and ‘non-m onopoly’ itself may have to change. We prefer to use the more neutral concept of ‘national big business’ and ‘regional business’. 5 For example, Berna, Industrial Entrepreneurship, op. cit., (1 9 6 0 ), Mario Rutten, Farm s and F actories: S ocial P rofile o f L arge Farm ers and Rural Industrialists in West India (D elhi: Oxford University Press), 1995 and Mario Rutten and Carol Upadhya (eds), Small Business Entrepreneurs in A sia and Europe: Towards an d C om parative P erspective (New Delhi: Sage), 1997. Carol Upadhya ‘The Farm er-Capitalists of Coastal Andhra Pradesh’, Econom ic and P olitical Weekly, vol. X X III, nos. 2 7 - 2 8 (1 9 8 8 ). 6 Political scientists have exam ined the link between business and p oli­ tics at the ‘national’ level, as well as the link between the ‘national bourgeoisie’ and political leadership, for example see Stanley Kochanek, Business and P olitics in India, (Berkeley: University of California Press) 1974, but there is scanty literature on the link between ‘regional’ capi­ tal and ‘regional’ political parties. Kochanek is now engaged in a study of the role of ‘regional’ business groups within ‘national’ business lo b ­ bies like the F1CC1 and C II; the changing regional com position of F1CCI/CII m em bership, and its im plications for the p olicy stance adopted by these business cham bers. 7 See, for instance, A.K. Bagchi, P rivate Investment in India, op.cit. and Bagchi, ‘Reflections on Patterns of Regional Growth, in India during the Period of British Rule, B en g al Past and Present, Ja n u a ry -Ju n e , (1 9 7 6 ). 8 See Governm ent of Uttar Pradesh, Report o f the C om m ittee on T ake­ over o f Sugar Mills, Jun e 1970.

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9 K.N. Raj, ‘Growth and Stagnation in Indian Industrial Developm ent’, E con om ic and P olitical W eekly, vol. XI, nos. 5, 6 & 7 (Annual Number, February 1976) pp. 2 2 3 -3 6 . 10 For exam ple, Bagchi, ‘Reflections on Patterns of Regional Growth’ and K rish n a B h arad w aj, ‘R eg io n al D iffe re n tia tio n in In d ia ’, in T.V. Sathyamurthy (ed .), Industry and A griculture in India sin ce Independence (D elhi: O xford University Press), 1995. 11 D. Baneijee and A. Ghosh, ‘Indian Planning and Regional Disparity in Grow th’ in A.K. Bagchi (ed.) Economy, Society and Polity: Essays in the P olitical Econom y o f Planning (D elhi: Oxford University Press), 1988. 12 R aj, ‘Growth and Strategies’ op. cit., pp. 2 0 0 -1 . 11 Bharadwaj, ‘Regional D ifferentiation’, op. cit. and Amitabha Kundu & Moonis Raza, India Economy, the Regional Dimension (New Delhi: Centre for the Study o f Regional Development, Jaw aharlal Nehru U niversity), 1982. 14 Bharadwaj, ‘Regional D ifferentiation’, op. cit., p. 209. 15 Ravi Srivastava, ‘India’s Uneven Development and Its Im plications for P o litic a l P ro ce sse s: An A n alysis o f Som e R ecen t Trends in T.V. Sathyamurthy (ed .), Industry and A griculture sin ce Independence, vol. 2, (New Delhi: O xford University Press), 1995, p. 212. 16 Ibid., p. 241. 17 There are som e skeptics who question the positive relationship be­ tween the G reen Revolution and industrial development. For instance, Sau (1 9 8 8 ) says, ‘The green revolution helped create a class of rich farmers with sizeable incom e and investable resources. W hy did they not transcend them selves to the rank of industrial capitalists? . . . (because) the outlets (for investable surplus) seem to be few and pre­ carious’. See R anjit Sau, ‘The Green Revolution and Industrial Growth in India: A Tale of Two Paradoxes and a H alf, Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, vol. XX1I1, no. 16 (1 9 8 8 ). T h is.is an excessively pessim istic view of the process. The outlets did exist, but not every rich farmer could make the transition, but that is not unnatural. 18 Rutten and Upadhya, Sm all Business Entrepreneurs, op. cit. 19 Pieter Gorter, “The Social and Political Aspirations of a New Stratum o f Industrialists: Local Politics on a Large Industrial Estate in West India” in Rutten and Upadhya (ed s), Sm all Business Entrepreneurs, op. cit. 20 Sanjaya Baru, ‘Capitalism in Agriculture and Growth of M anufactur­ ing: Some Issues with Reference to Andhra Pradesh’, in Y.V. Krishna Rao et al. (e d s), P easan t F arm in g and G row th o f M an u factu rin g in Indian A griculture (Vijayawada: Visalandhra), 1984. 22 Upadhya, ‘The Farm er-Capitalists of Coastal Andhra, op. cit. 22 Ibid.

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13 Rama V. Baru, ‘Some Aspects of the Private Sector in M edical Care and Its Interrelationship with the Public Sector: A Study of H yderabadSecundrabad’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Jaw aharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 1994. 24 Baru, ‘Capitalism in Agriculture’, op. cit. 25 Rutten, Farm ers and F actories, op. cit. 26 Ibid. 27 Gorter, T h e Social and Political Aspirations’ op. cit., p. 108. 28 This has been documented in Sanjaya Baru, The P olitical E conom y o f Indian Sugar (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1990, Chapter IV. 29 V. Athreya, G. Djurfeldt and S. Lindberg, B arriers B roken : Production R elations and A grarian C han ge in Tamil Nadu (New Delhi: O xford U ni­ versity Press), 1987. 30 A study of Karnataka that looks at recent industrial developm ent of the state without appreciating the significance of the regional dim en­ sion of capitalist development is Kyoko Inoue Industrial Developm ent Policy of India (Tokyo: Institute of Developing E con om ics), 1992. 31 We have interviewed regional businesspersons from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu at random. The interviewees include K.V.K. Raju (in 1 9 8 6 ), K.S. Raju, Ramoji Rao, Rajshree Pathy, Sakuntala Gnanam gari, and B.B. Ramaiah. 32 A direct consequence of this phenom enon is observed in the m arket­ ing strategy of the premier financial daily, T he E conom ic Tim es, which ran editions only from Bombay, D elhi, Calcutta and Ahmedabad until the 1980s. The first foray into south India was made with a Bangalore e d itio n , follow ed by M adras and Hyderabad in th e e arly 1 9 9 0 s . Chandigarh and Cochin editions are on the anvil. 33 Gorter, T h e Social and Political Aspirations’, op. cit. 34 Stanley Kochanek is currently engaged in a study of the changing m em ­ bership pattern of the FIC C I, CI1 and ASSOCHAM. He m akes the point that the representation of the southern states and involvem ent of new business groups has increased in these organizations. T h is is particu ­ larly true for C II, where despite the continued dom inance o f Tata, Bajaj and Godrej, several regional groups from the Punjab, Haryana, Bengal and the southern states have acquired a higher profile.

Economic Policy and Its Political Management in the Current Conjuncture PRABHAT PATNAIK

I Different political parties and m ovem ents are usually distin­ guished from each other by the difference betw een their social program m es, of w hich the eco n o m ic program m es con stitu te an im portan t com pon ent. W h at is striking about the co n tem p o ­ rary world, however, is that apparently dissimilar political m ove­ m en ts, w hether w ithin a p articu lar cou n try or across cou n tries, are adopting identical econom ic program m es. Three successive governm ents in India, the C on gress, the United F ro n t, and the BJP-led coalition, have sought to pursue such a program m e, also in vogue elsew here, irrespective of the professed ideologies of the governing formations. How long it will continue to be widely espoused is a m oot but separate point; its present currency how ­ ever is indisputable. The main ch aracteristics of this com m on program m e are well know n: rem oval of internal co n tro ls over the freedom of op era­ tion of private (including foreign) capital; trade liberalization; gradual removal of restrictions on capital flows into and out of the coun try; reduction in the role of the state as producer and investor; energetic wooing of m ultinational corporations (M N Cs) for undertaking direct foreign investm ent; unification of the e x ­ change rate; reduction of direct tax rates; reduction of subsidies and transfer paym ents to the poor; severe restrictions on the size of the fiscal deficit; and the privatization of state-ow ned assets. It is futile to pretend that this apparent unanim ity am ong dissim ilar political m ovem ents is the result of all of them su d ­ denly ‘having seen the light’. Over m uch of the developing world

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(and the form er socialist co u n tries) it is, in a p ro xim ate sense, the result of coercion exercised by the B retton W oods in stitu ­ tions, though of cou rse there are always im portan t dom estic sectors providing social support for such m easures. B ut the word coercion immediately raises two questions: first, what is its modus operandi, and second, what are the social forces, the constituency, on behalf of which the Bretton W oods institutions exercise it?

II The com m only-held view about the modus operandi o f this c o ­ ercion is as follows: thanks to populist m easures un d ertak en by third w orld governm ents under pressure from diverse and co m ­ peting social groups, these econom ies go into fiscal crises w hich, if their consequences are n o t to becom e ‘intolerably’ in flation ­ ary, necessitate increasing am ounts of external b o rrow in g ;1 this can n ot go on indefinitely, so the term s of borrow ing get stiffer at the m argin, and its m aturity sh orter; at som e p oin t, th ere­ fore, there is an inevitable balance of paym ents crisis, usually triggered off by speculative capital flight that forces the co u n ­ try to go to the International M onetary Fund and accep t its ‘c o n ­ ditionalities’ w hich usher in the program m e outlined above. C entral to this view is the belief that IM F coercion is the result of an internally-caused m ism anagem ent of the econom y. N ot surprisingly, this view is held by both those critical o f the IM Fprogram m e as well as those who support it as a m eans to ‘set the house in order’, and create the basis for rapid and m ore sus­ tainable grow th than the dirigiste regim es had achieved. There are at least two ways in w hich this view is m isleading. F irst, the m ain reason for the balance of paym ents crisis in third world countries is im port liberalization, in the con text of a world econom y where grow th in their exp o rt revenue is necessarily sluggish. The reason for A frica’s grow ing debt was an external shock: the collapse of prim ary com m odity prices. T he reason for Latin A m erica’s and Eastern E u rop e’s burgeoning debt was im port liberalization, undertaken on the argum ent th at it would help exp orts, but w hich ended up financing a pen t-u p dem and for im ported luxury goods instead. Fiscal deficits, rath er than being the ‘original sin’, w ere often resorted to to sustain this consum ption splurge, in the absence of w hich the econom ies

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w ould have slipped into m assive recession s2. In short the cause for th e crisis, w hich in turn m akes for the im position of IM Fstyle liberalization, is som e initial liberalization itself, rath er th an the sins of the dirigiste regim e. To say this is not to deny th ese ‘sins’, including fiscal deficits (w hich in m y view are a m anifestation of ‘prim itive accu m u lation of capital’ rath er than a resu lt of ‘com peting claim s’); bu t to focus on them alone is to rem ain blind to the whole international co n text w hich produces a liberalization dialectic: som e initial liberalization giving rise to a crisis w hich is used for further liberalization, and so o n .3 Secon d, the reason for the crises w hich arise along the liber­ a liz a tio n ro u te m ay n o t n e c e s s a r ily be th e s p o n ta n e o u s behaviour of speculators, giving rise to capital flight; rather their p an ic reaction is quite often stim ulated by the actions o f the B retton W oods institutions them selves, so that we have a ‘sig­ nalled’ crisis. This serves to underm ine the autonom y and resil­ ien ce of the econom y and pushes it further under the tutelage o f these institutions. E xam ples of such ‘signalling’ can be cited from several co u n ­ tries, but we shall confine ourselves to the Indian case. India w en t in for im port liberalization in the latter half of the E ig h t­ ies to obtain capital goods and com p on en ts for the autom obile and electron ics sectors. A large fiscal deficit sustained the boom in these sectors while foreign com m ercial borrow ing— w hich India had been very relu ctan t to undertake earlier— sustained th e cu rren t acco u n t deficit in cu rred as a result of im port liber­ alization . This borrow ing, w h ich was approved of by the W orld B ank (as well as its ex-em ployees m anning the Indian m inistry of fin an ce), inevitably involved stiffer term s and shorter m atu ­ rity at the m argin, as it kept increasing. But in 1 9 9 1 even though th e strain on the balance of paym ents ow ing to the Gulf W ar was well on the way to being managed (and could have easily been m anaged) through non-conditionality borrowing from the IMF, the W orld Bank wanted a 2 0 per cent depreciation in the value of the rupee. This demand found its way to the press. Not surprisingly it triggered off capital flight in anticipation of a currency deprecia­ tion, with non-resident Indians clam ouring to take their funds out of the country. To meet this crisis the governm ent approached the IMF which came up with a stabilization-cum-structural adjustment program m e. In short the Bretton W oods package was adopted by

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the country w ithout any debate or discussion in a situation of cri­ sis, even as the crisis itself arose because o f ‘signals’ from the Bretton W oods in stitution s them selves.4 These are therefore n ot ju st tw o disinterested in stitu tio n s, w hich third w orld cou n tries turn to for su cco u r w hen pushed beyond toleran ce by the con trad iction s of dirigiste regim es; on the co n trary they are keen on prising open third w orld e c o n o ­ mies for the free m ovem ent of com m odities and capital, in clu d ­ ing speculative finance capital. T heir ex-em ployees, w ho also freely m igrate back w hen they ch oose, are placed in e co n o m ic policy-m ak ing positions, in finance m inistries in particu lar, in all third w orld cou n tries even during the dirigiste phase. W h e n ­ ever an opportunity arises for intervention by these institution s, w hether because of external shocks or the pitfalls of im port liber­ alization, or because of some internal strains, they use it for en­ forcing further liberalization, and every crisis along this route, of­ ten triggered by their own actions, is used by them for still further liberalization. The term ‘coercion’ used above has to be understood in this broader sense, and not ju st as referring to ‘conditionalities’.

Ill This brings us to the question: w hose in terests do program m es im posed by the B retton W oods institution s represent? Leaving aside those w ho see ‘lib eralization -cu m -stru ctu ral ad ju stm en t’ as the em bodim ent of pure reason, the tendency has been to point to the M N Cs. Trade liberalization no doubt enables M N Cs to cap tu re third w orld m arkets at the expense of local p ro d u c­ ers by providing or arranging for loans or exp o rt cred it. Like­ wise the w ooing of MNCs to undertake investm ent in third w orld econom ies opens up very profitable investm ent op portu nities for th em ; and the sale of public se cto r assets as well as the re­ m oval of restrictio n s on taking over local com panies enables them to buy th eir way cheaply into business em pires in third w orld econ om ies. There is therefore no denying the fact that the in terests of the M NCs are well served by the B retton W oods prescrip tion w hich achieves w hat M arx called ‘cen tralization of cap ital’ on a global scale. It is also the case that the underm ining of food se cu rity in the third world by institutionalizing export agriculture serves both

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to m ake a num ber of tropical products available cheaply to m et­ ropolitan consum ers, and to increase the leverage of m etropoli­ tan coun tries on an increasingly food-im port-dependent third w orld. In this sense the Bretton W oods program m es can be seen as a m eans of perpetuating the overall stru ctu ral d ich otom y in the w orld econom y, quite apart from serving specific in terests. W h ile all this is true, the overriding ch aracteristic of such program m es is th at they serve above all the in terests of w hat I shall call international finance capital. This entity is n ot syn­ on ym ous w ith the finance capital that H obson, H ilferding and Len in had w ritten about. T heir co n cep t of finance capital was n atio n -state based; referred in varying degrees to a coalescen ce betw een industry and finance (less true of H ob son ); and envis­ aged a con fron tation between rival blocs of it. W h a t we have today, how ever, is a rem arkable degree of unity, rath er than ri­ valry, am ong the m etropolitan pow ers and their finance cap i­ tals; a rem arkable degree of fluidity and hence non -rooted n ess (in in dustry or in any other secto rs) of this capital; and its u n ­ paralleled in ternational reach. In oth er w ords, w hat we have is a huge bloc of finance, dom inated no doubt by finance from the m etropolis but devoid of any national ch aracter. Of this, the finance from individual cou n tries is increasingly becom ing an aliquot p art; and it m oves around the globe in quest of oppor­ tunities for quick profits— essentially speculative gains. The rise to ascen d an cy of this international finance capital from the p o ­ sition to w hich finance capital generally had been reduced in the im m ediate post-w ar world, dom inated by Keynesianism with its call for the ‘euthanasia of the ren tier’,5 is a m atter that need n o t d etain us h ere. The p o in t is th a t th e B re tto n W o o d s program m e, w ith its em phasis not ju st on trade liberalization but on the rem oval of restriction s on capital flows, on ‘financial lib eralization’ and on curren cy unification and convertibility, serves above all the interests of international finance capital by prising open third world economies to its unhindered access, exit, and operation. True, the program m e represents a convergence of interests between MNCs; international finance capital; sections of the dom estic third world bourgeoisie anxious to break out of the straitjacket of the national econom y; kulak and landlord elements lured by the promise of export agriculture (a promise that is not necessarily realized subsequently as prices crash); and sections of

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the third world ¿lite that benefit from ‘globalization’ in term s of access to o p p o rtu n ities and co m m o d itie s. B u t it b e a rs the unmistakeable stamp of international finance capital.

IV C onform ity to a certain program m e, apparently enforced by the Fund and the Bank, is in reality produced by certain fund am en­ tal features of con tem p orary capitalism , m arked inter alia by the ascen dancy of finance capital. This ascen dancy is of rel­ evance not only in cou n tries like India. It also underlies the retreat in the advanced capitalist cou n tries from the Keynesian program m e of state intervention for achieving near-full em ploy­ m ent, as well as from the com m itm en t to m aintaining a w elfare state. Basically this ascen dancy underm ines the ‘con trol a re a ’ of the state, w ithin w h ich its in terven tion can be effective. If Keynesian policies of stim ulating dem and lead to a flight of ‘h ot m oney’ and hence a balance of paym ents crisis, in w h ich the traditional in stru m en t of exch an ge rate depreciation b ecom es either ineffective (sin ce it m ay give rise to exp ectation s of fur­ ther dep reciation ) or extrem ely costly (sin ce the requisite de­ preciation m ay entail large increases in the dom estic p rice-level), then clearly the state’s ability to control the level of activ ity is greatly reduced. If the state could cord on off the dom estic econom y against the cap riciou s m ovem ents of finance capital, then it m ight w ell be able to regulate the level of econom ic activity in the m an n er that Keynes had advocated. But in the absence of such co rd o n ­ ing off, Keynesian dem and m anagem ent of the sort that w as in vogue in the period up to the m id-Seventies becom es u n ten ­ able. Since fiscal deficits fuel fears of inflation and balance of paym ents difficulties, the pressure to keep these under co n tro l increases and the welfare expenditures of the state becom e an im m ediate target of fiscal conservatism . T hus if the so-called ‘trium ph of neo-liberalism ’ is m ore g en ­ eral and n ot ju st confined to third w orld co u n tries, the reason for it is obvious: the sam e con ju n ctu re confronts both sets of cou n tries, a con ju n ctu re m arked by the ascen dancy of finance capital and the difficulty of su stain ing sta te -in te rv e n tio n ist program m es. This explains why the uniform ity of program m es

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referred to at the beginning in a sense straddles both the ad­ van ced and the backw ard capitalist w orlds. Som e have concluded from this that the structural dichotom y betw een the advanced and backw ard segm ents has itself lost all relevance. If both segm ents are at the m ercy of the sam e force, nam ely an in ternationally-m obile finance capital w hich knows no national boundaries and w hose national origins have no sig­ n ifican ce, then clearly this traditional d ich otom y has been ren ­ dered obsolete for com prehending capitalist dynam ics (though o f cou rse it rem ains a fa ct of undeniable im p o rtan ce). This view is erroneou s how ever, since it looks at finance in isolation. The neo-liberal program m e is not ju st a on e-point program m e re ­ lating to m obility of finance; the latter, though of great im por­ tan ce, is superim posed on a host of other m easures. T heir end resu lt, as m entioned earlier, is cen tralization of capital on a glo­ bal scale, combined with the re-im position (via the prom otion of export agriculture and, in general, of primary com m odity exports) of the old international division of labour from which the third world has been trying to break out since de-colonization. Thus, in a structurally unequal world, the apparent equality of the uniform application of neo-liberal program m es is in fact a means of per­ petuating and com pounding structural inequalities. (This is quite apart from the fact that assertions about the uniform application of trade liberalization measures and the irrelevance of the national origins of finance capital are not even factually tru e .)6 V The consequences of the adoption of the ‘neo-liberal’ program m e in third w orld econom ies have been widely discussed, and it is u n n e c e ss a ry to rep eat th at d iscu ssio n h e r e .7 Three co n se­ quences, in particular, can be postulated. F irst, it w ould entail a loss of econom ic sovereignty; second, it would make for greater inequalities in incom e and wealth in society; and, third, it would n ot, on average and on a sustained basis in each country, achieve rates and patterns of grow th that w ould (given the increase in inequalities) cause any reduction in the problem of poverty, such as the dirigiste regim e with all its failings had effected. W hile the first two assertions would be generally accep ted even by the advocates o f ‘stru ctu ral adjustm ent’, it is the third— the one

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that considers neo-liberalism retrograde (w h eth er or n o t it is inevitable is a separate issue to be discussed later)— that arouses fierce opposition. The ascendancy of internationally-m obile finance capital and the associated decline in Keynesian dem and m anagem ent has the effect of slow ing the grow th of w orld econom y as a whole. The adoption of neo-liberal policies in the third w orld at this very tim e, therefore, has the effect, ceteris paribus, of im porting crisis and stagnation rather than achieving export-led grow th. Advocates of structural adjustm ent may argue that the slowdown in w orld capitalism provides an ideal setting for capital to m ove into low -w age third world econom ies to locate plants in the latter for m eeting global dem and, and that this will provide a new basis for grow th. But a neo-liberal regim e, by its very nature, can n o t d iscrim in ate between speculative capital inflows and p roductive capital inflows and, w ithin the latter, betw een in­ flows for prod u cin g for the dom estic m arket (an d supplanting already-existin g hom e prod u cers) and those th at prod uce for the global m ark et; it cannot keep out one sort of capital and encou rage the other. Consequently, it is bound to be con cern ed w ith m aintaining the confidence of sp ecu lators, to w hich end it pu rsues gen erally deflationary policies th at adversely affect grow th, even w hen there is no actual capital flight. Since p ro­ ductive capital (D F1) inflows into the third w orld are both sm all, and of the de-industrializing kind (aim ed at m eeting local de­ mand by supplanting local producers whose production gener­ ally has a lower im port-content), the contractionary consequences of neo-liberal policies are further reinforced.8 VI The Indian exp erien ce under liberalization confirm s this. The industrial revival, starting from 1 9 9 3 - 4 , after an initial drop in the grow th rate of the index of industrial p rod uction in 1 9 9 1 - 2 and 1 9 9 2 - 3 , gave a con trary im pression, but th at revival itself has proved to be tran sito ry After 1 9 9 5 - 6 when the grow th rate reach ed a peak of 1 2 .8 per cen t, there has been a decline to 5 .5 per cent and 6 .6 per cen t respectively in the n ext two years. This is n ot surprising. The pick-up in industrial grow th was initially a resu lt of an increase in the fiscal deficit in 1 9 9 3 - 4

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and, after that was lowered in the subsequent years, of the pentup dem and for a variety of hitherto-not-available lu xu ry co n ­ sum ption good s.9 The latter, however, is only a transient stim u­ lus, w hose petering out has also coin cided w ith the dum ping of a range of m anufactured goods in the Indian m arket by reces­ sion -hit foreign p rod ucers. F o r the entire seven-year period, 1 9 9 0 - 1 to 1 9 9 7 - 8 , the average industrial grow th rate works out to 5 .9 per cen t w hich is low er than the 8 .4 per cent for the pre­ ceding quinquennium .10 A slow dow n is also in evidence in the agricultural se cto r.11 Real value added ( 1 9 8 0 - 1 p rices) in agriculture increased at an average annual rate of 2 .5 per cent betw een 1 9 9 0 - 1 to 1 9 9 6 - 7 , com pared to 3 .1 per cen t during 1 9 8 3 - 4 to 1 9 9 0 - 1 (all com ­ parisons are peak-to-peak). The grow th of foodgrain production in particu lar has declined sharply, and has even fallen below the population grow th rate. D uring the 12-y ear period 1 9 7 8 - 9 to 1 9 9 0 - 1 the average annual grow th rate of foodgrain p rod uc­ tion (in ton n es) was 2 .4 per cent. Betw een 1 9 9 0 - 1 to 1 9 9 6 - 7 this dropped to 1 .4 per cen t, well below the population growth rate. (E v en the grow th rate based on the in d ex num ber of foodgrain prod uction only reaches 1 .7 per cen t for the latter p erio d .) The fact that despite this there has not been any actual food shortage till now is partly due to a series of good harvests (i.e ., low peak -to-peak grow th rates have not m eant low abso­ lute o u tp u ts), and partly to the lim ited increase in real term s in purchasing pow er am ong w orkers, especially rural w orkers (i.e., when deflated by an in dex of adm inistered food-grain prices). There are several reasons for this lim ited increase: the steep escalation of adm inistered food prices that occu rred in the af­ term ath of liberalization; the cutb ack in governm ent expen di­ ture in rural areas which has curtailed non-agricu ltu ral em ploy­ m ent; and the shift from food to exp o rt crops that are, on aver­ age, less em ploym ent-intensive. To be sure, the decline in per capita foodgrain production cannot be attributed to liberalization alone. Several factors have contributed to it, som e of them rath er long-term , e.g., the de­ cline in real gross capital form ation in agriculture by the gov­ ernm ent. Liberalization, however, has also contributed, first, through a shift of acreage away from foodgrains, especially coarse grains, to exp ort crops, and second, by perpetuating the

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lack of governm ent investm ent (th e rise in private in vestm en t in agriculture that has o ccu rred in this period does n ot m ake up for this since it is not in the traditional foodgrain s e c to r). This slowdown in com m odity-producing sectors has not been accom panied by any notable gains on the trade front. It appeared for a while that exp o rts w ere on a high grow th trajectory, but the grow th rate (in USD) has slum ped from 2 0 .3 per ce n t in 1 9 9 5 - 6 to 4 .5 per cen t and 2 .6 per cent respectively in th e fol­ lowing two years. W hile the decline in the last two years m ay be attrib u ted , partly at least, to the slow dow n in w orld trad e, im port grow th, at 10.1 and 5 .8 per cen t respectively, has been com paratively higher in this very period, despite the slow dow n in industrial grow th. The consequ ent enlargem ent of the trad e deficit that has o ccu rred poses a serious th reat in the c o n te x t of large hot m oney inflows (ou tstripp ing DFI inflow s) th at have taken place during the N ineties. U nder pressure to increase e x ­ ports, the governm ent has been tu rn ing increasingly to a g ricu l­ tural and other prim ary com m odities. E xp o rts of the latter have been resorted to even at the co st of dom estic sh ortages, a fact w hich underlies the acceleration of inflation in 1 9 9 8 . There w as an inflationary upsurge in the im m ediate p o st-lib eralizatio n period, ow ing m ainly to adm inistered p rice-h ikes (esp ecially of food grains), w hich gradually subsided after 1 9 9 4 - 5 . T he a c ­ celeration in 1 9 9 8 m arks a return to high inflation. Estim ates of rural poverty for the post-lib eralization years show, on average, an increase com pared to the im m ediate p re­ liberalization p erio d ;12 but the post-liberalization years are too few, the estim ates are derived from ‘thin sam ples’, and ca u sa ­ tion is always a m atter of controversy. The fact th at the average net daily per capita availability of cereals and pulses for the six years 1 9 9 2 - 7 (i.e ., prior to the im pact of the latest inflation ) was nearly the sam e as for the preceding six years, 1 9 8 6 - 9 1 (4 8 5 gm s com pared to 4 8 0 g m s), despite the m u ch larger diver­ sion of foodgrains tow ards processed and ju n k food con su m ed by the urban affluent in the later period, lends som e cred ence to claim s of a slight increase in poverty. In any case the process of declining poverty witnessed during the Eighties has com e to an end. The Indian liberalization exp erien ce of cou rse has n ot been as bad as that of several oth er third w orld co u n trie s,13 partly because the process itself has been in com p lete and partly b e­

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cause of the absence of any m ajor crop failure or capital flight till date. Even so, the tendency tow ards an accen tu ation of e c o ­ n om ic inequalities in the m idst of undim inished m ass poverty, ch aracteristic of a neo-liberal regim e, is evident. Since su ch a tendency sharpens social contrad iction s, the question that arises is: how would such a regim e sustain itself politically? T h at it w ould entail an abridgem ent o f dem ocracy is clear, but w hat are th e form s that such an abridgem ent m ight take? A shift to a presidential form of govern m en t, such as is being m ooted in India, is one obvious possibility, but even if this does not happen, there are other kinds of abridgem ent and these m erit discussion.

VII Before proceeding, how ever, we have to consider a prelim inary question. Mass poverty after all has continu ed, and inequality has increased in India in the p ast, even when reasonably effec­ tive in stitution s of political d em o cracy prevailed. W hy then should any fall-out of neo-liberal econom ic policies also not co-exist with political dem ocracy, w ithout requiring any abridge­ m en t of it? To answ er this question, a m ore general issue needs to be investigated: how can abysm al poverty in India continu e to be perpetuated even under con d ition s of political dem ocracy? The answ er lies in the fact that th e cou n try has m ade notable ad­ van ces since Independence, n o t only in such things as develop­ ing an industrial base and achieving not insignificant increases in per capita GDP, but in averting famines w hich were a recu r­ rent phenom enon in the colonial period; in increasing per capita foodgrain availability; in low ering som ew hat the poverty ratio; in alm ost doubling life exp ectan cy at birth; in raising the lit­ eracy rate to som e exten t; in low ering the infant m ortality rate, and so on. The fact that the achievem ents should have been far greater should not m ean that we deny them altogether. The fact th at there have rep orted ly been ‘m iracles’ in East and South E a st Asia, relative to w hom India has perform ed poorly, should not lead us to believe that India has retrogressed in absolute term s. The fact that the benefits of India’s econom ic progress have been distributed in an extrem ely uneven m anner should not persuade us to think that people at the bottom of the ladder

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have had zero or negative gains. To think so w ould n ot only be a retrosp ective apology for colonialism , but a real insult to the struggles of the people before and after independence, w hich alone have enabled them to obtain som e im provem ent in their condition. Even m ore significant than these achievem ents, how ever, is som ething else, nam ely the opportunities for upward m obility that have been m ade available, in varying degrees no doub t, to the population at different levels. This is due not ju st to the exit o f foreign ers w ho had m on o p olized top p ositio n s in every sphere, or to the expansion of op portu nities arising from the significant rate of grow th that cam e with independence, or even to the enorm ous opening up of educational op p ortu n ities, re­ gardless of w hether its quality and quantity have been adequate o r not. All these have been im p ortan t factors; above all, h ow ­ ever, there has been a trem endous social ch urning w hich has ch aracterized the practice of political d em ocracy in the co u n ­ try. F ro m the abolition of zam indari to the G aribi Hatao p opu­ lism of the Indira Gandhi era; to the O ther Backw ard Classes (O BC ) m ovem ent and the dalit upsurge, not to m ention the very significant and unique experim ents in rural developm ent and em pow erm ent undertaken by Left-ruled states in the country, India has been in the throes of con tin u ou s, rapid and signifi­ can t social change. One com m only en cou n ters a debunking of ‘populism ’, ‘political patronage’, ‘M andalization’, e tc., but these precisely have been the m echanism s of this social change. W hile this change, and the upward m obility that ensued, have n ot reduced in com e and w ealth inequalities (w hich, especially the latter, have actually been accen tu ated since In d ep end ence), they have kept alive the hope, even am ong the poor and to som e exten t, of the possibility of im provem ent in their econ o m ic sta­ tus— if not for them selves, th en, at least, for their children. In other w ords in post-Independence India, although there has been a process of ‘prim itive accu m u lation of capital’, this p ro­ cess itself has been affected, shaped, m odified and even re ­ strained by a parallel and com p lex process of social change. The net result has been a broadening of the social com p osition of the bourgeoisie as well as keeping alive hopes of econ o m ic betterm ent am ong sections of the poor. The co -existen ce of sub­ stantial deprivation on the one hand, w ith political dem ocracy

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o n the other, has been possible because this deprivation has been accom panied by social flux and upward mobility. A neo-liberal econom ic policy, however, not only entails e co ­ nom ic stagnation for the m ass of the people (and even retrogres­ sion owing to shrinking w orld trade or in the event of capital flight), but also curtails the opportunities of upward mobility hith­ erto available to those outside the circles of the urban élite, be­ cause of its ‘w estern orientation’ and restrictions on the size of governm ent em ploym ent. Its coexisten ce with political dem oc­ racy therefore becom es m ore problem atical. In other w ords, it g re a tly e n h a n ce s b o th v e rtic a l ( r i c h - p o o r ) and h o riz o n ta l (r u ra l-u rb a n ) dich otom ies in society. The fact that, as far as landlords and kulaks are concerned, the prom ise of export agri­ cu ltu re does not necessarily m aterialize owing to price crashes, is germ ane to this second dichotom y. This is why neo-liberal econom ic policies are invariably associated with an abridgem ent of dem ocracy. There are several ways in w hich this o ccu rs; of th ese, three in particular, relevan t to the Indian co n te x t, are discussed below. V III T he first relates to the strategy of influencing policy m aking and public opinion. It is com m o n to think of the influence of B retton W oods in stitution s over policy m aking solely in term s o f ‘con d ition alities’. But influence would be far m ore difficult to exercise if it had to be exerted through ‘conditionalities’ alone o r even principally, since the charge o f ‘outside interference’ then w ould be too strong to perm it sm ooth passage of the favoured p o licies.14 The placing of W orld Bank and IM F em ployees who happen to be nationals of the cou n try concerned to key posi­ tions in the econ o m ic bureaucracy, especially the finance m in­ istry, is a key elem ent of the strategy, and is pervasive all over the third w orld. These bureaucrats remain entitled to handsom e pensions from these in stitution s and even go back there from tim e to time. Imbued with the outlook of the Fund and the Bank, and having personal links w ith the bureaucracy of these in sti­ tu tio n s , th e y h elp im p le m e n t n e o -lib e ra l p o lic ie s as the governm ent’s own policies, even w ithout any explicit Fu nd -B ank ‘con d ition alities’. Along with this, however, there is a process

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of introducing greater opacity on econom ic issues. Increasingly, such issues are exclud ed from public debate; facts co n cern in g them are a closely-guarded secret and, w henever necessary, a few hand-picked persons are appointed to a com m ittee w hose predictable recom m endations give the im prim atur of ‘exp ertise’ to neo-liberal policies, so that any opposition to them can be dism issed as ‘uninform ed’. The influencing of public opinion in oth er ways is equally im portant. Individual m edia-persons and academ ics are show n favours and given assignm ents w hich are very lu crative w hen com pared to local salaries. The privatization and ‘d en ational­ ization’ of m edia, especially electron ic m edia, also plays a vital role. All this is w ell-know n; w hat is less w ell-know n is the fol­ lowing. Since deflation, in particular a reduction in governm ent expenditure, is an im portan t com p on en t of neo-liberal policy, research and higher edu cation invariably exp erien ce a c u t in funding. This is usually justified on the grounds that m ore funds should be given to prim ary education, or that research m ust su p p o rt itse lf by raisin g its ow n re so u rce s . T h e n et re s u lt is a decim ation of any in tellectu al base for op p osition to n e o ­ liberal p olicies and to the M N C s, or at a different level, for national self-reliance. Privatization of education and research means the saleability of their products as com m odities; in a w orld where the ‘m arket’ is dom inated by neo-liberalism, or where buy­ ers are the MNCs them selves, conform ity becom es the ord er of the day. The ram ifications of this go very far. It is n ot only e d u ca ­ tional and research in stitution s that have to sell their w ares but individual academ ics and researchers as well. On the one hand, deflation and governm ent cuts entail a d eterioration in the liv­ ing and w orking cond itions of academ ics and research ers; on the other, very lu crative offers are made to them from in tern a­ tional agencies, B retton W oods institutions and various private sources, provided they espouse the dom inant ideological posi­ tion of neo-liberalism that inform s all these institutions. The op ­ positional challenge from academ ia and institutions of higher learning simply fades away under pressure of personal hardship in the event of a refusal to conform to neo-liberal orthodoxy. More generally, neo-liberal policies entail an accen tuation of dualism in every sphere, including the intellectual, between a small pros-

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perous élite on the one hand, and a m ass of underpaid w orkers on the oth er; and an assim ilation of this élite to the cause of neo-liberalism through large-scale patronage by a host of agencies led by the Bretton W oods institutions. This fractures any concept of a nation, or national interest and self-reliance, and apotheosizes ‘globalization’ in com plete disregard of the cond itions of the m ass of p eo p le. A co h e re n t th e o re tica l a rtic u la tio n of the p e o p le s ’ g rie v a n c e s and o f an a lte rn a tiv e s o c io -e c o n o m ic a rran g em en t in w h ich these grievan ces can be addressed is thwarted; also stifled is effective popular opposition to neo-liberalism— at best this takes the form of sporadic inchoate rebellions. IX The second factor w hich helps abridge political dem ocracy co n ­ sists of w hat was m entioned earlier: namely, the creation of co n ­ d itio n s w h e re b y d iffe re n c e s re la tin g to s o c io - e c o n o m ic program m es between alternative political form ations disappear. T he reason has to do with the fluidity of international finance c a p ita l. A ny p o litic a l fo rm atio n th a t p ro p o se s a differen t program m e runs the risk of frightening sp eculators into taking ‘h ot m oney’ out of the country, thereby precipitating a balance of paym ents crisis. Such a crisis would result not only in stricter ‘cond ition alities’ but in deflation, w age-cuts and harsh auster­ ity measures w hich would m ake the governm ent unpopular with the people. In o th er w ords, if people suffer under neo-liberal econ o m ic policies, they could suffer even m ore from attem pts to break out of these policies, i.e ., in the afterm ath of the sp ecu ­ lative outflow w hich would accom pany any effort to change neo­ liberal policies. All political form ations therefore, are haunted by fears of alienating speculators, and consequently tend to co n ­ verge on the neo-liberal program m e that the latter approve of. W h at we have here is a rem arkable inversion of perspectives. The entire co n cern of governm ents focuses not on the welfare of the people but on keeping international finance happy, even if the latter entails the im position of great privations on the people. This happens even when governm ents com m itted to the in terests of the people are elected. In oth er w ords, it happens n o t because of som e crude collusion betw een political form a­ tions and financial interests, but for structural reasons, for within

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the stru ctu re o f the econ om y th at neo-liberal policies co n ju re up th ere is no alternative to appeasing financial in te re sts. U n ­ less this stru ctu re itself is transcended (o n w hich m o re la te r ), appeasing financial in terests m akes sense because it is d icta te d by the logic of the stru ctu re. The queer logic w hereby th e im ­ p osition of hardships on the people is supposed to be in th e ir best in terests, does have an elem ent o f tru th . The fact th at it does so , how ever, only reflects the absurdity o f the s tru c tu re o f a liberalized econom y. It follows from this that su ch a stru ctu re is directly a n tith e ti­ cal to political dem ocracy. The essen ce of political d e m o cra cy is the sovereign right of the people to m ake ch o ice s betw een altern ative program m es, alternative leaders and altern ative p o ­ litical form ations, each w ith its ow n weltanschaung. But if the program m e, the leaders and the weltanschaung are dictated by speculators (in the sense of having to conform to th eir predilec­ tio n s), and if all the different political form ations, m asquerading as alternatives, have willy-nilly to adopt what the sp ecu lato rs w an t, then we have a denial of dem ocracy in effect, even th ou gh it o ccu rs w ithin the fram ew ork of d em o cratic form s. W e have, in o th er w ords, a recon ciliation of neo-liberal e co n o m ic p oli­ cies w ith political d em ocracy w hich simultaneously a m o u n ts to a denial of dem ocracy. T he m ost blatant instance o f this denial is when th e selection of the prim e m inister or the com position of the governm ent are decided upon by the B retton W oods institution s w ith th e ob jec­ tive of ‘instilling confidence am ong in vestors’. If F u jim o ri of Peru and C arlos M enem of A rgentina provide us w ith exam ples of leaders elected on an anti-liberalization platform b u t sw itch­ ing sides to becom e cham pions of neo-liberalism (th u s under­ sco rin g ou r con ten tion that the scope for ch o ice by th e people does n ot e x is t), th en Turkey and Pak istan are e x a m p le s of B retton W oods ex-em ployees being ch osen as prim e m inisters un der the influence of these in stitu tio n s.15 X The third elem ent in the political m anagem ent of stru ctural adjustm ent is a discourse shift that o ccu rs as a resu lt of the adoption of stru ctu ral adjustm ent policies them selves, and this

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h as to do with the grow th of divisive forces like com m unalism , fundam entalism and secessionism . This grow th is usually seen in sui generis term s, as unrelated to the pursuit of neo-liberal policies. This is a m isconception. The ‘globalization’ ushered in by the pursuit of neo-liberal policies prom otes fundam entalist and secessionist tendencies in various ways. In general term s, one can say that w ith the fracturing of the ‘national’ con sciou s­ ness, w hich ‘globalization’ under capitalism entails, the co n ­ sciousness of particu lar groups tends to com e to the forefront. It is not that the con sciou sn ess of particu lar groups had ever been obliterated; only that it had been overlaid by an overarching national consciou sn ess during the struggle for decolonization w h ich welded diverse groups into a n ation -in -the-m ak ing. As this overarching national consciousness recedes, these p articu ­ lar consciousnesses em erge to prom inence. Paradoxically, the espousal of ‘globalization’, which apparently transcends national­ ism , has the effect of strengthening sub-national consciousnesses. However, it is not ju st in such general terms that globalization contributes to the growth of divisive movements; it makes very spe­ cific interventions. F o r in stan ce, it prom otes secessionist ten ­ dencies in regions belonging to either end of the developm ent sp ectru m . The advanced regions w ithin a third w orld econom y develop a secessionist tendency, because they think they have a b etter ch an ce of attractin g foreign investm ent from the MNCs if they are unencum bered by the com pany of backw ard regions. T he first state to secede from the form er Soviet U nion, signifi­ cantly, was the rich est, Lithuania, and the first to do so from the form er Yugoslavia was Slovenia, also the richest. Though nei­ th er the Soviet U nion n o r Yugoslavia w ere third w orld eco n o ­ m ies, n o n eth eless th e exam p les are in stru ctiv e . ‘B ack w ard ’ regions on the other hand, develop a secessionist tendency since they feel they are gettin g a ‘raw deal’, accou n tin g for the per­ p etuation of their ‘backw ardness’. Likewise ‘globalization’ creates conditions that are conducive to the growth of different kinds of ‘fundam entalist’ m ovem ents in various ways. Insofar as ‘globalization’ m eans a worsening of the lot of the com m on people while a section of the domestic rich not only becom es rich er but is increasingly identified with the ‘W est’ and indulges in lavish consum erism , there develops am ong the people an a n ti-‘W estern’ and anti-élite feeling, which

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is a refracted form of anti-im perialist con sciou sn ess. In ce rta in circu m stan ces, this feeling takes on a fundam entalist co lo u r, especially w here there has been a previous history of th e su p ­ pression of progressive and d em ocratic m ovem ents. Iran p ro ­ vides a classic exam ple both of such a fundam entalist m o v e­ m ent, as well as of its lim itations— after all it eventually tu rn ed to the IM F for help despite all the rhetoric of the K hom eini years. A second kind o f ‘fundam entalism ' (o f w hich H indutva is an exam ple) uses popular distress and a sense of being belittled by history not for any an ti-élite, a n ti-‘West\ or an ti-con su m erist platform , but for singling out som e m inority group as the source o f this distress. In fact, it attem pts to com e to p o w er by sim u ltan eou sly appeasing m u ltilateral agen cies and th e ad­ vanced capitalist coun tries and organizing pogrom s and riots against hapless m inorities. One can of course see com binations of such m ovem en ts— there m ay for exam ple be divisions w ithin forces of ‘co m p rad o r fundam entalism ’ ju st referred to, w ith som e section s op posin g som e aspects of neo-liberal econ o m ic policies— and th ere may, in a particular situation, be the sim ultaneous coexisten ce of m ore than one such m ovem ent. The im portant point is that the em er­ gen ce of these divisive m ovem ents leads to a shift in political discourse away from the issue of econom ic program m es tow ards those raised by the agenda of these forces; a polarization of p o ­ litical forces occu rs around such m ovem ents as a result of w hich w hatever differences m ay exist on the econ om ic program m es (already narrow ed dow n as we have seen) are further ob scured. W e have thus a rem arkable scenario in w hich the d om estic p o­ litical forces appear to be agreed on the need for neo-liberal econ o m ic policies but differ solely on internal m atters relating to the agenda of divisive forces. The people are offered a ch o ice no doubt: between divisive forces and the rest, a ch o ice of the utm ost im portan ce, but one w hich does n o t extend to a real ch oice betw een alternative econ om ic program m es. This m akes the task of im posing an econ o m ic program m e suited to the in­ terests of the MNCs and international finance m uch easier.16 Indeed som e sectio n s, in clu d in g am on g p rog ressive and d em ocratic intelligentsia, even w elcom e such a program m e on the grounds that the ‘m od ern ization ’ it entails will help in tra n ­ scending the ‘backw ardness’ w hich produces ‘fundam entalism ’

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and com m unalism . In other w ords, the very em ergence of these ten dencies encourages a belief in a sim ple ‘dualism ’ rem inis­ cen t of early developm ent econ om ics in w hich there are two separate sectors: the ‘m odern’ and the ‘traditional’, and ‘progress’ is seen in term s of a rapid developm ent of the form er; by draw ­ ing labour from the latter, this is supposed to gradually reduce it to insignificance. The erroneousness of this assum ption arises from tw o distin ct facts: first, the two sectors are dialectically related, and the backw ard’ is w hat it is because the ‘m odern’ is w h at it is; second, the ‘m odern’ does n ot exist in isolation from the rest of the w orld, it is integrated w ith the m etropolis in a m anner that gives it a specific dynam ics. T he inability to see these relationships fosters the illusion that neo-liberal policies will help in overcom ing ‘backw ard’ ten dencies w hereas, in fact, they con trib u te tow ards their strengthening.

XI The foregoing m ust not be taken to m ean th at an abridgem ent of d em ocracy will inevitably occu r, that nothing can be done about it. On the contrary, the worsening conditions of the people also call forth resistance. W here auth oritarian regim es exist, popular resistance creates pressures for dem ocratization , as has happened in Indonesia. W here the fram ew ork of dem ocracy is preserved but its con ten t is diluted through apparent agreem ent am ong political form ations on neo-liberal econ om ic policies, popular resistan ce takes the form of regularly voting out in ­ cu m b en t governm ents. In India, for exam ple, n ot only did the C ongress w hich ushered in liberalization get an electoral drub­ bing, the BJP too lost popular support w ithin m onths of com ing to pow er because of its inability to tackle inflation w hich was a fallout, inter alia, of neo-liberal policies. Strategies of political m an agem en t, in other words, have to be seen not as creating a ‘no exit’ situation but in the co n text of a tussle: efforts to abridge dem ocracy being countered by popular resistance, not necessarily to these efforts but to som e fallout of neo-liberal policies. The question then arises: are coun tries like India doom ed to be victim s of this paralyzing tussle until this co n ju n ctu re (i.e ., of the ascen dancy of in ternational finance cap ital) itself undergoes a decisive change? N ot n ecessarily in

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my view. The size of a society like ours is so en orm ou s; the range of goods it can potentially produce so large; its d ep en ­ dence on the rest of the w orld so m inim al; and its vulnerability to the cap rices of international finance capital is so m anage­ able, at least till now, that a shift away from neo-liberalism can both o ccu r here, arid contribute substantially to a change in the international co n ju n ctu re itself. In other w ords, even in a c o n ­ text w here the scope for autonom y in national decision-m akin g has been significantly eroded, coun tries like India and C hina still retain sufficient cap acity for it. W h at it requires, how ever, is a broad m obilization of internal class forces around an agenda alternative to w hat international finance capital is pursuing, and skilful and im aginative m anoeuvres on the extern al front, in ­ cluding m obilization of external support for facilitating a change in the con ju n ctu re. The details of this altern ative agenda need not detain us h ere;17 suffice it to say that, far from entailing a return to the earlier dirigiste developm ent strategy, it m ust begin w ith an al­ ternative critique of it. Such a critique w ould focus on the fail­ ure of that program m e to base itself upon egalitarian land re ­ forms, and its com plicity in a process of prim itive accu m u la­ tion, w hose obverse was a m eagre achievem ent in spheres su ch as literacy, ed u cation , health, sanitation and rural in frastru c­ ture. An alternative agenda m ust make the rectification of these its co rn ersto n e, w hich alone will enable it to m obilize the class support needed for its execu tio n .18 The real issue relates not to the state-v ersu s-m ark et d ich otom y but to a strengthening of dem ocratic interventions by the people so that they can exercise more effective control over the state and, through it, the m arket. To be sure, the form ulation of such an agenda and m obiliza­ tion around it are no easy tasks; but then retaining econ o m ic sovereignty and using it to im prove the living cond itions of the mass of people are n ot, if one m ay paraphrase O skar Lange, ‘tasks for the tim id’.19

Notes 1 This, for instance is the view articulated in the context of India by B im aljalan , In d ia ’s Econom ic Crisis (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1994.

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2 The argument lhat the current account deficit in the Indian balance of payments prior to ‘liberalization’ in 1991 was caused by independent factors unrelated to the fiscal deficit has been put forward by Mihir Rakshit, ‘The M acroeconom ic A djustm ent Programme: A C ritiqu e’, Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, vol. 26, no. 52 (28 December 1991) pp. 2 9 9 5 -6 . 3 For an elaborate discussion of the internal and external factors that formed the backdrop for the introduction of ‘structural adjustm ent’ in the co n te x t o f the Indian econom y, see Prabhat Patnaik and C .P Chandrashekhar, ‘The Indian Economy Under Structural Adjustm ent’, E conom ic and P olitical W eekly, vol. 3 0 , no. 47 (2 5 November 1995) pp. 3 0 0 1 -1 3 and C.T. Kurian, G lobal C apitalism and the Indian Econom y (Delhi: O rient Longm an), 1994. 4 Even the im port liberalization o f the late Eighties that sustained the boom of the Rajiv era and contributed, in the first instance, to making the balance of payments vulnerable, had the blessings of the World Bank. Many have dated India’s liberalization to 1985; while Left crit­ ics consistently underscored the pitfalls of im port liberalization even in this period, drawing special attention to the emerging balance of payments vulnerability, the World Bank equally consistently supported it. ’ Jo h n Maynard Keynes, T he G eneral Theory o f Em ploym ent, Interest and Money (London: M acm illan), 1949, p. 376. 6 For a fuller discussion of this issue, namely the extent to which tradi­ tional theories of im perialism have been rendered obsolete by the com ­ monality of experience of the advanced and backward capitalist econo­ mies in the current conjuncture, see Prabhat Patnaik, ‘G lobalisation o f C apital and the T heory of Im perialism ’, S o cia l S cien tist, 2 8 3 - 4 , N ovem ber-D ecem ber 1996, pp. 5 -1 7 . 7 For a com prehensive discussion with country studies, see G. Cornia, R. Jo lly and F. Stewart, Adjustment with a Human F a ce (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1987, 2 vols. 8 The distinction between productive and speculative capital inflows is som etimes rejected on the grounds that both add to the availability of resources for the dom estic economy. But, for the latter to be used for investm ent and growth, there must addition ally be adequate induce­ m ent to invest in the dom estic econom y (otherw ise it would merely add to reserves or, if the exchange rate is allowed to appreciate, have a de-industrializing effect). Since the adoption of neo-liberal policies, notably p u b lic exp en d itu re cuts and im port lib e ra liz a tio n , has a contractionary effect on aggregate demand, the problem of inadequate inducem ent to invest acquires significance. This contractionary effect also makes the concept of ‘efficiency gains’ (and all calculations of

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such gains) which assume full employment, untenable. See Prabhat Patnaik, ‘On the Concept of Efficiency’, Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, vol. 32, no. 43 (25 O ctober 1997) pp. 2 8 0 7 -1 3 . 9 See C.P. Chandrashekhar ‘Explaining Post-Reform Industrial Growth’, Econom ic and P olitical W eekly, vol. 31, nos. 3 5 -3 7 (Special Number, Septem ber 1996), pp. 2 5 3 7 -4 5 . 10 Against this com parison it is often argued that the growth rate of the preceding quinquennium was not sustainable for balance of payments reasons. But this argument would be valid only if the 5 .9 per cent growth of the later period was all that the balance of payments situ a­ tion perm itted; i.e., if it was not a reflection of a demand constraint, as it actually is. 11 For details of the argument in this and the following paragraphs, see Prabhat P atnaik, ‘P o st-“R eform ” G row th T rajectory of the Indian Econom y’, The M arxist, vol. XIV, no. 3 (July-Septem ber 1 9 9 8 ), pp. 7— 23. 1J A bhijit Sen and Utsa Patnaik, ‘Poverty in India’, Working Paper, Centre for Econom ic Studies and Planning, Jaw aharlal Nehru University, 13 August 1997. 13 Apart from Cornia, Jo lly and Stewart, pp.cit., see, for a review of Afri­ can and Latin American experiences, R. van der Hoeven, ‘Structural Adjustm ent, Poverty and M acroeconom ic Policy’, Seminar on Stru c­ tural Adjustment and Poverty in India, organized under the Indo-D utch Programme on Alternatives in Development, The Hague, Novem ber 1 9 9 4 ; for P ak istan , see S. A kbar Z aidi, ‘H ealth, W e ll-b e in g and A djustm ent’, Conference on the Impact of Structural A djustm ent on Health, Centre for Social Medicine and Com munity Health, Jaw aharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, September 1997. 14 This fact, however, has not prevented the Bretton Woods in stitutions from widening their sphere of direct interference, as is evident from the decision taken at their annual m eeting held recently in Hong Kong, that issues of ‘corruption’ and ‘good governance’ will henceforth be included in the ambit of ‘conditionalities’. 15 The reference here is to Tansu C iller of Turkey who was an employee of the IMF, and to Moin Qureshi of Pakistan, an ex-em ployee of the World Bank. In addition, Javed Burki, another employee of the World Bank becam e finance m inister of Pakistan and enjoyed great influence in that position. For a discussion of the role of these in stitutions in policy making in Pakistan, see A. Zaman, ‘The Governm ent’s Present Agreement with the IMF: Misgovernment or Folly?’ P akistan Jo u rn a l o f A pplied E conom ics, vol. 11, nos. 1 -2 (1 9 9 5 ), pp. 7 7 -9 4 . 16 This, in my view, describes the Indian situation today. It is instructive that on the broad parameters of econom ic policy, there is a com m on­

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ality of views between the Congress, the BJP, and substantial sections of the UF. 17 These details are given in Prabhat Patnaik and C.P. Chandrashekhar, op. cit. 18 It is often suggested that a neo-liberal policy is com patible with the m aintenance, or even increase, in the government’s developm ent and social expenditures. This is not true. Since there has to be some sym­ metry between corporate and personal income taxes, and in the treat­ m ent of foreign and dom estic capital, governments in a neo-liberal regime com m itted to wooing foreign capital, are constrained in rais­ ing larger direct tax revenue. Likewise, symmetry between custom s and excise duties in a world in which the former have to be lowered entails a constraint in raising indirect tax revenue. Finally, to retain speculators’ ‘confidence’, the interest rate has to be kept high (w hich raises the interest payments on government debt) and the fiscal defi­ cit, kept low. These constraints together ensure that development and social expenditures are cut. 19 O skar Lange, On th e E con om ic T heory o f S o cia lism (M in n eap o lis: U niversity of Minnesota Press), 1938.

Depicting the Nation: media politics in independent India V I C T OR I A L. F A R M E R *

Introduction A vantage point offering broad vistas on India’s fifty years of experience with dem ocracy has inform ed earlier chapters in this volum e. Insight is also to be gained, however, through an e xam i­ nation of changes in specific institutions, including the p olice, the media and the judiciary, that were constructed or altered dur­ ing the first fifty years of independence. This chapter focuses on India’s exp erien ce w ith the governance of m ass m edia, p a rticu ­ larly television. I exam ine the assum ptions regarding the p ow er of television, and resu ltan t policy initiatives th at led Indian political leaders to link the notions of state, nation , and s o c io ­ econ o m ic developm ent in the co n stru ctio n of India’s n ation al television system , D oordarshan. One reason for studying India’s electron ic m edia is th at its in creasin g variety of form s— rad io , grou n d -b ased telev isio n broad casting, cable and satellite transm issions— co n tin u o u sly renew s public debates about national policy tow ards the m e ­ dia, shedding light on how the Indian governm ent contends w ith the challenges of technological innovation. D oordarshan is also a critical case for exam ining the role of the state in issues re ­ lated to cu ltu ral pluralism , m ulti-lingualism , and the c o n ce p t of the nation. W ith the advent of television tech n olo gies, th e G overnm ent of India found itself in a position to exercise c e n ­ * 1 thank Douglas Verney for extensive discussion on this chapter; and A m rita Basu, F ra n cin e F ra n k e l, D esm ond N azareth and E sw aran Sridharan for com m ents on an earlier draft.

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tralized con trol over this new m edium , and to link television to its policies of national developm ent. F in a lly , s tu d y in g th e o r ig in o f i n s t i t u t i o n s s u c h as D oordarshan is useful for understanding the shape of, and co n ­ straints on, con tem p orary political institutions. This historical app roach— particularly w hen a num ber of institutions are ju x ­ taposed, as in the three analyses in this volum e of the judiciary, the police, and media policy— highlights continuities between the colonial and independent periods in India, continuities that m ay be less apparent in other m ethodological or disciplinary analyses of con tem p orary India. Post-W orld W ar II scholarship on India, through the vagaries of academ ic organization and disciplinary divides, has often over-em phasized 1 9 4 7 as a w a­ tershed. F o r exam ple, historians have tended to study periods of Indian history prior to independence, while political scien ­ tists have tended to focus on the politics of independent India. R ecent trends in social science theory have helped to balance this overly sharp d ich otom ization , but close exam ination of political in stitutions further helps to detail the precise linkages between these two periods. The case studies in this volume dem onstrate that India’s politi­ cal institutions often share a com m on origin in concepts, poli­ cies and laws from the latter half of the nineteenth century, rather than from post-Independence initiatives. This is not to make a determ inistic argum ent, but simply to point out that these stud­ ies show how the colonial legacy shaped the range of political possibilities for the reconstruction of independent India’s insti­ tutions of governance. F o r exam ple, radio and television co n ­ tinue to be governed by laws based on the 1 8 8 5 Telegraph Act; R.K. Raghavan (this volum e) notes that laws regarding the p o­ lice rest upon the Police Act of 1 8 6 1 ; and Rajeev Dhavan (this volum e) exam ines the colonial codification of Indian law and its later effects on ju risp ru d en ce. F o r narrative sim plicity, this chapter delineates three peri­ ods in the governance of Indian mass m edia. The first period begins w ith the 1 8 8 5 Telegraph A ct and concludes in m id -1 9 8 3 , when Indira G andhi’s governm ent undertook the creation of a pan-Indian infrastructure for broadcasting television. During the second period, from approxim ately 1 9 8 3 to 1 9 9 1 , the central governm ent continued to hold a m onopoly over both television

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hardware and program m ing. This period represented a rare, and perhaps unique, situation in w hich the ruling party of a thriving post-colonial dem ocracy held sway over the airwaves of a ph e­ nom enally diverse country, facing the difficulties of broadcasting to an audience characterized by great diversities in language, cultural p ractice, religion, and living standards. U nlike go vern m en t-ru n television in frastru ctures in industrialized societies, the legitim acy of the Indian governm ent’s m onopoly w as p red i­ cated on its use to prom ote so cio -eco n o m ic developm ent; and, unlike national television system s in m ore hom ogeneous s o c i­ eties, the cultural link betw een program m ing and its aud ience was n ot clear. Instead of television naturally reflecting a rela­ tively hom ogenous national culture, Indian program m ing was specifically designed to create such an identity. In ad d ition , India’s sheer size m eant that m ost of its citizens only received transm issions from w ithin India. The establishm ent of statio n s w hose signals blocked transnational transm issions also m ade this true in m any border areas. India’s near m onopoly w as in co n trast to the exp erien ce of sm aller cou n tries inundated by transnation al television. It was also very different from the e x ­ perien ce of im poverished, dependent cou n tries in w hich m ost, or som etim es all, program m ing was provided by sources su ch as the Voice of A m erica or m ultinational corporations. The third period under discussion dates from 1 9 9 1 - 2 , when the G overn ­ m ent of India effectively lost its m onopolistic con trol of the air­ w aves th rough the advent of transnational satellite television. Satellite channels becam e m ore lucrative, num erous and heavily capitalized after the popular dem and for satellite news co v er­ age of the bom bing of Iraq during the Gulf W ar.

Justifying Public Television: The Implications of Doordarshan's Monopoly India in herited a legal stru ctu re from the British th at included centralized governm ental con trol of telegraphs starting in 1 8 8 5 . A lm ost a cen tu ry later, that p recedent, along w ith the exam ples of m any other state-o p erated television in frastru ctures in the Com m onw ealth, such as the British Broadcasting C orporation (BBC) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (C B C ), served to underpin centralized control of India’s new television technol­

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ogy. In addition, political movements and social theories in the twentieth century shaped the assumptions regarding mass media held by political leaders, worldwide. Social theorists of the 1920s and ’3 0 s optimistically linked mass media and social engineering; for instance, a 1 9 3 6 League of Nations convention exam ined the p otential of broadcasting for international understanding. P ro­ paganda during W orld W ar II pow erfully solidified the belief, and fear, that m ass media could transform so cieties,1 and this assu m p tion becam e an integral part of post-w ar developm ent th eo ries.2 In India, nationalist sentim ents during the freedom struggle in the first half of the tw entieth centu ry fostered the notion that cu ltu ral nationalism could serve as a p oten t force for nation building and as a tool for resisting cu ltu ral neo-im perialism . T hrough the in teracting forces of legal preced en t, cultural n a­ tionalism , and developm ent theory, television in independent India evolved as an institution controlled by and em anating from Delhi. In this process, though, the G overnm ent of India took responsibility for the im plem entation of a com plex set of policy goals that ultim ately proved unachievable. Initially, social th eo­ ries and nationalist objectives legitim ated centralized control over radio and television; over tim e, how ever, the unfulfilled prom ise of these goals brought this legitim acy into question, and by exten sion raised questions about the m otives and cred­ ibility o f successive national governm ents perpetuating and con ­ solidatin g a hierarchical centralization th at was quite different from oth er m edia, notably new spapers. In retrosp ect, it is apparent that television differed from other forms of m edia, including the press and cinem a, in one respect that is of crucial im portance to India’s dem ocratic experience. It was only w hat is termed ‘electronic m edia’ in India, including radio and television, that cam e under the direct purview of the C entre. O ther media genres were, by and large, privately held and profit-driven. Many caveats are necessary here; the Centre has influenced these media forms in num erous, and som etim es nefarious, ways. Its influence has ranged from the largely accepted con tinu ance of film censorship (at the state level under the Brit­ ish, centralized in independent India under the Cinem atograph (C en so rsh ip ) A ct of 1 9 5 2 ) ,3 to the blatantly an ti-d em ocratic m achinations against the press during the 1 9 7 5 - 7 Emergency.4

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Despite the ways in w hich the C entre has power over m edia other than radio and television, though, there is a basic, qualita­ tive difference between its legal relationship to television and other media forms. The Centre builds, owns, prom otes and governs India’s television infrastructure, legitimating this control through the argum ent that it is needed to prom ote socio-econ om ic and national developm ent, and basing it on a cen tu ry of legal p re ­ cedent. The privately-ow ned press, on the oth er hand, evolved earlier in the heady, oppositional environm ent of the freedom struggle. Jo u rn alists, new spaper ow ners, and the general public were extrem ely unlikely to cou n ten an ce direct governm ental con tro l of the press. This stan ce has becom e particu larly en ­ trenched since the excesses of the Em ergency. The d ich otom y between ow nership of television and o th er media also created differing exp ectation s. F o r exam ple, because state ow nership of television was initially predicated on s o c io ­ econ o m ic developm ent, achievem en t of su ch goals could be applied as a m easurem ent of television’s su ccess. W h en these goals w ere n o t easily reach ed, the ju stification for con tin u ed state ow nership turned increasingly to the rh eto ric of cultu ral nationalism . By contrast, achievem ent of developm ent goals was largely irrelevant for public assessm ent of print m edia. M aga­ zine editors or film producers m ay be th ought heartless if they do not foster developm ent schem es for the poor, and social activ­ ists may call for greater responsibility on the part of wealthy media barons. But this does not necessarily bring into question the le­ gitim acy of the ruling party, the state, or Indian democracy. D oordarshan, on the other hand, is a different case. It has been a costly C entre-led governm ent undertaking predicated on using television as an investm ent in so cio -eco n o m ic devel­ opm ent, ed u cation , and national integration. C entral govern ­ m ental co n tro l of television has therefore rendered the C entre vulnerable to questions of the state’s efficacy, credibility, and legitim acy. In responding to the advent of television tech n o lo ­ gies by linking central con tro l with social b etterm en t, it is now clear that the C entre took on a role in w hich little could be easily w on, but m uch could be lost in term s of credibility. A num ber of unintended consequ ences arose from justifying the co n stru ctio n of India’s television netw ork on the basis of television’s potential for prom oting ‘developm ent’. Developm ent

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was defined broadly, in a way th at included two very different types of goals. One was basic econ om ic developm ent, im prov­ ing the living standards of India’s poor. This I term ‘m aterial’ developm ent, as opposed to m ore culturally based ‘n ation al’ developm ent. E xactly how television was to accom p lish m ate­ rial developm ent was never entirely clear. The Satellite In stru c­ tional Television E xp erim en t (S IT E ) of 1 9 7 5 - 6 did show that som e gains could be m ade through provision of inform ation on topics such as new agricultural p ractices and basic health care. However, these gains proved to be of very lim ited scope. P ro ­ viding inform ation can n o t rem edy a lack of in frastru cture. F o r exam ple, lessons on the im p ortan ce of childhood im m uniza­ tion are futile, at best, if clin ics do n ot exist or sera are not available. The second type of developm ent im plicit in m edia policy was the creation of a national identity, evident in the title of the third go vernm ent-com m issioned study of D oordarshan, An In­ dian Personality fo r Television.5 The inability of television to fos­ ter significant m aterial developm ent was indeed unfortunate. However, the unintended consequences of linking television and nation al in tegration proved to be significantly m ore dam aging to the fibre of Indian dem ocracy. In attem pting to in cu lcate a nation al identity th rough m edia depictions, the C entre entered in to a game that sim ply could n ot be won. There are m any dif­ ferent views of ‘India’. No co n cep tio n of its national identity, how ever overarching, will ever be u n contested , and no co n ce p ­ tion , how ever pluralist, will ever be deem ed fair by everyone. Ultim ately, both the m edium and the m essage-m aker lose cred ­ ibility. It is one thing for a local newspaper, or a foreign-based television dram a, or a m ade-for-profit advertisem ent to be seen as partisan or elitist. W h en the co n stru ctio n of the m essage is u n d er the aegis of the cen tral governm ent, however, such per­ ceptions are m uch m ore insidious. T he insistence on developm ental goals for D oordarshan was sensible in m any resp ects. The creation of a television infra­ stru ctu re was costly, and the inform ational needs of India’s citi­ zens were great. By declaring that D oordarshan w ould provide an instrum ent to prom ote national unity, widespread education, and econ om ic developm ent, the G overnm ent of India was able to ju stify its huge investm ent. How ever, in due course it ren ­

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dered itself vulnerable to the criticism that neither the state nor its television service could accom p lish su ch goals. The g o v ern ­ m ent also opened itself to argum ents th at instead of prom oting ‘national unity’ or ‘developm ent’, it was prom oting the in terests of the party at the Centre. The inability of television to fulfil goals articulated in governm ent policy thus ultim ately brou ght into question the very legitim acy of the state, in a m anner and to a degree th at did n o t o ccu r with resp ect to profit-driven m e­ dia form s. The m ost dam aging aspect of this media policy, w hich closely correlated the C entre’s interests with its investm ent in television, was th erefore n ot D oord arsh an ’s inability to bring ab ou t the im provem ent of the econom ic situation of India’s poor. After all, there was already widespread cynicism regarding the governm ent’s developm ent program m es, after so m any in stitu tion s, plans, schem es and prom ises had com e to so little. Instead, the aspect of centralized control of television that proved to be the m ost dangerous to the legitim acy of Indian dem ocracy was linking media technology with prom oting a national identity. In a cultur­ ally plural, m ultilingual and m ultireligious country, no statesponsored depiction of the ideal national personality, ch aracter or ethos could possibly be w ithout controversy; and these con ­ troversies ineluctably both reflected and prom ulgated schism s inherent in the in exact fit between ‘state’ and ‘nation’. In inde­ pendent India, the m ost damaging aspect of media policy proved to be the im possibility of any state-sponsored depiction of the ‘nation’ to be fully devoid of religious, com m unal overtones. This was p articu larly p rob lem atic in the im p lication of the statesponsored serialization of the Ramayana and other epics in the general rise of a virulent Hindutva.6 Though such charges could never be conclusively proven, the hierarchical control of televi­ sion from Delhi also m eant that the governm ent could never fully clear itself from such accusations, and so the secular credentials of the state w ere brought into question.

Hierarchical Centralization and the Colonial Legacy How did hierarchical, centralized state control of television hard­ ware and program m ing com e to be seen as legitim ate and nec­ essary in India?

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W h en television was first b road cast in India in a 1 9 5 9 ed u ­ catio n al experim ent in Delhi, a legal infrastructure to govern its vast potential had not been created. As is the case with any novel technology in a law-based society, the implications of scien­ tific breakthroughs cannot be fully anticipated. Often, regulations initially rest upon extan t laws, and additional adm inistrative m echanism s are created, with lag time, through legal precedent, co u rt decisions, or the creation of new laws. This accretio n ary process can be seen in the evolution of laws governing the elec­ tronic media in India, the genealogy of which can be traced to the 1 8 8 5 Telegraph Act. This Act stated that ‘the Central Governm ent shall have the exclusive privilege of establishing, m aintaining and w ork ing telegraphs’. Telegraph was defined to include virtually any electron ic com m u nications technology. Some forty years later, in the 1 9 2 0 s , radio becam e available. The British initially allow ed the creation of an independent broadcasting c o rp o ra ­ tion , but this attem pt failed, in part because the licensing fees allow able w ithin colonial legal stru ctu res were inadequate to keep it solvent. Eventually, the Raj som ew hat reluctantly agreed to p ro tect radio-related capital investm ents by putting radio u n d er direct governm ental co n tro l.7 Later, based on the p rece­ dent of the 1 8 8 5 A ct, adm inistration of television was joined w ith th at of radio. The 1 8 8 5 Telegraph A ct thus serves as the origin of the evolution of the legal strictu res governing India’s electro n ic m edia. The 1 9 3 5 G overnm ent of India Act reaffirmed the hegem onic role of the state in broadcasting. However, while it reserved broadcasting for the Centre, it also stated that the Centre should not unreasonably prevent provincial adm inistrators from c o n ­ stru ctin g transm itters. Independent India’s 1 9 5 0 C on stitu tion in co rp orated m any features of th e 1 9 3 5 A ct, including placing b road castin g under the Union (i.e ., the C entre’s) list of resp on ­ sibility. The U nion List of the C on stitu tion ’s Seventh Schedule, item thirty-one, includes ‘posts and telegraphs, telephones, w ire­ less, broadcasting and other like form s of com m unication’. (T his should not be confused with the inclusion o f ‘com m u n icatio n s’ on the State List, in w hich com m u n ication s refers to ‘roads, bridges, ferries, and other m eans of com m u nication not sp eci­ fied in List I’ [the U nion L is t].) The Seventh Schedule inclusion of broadcasting on the Union List, however, did not include even

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minimal provision for decentralized broadcasting found in the 1935 Act. Thus, the legal basis for centralized control of broadcasting was continu ed, and actually strengthened, after 1 9 4 7 . T he ‘fear of disorder’ at Independence (B rass, this volum e) p reclud ed abrupt decentralization of the electron ic m edia. W h ile Prim e M inister N ehru did argue that broadcasting should be m ade au ­ to n o m o u s from d irect cen tra l co m m an d , he also in d ica te d that this would have to be postponed due to the im m ediate im peratives of political stability.8 Although the first television broadcast w as m ade in 1 9 5 9 , Delhi did not becom e a full-fledged broadcasting statio n until 1 9 7 0 . The order in w hich subsequent stations were co n stru cted was based on tw o goals: covering m ajor m etropolitan areas, and creatin g statio n s on bord er areas that m igh t have a c ce s s to transnational transm issions. After Delhi, stations w ere created in Bom bay ( 1 9 7 2 ) , Srinagar, A m ritsar and Pune ( 1 9 7 3 ) , and C alcutta and M adras ( 1 9 7 5 ) . By the tim e of the Asian G am es in late 1 9 8 2 , there were approxim ately forty tran sm itters in the Doordarshan network. Most were relay stations that did not have production facilities, and m any were relatively low -pow er (1 0 0 W ) tran sm itters in rerrtote or m ou n tain ou s areas, in clu d in g Im phal, Shillong, Jam m u and Shimla (full listings are updated periodically in Mass Media in India). Significant exp an sion , c re ­ ating a nearly pan-Indian in frastructure, occu rred only after the Asiad. India’s grow ing television netw ork thus cam e to be in­ exorably linked to the C entre through an accretionary, reactive evolution based on the legislative precedent of the 1 8 8 5 Tele­ graph A ct. This does n o t, however, explain how state co n tro l of television becam e linked to the m ore proactive p ro ject of co n ­ stru ctin g an Indian national identity. This cam e about as a fall­ out of scientific interest in space research and Indira G andhi’s political am bitions. The em inent scientist, Vikram Sarabhai began to argue in the early 1 9 6 0 s for national investm ent in cutting-edge scientific research, particularly on space, com m u n icatio n s, and energy prod uction. He conceptualized developm ent as a total process requiring n o t only increased production, but also m odernized adm inistration of technological applications and th e creation of greater dem and for public provision of advanced te ch n o lo ­ gies and services. Planned scientific research w ould generate

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both supply and dem and for such large-scale technologies as n u clear pow er production and telecom m un ication s satellites.9 Hoping to strengthen political and public supp ort for in vest­ m ent in advanced space research, and genuinely com m itted to using the m ost sophisticated technologies for rural development, Sarabhai argued that satellite-based television could be used to ‘leap -frog’ India into sustained econom ic grow th and develop­ m e n t.10 Sarabhai was a confidant of Indira Gandhi who was not new to the notion that m edia could be a p o ten t force in shaping societies. After N ehru’s death in 1 9 6 4 , Shastri appointed Mrs Gandhi as m inister of inform ation and b road casting, largely to pursue an appearance of continuity with the N ehru y e a rs .11 This w as initially not a particularly powerful appointm ent; Shastri had ignored suggestions that she be given a m ore senior p o rtfo­ lio. It w as enhanced, though, through Mrs Gandhi’s stature, and was elevated to cabinet sta tu s.12 M rs Gandhi began to explore h er new appointm ent in 1 9 6 4 by con stitu tin g a com m ittee, led by Asok K. Chanda, to report on the statu s of Indian b road cast­ ing and to propose policy guidelines for its expansion. The Re­ port of the Committee on Broadcasting and Information Media, pub­ lished in 1 9 6 6 , argued that broadcasting could prom ote co m ­ pliance w ith governm ent-led developm ent schem es, including the Five Year Plans. N oting that visual depictions would greatly enh ance the educational value of audio broad casts, the C om ­ m ittee recom m end ed that expansion of television should be un dertaken alongside that of ra d io .13 Vikram Sarabhai’s vision culm inated in the largest, m ost su c­ cessful, and m ost widely studied developm ent com m u nications exp erim en t ever undertaken to date, the Satellite Instruction al Television E xp erim en t (S IT E ) of 1 9 7 5 - 6 . A NASA satellite b road cast educational program m es, prod uced m ostly by AllIndia Radio, for sch oolch ild ren , in four languages to 2 3 3 0 vil­ lages, spanning tw enty d istricts in six states. B roadcasts for adults included educational and en tertainm ent program m es, along w ith the national program m e from New Delhi. In addi­ tion , relay transm itters broadcast the national program m e in Hindi to 3 5 5 villages in Kheda d istrict, G ujarat. The ground segm ent of the p roject was coordinated by the Indian Space R esearch O rganisation (ISR O ), using indigenously produced eq u ip m en t.14 Despite SITE’S su ccess, how ever, it did not serve

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as the prototype for subsequent grow th in television, w h ich, particularly after 1 9 8 3 , was m ore explicitly driven by political initiatives, and m ore focused on ‘n ation al’ developm ent for p o ­ litical ends. A rgum ents of the 1 9 6 0 s and ’70s that prom oted investm ent in television drew on a m odernization paradigm that correlated m odernity, m ass m edia, and developm ent. This paradigm in ­ cluded am biguities surrounding both the definition of develop­ m ent, and the role of the state in prom oting it. At a m inim um , this conflated w hat I term m aterial developm ent, a prom otion of better living standards, with national developm ent, w hich equated m odernity w ith the creation of a national identity and the fostering of citizen s’ allegiance to it. The m ajor o u tco m e of this develop m en t com m u n icatio n s paradigm in India was a shift in the term s and p aram eters of political debate regarding the electronic media. State control over television had already been established as legitim ate (with som e dissent by small circles within the intelligentsia and opposition parties), but the realm of legitim ate central initiatives has now been expanded to include active inculcation of a national iden­ tity. Possibilities for a critique of this control becam e increas­ ingly lim ited, because a critique of governm ent media policies cam e to require not only a stance of political opposition, but one that could easily be characterized as anti-developm ent, anti-poor, and anti-national. By the early 19 8 0 s, then, television was largely considered to be legitimately under centralized state control. This legitim acy was justified th rough a rh eto rical com m itm en t to developm ent, and developm ent was defined to include p rom o­ tion of a national identity.

Television Infrastructure in the 1980s After Indira Gandhi’s electoral com eback in 1 9 8 0 , she had a m axi­ m um of five years to ensure her re-election. Preparations had to be made in the co n text of increasing political opposition, both within and outside the Congress party, and the increasing aw are­ ness of C ongress’ inability to prom ote significant econom ic de­ velopm ent. At this time it was also clear that coercive practices used during the Em ergency would not be tolerated a second time. Finally, by this time the Congress was no longer capable of serving

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as the netw ork for com m u n ication between elite and grassroots levels in the way it had before the Em ergency, and particu larly du rin g the freedom stru ggle. F a c in g th ese difficu lties, M rs Gandhi had to find new m ethods for garnering votes, and turned to the persuasive potential of television. Follow ing a recom m end ation of the C handa C om m ittee, the adm inistration of D oordarshan had been separated from th at of A ll-India Radio in 1 9 7 6 . It had n ot, however, been restru ctu red as an autonom ous co rp o ratio n , w hich the C handa C om m ittee considered necessary for ‘a broad er ou tlook, greater flexibility, and freedom of action which the corporate form alone can give’. 15 Though separated from radio, television continu ed to be an a t­ tached dep artm en t of the m inistry of inform ation and broad ­ casting. The p ost-Em ergency Jan a ta governm ent had reiterated the recom m end ation for granting autonom y to television in the second m ajor governm ent-sp onsored rep ort on broad casting, Akash Bharati: The Report o f the W orking Group on Autonomy fo r Akashvani [All-India Radio] & Doordarshan. The W orking Group, chaired by B.G. Verghese, w rote, ‘W e are of the opinion that all the national broadcasting services should be vested exclusively in an independent, im partial, and autonom ous organisation es­ tablished by law by Parliam ent to act as a trustee for the n a­ tional in terest.’ It added, ‘the auton om y of the corp o ratio n and its independence from governm ent control should be entrenched in the C on stitu tion itself’. 16 The Ja n a ta governm ent was unable to carry out these recom m endations before its fall, however, and so television rem ained a tool easily available to the ruling party. H osting the 1 9 8 2 Asiad offered an opportu nity for India to show case its tech n ical capabilities and w o rld -class facilities. Television played a m ajor role, as India coop erated with other cou n tries to provide satellite telecasts of the Gam es through out Asia. B roadcasts of the Asiad— the first Indian broadcasts in colou r— proved to be phenom enally popular within India, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the form er m inister of inform ation and broadcasting, Indira Gandhi. After the Asiad, her govern­ m ent m ade a political decision to invest heavily in an unprec­ edented expansion of India’s television system. S.S. Gill, who had orchestrated the building of stadia, roads, and other infrastructure for the games, was given the task of creating a near pan-Indian network within a very short time-span. The tacit im plication was

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th at this exp an sion should be com pleted in tim e for electio n s in 1 9 8 5 . Im portation laws w ere changed to allow pu rch ase of com p on en ts necessary for the indigenous prod u ction of m ore viewing sets for the exponentially grow ing aud ience, and ed u ­ cational schem es were launched to train team s of engineers and tech n ician s. Beginning in Ju ly 1 9 8 3 , an 1 8 -m o n th p roject to expand the netw ork was sanctioned by the governm ent, w ith a budget allocation of Rs 6 8 0 m illion .17 In early 1 9 8 3 , only about o n e -q u a rte r of India’s p o p u latio n was w ith in signal range of a D o ord arsh an tran sm itter. W h ile the oft-repeated claim that a new transm itter was raised alm ost daily in 1 9 8 4 does not tally with published D oordarshan statis­ tics, m ost sources agree that coverage was extended to m ore than half the population by m id -1 9 8 5 , and to three-quarters by 1 9 9 0 . As of 1 9 9 9 , this figure has been raised to 8 6 per cent of the popu­ lation, covering approxim ately 6 8 per cen t of Indian territo ry .18 In addition to fiscal allocations for expanding D oordarshan’s hardware infrastructure, com mercially sponsored serials were also com m issioned, beginning in 1 9 8 3 . In part this was because in­ creased broadcast hours not only outpaced D oordarshan’s ability to create sufficient program m ing, but it was also a strategic deci­ sion to broadcast appealing, popular program m ing in order to build a broad audience for effective political com m unication. The first, Hum Log, a drama with a family-planning m essage, began airing in 1 9 8 4 . Serialization of the Ramayana, followed by the M ahabharata, aired for over three years beginning in early 1 9 8 7 . The expansion of D oordarshan’s reach and program m ing in the early 1 9 8 0 s, coupled with the advent of com m ercial sponsorship, created a nexus linking state control of television for electoral ends with the com m ercial pursuit of profit through advertising. The logical goal of both electioneering and advertising, however, is to reach the largest num ber of people possible, and in a co u n ­ try as diverse and as riven with potential cleavages as India, this logic is fraught with possibilities for unintended outcom es. Three major consequences arose from the increasing use of Doordarshan, through out the 1980s, as a tool for prom oting a national identity through the projection of an ‘Indian’ national character, closely identified with the ruling party. O n e c o n s e q u e n c e w as th e in a d v e r te n t im p lic a tio n o f D oordarsh an, and therefore of the state and the ruling party, in

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widening schism s between the m ajoritarian ‘nation’ as presented on D oordarshan and those ou tside this hom ogenized co n cep ­ tion. Program m ing during the 1 9 8 0 s projected an India that was overw helm ingly north Indian, Hindi speaking, middle class, and H in d u .19 O f greatest political im p ort was the im plication of Doordarshan in the increasingly venom ous Hindutva of the m idto la te -1 9 8 0 s. The program m ing, initiated when M rs Gandhi decided to expand D oordarshan, included serialization of the ep­ ics, a decision that, to the ch agrin of m any of those involved, unintentionally served the grow ing forces of a dangerously com m unalist H indutva.20 The serialization of the Ramayana, and par­ ticu larly its treatm ent as a H indu, rath er than an Indian, saga, co n stru cted a sym bolic lexico n that aided com m u nalist m obili­ zations and form ed the basis of the im agery used by L.K . Advani in his rathya tras. By the end of the 1 9 8 0 s , Advani and the BJP had em erged as perhaps the m ost m edia-savvy m anipulators of R am -related im agery w h ich had been given pan-Indian exp o ­ sure by D oordarshan, to forge a sense of Hindu resurgence and unity.21 Kancha Uaiah offers an im passioned critique of this co m ­ p lex conflation of Hindu m ajoritarian ism , cultural nationalism and advertising, in his critiqu e of Brahm anical H induism , Why I am Not a Hindu: Suddenly, since about 1990, the word ‘Hindutva’ has begun to echo in our ears, day in and day out, as if everyone in India who is not a M uslim , a C hristian or a Sikh is a Hindu. Suddenly 1 am being told that I am a Hindu. I am also told that my parents, relatives and the caste in w hich we were born and brought up are Hindu. This totally baffles me. In fact, the whole cultural m ilieu o f the urban middle class— the newspapers I read, the T.V. that 1 see— keeps assaulting me, m orning and evening, forcing me to declare that I am a Hindu. Otherw ise 1 am socially castigated and my environm ent is vitiated. Having been born in a Kurumaa (shepherd caste) family, I do not know how I can relate to the Hindu culture that is being projected through all kinds of advertising agencies. The governm ent and the state them selves have becom e big advertising agencies. Moreover the Sangh Parivar harasses us every day by calling us Hindus.22

The co n trad ictio n betw een state-professed secularism and m edia-abetted com m unalism has been the focus of m uch sch ol­ arly w riting on D oordarshan’s 1 9 8 0 s p roject in nation-building. T h re e a d d itio n a l c o n tr a d ic tio n s also d e se rv e n o te . F ir s t,

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D oordarshan program m ing has been unable to overcom e the schism between the Centre’s sloganeering profession of ‘un ity in diversity’ and the reality of tensions in C en tre-state relations. Visually lush family dramas set in communally harm onious, tim e­ less Kashmiri and Punjabi villages accom plished little e x ce p t adding irony to the day’s news headlines. In addition, the co n tra ­ dictions between dreadfully inadequate developm ental program ­ m ing and ad vertising-driven con su m er fare m ade a farce o f developm ent as the rhetorical justification for continued cen tral­ ized state control of television. Finally, requiring all stations to carry the prim e-tim e National Program m e in Hindi and English only added fuel to the fire of linguistic regionalism , and was v o ­ ciferously rejected in Madras. This H indi-centric approach was not entirely D oordarshan’s invention. Hindi and (tem porarily) English are defined as national languages in the C onstitution (Article 3 4 3 ), and the C onstitution directs the U nion to prom ote the spread of Hindi, drawing prim arily on Sanskrit vocabulary (Article 3 5 1 ). N onetheless, the National Program m e effectively banned regional language broadcasts during prime viewing hours, strengthening regional perceptions of an im perious Delhi. Dis­ cordance between D oordarshan’s depiction of the ‘nation’ and the C e n tre s p olicy stan ces regarding secu larism , federalism and development severely com prom ised the legitimacy of the C entre’s control of Doordarshan by the end of the decade. A second m ajor consequence of D oordarshan program m ing in the 1 9 8 0 s was the erosion of the credibility of its news p ro­ gram m in g, th ro u gh blatant use of the m edium for publicizing C ongress party leaders and in itiatives. This becam e p a rticu ­ larly severe in the period p reced in g the 1 9 8 9 electio n s, w hen the co n sp icu o u s use of new s b ro ad casts for electio n eerin g earned for D oordarshan the derisive sobriquet ‘Rajiv D arshan’. M rs G andhi had returned to pow er in 1 9 8 0 know ing that per­ su asion m ight w ork w here co e rcio n had failed. Steeped in m od ern ization theories linking co m m u n icatio n s and develop­ m en t, she had discovered in television a pow erful tool at her disposal. In add ition to com m ission in g the co n stru ctio n of a p an -In d ian television hardw are in fra stru ctu re , she fostered p rogram m in g to create An Indian Personality fo r Television, the title given to the third m ajor governm ent-sp onsored report on Indian television, com m issioned in 1 9 8 2 .23 Unlike the earlier

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C handa and Verghese Reports, the Josh i C om m ittee did n o t re c­ om m end autonom y for D oordarshan. Instead, it focused on the n eed for the creation of softw are (p rogram m ing) for develop­ m en t, m aintaining the tacit assum ption that this is best co n ­ d u cted under the aegis of the cen tral governm ent. In this quest, the Josh i C om m ittee was buttressed by the re­ p o rt of the UNESCO-appointed M acBride Com mission (o f w hich B .G . Verghese was a m em b er), w hich called for a new in tern a­ tion al inform ation order to underm ine cultural neo-im p erial­ ism th rou gh the m e d ia .24 The M acB ride R eport em p h asized in ternational disparities in access to com m unications tech n o lo ­ gies and the free flow of in form ation , m ore than it did disp ari­ ties within individual cou n tries. The Jo sh i C om m ittee R eport, h o w e v e r, r a th e r s e le c tiv e ly d rew o n ly on th e M a cB rid e C o m m issio n ’s statem en ts reg ard in g the need to p rev en t the in flu en ce of w estern m edia in the developing world: M ost relevant for our purpose is the Com m ission’s observation that ‘it is in the field of television, more than any other, that anxieties arise about cultural dom ination and threats to cultural identity’. This is because television has a ‘strongly transnational face’. Being a hu n­ gry medium, it has to be fed all the time. The production of television programme [sic 1 is a highly expensive business for which the poor countries are not always able to provide adequate resources. As a re­ sult ‘in most developing nations the screens are filled for many hours w ith imported programmes, made originally for audiences in the de­ veloped countries; these imports account for half of transm ission tim e’. Further, ‘the home produced m aterial is often a poor second to im ­ ports in the daily program m ing o f developing cou n tries’. A nother m ajo r threat to national culture arises from cheap and titilla tin g programmes produced within a country which are projected through the television day in and day out in order to fill television time. It is clear that the main source of danger to national cultural identity arises from the neglect of software planning by a developing country. To meet this threat at its source, developing nations must not allow the gap to widen between hardware and software, between programme transmit­ ting and programme-making capacities, between the media and the m es­ sage. Restriction of imported programmes is necessary but not sufficient. Positive software planning is the most effective way of strengthening the foundations of cultural independence and of national culture.25

W h ile the statem ents culled from the M acBride R eport are co g en t indictm ents of in tern ation al inequities, it is not clear

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that the Indian situation was as dire as the preceding paragraph s imply. The Report itself said that in 1 9 8 3 foreign p rog ram m in g was only 1 0 .3 per cen t of the evening N ational P ro g ra m m e .26 This actually was com prised m ainly of reruns of show s like I Love Lucy w h ich , while definitely n o t of Indian origin , hardly seem likely to crum ble the foundations of Indian civ ilizatio n . This extrem e con cern in the early 1 9 8 0 s was som ew hat p re m a ­ ture. The real problem s surround ing a flood of v iolen t, sa la ­ cious and consum erist program m ing— other than such m essages found in ubiquitous Hindi films— arose only after the ad ven t of cable transm issions and transnational satellite television in the 1 9 9 0 s . N or did the M acBride Report necessarily lead to the c o n ­ clusion of the Jo sh i C om m ittee th at program m e p ro d u ctio n should not be autonom ous from national go vern m en ts. E v en w ith this som ew hat guarded, p ro-C en tre stan ce, how ever, the Jo sh i C om m ittee R eport was never fully em braced by the g o v ­ ernm ent, and the third volum e was never even published. T his was perhaps prom pted by statem ents such as ‘D oordarshan new s needs to be gathered and presented from perspectives n o t only of the governm ent, the ruling party and the urban w e ll-to -d o , but also of the m any oth er econ o m ic, social, cu ltu ral and p o ­ litical groups w ho con stitu te the n a tio n .’27 The two published volum es nonetheless serve to docum ent the beginnings of a shift in argum ent for con tin u ed cen tral con tro l w h ich, given the ob ­ vious inefficacy of poverty reduction sch em es, was in creasingly justified th rough the language of cultural nationalism . Follow ing the tragedy of Indira G andhi’s assassination, the rewards of her investm ent in television accrued to her son , Rajiv. In the early years of his prim e m inistership, television was in ­ cluded in his general prom otion of liberalization and op enn ess. This was m ost apparent in the appointm ent of B haskar G hose as D irector General of D oordarshan in 1 9 8 6 , leading to a clear increase in the autonom y and quality of program m e p ro d u c­ tion. However, by 1 9 8 7 the political clim ate had b ecom e m ore threatening to the prim e m inister, as the print m edia, and par­ ticu larly the Indian Express, began to focus on issues su ch as the Bofors arm s kickback scandal and deep disagreem ents am on g C ongress leaders. In O ctober 1 9 8 8 , Ghose was transferred from D oordarshan. Subsequently guided by stalw art C on gress ad v i­ sors en am o u red of telev isio n ’s ca p a b ilitie s, in clu d in g K .K .

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Tewary and H .K .L. Bhagat, the Congress party’s cam paigning for the 1 9 8 9 electio n s in clu d ed v irtu ally d ire ct c o n tro l of D oordarshan new scasts from the Prim e M inister’s Office. Seem ­ ingly every new s broadcast began with the w ords ‘aâj pradhàn mantrî Rajiv Gandhi ne kahü k t . . . (Today, Prim e M inister Rajiv Gandhi said that. . .). C ongress functionaries and party in itia­ tives were depicted night after night, while leaders of op posi­ tion parties were ignored or presented in less-than -flatterin g w ays. Poll broad casts, tim e allotted on D oordarshan for ca m ­ paign speeches by each national party recognized by the E le c ­ tion C om m ission, also becam e controversial. The dem and by D oordarshan that each party subm it its speech in advance, os­ tensibly so th at D oordarshan techn icians could be prepared for the length of the speech (stipulated by the E lection C om m is­ sion, in any case) or need for changes in cam era angles, was widely seen as a thinly-veiled attem pt at censorship. Ultimately, nearly every opposition party boycotted the poll broad casts. In short, the use o f Doordarshan for electioneering was onerous and clum sy; did not have any discernible benefits for the Congress party; and fundamentally undermined Doordarshan’s credibility.28 The third m ajor consequence of Doordarshan’s nation-building exp erim en t o f the 1 9 8 0 s arose because both political co m m u ­ nication and com m ercial advertising seek the largest possible audiences. Because of this, central control of television has thus far proved satisfactory to business leaders. Ironically, while tele­ vision becam e less and less credible in the late 1 9 8 0 s , the abil­ ity to m ount a realistic challenge to central con tro l was under­ m ined by television’s value as an advertising m edium . It was unlikely that th e very political party that benefited m ost from its continu ed con trol by the state would im plem ent reform . Voluntary organizations, grass roots activists, and actors in civil society held num erous social goals, m any m ore pressing and few requiring solidarity around a struggle for media reform . This left, as likely sources of reform , only opposition parties, still in disarray after the Jan ata period, and the very real power of busi­ ness interests. C om m ercial interests, however, had no reason to co u n ter the creation of an ‘Indian’ national ch aracter, because this entailed the sim ultaneous creation of an ‘Indian’ m arket. Increasing the reach of television signals expanded the target audience for advertising, and having television advertising for

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the entire cou n try un der the d irection of one agent, alb eit the state, simplified advertising cam paigns and n eg otiation s over pricing and placem en t. Therefore, during m ost of the 1 9 8 0 s , significant reform of television adm in istration was p o litically unlikely. One op portu nity for restru ctu rin g D oordarshan did arise, however, after the Congress party lost the 1 9 8 9 Lok Sabha e le c­ tions. C ongress had faced a N ational F ro n t coalition co m p o sed o f parties spanning the political sp ectru m , fully united on only tw o goals. F irst, the C ongress sim ply had to lose, due in p a rt to its im plication in co rru p tio n scan dals su ch as Bofors. S econ d , television had to be w rested from C ongress co n tro l. O ne o f the firs t a c ts o f th e n ew N a tio n a l F r o n t g o v e rn m e n t w a s th e D ecem ber 1 9 8 9 proposal of the Prasar Bharati (Indian B ro ad ­ castin g) Bill, probably because this issue was easier to tackle than m any oth ers in the N ational F ro n t’s election m an ifesto. T he Prasar B harati Bill was m odelled on the 1 9 7 8 Akash B harati R eport of the Ja n a ta govern m en t, and recap itu lated the call for the creation of an au ton o m o u s co rp o ratio n to adm in ister tele­ vision, found in the 1 9 6 6 C handa C om m ittee R ep ort.29 As was the case w ith recom m en d ation s in the Akash Bharati rep o rt, how ever, the changes called for in the Prasar Bharati Bill could n o t be im plem ented before the govern m en t fell. Inform ed by the twin n o tio n s of developm ent and cu ltu ral n ationalism , Indian television evolved as an instru m en t for the state’s co n stru ctio n of a national identity. T he logics o f devel­ op m en t (a t least in w h at I term its n ation al, as op p osed to m aterial, form ) and of cu ltu ral nationalism are dyadic. T h e first posits a national identity based on, or one th at can be c o n ­ stru cted out of, a presum ed Indian cu ltural ethos. The seco n d sim ilarly posits a quintessential national identity that m u st be protected from external influence. Television predicated on these n otions resulted in the 1 9 8 0 s p roject to c o n stru ct a national identity for political ends. H ow ever, D oordarshan’s n ation was at best hollow, and at w orst im plicated in com m unal bloodshed. By the end of the decade, the credibility of both D oord arsh an ’s news program m ing and its con cep tion of the nation was severely co m p ro m ise d , and so th e co n tin u e d ro le of the g o v e rn m e n t in television ad m in istratio n becam e in creasin g ly d ifficult to justify.

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End of an Era: The Invasion At a tim e when state investm ent in and con tro l of television seem ed of dubious m erit, the arrival of transnational television in the early 1 9 9 0 s provided renewed legitim ation: the state m ust defend the nation! Transnational satellite television program m ing made a splashy en tran ce into India in 1 9 9 1 , w ith CNN satellite broad casts of the tech n o -co lo u r spectacle of U .S.-led forces bom bing Iraq. Since then, satellite broadcasting received through dishes and tran sm itted through cable system s has increased exponentially, as have debates about the im p act and lo ng-term effects of this new tech n ological in frastru cture. The m ost notable feature of m u ch of the debate surround ing tran sn ation al television in India has been the ch aracterization of transnation al satellite television as an invasion, and of cable system s w ithin India as a threat. F o r exam ple, the 1 9 9 5 Cable Bill presented in the Lok Sabha stated: There has been a haphazard mushrooming of cable television networks all over the country during the last few years, as a result of the availability of signals of foreign television networks via satellites. This has been per­ ceived as a ‘cultural invasion’ in many quarters since the programmes avail­ able on these satellite channels are predominantly western and totally alien to our culture and way of life. Since there is no regulation of these cable television networks, undesirable programmes and advertisements are becoming available to the viewers without any kind of censorship.50

M ore recently, in 1 9 9 9 , the D iscover India w ebsite provided by the m inistry of external Affairs continues to em phasize inva­ sion, stating that ‘India in the last five years has been invaded by TV channels from all over the w orld’. The rh eto ric of invasion is appealing. W estern hegem onies in com m u n icatio n s hardw are and news gathering capabilities are well docu m en ted, as is th eir em beddedness in an in tern a­ tional system shaped by the inequities of global capitalism and U.S. m ilitary m ight. It is not difficult to question the value of a global com m unications infrastructure in w hich Rupert M urdoch ch am pions the voyeuristic pleasures of A m erican soap operas such as Santa Barbara and The Bold and the Beautiful.31 T h at said, th ough, it is necessary to ask w hat, exactly, was being invaded. Successive governm ents, using this rh eto ric of

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invasion, have conflated Indian broadcasting with a s ta te -c o n structed con cep tion of Indian culture. W h at was being invaded was not Indian culture per se, as m uch as the C entre’s pow er to use television to co n stru ct its own sense of a national identity. In addition, successive central governm ents, including those that initially espoused autonom y for television, have eventually p ri­ oritized retention of the (d u b iou s) value of television as a ca m ­ paign tool. The G overnm ent of India initially faced difficulties resp on d ­ ing to this invasion. Indeed, virtually every country in the w orld was forced to re-exam ine th e infrastructure available to regu­ late rapidly expanding com m u n icatio n s tech n ologies in the 1 9 9 0 s. The Indian case is n o t sui generis. Some cou n tries, su ch as Singapore, used their legal and regulative capabilities to c o n ­ trol reception of transnational signals through such m ethods as lim iting ow nership of satellite dishes. At the oth er end of the spectrum , the U nited States em phasized the value of open m ar­ kets, and focused legislation on the allocation of the profits a c ­ cruing from these technologies. The T elecom m unications A ct of 1 9 9 6 am ended extan t law, the 1 9 3 4 C om m u nications A ct (Federal C om m unications C om m ission). As one critic notes: The overarching purpose of the 1996 Telecom munications A ct is to deregulate all com m unication industries and to perm it the m arket, not public policy, to determ ine the course of the inform ation high­ way and the com m unications system . It is widely considered to be one of the three or four m ost im portant federal laws of this genera­ tion. Even by the m inim al standards of the 1934 Act, the debate sur­ rounding the 1996 Telecom m unications Act was a farce. Some of the law was actually w ritten by the lobbyists for the com m unication firms it affects. The only ‘debate’ was whether broadcasters, long-distance companies, local telephone providers, or cable companies would get the inside track in the deregulatory race. Consistent with the pattern set in the middle 1930s, the primacy of corporate control and the profit motive was a given.32

Based in part on doubts th at corp orate control and th e profit m otive could prom ote a com m u n ication s in frastru cture su it­ able for Indian con d ition s, India’s policy debates initially re­ sembled the Singapore m odel m ore than the A m erican. This ‘anti-invasion’ stance was predicated on the rh etoric of cu ltu ral nationalism , w hich called for the protection of Indian airw aves,

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and thus Indian culture, from foreign broadcasts. Early cultural nationalist argum ents sought to prevent Indians from receiving foreign satellite broadcasts. However, virtually nothing could be done to force other cou n tries to prevent satellite transm is­ sions originating from their territories or using their satellites— the BBC was unlikely to cease its W orld Service, and Hong Kong w as unlikely to oust highly profitable com m u nications co m p a­ nies, simply b ecause of an Indian nationalist, élite call for the protection o f ‘Indian cu lture’. Early proposals instead suggested blocking transnational transm issions, either by jam m ing the sig­ nals or controllin g the technologies for their reception. However, su ch repressive solutions were quickly discounted. F o r one thing, satellite and cable technologies becam e widely available in India at the sam e tim e that the governm ent was undertaking a significant program m e of econom ic reform s. C all­ ing for a m assive, repressive system of direct governm ental c o n ­ trol of new com m u n ication s technologies was simply in co m ­ patible w ith efforts to gain public support for opening the In­ dian econom y to global investm ent. Also, these new form s of com m u nication, by their very nature, defy the kind of m onopoly India held over television in the 1 9 8 0 s. Transnational satellite broadcasts are easily received through a satellite dish, and this program m ing can then be redistributed to m any hom es and oth er sites through cable netw orks. Both satellite reception and cable distribution can operate on very small scales, at local lev­ els, and with m inim al capital investm ent. To control reception of program m ing through satellite dishes or transm ission through cable netw orks w ould thus require a phenom enally large and widespread repressive force that— even if technically or e c o ­ n o m ic a lly fe a sib le — w o u ld be c o m p le te ly a n tith e tic a l to India’s d em ocratic political culture. The m ore vociferous na­ tionalist calls for preventing Indians from receiving satellite broadcasts w ere thus rejected because of the difficulty, if not im possibilities, of creating the policing system s necessary to con tro l these new technologies in a coun try of the size of India. Assuredly, any such anti-dem ocratic attem pts in post-Em ergency India would be m et w ith aversion and opposition. Im plicitly d iffe re n tia tin g I n d ia ’s a p p ro a c h from th o s e of C h in a o r Singapore, a spokesm an for an in ter-m inisterial com m ittee on cable television netw orks and dish antenna noted succinctly, ‘It

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is practically im possible to m on itor the m isuse of a dish a n ­ tenna in a cou n try like India . . . Since India is n o t a totalitarian state, it is sim ply not possible to see w hether everybody is o b ­ serving the rid er to the license: that the dish should be used to receive only D oordarshan signals via INSAT.,33 In the early 1 9 9 0 s, then, com m unications infrastructures grew exponen tially w hile laws to govern them floated in legal lim bo. After the fall of the N ational F ro n t govern m en t, Congress w as not eager to im plem ent the 1 9 9 0 Prasar B harati Act. Official policy statem en ts th rough out the early 1 9 9 0 s were unable to transcend reiteratio n s of the necessity of con tinu ed state c o n ­ trol, still justified as an investm ent in developm ent but in cre a s­ ingly buttressed by the oratory of cu ltu ral nationalism . In the m eantim e, D oordarshan em barked on a num bers gam e: A siasat b e a m e d five c h a n n e ls in to In d ia fro m H o n g K o n g , so D oordarshan an n ou nced plans to increase its num ber of c h a n ­ nels. By 1 9 9 9 , D oordarshan had 19 including the M etro C h a n ­ nel (en tertain m en t for urban au d ien ces), the M ovie Club c h a n ­ nel, a channel for literature and arts program m ing, a ch ann el for broad cast to international audiences, and a num ber of re ­ gional language channels. Proposals for a channel devoted to ed u cation have not yet m et w ith su cce ss.34 Also during the early 1990s, untold numbers of local entrepre­ neurs wired India for cable, in a feat that bears com parison with D oordarshan’s 18-m on th expansion of its network in the m id1980s. By the m id -1990s, a consensus was emerging on the need for some form of regulation of cable systems. This was not only due to argum ents of cultural nationalism and shock at the content of som e satellite channels re-transm itted through cable, but also to internal, dom estic considerations. By this time, the cable sys­ tem had grown to such significant proportions that the com m on public image of a cable operator was no longer that of a young, science-m inded entrepreneur so m uch as that of increasingly pow­ erful syndicates commandeering uncharted technological frontiers. By 19 9 5 , there had still been no move to implement Prasar Bharati. However, the rapid growth of non-governm ent com m unications systems did lead to the creation of legislation to address expand­ ing cable and satellite systems. Reflecting the salience of media in Indian policy debates, the Cable Bill was enacted relatively early, in 19 5 5 . (The U.S. was still operating under 1 9 3 4 regulations.)

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The provisions of the 1 9 9 5 Cable Television N etw orks (R egu­ lation ) A ct, as was to be exp ected , did not m eet w ith universal approval. N onetheless, w hen viewed in com parison w ith o th er Indian and international broadcasting regulations, its provisions are, by and large, reasonable. The A ct requires that cable o p era­ tors be registered, that they keep a log of what program m ing has been transm itted, and that they transm it only program m es o r ad v ertisem en ts th at are in con fo rm ity w ith a p rescrib ed program m e and advertising code. The codes are sim ilar to regu ­ lations governing D oordarshan program m ing, including p roh i­ bition of broad casts that attack religious com m unities, criticize friendly coun tries, are obscene, encourage violence, or prom ote unlawful behaviour. W h ile any su ch set of regulations can n o t, on ce and for all, resolve disputes on the legality of any p a rticu ­ lar broadcast, they do at least codify a set of norm s around w hich su ch disputes can be based. Fu rth erm o re, the A ct clarified the legal responsibilities of cable operators regarding censorsh ip of program m ing they transm it. Cable system s can transm it p ro­ gram m ing, such as a film, from a videocassette recorder. In this case, the operator has straightforw ard control over the program ­ m ing: he can determ ine w hat is on the video, and w h ether or n ot it conform s to the broadcasting code. Cable system s can also re-transm it program m ing received from satellites through a dish. In this case, m aking the cable op erator responsible for determ ining if the program m ing m eets Indian broadcast c rite ­ ria puts the cable op erator into an untenable legal position. The cable op erator is unlikely to know in advance the co n te n t of tra n sn a tio n a l ch an n els. Even if the o p e ra to r know s th a t a ch an n el’s program m es conform to another co u n try ’s b ro ad cast­ ing codes (su ch as the CNN following U.S. censorship n o rm s), th ose codes do n ot always m atch Indian standards. The Cable Bill was unable to resolve the con cern s of som e of India’s policy élite regarding Indians having access to foreign program m ing th at does not conform to Indian broadcasting codes; as noted above, blocking such transm issions is both techn ologically and politically unachievable. It does, however, relieve the cable op­ erators of legal liability over program m ing w hich they can n o t co n tro l. Instead, they are responsible only for those tran sm is­ sions, such as films from video, that are under their con trol. C om parison w ith film censorship is apt here. W hile prod ucers

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regularly push the lim its of particu lar censorsh ip n o rm s, th ere is nonetheless an industry-w ide accep tan ce th at som e gen eral system for censorsh ip is both necessary and legitim ate. As film prod ucer and sch olar K. H ariharan n otes, this a cce p ta n ce r e ­ sults in part from the need to overcom e a public goods p ro b ­ lem . If no system of norm s and m ethod for ad ju d ication e x ist, then each prod u cer has an incentive— and perhaps an in cen tiv e that he w ould prefer n ot to face— to constan tly push the en v e­ lope, pandering to the least com m on denom inator for th e sh o ck value that m ay bring au d ien ces.35 The program m ing cod e of th e 1 9 9 5 A ct is likely to serve a sim ilar role. A m ore controversial aspect of the A ct is the requirem ent th at every cable operator re-transm itting satellite or television sig­ nals (as opposed to transm itting solely from videos) re-tran sm it at least two D oordarshan satellite channels. W hile this does n o t seem terribly unreasonable at first glance, re-tran sm ission of D oordarshan satellite channels m eans that a single satellite dish cannot sim ultaneously be pointed to satellites transm itting m ore popular foreign channels, thus requiring additional in vestm ent in a second dish and effectively underm ining poorly-capitalized operators. D espite su ch co n cern s, however, the sim ple fact th at som e principles are now codified is preferable to the a n xiety faced by cable op erators when no laws existed , leading them to fear that th eir investm ents could be rendered illegal at any m o ­ m ent. And, though there m ay be disagreem ent about p articu lar aspects of the A ct, the sim ple fact of its existen ce ca n help to crystallize negotiation, adjudication and, if need be coord in ated opposition to specific details. Unfortunately, this degree of progress in codifying m edia regu­ lations has not been paralleled in the adm inistration of oth er aspects of television. A new window of opportunity w as opened in 1 9 9 7 w ith the com m itm en t of the M inister of In form ation and Broadcasting, Jaipal Reddy to im plem ent the Prasar Bharati, and with the form ulation of a 1 9 9 7 Broadcasting Bill. The Broad­ casting Bill, w hich was m eant to supercede the 1 9 9 5 Cable Bill, attem pted to create a legal structure to allow, and govern, private television channels. It required private channels to be licensed, and set a cap on foreign ow nership in Indian com panies of 4 9 per cent. It also, for the first tim e, allowed b road casters to le­ gally uplink to satellites from w ithin India. Previously, only

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D oordarshan had this righ t; oth er satellite channels received in India w ere uplinked elsewhere— Star TV signals, for exam ple, w ere uplinked from H ong Kong. Only channels w ith no m ore than 2 0 per cen t foreign equity w ere granted uplinking rights. These stipulations on foreign ow nership received a negative response by som e A m erican analysts who characterized them as b arriers to free m ark ets,36 in cluding a M arch 1 9 9 8 delegation to India from the U.S. India Business C ou n cil.37 It should be n oted, however, that the U.S. 1 9 9 6 T elecom m unications A ct did n ot overtu rn the 1 9 3 4 C om m u n ication A ct’s lim itation of for­ eign ow nership of broadcasting stations to 2 0 per cen t (as in In d ia), though the Fed eral C om m u n ication s C om m ission does have leeway to grant e x ce p tio n s.38 A lthough the 1 9 9 7 B road­ castin g Bill attem pted to grapple w ith new m edia techn ologies, it w as n ot voted upon in parliam ent before the fall of the gov­ ern m en t, on ce again leaving adm in istrators and investors in a p recariou s legal position. M uch the sam e has been true of the Prasar Bharati Bill. In i­ tially enacted in 1 9 9 0 , it was n ever im plem ented until Septem ­ ber 1 9 9 7 , when it was prom ulgated by ordinance, com ing into effect on 15 Septem ber. This w as no doubt done w ith the best in ten tion s; Jaipal Reddy had m ade repeated prom ises to grant au to n o m y to D oordarshan and A ll-India Radio. It is indeed iro n ic, though, that this dem ocratizin g initiative could be u n ­ dertaken only through the prom ulgation of an ordinance. As has been the case all too often, how ever, on ce again the govern ­ m ent fell before legislation could be passed by parliam ent. Sub­ sequently, the BJP nam ed Sushma Swaraj m inister of inform ation and broadcasting, and the familiar cycle began anew: autonom y w as prom ised, actions of clear benefit to the ruling party but of dubious value to Indian dem ocracy were undertaken; and as of early 1 9 9 9 , no new legislation was passed by parliament. W hen the ordinance prom ulgated under the U nited F ron t governm ent w as to lapse, the BJP governm ent renewed its com m itm ent to the Prasar Bharati Bill. However, it returned to provisions of the 1 9 9 0 Bill th at had not been included in the 1 9 9 7 ordinance. This was a thinly veiled, yet ultim ately successful, attem pt to use a clause regarding the retirem ent age for Prasar Bharati personnel from the 1 9 9 0 Bill to oust S.S. Gill, w ho had been appointed Prasar Bharati CEO after prom ulgation of the 1 9 9 7 ordinance. BJP lead­

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ers, including Minister of Inform ation and Broadcasting, Sushm a Swaraj, repeatedly decried the Prasar Bharati board as being packed w ith leftists. Gill also antagonized Sangh Parivar c u l­ tural nationalists w hen, during the first speech as C EO , he d e­ n ounced program m ing based on Hindu m ythology, astrology or oth er topics regularly espoused by the Sangh Parivar. The BJP governm ent did attem pt to pass its revised version of P rasar Bharati legislation, and m anaged to do so in the Lok Sabha. However, the opposition parties m ade it clear th at they w ould not approve the Bill. It did pass the Lok Sabha, but faced no ch an ce of doing so in the Rajya Sabha w hich had p ro p o rtio n ­ ately less BJP representation. F acin g defeat the BJP w ithdrew the legislation and instead re-prom ulgated Prasar Bharati by ordinance.

Electronic Media Autonomy: Prasar Bharati and Indian Democracy The notion that those who w ork in the Indian m edia, and the population in general, are sim ply n o t ready for the electro n ic m edia to be autonom ous from direct central governm ent c o n ­ trol has becom e a repeated refrain. N ehru faced the ‘fear of dis­ order’ discussed by Brass (this vo lu m e), although he hoped th at ultim ately broadcast m edia w ould becom e auton om ou s. T he recom m end ation s of the 1 9 6 6 Chanda C om m ittee Report w ere never fully im plem ented, and Indira Gandhi w as m ore attracted to those aspects of m odernization theory that called for a stron g state rath er than those em phasizing d em ocratic p ractice, par­ ticu larly w ith regards to the m edia. The Ja n a ta g o vern m en t’s 1 9 7 8 Akash Bharati Report succu m b ed to political paralysis, as did the 1 9 8 9 Prasar Bharati Bill of the N ational F ro n t go vern ­ m ent. A pproxim ately six m onths after the N ational F ro n t cam e to pow er, the M inister of In form ation and B ro ad castin g , P. U pendra, stated: 1 admit that Doordarshan is not autonom ous today. Autonomy is a prom ised thing, it’s there in the Bill. Right now my m inistry is re­ sponsible for the functioning of the media and we have to keep a watch over it. That doesn’t mean we’re controlling it on a day-to-day basis. A lot of functional freedom has been given. Things are not as they were under the previous governm ent, when m inu te-to-m inute

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instructions were issued to the radio and TV newsroom s from the PM’s office. Our general policy is to bring to their notice any lapses or shortcom ings on their part a fter the event, not before. We’ve to pre­ pare the organisation for autonomous functioning next year. Frankly, they’re not yet ready for autonomy— they are conditioned to being dictated to at every stage, they’re not used to using their own judgem ent. They don’t know how far they can go. They’re confused, and it show s.”

These statem ents all indicate, w hether in 1 9 4 7 or 1 9 9 0 , th at India is not ready for autonom ous electron ic m edia. However, they do all share the notion that autonom ous electron ic m edia are of value; th at is, a goal w orth pursuing. This has not been a value explicitly espoused by all political leaders th rou gh ou t India’s first h alf-cen tury of independence. W h ile a num ber of p olicy statem ents do call for autonom y, this co n cep t has not b ecom e an effective, ingrained assum ption w ithin Indian p o ­ litical debate. F o r exam ple, under the C ongress governm ent in 1 9 8 5 , the third m ajor governm ent-sp onsored review of televi­ sion shifts attention away from the question of autonom y. In­ stead of lauding autonom y as a goal that m ight be m et in the future, it bluntly states that the con d itions for autonom y had n o t been in place earlier, and still w ere not in 1 9 8 5 . The title of the rep ort, An Indian Personality f o r Television (in the sin gu lar), em phasizes con ten t and culture over legal stru ctu re. It’s re co m ­ m endations for D oordarshan state: The Chanda Com m ittee in its Report on Radio & Television, in April 1966, recommended the separation of Doordarshan from Akashyani, and the form ation of autonomous corporations to run both. The first recom m endation was accepted, and began to be im plem ented— the process is still not com plete— with effect from 1st April 1976. As re­ gards the second recom m endation, the Governm ent stated in Parlia­ m ent in April 1970 that the time was not opportune for considering autonomy for the broadcast media. This position holds. Doordarshan continues to be run as an attached office of the M inistry of Inform a­ tion and Broadcasting.'*0

After 5 0 years of independence, no political initiative has fun­ dam entally altered the adm inistrative and legal infrastructure, created under colonial rule, that governs India’s electronic media. New com m unications technologies have som etim es prom pted rem arkable creative innovation in both A ll-India Radio and

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Doordarshan. However, no governing party has had both the will and the longevity needed to loosen the strictures on Indian televi­ sion that prevent it from achieving its potential— either in artistic creativity, or as a tool for improving the lives of India’s citizens. Congress governm ents have remained in power long enough to enact such legislation, but they have not chosen to do so, prefer­ ring instead ‘functional autonom y’ within the m inistry of inform a­ tion and broadcasting. The National Fron t and then the United Fron t governm ents initially championed new legislation, but their efforts diminished as their coalitions weakened. It is overly sim plistic to argue th at freeing D oordarshan from political con tro l necessitates abandoning it to the caprice of the m arket. Indeed, there is no such thing as a ‘free’ m arket; m ar­ kets them selves are political co n stru cts. The global co m m u n i­ cations m ark et is shaped by inequitable hierarchies, w hich no effort on the part of D oordarshan— or any national television system — is likely to restru ctu re in the foreseeable future. In r e ­ cen t years, how ever, D oordarshan and the Indian governm ent have made great strides in con tending w ith these challenges by, for exam ple, in creasin g the type and quality of program m ing available, instituting its own transnational broadcasts, and co d i­ fying regulation of the cable industry. It should also be n o ted th at transnational chann els have adapted to the global m ark et by learning th at unaltered w estern fodder is n o t au tom atically the m ost successfu l transnation al program m ing. MTV, for e x ­ am ple, by 1 9 9 7 had altered its Asian program m ing to in clu d e 6 0 per cent Indian program m ing.41 R estru cturing D oordarshan to insulate it from dom estic p o ­ litical w him s, how ever, w ould also have a n u m b er of additional beneficial effects for Indian dem ocracy. One is simply a renew ed dem onstration of dem ocratic p ractice, following the old adage that dem ocracy breeds m ore dem ocracy. A utonom y would also buttress the credibility of the m edium so that it could serve the inform ation needs of India’s citizens, w hich is a prerequisite for attaining any socio-econom ic development goals. Also, the b en ­ efits of insulation w ork both ways. D istancing television adm inis­ tration from the ruling party would serve to insulate the reputa­ tion of the governm ent, and the broader concept of Indian d em oc­ racy, from poor program m ing decisions, thus avoiding a repeat of at least one of the unintended consequences of the serialization of

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the epics. The provision for an autonom ous body, insulated from the ruling party, for the adjudication of programming disputes will also further strengthen those aspects of D oordarshan adm inis­ tration that already serve as positive com m unications m odels. F o r exam ple, the provision of airtim e for poll broadcasts seem s far superior to the purchase of airtim e by candidates in the U .S., w hich has led to staggering increases in cam paign costs. This effectively puts public office outside the realm of all bu t the very w ealthy and well con n ected , and forces politicians to fo­ cu s on fund-raising, w hich inevitably requires payback through political favours.42 India’s poll broad casts can help to prevent this vicious cycle, provided there is no m anipulation o f the broadcasts as occu rred during the 1 9 8 9 elections. Calling for autonom y for D oordarshan does not im ply that there is no role for the state in broadcasting. However, the u n ­ intended ou tcom es of predicating investm ent in D oordarshan on fuzzy, and easily politicized, notions of developm ent have underm ined this ju stification for the state’s hegemony. Given the m ultiplicity of media forms now available within India, state investm ent and involvem ent in television program m ing is likely to be seen as legitim ate only if its goals are clearly prescribed, and the needs identified are not likely to be m et through oth er sources. O ne clear niche for state-ru n m edia is in the case of m arket failures, where m arket forces are unlikely to m eet so­ cial needs. This is the logic by w hich D oordarshan could return to its roots, em phasizing state-sponsored program m ing for de­ velopm ent— but now for developm ent goals that are clearly de­ fined, widely seen as socially beneficial, and insulated from a conflation of notions of national developm ent with the im m e­ diate in terests of the ruling party. One such area is literacy. It should be noted that despite the historic use of developm ent th eory to ju stify investm ent in television, literacy has never particularly been one of D oordarshan’s goals. Television was used instead to transcend the need for literacy. Clearly, no specific D oordarshan program m ing will ever be w ithout controversy. However, the articulation of a clear rationale for con tin u ed state investm ent, coupled with the creation of an auton om ou s and insulated body for the m ediation of disputes, w ould certainly help to im prove D oordarsh an’s credibility, and so its efficacy in prom oting developm ental goals. This will re ­

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quire the political will to em bed m edia autonom y in Indian law. T he con tinu ous prom ulgation of ordinances such as th e 1 9 9 7 P rasar Bharati ordinance, even though the im petus behind s u c h prom ulgation m ay be d em ocratizin g, is n ot sufficient. F u rth e r­ m o re, even the enactm ent o f the best-intentioned laws will n o t resolve issues surrounding television once and for all. V igilance, and som etim es opposition, on the part of actors within civil s o ­ ciety is, and will continue to be, needed to stem centralizing and hierarchical tendencies. Having codified laws, around w hich d e ­ bates can crystallize, greatly facilitates the m obilization of in ter­ ests to create the checks and balances required for d em o cratic m edia p ractice. In addition, the codification of laws provides a t least som e assu ran ce to potential investors, both foreign and d o m estic, th at creatin g co m m u n icatio n s in frastru ctu res is a w orthw hile enterprise. T here is cu rren tly a w indow of opportunity for th e re c o n ­ stru ctio n of D oordarshan to becom e a credible source o f in for­ m atio n , a widely accep ted national investm ent, and an effec­ tive aid in prom oting better living standards for India’s citiz e n s. A cco rd in g to the 1 9 9 8 Indian Readership Survey, television h as th e largest reach of the various m edia form s available in b o th urb an and rural India,43 and D oordarshan has by far th e largest reach of all television channels available within India. T his w in­ dow is n ot guaranteed to rem ain open forever, th ou gh . As re ­ cen t h istory show s, new technologies quickly arise to ch allen ge old m onopolies. It is often easier, both politically and analytically, to critiq u e in tern ation al com m u n ication s in equities than it is to q u estion n ation al m edia p olicies. D espite th is, a q u otation from th e M acBride C om m ission R eport that did not find its way into th e 1 9 8 5 Report of the W orking Group on Software fo r D oordarshan serves as a fitting closing rem ark: O bstacles to freedom and distortion s of dem ocracy are dangerous sym ptom s in every society It is som etim es argued that such c r iti­ cism s constitute an interference in the legal or political affairs of n a­ tions, or in the natural processes of private enterprises, but such abuses of State power or m onopolistic practices are still serious im pedim ents to the free flow of inform ation. Certainly, there is a margin in alm ost all systems to improve the existing situation and decrease restrictive measures to a m inimum. There are ways, means and forces in each

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society to overcome and elim inate restrictions on the freedom of in­ formation. W hat is basically needed is the political w ill.44

Notes 1Joselyn Zivin, ‘The Projection o f India: Imperial Propaganda, the Brit­ ish State, and Nationalist India, 1 9 3 0 -1 9 4 7 ’ (Ph.D. D issertation, Duke U niversity), 1994. 2 Biswa Nath M ukherjee, Mass M edia and P olitical M odernity, Bhargava Research Monograph Series, Number 4. (Agra: National Psychological C orporation), 1979; W ilbur Schramm, ‘Com m unication Development and the Development Process’, in Lucien Pye, (ed .), Com m unications and P olitical D evelopm ent (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1963; Karl Deutsch, N ationalism and S ocial Com m unication (Cambridge: MIT Press), 1953. 3 PC. C hatterjee, B roadcasting in India (New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd.), 1991, Second edition, p. 37. 4 See for example Soli J . Sorabjee, The Emergency, C ensorship, and the Press in India (New Delhi: Central News Agency), 1977. 5 PC. Josh i, An Indian P ersonality f o r Television: R eport o f the Wording Group on Softw are f o r D oordarshan (New Delhi: Publications Division, M inistry o f Inform ation and Broadcasting), 1985. 6 Victoria L. Farmer, ‘Mass Media: Images, M obilization, and Communalism ’, in David Ludden (ed .), Contesting the N ation: R eligion, Com ­ munity, and the P olitics o f D em ocracy in India (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Also published as M aking India Hindu (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1996; Amrita Shah, Hype, H ypocrisy and Television in Urban India (New Delhi: Vikas), 1997, Chapter 6. 7 H.R. Luthra, Indian B roadcasting (New Delhi: Publications Division, M inistry of Inform ation and Broadcasting, Governm ent of India), 1986, Chapters 2 and 6. 8 Asok K. Chanda, R adio and Television: Report o f the C om m ittee on B road­ casting and Inform ation M edia (New Delhi: Ministry of Inform ation and Broadcasting), 1966, paragraph 688. 9 Vikram Sarabhai, Television for Development’, Paper Presented at the Society for International Development Conference, Delhi, 1 4 -1 7 No­ vember 1969. Also M rinalini Sarabhai, interview, 28 February 1990, Ahmedabad. 10 Itty Abraham, The M aking o f the Indian A tom ic Bom s: Science, Secrecy and the P ost-C olonial State (London: Zed Books), 1998, pp. 1 2 9 -4 4 . 11 Francine R. Frankel, India’s P olitical Economy, 1 9 4 7 -1 9 7 7 : The G radual Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1978. 12 Ibid., p. 289

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13 Asok K. Chanda, R adio and Television, op. cit. 14 Binod Agrawal, SITE: Television C om es to V illage (Bangalore: Indian Space Research Organisation), 1978. 15 Asok K. Chanda, R adio and Television, op. cit., paragraph 779. 16 See B.G . V erghese, m ajo r recom m end ation 9 - 1 0 , A k a s h B h a r a t i, N ation al B roadcast Trust: Report o f the W orking Group on A utonom y f o r Akashvani & D oordarshan (New Delhi: M inistry o f Inform ation and Broadcasting), 1978. 17 PC. C hatterji, B roadcasting in India, op. cit., p. 31. 18 For statistical com pilations, see D iscover India, (New Delhi: M inistry of External A ffairs, G overnm ent of India). W ebsite dow nloaded 31 January 1999. [W ebsite: www.meadev.gov.in]; See also D oordarshan . Annual. (New Delhi: Audience Research U nit, D irectorate G en eral, Doordarshan; Produced by the Directorate of Advertising and V isual Publicity, M inistry of Inform ation and Broadcasting, G overnm ent of India) and Mass M edia in India (New Delhi: Publications D ivision, M in ­ istry of Inform ation and Broadcasting, Government of India). 19 For further discussion see Amrita Shah, Hype, H ypocrisy and Television in Urban India, op. cit., chapters 3 -6 . 20 S.S. G ill, interview, 8 February 1990, New Delhi. 21 Victoria L. Farm er, ‘Politics and Airwaves: The Evolution of T elevi­ sion in India’, Paper presented at a panel on ‘Mass Media and the C o n ­ stru ction of the Indian N ation -State’, A ssociation for Asian Studies Annual M eeting, Boston, 27 March 1994, and ‘Mass Media’, op. cit. 22 Kanchan Ilaiah, Why I am not a Hindu (C alcutta: Sam ya), 1996, p. x. 23 PC. Jo sh i, An Indian P erson ality f o r Television, op. cit. 24 Sean MacBride, Many Voices One W orld: Towards a New, M ore Ju st an d M ore E ffic ie n t W orld In fo r m a tio n a n d C o m m u n ic a tio n O rd er (T h e MacBride Com m ission Report) (Paris: UNESCO, International C om ­ m ission for the Study of Com m unication Problem s), 1980. 25 PC. Jo sh i, An Indian P erson ality f o r Television, op. cit., vol. 1, chap ter 1, paragraphs 3 -4 . 26 Sean MacBride, Many Voices One W orld, op. c it., part I, chapter X I, paragraph 18. 27 PC. Jo sh i, An Indian P erson ality f o r Television, op. cit., vol. II, chap ter V, paragraph 1. 28 Victoria L. Farmer, ‘The Lim its of Im age-M aking: D oordarshan and the 1989 Lok Sabha E lectio n s’, Paper presented at a conference on ‘Democracy and Developm ent in South Asia’, Tufts University, 22 April 1990. 29 P rasar B harati (B roadcastin g C orporation o f India) Bill, 1989: Text o f the Bill as Introduced in L ok S abha on 2 9 .1 2 .1 9 8 9 (New Delhi: D irector­ ate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, M inistry of Inform ation and

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Broadcasting, Governm ent of India). 30 Cable Bill 1995, Government of India. Victoria L. Farmer, ‘Politics and Airwaves’, op. cit. 32 Robert W. McChesney, C orp orate M edia and the Threat to D em ocracy, Open Media Pamphlet Series 1 (New York: Seven Stories Press), 1997. 33 The Times o f India, 14 March 1991. 34 D iscover India, op. cit. 35 K. Hariharan, interview, 29 O ctober 1997, Philadelphia. 36 Kenneth R. Donow, ‘Globalization, Bureaucratic Politics, and the De­ regulation of Indian Broadcasting’, Paper presented to the Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 9 November 1998. 37 The Hindustan Times, April 1998. 38 Federal C om m u nications C om m ission (F C C ). W ebsite hom epage, dow nloaded 31 Ja n u a ry 1 9 9 9 . [w w w .fcc.gov.] See 1 9 3 4 S e ctio n 3 1 0 [ b ] [4]. 39 The Times o f India, 3 Ju n e 1990. 40 PC. Jo sh i, An Indian P erson ality f o r Television: op. cit., vol. 1, chapter III, paragraphs 3 -4 . 41 Sevanti Ninan, ‘The Airwaves Belong to Us’, The Hindu, 16 November 1997. 42 Max Frankel, ‘Money: Hard, Soft and D irty’, The New York Times M aga­ zin e, 26 October 1987. 43 The Hindu, 19 October 1998. 44 Sean MacBride, Many Voices One World, op. cit., part III, chapter 1.1.

The Indian Police: expectations of a democratic polity R.K. RAGHAVAN

The Background The last few years have gen erated an anim ated d iscu ssio n in diverse forum s on the quality of public ad m in istratio n in th e country. A critical look at the Indian police th erefore seem s ap p ro p riate: we m ay ask, how well do the various pu b lic se r­ vice ag en cies, especially the p o lice, fit in to the cu rre n t d e m o ­ cratic m ilieu ? The basic problem , in m y view, is th a t of th e elected rep resen tativ es of the people— the m em bers o f p a rlia ­ m ent (M P s) in Delhi and m em bers of legislative assem b lies (M LA s) in the states— w an tin g to exercise near to tal co n tro l over the civil serv ice, at all levels. They believe th at th is is the only way th ey can d ischarge the tru st reposed in th em by th e sovereign , namely, the people. A m ong the several sta te ag en ­ cies, the police feel the im pact of this influence the m o st, be­ cause of the coercive au th o rity they enjoy vis-à-vis th e rest o f society. The pow er wielded by the political execu tive con tro llin g the governm ent at any point of tim e is enorm ous, and is very often used to con solid ate partisan gains. The resultant situ ation is m arked by extra-legal, if not illegal, in stru ction s to th e p o lice w ho con stitu te an im p ortan t arm of the execu tive. C om p lain ts of partisan action on the part of the police are very often m ade to the judiciary, and a near confrontation between the latter and the execu tiv e ensues. The ju d ic ia ry ’s fu lm in ation s o v er th e police’s lack of objectivity disregard the fundam ental flaw in the existin g legal system , w hich m akes the police sub servien t to the execu tive. Im p ortan t recom m end ation s of the N ation al

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Police C om m ission (N P C ) of 1 9 7 7 to free the police from such subordination have n o t yet been acted upon. Unfortunately, there has been little inform ed debate on the role of the police in the present Indian polity. Very few observ­ ers of the public scene have ventured to analyse the state of policing in India at this historic m o m en t.1 Beyond the exp res­ sion of general dissatisfaction at its perform an ce and the de­ m and for m aking it m ore au tonom ous, hum ane and civilized, there has been little by way of an assessm ent of its strengths and shortcom ings or its successes and failures.2 Recognizing that there have been two d istinct periods in the history of the police in India helps us evaluate the current scene. Broadly speaking, these are identifiable as the period beginning with the prom ulgation of the Police Act ( 1 8 6 1 - 1 9 4 7 ) and concluding with the attainment of independence in 1 9 4 7 , and the post-Independence era, 1 9 4 7 -9 9 . D uring the first period, the focus of the police w as on per­ petuating alien rule; naturally, the service elem ent received little attention. This was especially pronounced after the freedom m ovem ent, spearheaded by M ahatm a Gandhi un der the banner of the Indian N ational C ongress, gained nationw ide m om en­ tum and posed public order problem s of great m agnitude. In the second period, i.e., since Independence, w hich is germ ane to the present exercise, one is pained to see evidence of ves­ tiges of the colonial m entality acquired by the police under B rit­ ish rule. An adversarial relationship w ith the com m u nity is still apparent in the d ay-to-day con d u ct of the police at the street level. The broader bases of recruitm ent to the police, better w ork­ ing and living con d ition s, and the accen t on m odernization— such as scientific aids to investigation, radio com m u n ication and c o m p u te riz a tio n — have n o t b ro u g h t ab o u t any visible change in police attitu d es tow ards the co m m o n m an. U nfor­ tunately such attitudes have diluted significant police successes in tackling terrorism o f the m ost m ilitant v ariety O ne differ­ ence betw een the two periods, how ever, is that the police are curren tly under greater public scrutiny than before and are sub­ je c t to m ore accountability.3 The period since 1 9 4 7 can be conveniently divided into four parts. In the first— a span of nearly three decades, 1 9 4 7 - 7 5 — attem pts were made to impart direction to the econom y as well as the adm inistration and, incidentally, to set up strong dem o­

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cratic traditions. The process suffered a m ajor reversal in 1 9 7 5 when the controversial national Em ergency was im posed, w ith its attendant im pact on the civil services. The second phase, 1 9 7 7 8 0 , albeit brief, was significant for the adm inistrative apparatus, including the police, for its bold yet unsuccessful efforts towards reform s aim ed at transparency and a revival of the rule of law. The third phase saw a generally disturbed law and order situ a­ tion. This— if one treats the insurgency in the N orth-east as a class apart— had its genesis in the Sikh m ilitancy of the early 19 8 0 s, w hich led to the historic O peration Blue Star (June 3 - 6 , 1 9 8 4 ), the tragic sequel of Mrs Indira Gandhis assassination (O c ­ tober 3 1 , 1 9 8 4 ) and countryw ide anti-Sikh riots. The virulence of Sikh terrorism undeniably paved the way, perhaps indirectly, for m ilitancy of different hues and for a general disrespect of au ­ thority. This added a new dimension to the polity as a whole, and to police w ork in particular. Finally, we have the current fourth phase, in w hich judicial activism is m aking the police task of tackling crim e through strictly legal m ethods, som ew hat easier.

Organization of the Police in Free India A ccord ing to the C on stitu tion of India, ‘p o lice’ and ‘public o r­ der’ fall w ithin the law -m aking com p eten ce of the tw enty-five states into w hich the Indian Union is divided. Policing is, th ere­ fore, essen tially a state activ ity alth o u g h , interestingly, sin c e In d ep en d en ce on e has seen th e cre a tio n o f several fed eral police forces d irectly un d er the ce n tra l g o vern m en t in D elh i, to m eet special needs. Am ong these are policing in tern ation al borders as auxiliary to the defence forces; p ro tectio n of ce n tra l governm ent installations in the states; and secu rity of national railway stock (Table 1). During the five decades since India attained freedom, there has been a manifold increase in the num erical strength of the police. From a mere 0 .7 million in 1 9 71, the strength of the civil police in

Table 1 1986

Growth of Central Police/Forces_______________________ 1987

458,1 70 420,017

198819891990 463,304

485,439 520,485

1991

1992

554,433

567,851

199S 1996 560,896 579,520

Sources. C rim e in India (1 9 9 5 ) and 1PS Central A ssociation (1 9 9 4 ).4

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the country is now nearly 1.3 million. There are 3 9 .5 policemen per 1 00 sq. kms. and 137 for a population of 1 0 0 ,0 0 0 .5 There is a police force, headed by a director-general of police (D G P), in each state. Additionally, there is a force for each of the seven union ter­ ritories which com e under the direct control of the central govern­ m ent. The higher echelons of the forces are m anned by officers belonging to the Indian Police Service (IPS) who are appointed by the central governm ent, but allotted to different state police forces to man supervisory positions. These officers are liable to be drawn in to serve in central police organizations, on deputation from the state governm ents, for specific periods.

Responsibilities: Maintaining Public Order Since attaining independence, India has gone through several traum as on the law and order front. The first problem to co n ­ front the nation was one of political consolidation; this called for establishing control over some of the princely states whose rul­ ers were anxious to retain their autonom y even after the British departed. Kashm ir and Hyderabad were two such states where decisive action was called for. In Kashmir, it was the Indian arm y that tackled the problem by throwing out the raiders (a group com prising armed tribals and members of the Pakistan arm y) sent by Pakistan to pressurize the ruler into opting for Pakistan. In H yderabad, it was the police who w ere em ployed. The Nizam of H yderabad, w ith total disiegard for all logic and geography, w anted to accede to Pakistan. Responding to popular sentim ent w hich favoured India, the central governm ent sent a police force in to the state w hich swiftly brought about a surrender of the N izam ’s forces. This rem arkable operation— rem em bered even today as the Hyderabad Police A ction— highlighted the profes­ sional skills and discipline of the Indian police. The n ext test of police efficiency cam e from the sam e area in the south, in a cluster of districts called Telengana, during 1 9 4 7 5 1 . U neven distribution of land and gross ill-treatm ent of farm w ork ers by landlords generated a strong leftist m ovem ent here. The peasants, under the aegis of the C om m unist Party, indulged in large-scale violence against landholders. Since the police from Hyderabad was unequal to the task, large contingents were req­ u isition ed from the neighb ou rin g M adras State (n ow Tamil

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N adu). The m ovem ent was contained in the cou rse of tim e, al­ though the m ethods em ployed by the police w ere d en ou nced by som e as brutal and illegal. This area has again been the scen e of violent activity by Left extrem ists under the ban ner of the People’s W ar G roup (P W G ), w hose tactics have taken the form of laying landm ines on police routes and attack ing p olice sta ­ tions. There have been several encou nters between them resu lt­ ing in heavy police and civilian casualties. The problem s faced by the police on the law and ord er front since 1 9 5 0 fall into the following broad categories: (i) violent agitations by linguistic groups to redraw the p o ­ litical m ap so as to earm ark one state for each language; (ii) sim ilar tactics by tribal groups, particu larly those in the N orth -east; (iii) dem ands for the redistribution of land ow nership, voiced initially by the C om m unist Party, and subsequently by extrem ist groups, arising out of the Indian com m u n ist m ovem ent, leading to the liquidation of ‘class enem ies’ and police inform ants; (iv) violent agitations engineered by political parties, o sten ­ sibly in support of som e live econ o m ic or social issue, but m ainly to bring down lawfully elected governm ents; (v) terrorism by groups in Punjab and K ashm ir w anting to secede from the Indian U nion; (vi) violent clashes arising out of the un concealed fundam en­ talism espoused by the two m ost p rom in en t religious groups, namely, Hindus and M uslim s, w ith som e of the latter being aided and abetted by Pakistan; (vii) endem ic caste clashes in the rural hinterlan d, often cen ­ tering on antagonistic land claim s and related problem s betw een landlords and agricultural w ork ers; and (viii) the em ergence of a sharp division betw een the forward and backw ard classes follow ing the in tro d u ctio n of a quota system for distribution of places in ed u cation al in­ stitu tion s, and for governm ent staff selections.

The Police Response A few general observations are possible here. Large p arts of the cou n try suffer from attem pts by various groups to tin k er with

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public order. The violence varies only quantitatively. As a re­ sult, police forces have to be in a perpetual state of readiness. A lm ost every state, at som e tim e or other, seeks the cen tral governm ent’s help to provide police forces, such as the C entral R eserve Police F o rce or B order Security F o rce , to bring w hat is u su ally eu p h em istically d escrib ed as ‘a d isturbed s itu a tio n ’ u n d er co n tro l. Requisitioning the police of a neighboring state is also com m o n . The resort to firearm s by the police to quell riots is the order of the day. Very often, this is followed by a popular dem and, backed by political parties in the O pposition, for a ju d icial inquiry to find out w h ether such use was justified by the circu m stan ces of an incident. E x ce p t in a very few cases, su ch inquiries always end in favour of the police. Two aspects of the current public order situation— terrorism and in ter-relig io u s co n flict— deserve detailed con sid eratio n for a balanced evaluation of police perform ance in post-Independence India. C o u n ter-terro rism — W hile there has been m uch criticism of the Indian police, som e of it ju stified, a serving officer can only say th at, on the w hole, the police response to terrorism in Punjab and in Jam m u & K ashm ir has been com m endable. High quali­ ties of leadership and courage have been displayed. Two asp ects of the scen e, one positive and the other n ega­ tive, com pel atten tio n . The m ilitant tactics of terrorists have dem anded a great degree of professionalism on the part of the state police. This has called for standards of recru itm en t and training on p ar w ith those of the arm y and central governm ent police forces, such as the B order Security and C entral Reserve Police F o rce. On the negative side, police retaliation against terro rist violence has occasionally been assailed as am ounting to ov er-reactio n . There have been num erous com plaints of e x ­ cesses w hich have generated a public debate on issues a sso ci­ ated w ith hu m an rights, and have exerted trem endous pressure on the police at the ground level. Again, on the positive side, while the situation in J& K re­ m ains u n certain , the transform ation in Punjab is rem arkable. E lection s to the state assem bly in Punjab were held in Feb ru ary 1 9 9 2 , after a lapse of several years. A popularly elected go vern ­ m ent has been in place since 2 5 Feb ru ary 1 9 9 2 . The state has

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since gone through an o th er round of d em ocratic election s, an am azing turnaround. An internationally supported and heavily arm ed te rro rist m o v em en t has been n eu tralized th ro u g h a painstakingly devised m ulti-pronged strategy. This deserves a study by itself. The central governm ent has played a co n stru c­ tive role in giving shape to the strategy and its follow-up. It has provided enorm ous logistical support, an exam ple of w hat an ef­ fective and enlightened federal governm ent can do. The G overn­ m ent of India can take pride in its reaction to an e xtrao rd in ary public order situ ation in on e of its states.6 C om m unal Riots— Again, on the negative side, we ca n say th at one m ajor criticism of the Indian police during the past three decades has been its apparent inability to handle inter-religious conflict professionally. There have been m any clashes, com m only known as com m unal riots, between m em bers of different reli­ gions, especially between Hindus and Muslims. Two specific com ­ plaints have been, a bias in favour of the Hindu rioter, and the delayed and excessive use o f force. Several com m ission s of in­ quiry have looked into the causes of these riots. They have been p articu larly concern ed w ith the part played by those in the civil adm in istration charged w ith the task of preventing rio ts, or at least w ith quelling them in the early stages, so as to m inim ize dam age to life and property. The gravam en of the charge upheld by m any com m ission s is that of an initial lack of police firm ness against the rio ters. The observation of the Jaganm ohan Reddy C om m ission,7 w hich stud­ ied the Septem ber 1 9 6 9 riots in Ahm edabad and o th e r G ujarat tow ns in w hich 5 2 4 people lost their lives, is relevan t: The police lost the initiative and, once the situation got out of con ­ trol at the very com m encem ent of the riot, they were overwhelm ed by the situation which confronted them. A lack of judgem ent of a developing situation is another shortcom ­ ing. The D istrict au thorities, police and the magistracy, very often ignored evidence in the form of isolated incidents that could ignite religious feelings. As a result, in a short time, they were faced w ith a situation that required action w hich was beyond their capacity.

A nother com m ission also referred to interference from the higher echelons of governm ent. In its view, this greatly cram p ed the

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style and autonom y of field officers, thereby affecting their abil­ ity to con tain rio ts.8 Perhaps the m ost serious com plaint has been the alleged p o ­ lice failure to p ro ject a n eu tral im age. The Ju s tic e Jite n d ra N arayan C om m ission w hich looked into the 1 9 7 9 Jam sh ed p u r riots, criticized the pro-H indu actio n of the Bihar M ilitary P o ­ lice. In the Aligarh riots of 1 9 7 9 and the M oradabad riots of 1 9 8 0 , a sim ilar im pression of p olice bias against the m inority com m u nity was dom inant am ong the public.9 Deeply concerned w ith the effect of repeated clashes betw een religious groups on the social fabric, the central governm ent m aintains an active dialogue with state governm ents. One significant developm ent is the identification of trouble-prone, com m unally sensitive dis­ tricts in every state. These require so m uch special attention that a continuous m onitoring of inter-religious relations is m ain­ tained On the positive side, possibly the m ost effective of the m oves in itiated so far to tackle com m u n al riots has been the creation o f a Rapid A ction F o rce (R A F) w ithin the C entral Reserve P o ­ lice F o rce . The RAF is a crack force that is norm ally airlifted to trou ble spots so that quick action can be initiated to contain an exp losive situation. The RAF perform an ce till now appears to this au th o r to have been satisfactory. However, until a serious study o f its effectiveness is available, there can n ot be a m ean­ ingful public debate on its role.

Crime: Statistics and Fluctuations Efforts to study crim e in term s of num bers began with the P o ­ lice C om m ission of 1 8 6 0 prescribing a set of form s, refined by the Police C om m ission of 1 9 0 2 . In 1 9 5 3 , the cen tral govern ­ m en t introduced C rim e in India, an annual publication (so m e­ w h at sim ilar to the Uniform C rim e Report of the FBI in the U .S .) w ith com prehensive statistics on all crim e reported to the p o­ lice in the tw enty-five states and seven union territories, and to a few enforcem ent agencies in the central governm ent. C rim e in India is now the responsibility of the National Crim e R ecord s Bureau (N CR B) of the cen tral governm ent. The NCRB depends solely on the goodwill of police forces in the states and union territories for prom pt dissemination of information. The

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process, till recently manual, has been substantially com puterized. C rim e is studied in term s of ‘crim e ra te ’, i.e ., offen ces per 1 0 0 .0 0 0 of the population. This facilitates com p arison across the board w ith other countries such as the U .S.: for exam ple, the overall crim e rate in India during 1 9 9 5 was 6 5 4 .3 , as against the U .S .’s 5 2 7 7 .6 . D uring 1 9 5 1 - 9 1 , the first four decades of India as a sover­ eign nation, the population w ent up by 1 3 5 .3 per cen t. C rim e rose by 1 5 8 .2 per cen t and the crim e rate by 9 .8 per cen t. From a total of about 6 5 0 ,0 0 0 offences under the Indian Penal Code (IP C ) and a crim e rate of 1 7 9 .9 in 1 9 5 1 , one saw b oth escalat­ ing to 1 ,6 9 6 ,0 0 0 and 1 8 5 .1 respectively in 1 9 9 5 . F ro m nearly 5 0 .0 0 0 in 1 9 5 3 , violent crim e w ent up to 2 4 5 ,0 0 0 in 1 9 9 5 , an alm ost 5 0 0 per cent rise. H om icides alone registered a 4 5 per cen t increase during the decade 1 9 8 5 - 9 5 . Equally serious is the fact that rapes— 1 3 ,7 5 4 in 1 9 9 5 — alm ost doubled during the sam e p erio d .10

The Police Role in Government The use of the police in free India has been frequent and extensive, amidst complaints that the force is utterly lacking in political neu­ trality. The impression of a bias in its day-to-day operations has unfortunately become stronger over the years, because the cam ­ paign to prom ote its non-partisan character has rem ained feeble. Basically, the Indian police has been weighed down by the s cru ­ tiny and criticism of the three segm ents of the polity, namely, the executive (both governm ent and p o litical), the legislature and the judiciary. The situation is com pounded by the enor­ m ous pressure exerted on it by the citizen who exp ects the p o­ lice to be law abiding, and at the sam e tim e, effective in the m aintenance of peace and d etection of crim e. Relations with the E xecu tiv e— W e noted earlier th at in depen­ dent India has passed through several distinct phases. T he m ost devastating was the 20-m o n th Em ergency from Ju n e 1 9 7 5 to M arch 1 9 7 7 , during w hich period the police op erated w ithout the usual political safeguards. Follow ing the defeat of Indira Gandhi in the 1 9 7 7 elections, a new Jan ata governm ent— the first n o n -C o n g re s s g o v e rn m e n t sin ce In d e p e n d e n c e — to o k

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office. Responding to public outrage over the E m erg en cy ’s e x ­ cesses, it established a N ational Police C om m ission (N P C ). Two things are notew orth y about this C om m ission. Firstly, it was th e first, and only, body to be appointed at the national level since Independence, to propose police reform s; and secondly, its recom m end ation s had still not been im plem ented w hen Mrs Gandhi and the C ongress party returned to pow er in 1 9 8 0 . The exhaustive analysis of the Indian police by the NPC is extrem ely relevant here. The six-m em ber C om m ission, headed by a retired Governor of Karnataka, Dharm a Vira, subm itted eight rep orts betw een F eb ru ary 1 9 7 9 and M arch 1 9 8 1 .11 It is the path-breaking second report (August 1 9 7 9 ) w hich is m ost ger­ m ane to this paper. The Com m ission addressed itself in this re­ p ort to the task of how to confer greater operational autonom y on policemen in the field, without however diluting their account­ ability. In this con text, it quoted extensively from the Shah C om ­ m ission of Inquiry. This had enquired into the excesses alleged to have been com m itted by the adm inistrative m achinery during the Emergency. One excerp t from the Shah Com m ission’s Interim Report II (2 6 April, 1 9 7 8 ) is vivid in its description of the scene: Police officers behaved as though they are not accountable at all to any public authority. The decisions to arrest and release certain per­ sons were entirely on political considerations. . . . The Government must seriously consider the feasibility and desirability of insulating the police from the politics of the country and employing it scrupu­ lously on duties for which alone it is by law in te n d e d .12

T h e N P C d e scrib e d th e e x is tin g re la tio n s h ip b etw een the execu tiv e and the police thus: ‘The insisten ce on prom pt obe­ dience and execution of all orders lawfully issued by any com p e­ te n t a u th o rity u n d erlin es th e to tal su b m ission of p o lice to executive authority’.13 The C om m ission thereafter proceeded to draft a new Police A ct (to replace the 1 8 6 1 A ct) to articu late its definition of the role of the police. This draft is yet to find governm ent a ccep ­ tance. Two recom m en d ation s made in this co n n ectio n — a fixed tenure of four years for the police chief, and the con stitu tion of a state secu rity com m ission headed by the state m inister in charge of the police— also rem ain to be im plem ented. In the opinion of m any police officers, past and present, most of the odium that attach es to the Indian police over the years is

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due 10 the situation so graphically described by the N PC . T here is a n o ticeab le differen ce b etw een th e e x e c u tiv e ’s p o litica l exp ectatio n s, and the non-partisan responses of a law -abiding and con scien tiou s policem an. The failure to insulate the police from p olitics is unfortunate, because it places the force un der trem en dous psychological pressure and m ilitates against o b je c­ tive and professional policing. G overnm ents hold a very differ­ ent opinion to justify the subordinate status they accord to the police. In their estim ation, the police tend to take a very nar­ row and legalistic view of events, and therefore ignore the c o m ­ pulsions of a dem ocracy. Second, governm ents argue th at the co n tro l exercised over the police ensures that they do not c o m ­ m it e x c e ss e s th at v iolate h u m an rig h ts , so s a c ro s a n c t in a dem ocracy. Finally, it is the execu tiv e th at is the policy-m ak er and th e rep resen tativ e of th e p eo p le, in w h om so v ereig n ty resides. Only governm ents are com p eten t to dictate priorities so that policing rem ains focused on com m u n ity needs. Rival view points have their m erits. The N PC was quite alive to this reality and also to the need to harm onize the police role with dem ocratic aspirations. Obviously, it was this perception that prom pted them to suggest the creation of a state security com m ission. This was to be headed by the state minister in charge of the police and consist of six other m em bers. The com m ission would include two m embers of the state legislature, one from the ruling party and the other from the Opposition. The com m ission would lay down policy guidelines for the police, besides evaluat­ ing its perform ance for the benefit of the legislature. It would also entertain representations by supervisory officers of the rank of superintendent of police and above against ‘illegal or irregular orders’ received by them while perform ing their duties. The N PC recom m end ation on the state secu rity com m ission has n o t yet been accep ted. Views on w hether such a co m m is­ sion w ould be effective are varied. There are those who believe that the com m ission is no panacea to all of the police’s cu rren t ills; oth ers feel that the proposal is hardly p ractical. In their estim ation , the com m ission w ould only hinder the police force fu rther in its d ay-to-day w ork. In m y view, the creation of such a com m ission w ould be a step forw ard in rendering the police m o re tra n s p a re n t and a c c o u n ta b le . W h ile it w ill giv e th e execu tiv e a feeling of greater co n tro l over the police, it w ould

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at the same tim e assure the latter th at its p erform an ce will be evaluated m ore objectively. Relations with the L egisla tu re and L egislators— T here are two facets to the relationship betw een the police and the legisla­ ture, one inside the p recin cts of the legislature, and the other outside. F irst, the inside relationship. The presiding officers of parliam ent in Delhi, and legislative assem blies/councils in the states, are the suprem e authority w ithin their respective houses. F o r the purpose of preserving order therein, they have their own w atch and ward staff, independent of the governm ent. It is only under extrem ely grave circum stances, rendering the latter inca­ pable of dealing with a situation, that the police are called in, un­ der the specific orders of the speaker/chairm an, as the case may be. In free India, there have in fact been many such contingencies. W h at we are here con cern ed w ith m ore intim ately is the o u t­ side relationship, the day-to-day in teraction betw een legisla­ tors and policem en in the field. The execu tiv e’s in stru ctions to the police regarding the treatm ent of MPs and MLAs could not be clearer than they are. They require the u tm ost courtesy in receiving legislators at police stations and other police premises, and a quick resp onse to representations on behalf of citizens. W hile, generally speaking, senior officers take every care to be polite and sensitive, it is at the police station that there are of­ ten problem s. In stances are legion of com plaints of disrespect show n to M LAs/M Ps by low er police functionaries. The police them selves ch arge th at un reason ab le, and som etim es e x tra legal, dem ands are m ade on them by legislators, dem ands that lead to unseem ly and avoidable verbal duels. The countryw ide police agitation in 1 9 7 9 was triggered by a trivial altercation between a H aryana traffic policem an and a legislator. The rela­ tionship betw een the police and M LAs/M Ps is extrem ely deli­ cate, calling for great restrain t on both sides. In recen t years, fortunately, an aggressive media and an active ju d iciary have im proved this relationship. Relations with the Ju d icia ry — A general distrust of the police by the legal profession, and especially the judiciary, has ch arac­ terized India since the days of the Raj. W hile m any readers m ay endorse this d istru st, it is im p o rtan t to u n d erstan d that the

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police believe they are unreasonably constrained. F o r exam p le, the N ation al P o lice C om m issio n sh ared the d istre ss o f the police th at, even three decades after Independence, th e force was so distrusted. It was particularly concerned about the stipu­ lation of the Raj’s second police com m ission , the F ra se r C om ­ m ission of 1 9 0 2 - 3 that ‘the C onstable shall not be asso ciated with any crim inal investigation ,’ and its faithful ca rry -o v e r to the C rim inal Procedure Code (C rP C ) of 1 9 7 3 .M The police feel that the cou rts also lack faith in th em . F o r instance, the Indian Evidence A ct, w hich is an effective aid to the trial co u rt, lays down (Sec. 2 5 ) that no confession m ade to a police officer shall be adm issible in evidence. The excep tio n (Sec. 2 7 ) is when such confession leads directly to the discovery of a m aterial fact, such as the recovery of a m urder w eapon. Only then does that part of the confession becom e admissible. T his is a m ajor source of discontent for police officers at all levels. The m ost im portant restrain t on police investigators, h o w ­ ever, is the constitutional m andate that no person arrested w ith ­ out a w arran t shall be held in police custody for longer th an tw enty-four h ou rs, before w hich time he has to be p rod u ced before a m agistrate. This tim e lim it has been found to be u n re a ­ sonable and im practical by m any experienced police profession­ als. The Suprem e C ou rt of India and several high cou rts have im posed m any restrictio n s on the pow er of arrest v ested in p o lice officers, and have p rescrib ed ce rta in g u id e lin e s. In Joginder Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1 9 9 4 ) , the Supreme C ourt stated that an arrest should not be m ade m erely because it was lawful to do so. The officer con cern ed should actually be able to justify su ch action. In C haran Das Chawla v. Com m issioner of Police, Delhi ( 1 9 9 4 ) , the Delhi high co u rt dealt with the issue of inform ation being dem anded by a m agistrate about a person alleged to be held in illegal custody. It decreed th at the police officer concerned m ust file an affidavit w ithin a day or two and also produce the arrestee before that m agistrate. A refusal to file such an affidavit would am ount to con tem p t of co u rt. A lso, while the C rPC perm its exam ination of w itnesses during in ves­ tigation at the police station itself, no m ale below the age of fifteen, or a w om an, can be sum m oned to a police station . S ec­ tion 1 6 0 of the C rP C is em phatic that these persons shall be exam ined at their place of residence.

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It m ust be adm itted th at the reco rd of the p o lice in respect of hum an righ ts leaves m u ch to be desired. Fortu n ately, the ju d iciary in India has been acu tely sensitive to com plaints of hum an righ ts violation s by the p olice. Su p erior co u rts have found it n ecessary to m ake stern ob servation s w h enever these com e to th eir n o tice and have also in itiated punitive action . C ustodial deaths in p articu lar have invited th eir ire, leading to crim inal p rosecu tion and the award of stiff sen ten ces to err­ ing p ersonn el. Significant here is the form ation in 1 9 9 3 of a N ational H um an Rights C om m ission headed by a form er chief ju stice of India. T he NHRC has been extrem ely p roactive and has caused quite a lot of discom fiture to th ose in the police ranks w ith low regard for hum an rights. The creation of a sim i­ lar body in som e states has also placed p olicem en in the field under pressure. Some ju d gem en ts, it m ust be adm itted, have helped free the police from unw arranted governm ental interference. This se c­ tion on the ju d iciary would not be com plete w ithout referring to a m om entous January 1 9 9 6 Supreme C ourt order. In this case, Vineet N arain and Others v. The Union of India, the C ourt was disposing of a petition w hich alleged that the C entral Bureau of Investigation (C B I) and revenue authorities had failed to per­ form their duty to bring certain offenders to book, because the latter w ere highly placed in society and w ere influential. The C ourt exam ined cases in w hich an investigating agency filed a final rep ort stating that there was no m aterial to proceed fur­ ther against an accu sed person, and the case had therefore to be closed. The Supreme C ou rt stated that it had the right to satisfy itself th at this con clu sion had been arrived at on reasonable grou n d s.15 This was a landm ark p ron oun cem en t. It established the C o u rt’s role in m onitoring an investigation and in ensuring that it w as fair and fearless, w ithout being influenced by those in authority who m ay have had a vested interest in shaping an investigation on lines desired by them . It is true that this is a significant developm ent that limits police discretion, but it ensures that such discretion is not used to favour offenders because of their high position in society In a sense, the Supreme Court stand prom otes a m ajor objective of the National Police Commission recom m endations, namely, the insu­ lation of the police from manipulation by the political machinery.

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A n oth er landm ark ruling of the Suprem e C ourt cam e in D e­ cem ber 1 9 9 7 . This aim ed at substantially freeing the prem ier investigating agency of the country, the C entral Bureau of In ­ vestigation, from the control of the executive. The C ou rt stated th at the CB1 did not have to seek the prior perm ission of the governm ent in launching investigations against senior civil ser­ vants. It thus reversed w hat was know n as a ‘single directive’ of th e g o v e r n m e n t w h ic h re q u ire d th e CBI to o b ta in th e governm ent’s prior con cu rren ce in the m atter. Fu rth er, the su ­ perintendence of the CBI’s w ork w ould be vested in a central vigilance com m ission, to be given Statutory status. The C ou rt also laid down a new procedure for the appointm ent of the di­ re cto r of the CBI. The C o u rt’s p ron ou n cem en ts on the CBI evoked m ixed reaction s, and a nationw ide debate has ensued. (A cen tral vigilance com m issioner and a d irector of the CBI appointed through the procedure contem plated by the Supreme C ou rt are now in position, and a cen tral governm ent law regu ­ larizing this m ay be adopted in parliam ent very soon .) Relations with the Public— As long ago as 1 9 6 9 , after a detailed study of the Indian police that in corp orated an extensive pub­ lic opinion survey, David Bayley w rote: The survey results demonstrate forcefully what many close observers of police-public relations in India have long thought, namely, that the Indian public is deeply suspicious of the activities of the police. A considerable proportion expect the police to be rude, brutal, corrupt, som etim es in collusion with crim inals, and very frequently dealing unevenly with their clien ts.16

Opinion surveys on behalf of the N PC, conducted nearly a de­ cade later, did not show any great change in public perception. In its Fifth Report (N ovem ber 1 9 8 0 ), the Com m ission expressed its anguish over the poor state of p olice: public relatio n s.17 It believed that the Fraser Com m ission’s observation in 1 9 0 2 that people ‘do all they can to avoid any connection with the police investigation’ held true even after a lapse of nearly 8 0 years, and it w ent on to say: ‘People now may n o t dread the police, but they certainly dread getting involved w ith it in any capacity.’18 Media reports of the recent past do not show policing in a better light. The com m on man is visibly exercised over their obvious lack of courtesy towards citizens during day-to-day interactions.

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Failure to register com plaints, im polite responses to requests for help in dealing with bullies, and blatant favouritism towards the m ore affluent of two contending parties, even if that party hap­ pens to be the aggressor, are com m on com plaints against the police. Perhaps the m ost serious allegation, described briefly in the previous section , is the tendency of investigating officers to use physical force, or w hat is com m only referred to as the ‘third degree’, in dealing w ith crim e suspects. The charge gains c re ­ den ce from the frequent deaths in police custody, an average of 7 0 to 8 0 being reported annually. Both the central and state gov­ ernm ents are highly sensitive on this issue and have conveyed several in stru ction s to curb police m iscondu ct. The m ost strik ­ ing aspect of public perception relates to the quality of crim e investigation. The average citizen strongly believes that p o lice­ m en indulge in corru p t p ractices at every stage, beginning w ith the registration of a com plaint. The 1 9 0 2 F ra se r C om m ission said: ‘The com plainant has often to pay a fee for having his co m ­ plaint record ed. M ore m oney is exto rted as the investigation proceeds. W h en the officer goes dow n to the spot he is a bur­ den often to the whole village.’19 Lam enting this, the NPC (1 9 7 7 ) observed in its Third Report, ‘W h at the Police Com m ission said in 1 9 0 3 would m ore or less fully apply even to the present situ a­ tion. If anything, the position has w orsened.’20 The Com m ission identified several areas and stages of investigation— registration of a com plaint; arrest/n on -arrest and release/non-release of the accu sed on bail; and reco rd in g of w itn esses’ statem en ts— as vitiated by co rru p tio n . It recom m ended ‘a system of surprise checks and insp ection s and effective supervision by honest and well m otivated officers at the different levels of com m and within the hierarchy itself’.21 Com plaints voiced through the media, cou rt pronouncem ents at all levels, and periodic reviews of vigilance agencies in state and central governm ents reinforce the im pression that there has been no perceptible change in the integrity of police investigators. This is despite the fact that criminal investigation, notw ithstand­ ing the excessive attention to public order m atters, gets high pri­ ority in the police training curriculum . The recruit, at all three levels, constable, sub-inspector and assistant/deputy superinten­ dent, is substantially exposed to the fundamentals of crim e work.

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O nce he or she is assigned to the field, the focus gets distorted, and it acquires an obsession with the m aintenance of law and or­ der, as distinct from crim e prevention and detection.22 This is be­ cause of the high political stakes involved for the governm ent. The m ovem ent in favour of com m unity policing in m any parts of the w orld, especially in the U .S., has not acquired any great m om entum in India. Here and there on e sees individual offic­ ers w ith som e im agination and dynam ism m aking som e strides, and the N PC acknow ledged th at som e efforts had been m ade to im prove the situation in the form of crim e prevention w eeks, settin g up of boys’ clubs, etc. But these are sporadic. F o r in ­ stance, according to the Com m ission, no crim e prevention w eek has been held since 1 9 7 1 . The C om m ission suggested that the police should not m erely highlight the responsibilities of the public, but should go beyond, to focus attention on their ow n difficulties and how citizens can help to m itigate them . In this c o n te x t, it referred to a m ajority response to one of the ques­ tions in its questionnaire, w hich favoured the m ore liberal ap­ pointm en t of special officers (p erm itted by Sec. 17 of the P o ­ lice A ct, 1 8 6 1 ) from the com m u nity so as to aid the police in especially difficult law and order situations. It endorsed the sug­ gestion that this arrangem ent be an ongoing process, rather than one invoked on special occasion s.

Expectations of the Public The Indian scene is m arked by acute public dissatisfaction w ith the quality of police service. This is m ost evident in the urban cen tres w here violent crim e is on the rise and clearan ce rates have been dism al. As everyw here else in the w orld, the public e x p e c ts safer streets and sw ifter resp o n se to distress calls. G reater police visibility is an oth er dem and in towns rocked by v io le n t in cid e n ts. T h e p o p u la r c o m p la in t is th a t p re c io u s p o lice m anpow er is diverted to take care of dignitary p ro te c­ tion (popularly know n as ‘VIP secu rity’) at the co st of basic police services to the com m unity. A nother com m on com plaint is the hostile reception accorded to the public in police stations when they go to report a crim e. The widespread feeling is th at they are unw elcom e and th at a com plaint will receive atten tion only after paym ent of a bribe.

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The public dem ands a sea-change in the police station environ­ m ent that will ensure greater friendliness and sensitivity. Less deliberate suppression of com plaints of crim e and decisive a c­ tion against an ti-social elem ents, even if it m eans the police breaching the law, characterize popular expectations of the force.

Expectations of the Police The Indian p olice, especially those at the police-station level, articulate m any grievances. These relate to a p o or pay stru c­ ture, long h ou rs of w ork, an unhygienic w ork environm ent and unsatisfactory living cond itions, in term s of low quality gov­ ernm ent housing and m edical care. But w hat police constables are m ost b itter about is the lack of hum ane treatm ent by their supervisors. The situation has no doubt been changing for the better, thanks to a vigilant media that does not fail to pick up stories on this issue. But there rem ains a basic feeling of lack of consid eration for the sensitivities of subordinate policem en. R ecent ju d icial activism has had an im pact, both positive and negative, on police investigators. The w illingness of cou rts to uphold police processes, such as the arrest of top politicians and civil serv an ts, and searching and freezing the ill-gotten w ealth of public servants, has been extrem ely w elcom e. Never­ theless, the close ju dicial scrutiny of investigation is of con cern to the p olice. D irectives im pinging on police discretion with regard to arrests, and the dropping of further action at the end of investigation w hen no evidence is forthcom ing, also cause a ripple in police circles. The standards of ob jectivity w hich the ju d iciary exp ects of the police, even in cases w here m em bers of a governm ent m ay be adversely involved, em barrass the police greatly. Viewed in this light, the police feel th at the judiciary does n o t ap p reciate the hard realities of the field situation.

Recent Developments India’s polity is at a crossroads. The striden t dem and for greater probity in public life, the proactive stance of the judiciary which has show n itself to be quite independent, and the investigative reporting of the m edia that has w hetted public appetite, are all distinct features of the cu rren t Indian scene. These are going to

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place the w hole polity, including service agencies such as the police, under public scrutiny and a consequent pressure to be transparent. The specific dem and on the police will, increasingly, be one of strict political neutrality and fearless investigation, even when big public figures are involved. The pressure is felt particularly by anti-corruption agencies at the Centre and in the states. A former prime minister, and a serving and few former state chief ministers have recently been arraigned by the CBI/state anti-corruption bu­ reaus. This points to new courage am ong police investigators and sets the trend for the future. On a Public Interest Litigation (P IL ) filed by a form er d ire cto r-g e n e ra l of p o lice of U tta r Pradesh, the Suprem e C ou rt of India issued a directive in 1 9 9 8 to the union hom e m inistry in Delhi to report on action taken to reform the police structure on the basis of the recom m endations of the 1 9 7 7 National Police Com m ission. This was another sig­ nificant development in the effort to m ake the police m ore pro­ fessional and less partisan. As a sequel, the hom e m inistry ap­ p oin ted a co m m itte e headed by fo rm er Punjab DGP, Ju lio Ribeiro, to go into the N PC recom m endations and report on what needed to be done. The com m ittee has since subm itted its report, w hich the m inistry has placed before the Supreme Court. F u rth er directions of the C ou rt are aw aited. It is against this backdrop that the Indian police will have to contend with prob­ lems described in the succeed ing paragraphs. Coalition G overnm ents— Trends at the federal governm ent level and in som e states point to coalition governm ents becom ing m ore and m ore com m on. This has its own im plications for the bureaucracy, especially the police, w hich had becom e a ccu s­ tom ed to the unified rule of a single party. A part from bickering between coalition partners as to who should control the police, there are bound to be conflicting directions to the police hier­ archy on how to handle a particular situation. The U ttar Pradesh (U.P.) experim ent ( 1 9 9 6 - 7 ) of a change in the chief ministership once in six m onths between the two coalition partners, was at the tim e a uniquely interesting exp erim ent, but this type of ar­ rangem ent could be repeated. It could also raise new issues of adm inistrative propriety, causing further confusion and dem or­ alization within the police force. It m ay take several decades

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before coalition politics establishes salutary p ractices that per­ m it the police to be clear about their role in such an environ­ m ent. U ntil then, the forces will m uddle along, hopefully w ith ­ out disastrous consequences for the com munity. C rim inalization o f Politics— There is strong evidence available in many parts of the country of the growing nexus between som e political parties and individuals w ith proven crim inal records. This is no new phenom enon, but the relationship has com e out into the open during the past few decades, with m uscle pow er and m oney beginning to determ ine the ou tcom e of elections, especially those fought in villages.23 Two frequent crim es co m ­ m itted by thugs on the eve of elections, at the instigation of som e political elem ents, are m urder and kidnapping. It is widely know n that on the day of polling, the coercion of citizens to vote for a particular party, or to stay away from the polling booth, is a tactic for w hich political parties use anti-social elem ents. It was against this background that in Ju ly 1 9 9 3 the cen tral gov­ ernm ent appointed a com m ittee headed by N.N. Vohra, form er hom e secretary, to exp lore the grow in g p o liticia n -c rim in a l nexu s. The C om m ittee’s 1 9 9 3 report was placed before parlia­ m ent on 1 August 1 9 9 5 . The report concluded: It is apparent that crime syndicates and mafia organizations have estab­ lished themselves in various parts of the country [and] have devel­ oped significant muscle and money power and established linkages with governmental functionaries, political leaders and others to be able to operate with impunity.24

The report referred to the observation of the Intelligence B u­ reau (IB) d irecto r that ‘w arning signals of sinister linkages be­ tw een the underw orld, politicians and b u reau cracy have been evident w ith disturbing regularity’.25 The director was reported to have added that crim inal gangs in certain states like Bihar, H aryana and U.P. enjoyed the patronage of local politicians and the p rotection of governm ent functionaries. The dependence of politicians on crim e syndicates for financial support to fight elections enhanced the latter’s clou t in dealing with the official m achinery. As a sequel to the Vohra R eport, a nodal agency was set up in the central governm ent for exchange of inform ation am ong central agencies for effective follow-up a c tio n .26 It is not yet known how effective this agency has been.

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Unless there is a strong political will here, the police will not be able to stem the rot. The reported decision of the C entral E lectio n C om m ission to bar persons w ith a record of co n v ic­ tion in a crim inal case from con testin g elections should help to keep out a few really bad elem ents. Beyond this, with the high degree of proof required by cou rts, one can n o t be sanguine that the Election Com m ission’s m ove will bring about any great trans­ form ation of the scene. Ju d icia l A ctivism — The question u p p erm o st in the m inds of m any enlightened citizens, including police officers, is w hether the ju d iciary will be able to sustain its present m om entu m for long. This m isgiving is traceable to an apprehension that vested p olitical interests, affected by m any recen t ju dicial decisions, will som ehow align themselves to scu ttle future processes. W hile the fear seem s a little exaggerated, it undoubtedly succeed s in throw ing up u n certainty before the police, in its cap acity for professional action in sensitive investigations. This is an un­ happy situ ation , n ot likely to be resolved unless ju d icial inde­ pendence rem ains unhindered for a t least a few years to com e. T he police desire for autonom y will stand or dissipate, depend­ ing on the future strength of the judiciary. B ro a d er R ecruitm ent— The new schem e of quotas for admission into professional colleges and for entry into the civil service, fol­ lowing the im plem entation of the M andal Com m ission recom ­ m endations, should see the induction of m ore rural youth from relatively underprivileged section s of so cie ty in to the Indian Police Service. W hile this is true of the Indian Adm inistrative Service and other higher civil services as well, it has particular im port for the police. At least in theory, it should lead to greater police sensitivity to the problem s of the low er strata. This is im portant in the con text of galling tales of police apathy to the poor, vis-a-vis the privileged treatm ent of the m oneyed class who can often ‘buy’ police attention. This author will not go so far as to agree with many of his cynical colleagues, who are positive that it is still the better- placed individual who will continue to be privileged in the police station co n text. I look upon this as a possible area for future research: will the new class com position of the IPS alter police attitudes towards the rural poor?

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C en tre-S ta te Relations— N otw ithstanding the strong sentim ents h eard freq u en tly in favou r o f g re a te r au to n o m y for s ta te s vis-à-vis the central governm ent, it is likely that collaboration betw een state and central forces will expand rath er than dim in­ ish. Even states that are traditionally relu ctan t to be a p art of the national m ainstream , acknow ledge the indebtedness of their p olice to the hom e m inistry of the central governm ent in Delhi. The C entral Reserve Police F o rc e will rem ain the m ainstay for states to tackle m ajor th reats to peace. The con tin u ou s e x ­ pansion of the C R PF is a direct recognition of the faith placed in it by the states. R ecru itm ent to the CR PF m ay therefore have to be m ore broadbased, in response to various regional pulls, so as to bring about its greater acceptability. One issue that m ay be raised in the future is: how far is dependence on a central force exp ed ien t for a state govern m en t, especially when the latter is controlled by a political party th at is opposed to the ruling party at the C entre? A noth er that requires atten tion is the im pact of excessive reliance on the CRPF, on the quality of state arm ed police battalions, and especially on their state of training and preparedness.

Conclusions The w idespread im pression, nationally, is that the Indian police force is excessively law and ord er oriented and that it has done p reciou s little to reverse the rising trend of crim e. This is b u t­ tressed by daily media reports on police activity in different parts of the cou n try and the con tin u al expansion of para-m ilitary forces. W h ile this im pression can be faulted for being sw eep­ ing— one that ignores the fact th at a spurt in crim e, especially of the violent variety, is not p eculiar to India— w hat is inescap­ able is the feeling that police perform ance is invariably evaluated by the governm ent m ainly in term s of handling protest dem on­ strations in public, and quelling riots. This is a legacy carried over from pre-Independence days, m arked by large-scale politi­ cal agitations that aimed at disrupting adm inistrative processes. C ritics of the police believe th at this continued obsession w ith law and order, even fifty years after Independence, is u n fo rtu ­ nate because it is oblivious to the new functions im posed on the p olice by an evolving society. Vocal sections of the p opu la­

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tion su ch as Scheduled Castes and Tribes and w om en e x p ect greater police sensitivity to their grievances and new in n ova­ tions w h ich will give them a feeling of secu rity in w h at is c o n ­ sidered a sharply fractured society. In essen ce, the com m unity exp ects the police to be m ore p ro­ active th an reactive as they have always been know n to be. In real term s, the desire is for a m ore consu m er-orien ted police that assigns a higher priority to service functions th an to m ain­ tenance of the status quo. In this con n ection , atten tio n is drawn to the activism displayed by the ju d iciary in the re ce n t past. This is attrib uted to the ju d iciary ’s perception of a changing society and the need to adapt itself to m odern requirem ents. The in novation of PIL whereby any m em ber of the pu blic can seek sw ift ju d icial in tervention in cases of gross in ju stice or adm inistrative im propriety, and the ju d iciary’s visible con cern over m atters of environm ental p rotection are cited as the latter’s willingness to assum e a new role. The discerning critic asks why the police can n ot sim ilarly get rid of its colonial baggage and becom e service-orien ted , especially when such activism does n ot require C onstitution al am endm ents, a task that is circu m ­ scribed by elaborate procedure. Here, the accu sation is that the police leadership, p articu larly the IPS variety, has been smug and con servative. N otw ithstanding this failure to be proactive, the p olice role in holding the nation together against the onslaught o f centrifu­ gal forces can n o t be exaggerated. The resources placed at its disposal for discharging its duties are no doubt exp an d in g; the positive interest evinced in this area by the central governm ent to b olster state police forces is com m endable. It is a m o o t point, how ever, w hether police resources are adequate. T here are ad­ ditional con strain ts in the form of the execu tive’s u n concealed anxiety to keep the police under its strict co n tro l, thereby de­ nying the latter the degree of operational freedom th a t it re­ quires to prove itself effective. The distrust of the ju d icia ry for police proced u res, especially in m atters of crim e in vestigation, w eighs heavily on the police, and leads to m orale problem s. Police personnel m anagem ent therefore, is going to be in creas­ ingly im p ortan t in the days to com e; in this, m ore th an w ith the ju d iciary and the execu tive, it will be the police leadership, rep­ resen ted by IPS officers, that will be severely tested.

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Notes 1 R.K. Raghavan, ‘Fifty Years of Policing’, T he Hindu, 27 August 1997. 1 For studies of the Indian police in the post-Independence period, see David H. Bayley, T he P olice and Political D evelopment in India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 1969; S.K. Ghosh and K.F. Rustamji (eds), E ncyclopaedia o f Police in India, v o l.l (New Delhi: Ashis Publishing House), 1993; and R.K. Raghavan, Indian P olice: Problems, Planning and Perspectives (New Delhi: M anohar), 1989 and Policing a D em ocracy: The C ase o f India and the U.S. (New Delhi: M anohar), 1999. For additional research focusing on women in Indian police, see Shamim Aleem, Women in Indian P olice (New Delhi: Sterling), 1991; S.K. G hosh, Women in Policing (New Delhi: Light and Life Publishers), 1981; and M. Natarajan, ‘Women Police Units in India’, Police Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (1 9 9 6 ). 3 F or reports on police in the pre-Independence period, see J.C . Curry, T he Indian P olice (London: Faber and Faber), 1932; K.S. D hillon, De­ fen d ers o f the Establishm ent: Ruler-Supportive P olice Forces o f South Asia (Shim la: Indian Institute of Advanced Study), 1998. S.M . Edwardes, C rim e in B ritish In dia (Reprint of 1924 edition) (New Delhi: ABC Pub­ lishing House), 1983; P.G. Griffiths, To G uard My P eople: The H istory o f the Indian P olice (London: Ernest B enn), 1971; A. Gupta, C rim e and P olice in India, up to 1861 (Agra: Sahitya Bhaw an), 1974 and T he P olice in British India, 1 8 6 1 -1 9 4 7 (New Delhi: Concept Publishing), 1979, c. 1978; and S.D. Trivedi ‘The Origin and Development of Police Organi­ z a tio n in A n cie n t In d ia’ in S.K . G hosh and K.F. R u stam ji (ed s) E n cy clo p aed ia o f P o lice in In dia, v o l.l, op. cit. For Studies exam ining the police during the transition from the British Raj to Independence, see Inspector G eneral of Madras, The H istory o f M adras P olice, (1 9 5 9 ); S.K. Jh a , Raj to S w a r a j: C h an g in g C on tou rs o f P o lic e (N ew D elhi: Lancer), 1995; and B.P. Saha, Indian Policy: L egacy and Quest f o r For­ mative R ole (D elhi: K onark), 1990. 4 G overnm ent o f India, C rim e in In dia 1996 (New Delhi: National Crime Records Bureau, G overnm ent of India), 1998; and IPS Central Asso­ ciatio n , ‘M em orandum to the Fifth C entral Pay C om m ission’ (New D elhi), 1994. 5 Governm ent o f India, C rim e in India 1996, op.cit. 6 Additional research on the police and counter-terrorism can be found in Ved Marwah, U ncivil Wars: P athology o f Terrorism in India (New Delhi: Harper C ollins), 1995; and Vijay Karan, War by S tealth: Terror­ ism in India (New D elhi: V iking), 1997. 7 G overnm ent of G ujarat, Commission o f Inquiry on C om m unal Distur­ ban ces at A hm edabad and at Various Places in the State o f G u jarat on and a fte r 18th Septem ber 1969. Chairman: Jaganm ohan Reddy (Ahmedabad: Home D epartm ent, Governm ent of G ujarat), 1971.

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8 PR. Rajgopal, C om m unal V iolence in India (New Delhi: U ppal), 1987a. 9 See Jitendra Narayan, Com m unal Riots in India: A C ase Study o j an In­ dian State (New Delhi: A shish Publishing), 1992 and PR. Rajgopal, Com munal Violence in In dia, op. cit. 10 For additional inform ation on crim e statistics, see S. Venugopala Rao, D ynam ics o f Crim e: S patial and S ocio-econ om ic Aspects o f C rim e in In­ dia (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public A dm inistration), 1981 and G.P Jo sh i and J.C . Arora, C rim e in India: A Trend A nalysis, 1 9 5 1 -9 1 (New Delhi: Bureau of Police Research and D evelopm ent), 19 9 4 . 11 Governm ent of India, Reports o f the N ation al P olice C om m ission, vols. I to V III, (Delhi: C ontroller of Publications), 1 9 7 9 -8 1 . ,2 Shah Commission, Interim R eport, Shah C om m ission o f Inquiry (D elhi: Controller of Publications), 1978. 13 Government of India, R eport o f the N ational P olice C om m ission (S ec­ ond) (Delhi: C ontroller o f Publications), 1979, p. 11. 14 Governm ent of India, R eport o f the Indian P o lice C om m ission, 1902. The Andrew H.L. Fraser Report (New Delhi: Governm ent of India). 15 Known as the Ja in diary, or the H aw ala case, this docum ent recorded alleged money laundering by a private businessm an, and payment of bribes by him to public officials, both political leaders and civil ser­ vants. Several im portant personalities were indicted, and the Supreme Court has closely m onitored the investigation of the case. 16 David H. Bayley, The P olice and P olitical D evelopm ent in India, op. cit., p. 203. 17 Governm ent of India, R eport o f the N ation al P olice C om m ission (Fifth), op. cit., p. 48. 18 Governm ent of India, Report o f the Indian P olice C om m ission 1902, op. cit. 19 Ibid., p. 16. 20 Government of India, R eport o f the N ation al P olice C om m ission (Third), (Delhi: Controller of Publications), 1980, p. 25. 21 Ibid., p. 26. 22 The Indian Police, at the cutting-edge level, is principally divided into three wings: ‘law and order’, ‘crim e’ and ‘traffic’. ‘Law and order’ is analogous to the patrol bureau found in U.S. police departm ents. This wing handles all disorders in public places, including m inor and ma­ jo r riots. W hile the crim e wing no doubt investigates offences flowing from such disorders, its prim ary preoccupation is with offences against property such as theft, burglary, and robbery. In the Indian environ­ m ent, these two aspects of police routine are viewed very m uch in isolation from each other, and there is not much of an appreciation of the fact that effective patrolling by the law and order wing could pre­ vent crim e, both against hum an body and property.

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For additional inform ation on police training, defence of law and order and relations with the public, see Indian Institute of Public O pin­ ion, Study on P olice Im age (New Delhi: M inistry of Home Affairs, Gov­ ernm ent of India), 1979; K.M. Mathur, ‘Policing for Internal Security’, A dm inistrative Change, vol.. 19, nos. 1 -2 , Ju n e 1992; Kuldeep Mathur, ‘The State and Use of Coercive Power in India’, Asian Survey, vol. 32 no. 4, April 1 9 9 2 ; S. M isra, P o lic e B ru tality : An A n alysis o f P o lice Behaviour (New Delhi: V ikas), 1986; Government of India, Report o f the C om m ittee on P olice Training (New Delhi: Governm ent of India), 1973; PR. Rajgopal, S ocial C han ge and V iolence: The Indian E xperien ce (New Delhi: Uppal), 1987b ; N.S. Saksena, Law and O rder in India (New Delhi: Abhinav), 1987; and P.D. Sharma, Police and P olitical O rder in India (Delhi: R esearch), 1984. 21 R.K. Raghavan, Policing a D em ocracy: The C ase o f India and the U.S., op. cit. 24 Vohra Com m itte R eport, M inistry of Home Affairs, G overnm ent of India, New D elhi, 1993. 25 Ibid. 26 The Hindu, 2 August 1995.

Judges and Indian Democracy: the lesser evil? R A JE E V DHAVAN

I A gainst im possible od ds, and after fierce resistan ce, th e ju d i­ ciary h as b ecom e India's m ost con troversial in stitu tio n o f gov­ e rn a n c e . C o n sistin g , at an y g iv en p o in t, o f so m e 5 0 0 -o d d Su prem e and high co u rt judge», India's h igher ju d icia ry has claim ed m ore than the general custod ianship of th e C on stitu ­ tio n .1 If, in the early years, it was co n te n t to do n o m o re than con tain the socialist excesses o f planned develop m en t, after the Em ergency' ( 1 9 7 5 - 7 ) , the Suprem e C o u rt has b eco m e th e god o f many, if not all, things— large and sm all. An Indian adap tation o f an A nglo-A m erican in stitu tio n , the ju d iciary has con stan tly been viewed w ith subdued suspicion. It has been depicted as a potential T ra n k e n ste in m o n ste r’ by a prom inent member of the Constituent Assembly,2 forgivingly chas­ tised by an angry N ehru for having ‘purloined’ the C on stitution ,3 attack ed by Indira Gandhi for being anti-developm ent and anti­ poor,4 vilified by virtually the whole nation during the Em ergency for its pusillanimity and m aking ‘the darkness of the darkest pe­ riod o f the history of Independent India . . . com plete’,5 accused of taking over the governance of the nation under th e gu ise of public in terest litigation ,6 and con stan tly th reatened w ith co n ­ stitu tio n al am endm ents seeking to circu m scrib e th e vast range of its p o w ers.7 T he ju d iciary has borne m ost of these unfriendly hu m ilia­ tions w ith relatively statesm anlike rectitu d e. In th e 1 9 5 0 s , the ju dges beat a retreat, claim ing to have been m isu n d ersto o d .8 If the 1 9 6 0 s supported the com prom ise that judges w ould do their

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part to engineer transformative social change,9 the Supreme C ourt was unhappy about being driven into a position of constitutional su b servien ce.10 By the early 1 9 7 0 s , it had stru ck dow n overtly political initiatives to nationalize b an k s,11 to abolish the ‘privy pu rses’ of the erstw hile rulers of princely sta te s,12 and to co n ­ trol India’s pow erful new spaper m ed ia.13 In 1 9 7 3 , in w h at is celebrated as one of the m ore significant and globally ack n ow l­ edged C onstitutional decisions of this century, the C ou rt m ade it clear that every C on stitution has a basic stru ctu re w h ich is inviolate and im m une from constitutional am endm ent.1“*An irate M rs Gandhi retaliated by punishing som e of the ju dges, refu s­ ing to appoint any of the allegedly m ore ‘dangerous’ ones as chief ju stice of India. Confronted with their record during the Em er­ gency when judges refused to interfere even on m ala fide d eten­ tions w ithout trial, they simply apologized.15 In the decade that followed, the Supreme C ourt crafted new socio-econom ic p rom ­ ises into the Constitution, inviting social activists to use the C ou rt to obtain effective rem edies through the new -found ‘public in ­ terest litigation’. This seem ed like a good ju d icial offer of i o v e ’ at a time of ‘political ch o lera’, w hich sim ultaneously created a new con stitu en cy of support for the judges. No soon er w as this offer m ade than it was seized upon by social activists, law yers, and jou rn alists to w edge open a back d oor entry into m atters of governance from w hich they w ere otherw ise exclud ed. A ccused of enlarging the scope of ju d icial in terven tion to areas where the ju d iciary norm ally fears to tread, the ju d ges of the 1 9 8 0 s dem urred, arguing that they w ere doing no m ore than interpreting the C on stitution as they understood it— an e x p la ­ nation that w ore thin as m ore and m ore issues got entangled in the judicial w eb .16 By the m id -1 9 9 0 s, as the chorus of those m alaffected by ju dicial decision-m aking grew louder, the ju dges defended their in tervention as a tem porary antidote to the co l­ lapse of institution s of go vernance, and a w eakening of the rule of law.17 These judicial explanations are as ingenious as the co m ­ plaints that give rise to them . Yet, som ehow, the con troversies have helped rather than hindered the ju d iciary in acquiring its ow n pivotal place in the institutions by w hich India is governed. C onstitutional arrangem ents th at place the ju d iciary in in­ stitutional polarity to the political sovereign so as to perm it ‘judges’ to strike down the ‘actions’ and ‘laws’ of the ‘ruler’ are alien

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to traditional notions of governance in India. The Dharm ashastra, which in varying degrees permeated civil society, w as a jurist-based system , directly targeted tow ards the people. Aware that such a system m ust adapt and be adapted to how people actually lived, considerable scope was built into the shastra for local and re ­ gional variation, even to the point of accep tin g th at sadachara (cu sto m ) could override a thousand te x ts.18Judges m ay not have been im portant to the efficacious w orking of the system . Ju d i­ cial procedure found its pride of place in various texts, in clu d ­ ing som e (like the Narada Sm riti) where it was profiled for m ore p o in ted a tte n tio n .19 T he king’s ju s tic e cou ld have in clu d ed ju d ges, who m ay have displeased rulers from tim e to tim e by actin g accord ing to dharm a, but m ost disputes w ere resolved at village level by the pow erful ‘w ise m en ’ of the village, w ho no doubt fudged the shastra to their advantage.20 Founded on a co n cep t of ‘law ’ w holly different from the institutionalized ‘p o ­ litical’ con cep t prevalent today, the "shastra avoided co n fro n ta­ tions betw een the com m an ds of the ru ler and the dharm a from w h ich the king him self derived his authority. In the ultim ate analysis, dharm a w ould prevail over royal e d ict,21 but the ju d i­ ciary was n o t the institution al in stru m en t th rough w hich kings w ere rem inded of their duties to th eir people, or the etern al order of things of w hich they w ere a part. This system was n ot too greatly disturbed by the M uslim ru l­ ers, w ho enforced their edicts if and w hen it becam e politically expedient and ‘reven u e-n ecessary’ through their adm inistrators and qazis. If the E m p ero r Jah an g ir’s fam ous bell sym bolized the king’s ju stice as his ow n, the labours of dispensing ju stice w ere shared with qazis w ho, at least jccasionally, w ere known to re ­ m ind the king of the Islam ic law w h ich, like the shastra, w as also an elaborate jurist-based system directed towards obser­ vance by civil society. Too m uch can n o t, and should n o t, be m ade of the (albeit legendary) skirm ishes th at m ay have taken p lace betw een v ario u s H indu and M uslim ru lers and th e ir ‘ju d g es’. The latter w ere by no m eans the seat of institutional opposition to th eir kings. To pretend that this was so is u n n e c­ essary, even if it is a good retaliatory ‘n ation alist’ response to cond escend ing im perial descriptions depicting indigenous sys­ tem s of law as ‘dotages of brahm anical su p erstition ’.22 Yet, even if judges w ere n either the cu stod ians n o r the carriers of the

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sh astra or the sh ariat, the broad influence of these system s on indigenous native thinking about ‘law ’ can n o t be ignored. They represen t an alternative co n cep t of law, developed by ju rists ra th e r than the state, directed tow ards day to day life in civil society. Am idst innum erable adaptations, variations and nega­ tion s, this alternative app roach to law— w hich m ay be called a Value-Based Social Legal System (VBSLS) app roach— drew its supp ort directly from institution s in civil society w hich skil­ fully avoided con fron tation w ith the king bu t con stan tly re­ m inded him that he was answ erable to the sh astra or shariat, and not above it. By the tim e the British arrived and consolidated th eir pow er in India, they w ere already com m itted to a singularly different Statute-B ased Political Law System (SBPLS) w hereby the ‘co m ­ m an d s’ of the sovereign (w h eth er king or p arliam en t) were deem ed to be the overriding ‘law ’ of the lan d .23 The declara­ tions of the political sovereign expressed in the form of statutes and rules had suprem acy over the op en -textu red com m on law. B entham had trium phed over B lack ston e;24 and India becam e the laboratory for ‘w higgish’ nineteen th-cen tury experim ents on law refo rm .25 The Code Indica, w hich continu es to govern India and m any form er colonies to this day, was cre a te d .26 W hatever w as not codified by statu te, su ch as personal, cu stom ary and o th e r law s, did n o t escap e in stitu tio n alized restatem en t. A strongly bu reaucratized ju d iciary recast all the personal and cu sto m ary laws so th at the institutionalized restatem en t of the sh astra, shariat and cu stom ary law s, rath er than the social law itself, becam e the law of the lan d .27 It is no doubt true that the B ritish SBPLS displaced the Indian VBSLS, and th at asking for the restoration of the aborted (VBSLS) indigenous system is more sentim en tal than realistic.28 B ut, the VBSLS represents an ap­ p roach to law w hich is radically different from the approaches of SBPLS. Even though Indian law is now statute-based and thor­ oughly ‘w estern’ in its app roach , it should n ot surprise us if the basic in stin ct of Indian judges is to retain a d h arm ashastric ap­ p roach to otherwise Anglo-phonic laws. This m ight explain their affinity to widely stated doctrines of ju dicial reviews including, p erforce, the famous ‘basic stru ctu re ’ d o ctrin e ,29 w hich power­ fully re-states the case for constitutionalism in ways th at it has n ever before been stated.

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Initially, the British w ere extrem ely w ary about creatin g to o powerful a judiciary, especially one th at could be used as an instrum ent to challenge the Raj. Their initial experiences show ed both how the English them selves abused the ju d icial p rocess30 as well as the ‘u tter w ant of co n n ectio n betw een the (v a rio u s) co u rts’.31 By 1 8 3 4 , the idea of the ju d iciary being the seat of institution al opposition to the Raj was firm ly rejected in, and by, a fam ous dispatch: A jud iciary utterly uncontrollable by the governm ent and, on the co n ­ trary, controlling the government, recognising the highest authorities of the State only as private individuals and the tribunals w hich ad­ m inister ju stice in all its forms to the great body o f the people only as foreign tribunals, is surely an anomaly in the strictest sense o f the word.31

But this w as, to say the least, problem atic. If one im perative arising from the ‘anom aly’ lay in codifying the law so as to co n ­ tain ju ristic creativity w ithin the confines of ‘law ’ declared by the state, it w as no less necessary to profile the B ritish Indian ju d iciary as an independent and creative in stitu tion in its own right. If it was to acquire credibility in Indian eyes, it had to be seen n o t as a ‘foreign tribunal’, but one to w h ich all people brought even their personal and social disputes. T he solu tion evolved by the Raj was to create a low er ju d iciary th at w ould attract disputes and decide them accord in g to British laid-dow n law. Above the low er co u rts was a high co u rt system th at co n ­ solidated the w ork of the low er co u rts, upheld the suprem acy of B ritish Indian law, and reform ulated the ‘trad ition al’ indig­ enous law in British term s under the broad aegis of ‘ju stice , eq­ uity and good con scien ce’.33 At the ap ex was a Privy C ou ncil based in L ond on to ensure th at any ju ristic excess com m itted by judges rem ained under the control of London. Special care was taken to ensure that the Im perial State was virtually im m unized from civil actio n s in resp ect of m ost of its fu n ction s.34 B ut, m ore im portantly, the British m ade sure that Indian high co u rts had no pow ers of ju dicial review th at w ould enable them to institutionally oppose and strike dow n the a c ­ tions and statu tes of the Raj as un con stitu tion al. The pow er to issue High Prerogative w rits was given only to the high co u rts of the Presidency towns of C alcu tta and Bom bay; and the Privy C ouncil m ade sure that Presidency high co u rts could exercise

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their pow ers only up to the adm inistrative lim its of these towns and no further.35 Given the choice to use and abuse the British ju stice system s, Indians flocked to the co u rts and choked their w ork to a point that a special com m ittee had to be appointed in 1 9 2 5 to look at the m oun tin g arrears in civil co u rts .36 This did not stop Indians from com plaining th at the system was biased, insensitive to Indian sentim ents and guilty of com m ittin g w hat Gandhi called ‘egregious blunders’.37 Be that as it may, British law had trium phed, native law was reform ulated and restricted in its scope by the courts o f the Raj and placed under the shadow o f the B ritish legal system , to w hich it was subordinated and w ith w h ich it was to be interm ingled. Curiously, India’s ‘freedom ’ m ovem ent did n o t ask for too m any radical changes in the legal system . A dem and for a Bill of Rights was m ade as early as 1 8 9 5 .38 The N ehru R eport’s dem and for a Suprem e C ou rt in 1 9 2 8 was m ore to do away w ith appeals to the Privy C ouncil in L on d on .39 The W h ite Paper, following the Round Table C onferences of 1 9 3 0 - 2 , readily acced ed to the need for a ‘federal c o u rt’ to resolve disputes betw een the vari­ ous states com prising of, and associated w ith, the federal sys­ tem proposed for the future, but was less sanguine about the need for a Suprem e C ou rt to replace the Privy C ou ncil. E ven tu ­ ally, only the federal co u rt was set up by the G overnm ent of India A ct of 1 9 3 5 to adjudicate in ter-state disputes, to interpret the A ct of 1 9 3 5 , to h ear civil cases above a certain value, and generally to decide m atters for w hich the cou rt itself granted special leave to appeal.*0 W hen the Special C om m ittee appointed by the C on stituen t Assem bly considered the design for a future Suprem e C ou rt of India, its R eport of 21 M ay 1 9 4 7 did not deviate too m arkedly from the ‘federal co u rt’ m odel, oth er than approving the new title o f ‘suprem e co u rt’ and generally m aking the Supreme C ou rt both a general co u rt o f appeal (to replace the Privy C ou ncil) and a ‘federal’ co u rt to deliberate on in ter-state issues and the in terp retation of the C on stitu tion .41 No m ore was done than to ‘indigenize’ the Im perial ap ex of the ju d iciaries of the Raj. Per­ haps n o thing m ore was necessary, since the m ore m om entous decisions con cern in g the ju dicial enforcem ent of the proposed Bill of Rights had yet to be taken.42 N or was the British-Indian ju d iciary seriously attack ed as being unsuited to independent

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India. In the M em orandum of the C hief Ju stice s to the D rafting C om m ittee in 1 9 4 8 , it was openly stated: Thanks to the system of adm inistration o f ju stice established by the British in this country, the judiciary, until now, has, in the main, played an independent role in protecting the rights of the individual citizen against encroachm ent and invasion by the executive power.45

If anything— m ore so after the C on stitution al A dvisor visited the U nited States— the ‘law yer’ and oth er m em bers of the ju d i­ cia ry b ecam e w ary about g ra n tin g th e ju d icia ry to o m u ch pow er.44 The great New Deal crisis of the U nited States— read alo n g w ith th e tu rn o f th e c e n tu ry re co rd of th e A m e rica n Suprem e C ou rt’s bias towards property and business— confirm ed som e of the w o rst fears of the m ost legally know ledgeable c o n ­ servative m em b ers.43 The events of P artition added p recau tio n ­ ary fuel to conservative ardor.46 O ver the m onths that follow ed, the Bill of Rights was elaborated so that the original ‘due p ro ­ cess’ clause was replaced by an ‘any process’ clause; and the incidence of judicial intervention was both curtailed and straitja ck e te d .47 Ju d ges could n ot exam ine w hat was the ‘due’ or ap ­ prop riate process, but only w hether som e process had been laid down by law. It is not surprising th at although the Assem bly did con sid er various alternatives of collegiate, ju d icial, and p o ­ litical m odels for app ointm ents to the higher judiciary,48 there was very little said about the kind of judges w ho should be c o n ­ sidered for su ch appointm ents. F o r N ehru, the criterion was sim ply that any judge appointed to the Suprem e C ou rt should have distinguished him self as a ju d ge of the high c o u rt.49 W h at m ust not be lost sight of is the fact th at a stron g ju d i­ ciary was really inconsistent w ith the SBPLS that the British had installed both at hom e and abroad. British politicians had fought hard to achieve the suprem acy of Parliam ent; they w ere not about to hand their victory over the king to a bunch of ju d ges w ho, even if they belonged to the same social class, could create political m ischief under the guise of ju d icial decision-m aking. This traditional British antipathy towards the judiciary was even m ore deeply rooted am ong w orkers and the Labour party w hich was in pow er at the time India’s C on stitution was being drafted. T he Left had suffered m uch at the hands of the judiciary. In an unbroken exp erien ce from the W ilkes controversies of the eigh­ teenth century, through com m ittals for con tem p t for calling

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judges ‘bewigged puppets’, and the Laski and F o o t trials, there was m uch that the Labour m ovem ent had against ju d g es.50 E .P T hom pson’s fam ous m em oir in Whigs and H unters,51 that the rule of law was a m ixed blessing for the poor, had yet to be written. To this day, the British constitutional system is unhappy about creating an enforceable Bill of Rights w hich w ould em ­ pow er the ju d iciary to the exclu sion of P arliam en t.52 N eh ru’s planning com m ission m odel of governance sought to use ‘law’ as an instrum ent of social ch an g e.53 As long as the ju diciary behaved itself and did not stand in the way of N eh ru’s plans for India, nothing m ore needed to be said. The ju d iciary was an extra, to be respected for w hat it was; and, perforce, to be feared if it got out of hand.

II There was never any great dissonance between N eh ru’s devel­ opm ental plans for the Indian people and the positivist theory of law that the British had bequeathed to the cou rts of indepen­ dent India. The fact that the C onstituent Assem bly had scripted a judicially enforceable Bill of Rights into the text of the C on ­ stitution did not disturb the positivist credentials of Indian law. The ‘fundam ental righ ts’ guaranteed to the citizen had been perceived as essentially ‘legal righ ts’ granted by a super-statute. E ach one of the rights had been hedged in by lim itations and was interpreted like any other statu te.54 Troubled by his experiences in Avadh and Europe, N ehru was convinced that India’s freedom m ovem ent had to be given a socio-eco n om ic face. The first m ature step tow ards this was the K arachi Resolution of 1 9 3 1 , w hich becam e as con troversial as it was am biguous.55 N eh ru’s only significant contribution to the C onstituent Assem bly was his ‘Objectives R esolution’, w hich was based on the K arachi R esolution and becam e the Pream ble to the Indian C on stitu tio n .56 Despite the d iscon tent in the As­ sembly over the form and tim ing of the O bjectives R esolution, there was broad social and political consensus on the view that the only way India could dispense substantive socio-economic ju stice to its people was not ju st through planned developm ent, but by an effective transform ation of Indian society. It was not merely a question of allocating resources in order to build a tech ­

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nological infrastructure for a ‘m odern’ society; rather, the goal was to change attitudes and behaviour so that ‘untouchability’ was abolished as a social practice, gender equality was assured, equal opportunities were created for the poor, the ‘personal’ laws of various com munities were assimilated into a uniform civil code, poverty and exploitative p ractices w ere done away w ith, and ruler and ruled alike looked at things in a ‘ration ally’ m ore p ro ­ gressive way. M uch of this was placed w ithin the D irective Prin ­ ciples of State Policy, w hich w ere n ot enforceable, but w ere som ew hat guardedly declared to be fundam ental to the gover­ nan ce of the n atio n .57 The upshot of all this w as the creation of a positivistic w elfare state th at dem anded enorm ou s legal em ­ pow erm en t to effect the social and eco n o m ic transform ation of India. If ‘law’ had any role to play, it had to be functionally geared tow ards achieving this politically ordained social change. India was n ot alone in com m ittin g itself to a m odel of statein d u ce d ‘law and d e v e lo p m e n t’. A m e ric a ’s N ew D eal w as founded on creatin g a regulatory and w elfare state, created by ‘law ’ and adm inistered through powerful bu reau cratic agencies. J u s t after W orld W ar II, the Soviet U nion stood ou t as an e x ­ am ple, dem on strating how planned developm ent could tran s­ form a society into a m ajor industrial nation w ith a tolerably reliable agricultural base. If Keynesian econ o m ics canvassed the case for state expenditure, the Labour governm ent w hich sw ept into pow er in B ritain in 1 9 4 5 presented India and various co lo ­ nies with a m odel of how a welfare state could be created through ‘law’ and the parliam entary process. The very fact that the w orld was divided into ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations suggested th at the latter had to do som ething about catch in g up w ith the form er. T he then con tem p orary answ er lay in em pow ering the state w ith regulatory and transform ative pow ers, creating huge, pow erful bu reau cracies and new norm s of adm in istration and adm inistrative adjudication , enacting a vast num ber of social, welfare and regulatory laws, rules and regulations and under­ pinning the entire system w ith crim in al san ctio n s, so that the directives of the state and all its allied agencies w ere obeyed even w hen they w ere n ot respected. The planning com m ission ‘law and developm ent’ m odel of social change w as very m uch in vogue. All the international agencies, public and private, recom m end ed it, and m ost p oliti­

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cal system s w ere addicted to it. Legal sch olarship touted the law and developm ent m odel for universal application th ro u g h ­ o u t th e w orld .58 It had acquired the status of a theology, sp an ­ ning m any prescriptive disciplines. It was n ot until the 1 9 7 0 s th a t the halo around the law and developm ent m odel began to lose its glow. A m erican sch olarsh ip , w hich had exp o rted this m odel to developing nations, found itself in ‘self-estran gem ent’ ov er its resu lts.59 No society could be com m anded into ch ange. But this wisdom was not vouchsafed to nation-builders like N eh ru and others who had good cause to believe that the s o c i­ eties in w hich they lived would com ply for the good of the cause. In this N ehruvian co n ce p t o f ‘law and social ch an g e’ the essential ingredients of law as an instrum ent of planned develop­ m en t in a liberal d em ocratic society could perhaps be su m m a­ rized as follows: ( i) Law is not a m ystical creation. ( ii) It consists of rules that are created by a sovereign parliam ent and other legislative bodies. (iii) Law acquires legitim acy if and when: (a) it serves the overall principles of ju stice ; and (b) it is arrived at by a process of dem o­ cratic discussion. (iv ) Once a law is made it cannot be undermined but has' to be re­ spected. (v) If people want to change the law, they have to do so by con stitu ­ tional m ethods; and, the C onstitu tion im poses no substantive lim its on the change. (vi) Law can be an instrum ent to achieve social and political trans­ form ation; but such changes have to be crafted into a law and not ju st left to the good sense of the people. (v ii) In order to achieve social and econom ic change, powerful bu­ reaucracies have to be created to enable the transform ation of society. (v iii) Such bureaucracies, along w ith the assistance of courts, where necessary, are expected to plan, persuade, cajole, threaten and punish in order to effect com pliance where there is a lack o f co n ­ gruence between a declared norm or goal and its com pliance. (ix ) The courts are not centres of rebellion; they are needed to inter­ pret the law and to keep the various bureaucracies from straying too greatly out of their ju risd ictio n and exceeding their powers. (x ) People have fundamental rights; but judges are expected to in ­ terpret these in a reasonable way.60

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Faced w ith the tou r de force of N ehru’s— as indeed the re st of the w orld ’s— intense con cern w ith ‘law’ and ‘developm ent’, how was the ju d iciary and its perform ance to be judged? W h ere e x ­ actly did judges fit into all this? And if they did not, w hat would happen? W ould there be a fight betw een the legislature and the co u rts? W ould the legislature ov ertu rn the d ecisions of the judges? And, would they go further and disem pow er the ju d i­ ciary? Or, having done th at, w ould ju dicial app oin tm ents be m ade to re cru it ju d ges w ho u n d erstood the im p erativ es of planned developm ent? If ju dicial appointm ents w ere, like the C o n stitu tio n , ‘m ade to m easu re’, w hat w ould hap pen to the ju d iciary? Ju d g es were not the only ones to be co n cern ed . As the Inde­ pen den ce m ovem ent cam e to an abrupt halt, law yers, w ho had been significant participants in that m ovem ent, were also co n ­ cerned about w hat lay in store for them . W ay back in 1 9 4 7 , law yers, troubled by a sense of nem esis, form ally passed a reso­ lution ‘p ro te st(in g ). . . the growing tendency in responsible m in­ isterial circles to underm ine the profession of law and law yers’, and ‘affirm (ing) that law is an honourable profession and that for the good governm ent of any governm ent, law yers are abso­ lutely necessary’.61 W e have already seen the reaction o f the con ­ ference of the chief ju stices during the p rocess of co n stitu tio n m aking declaring th eir cru cial role in defending individual righ ts.62 The law jo u rn als were full of law yers and ju d ges tra c­ ing th eir learning back to Indian antiquity and pledging their self-stated im portance to the future of the n atio n .63 But what exactly would be their role? Apart from the rh e to ric, no one quite knew w hat it was. At the tim e the C on stitution cam e into being, there were no great exp ectation s from ju d ges; nor, for that m atter, were there any great fears that judges w ould place any m ajor im pedim ent in the w ay to planned social change through law. W ith its ‘any process’, as opposed to ‘due p rocess7, clause, the C onstitution had given an edge to parliam ent over the ju diciary.64 The judges had no other ch oice but to accep t the ‘p roced u re’ enacted by the legislature, even if they felt that it fell sh o rt of w hat they w ould have wished. The ju d ges th em ­ selves had been schooled in the ‘black letter’ law tradition. Deep dow n, even w ithin that tradition, the judges knew th at their job was a lot m ore creative than sim ply ‘in terp retin g’ the law.

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However, given the ju ristic techniques they had inherited, they w ere expected to get involved in controversies; at the sam e time they were exp ected n o t to be controversial. It did n ot take long for these assum ptions about the ju d icial role to be disproved.65

Ill H ow exactly has the ju d iciary perform ed? There are as m any opinions as there are com plaints and evaluations. The tru th is th at there are very few rigorous acco u n ts of both the pre- and post-Independence judiciary. W h at has attracted scholarship and co m m en t has been the ongoing battle between the C ongress governm ent of the day and the co u rts, principally, the Suprem e C o u rt. If N eh ru ’s pique against the ju d iciary was ideological, su ccesso r governm ents personalized this discon tent. As long as this public, and necessarily political, controversy dom inated the critiq u e of the judiciary, a balanced view was not, and never has b een , possible. It m ight, therefore, be a useful starting point to exam ine how th e Suprem e C ou rt has figured in the political con tro versies of ’ th e day. From th at standpoint, it is possible to divide the politi­ cal and public evaluation of the ju d iciary into various distinct, b u t overlapping, phases. In the first phase, the early ‘ten sion’ years of the 1 9 5 0 s , the governm ent accused the ju d iciary of stand ing in the way of progress. In the second phase, from 1 9 6 0 to around 1 9 6 5 or so, cam e the ‘com prom ise’ years dom inated by Ju stice Gajendragadkar, w hen the ju d iciary becam e inter­ ested in using the law for ‘social engineering’ and evolved co m ­ prom ises, seeking a quietus to the controversy. The third phase overlaps w ith the second, and is largely an assertion of judicial pow er, leaning in favour of ‘libertarian’ values. The fourth phase com prised the ill-fated years of the Em ergency, w hen ju dicial p ow er was curbed and the ju d iciary lost som e of the ground th at it had w on for itself. The fifth phase was the p o st-E m erg en cy phase, w hen the judges not only placed their pow er over all authorities, public or private, but claim ed the status of an independent in stitution of governance that had its own sepa­ rate public in terest, people-oriented, con stitu tion al goals. This put m any vested interests on the defensive, protesting that public in te re st litig a tio n w as a d an g ero u s h o a x in e x c e s s of the

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ju d iciary ’s appointed con stitu tion al role. The sixth phase w as essentially a consolidation of the p o st-E m ergen cy on e, even though the judges of the late 1 9 8 0 s and early 1 9 9 0 s have so m e ­ tim es been criticized for blunting the radical edge of the ‘public in terest litigation’ that had been developed im m ediately after the Em ergency. The seventh, contem porary, phase represen ts the Supreme C o u rt’s direct involvem ent in issues of governance, forcing oth er institutions of governance to do w hat they are supposed to do by using the new and pow erful m ethods of in ­ vestigation of public interest litigation. This has exposed gov­ ernm ent, politicians and public persons w ho, along w ith the m edia, have severely chastised the ju d iciary for having usurped the ju dicial futu re.66 This over-stylized h istory of the conflicts betw een the ju d i­ ciary and politicians of various hues represen ts how the ju d i­ ciary has been popularly, or som etim es unpopularly, depicted, and how it is largely responsible for producing the various criti­ cism s directed against it. It overlooks the unparalleled range of civil and crim inal cases th at are dealt w ith by even the Suprem e C ou rt every day, and the diversity of ju dicial app roach es on vir­ tually each and every issue; a public im age has been conjured up of an ov er-co n ten tiou s, an ti-governm ent ju d iciary inim ical to India’s social ju stice needs. From this distinct political point of view, the consequences of judicial decisions speak for themselves. In this ‘consequentialist’ evaluation of the judiciary, judges had stood by agrarian landlords at a time when the legislatures w ere trying to abolish feudal­ ism ; sided with business against labour; and generally supported a m onopolistic press, un deserving prin ces, the co rp o ra te sec­ tor, and privileged property ow ners. And, having com e thus far, the ju d iciary dealt the final blow to the sovereignty of parlia­ m ent and the people by denying legislatures the pow er to amend the C on stitu tio n .67 From such a consequentialist analysis flows the further charge that the ju d iciary is essentially class-biased— a charge to w hich the ju d iciary reacted with elegant but co m ­ prom ising vehem ence by declaring politicians who gave voice to this charge, guilty of contem p t of c o u r t!68 M asquerading both as academ ic analysis as well as political rh eto ric, these in d ict­ m ents and accu sation s resulted in the governm ent form ulating a policy of appointing ‘com m itted ’ judges who w ere ‘id eologi­

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cally suitable’ and politically loyal to the higher judiciary, pass­ ing over the claim s of certain ‘not-so-suitable’ judges to be chief ju stices of India.69 However, the consequentialist argum ent that the judges were class-biased necessarily fizzled out because of the Em ergency, when the governm ent’s com m itm ent to planned developm ent and poverty alleviation becam e preem inently sus­ pect. It suffered a further setback during the early years of the public interest law m ovem ent, when judges w ore their social conscien ces on their sleeves and reinterpreted the law in favour of poor tenants, w orkers of all fortunate or unfortunate descrip­ tion , and the unem ployed.70 It revived a little a decade later, when judges were less positive about the social ju stice con cerns of the earlier phase of the post-Em ergency public interest law m ovem ent. The consequentialist argum ent regarding class bias continues in a nebulous, less exaggerated form .71 Explanation s of the ju d iciary that con cen trate w holly on the class affiliation of judges are politically shrill, analytically crude, historically m uddled and hopelessly confused about the nature of ‘law’ in the hands of ju dicial institutions. N or would it be easy to describe the four thousand or so judges who have been part of the higher ju d iciary since 1 9 5 0 as necessarily belonging to the same class. A prosopography would suggest deep divi­ sions and m any differences, m ore so in recent years.72 They do, of course, share^the ch aracteristic of having been part and par­ cel of w hat has often been described as a ‘middle class’ in tellec­ tual profession w hich has always been, and sought to be, at the forefront of social and political activ ity That is why one study of the Supreme C ou rt has suggested that: In the end, we must regard the attitude o f Supreme Court judges as typical of the decision-m aking habits of m etropolitan Indians: tech­ nically unpredictable, not influenced by imitative cosm opolitan hab­ its, conditioned by native instinct to a depth not yet predictable by the psychologist or documented even by the novelist, the dramatist or the fiction writer, and suffering from an over-sensitive opinion of their lonely and unparalleled position.73

T he social backgrounds of the judges are not un im portan t; nor, indeed, is the fact that aspects of ‘class ideology’ are im bricated in ‘law’ as a discipline. Judges elsew here in the w orld have of­ ten been cru dely ‘in stru m en tal’ in trying to achieve certain en d s.74 But, in this day and age, the discourse o f ‘law’, founded

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as it is on an arch itectu re of universal principles from w h ich it draws social legitim acy, does n ot easily adm it an overly re d u c ­ tionist class analysis drawn from a crude consequentialist an aly­ sis of decision-m aking. In the Indian c o n te x t, su ch an analysis is an expression of political pique expressing d iscon ten t w ith the finality of judicial decisions from w hich there is no fu rther appeal.

IV Populist and political versions and critiques of the judiciary tend to obscure em pirical realities as well, w hile sim ultaneously pay­ ing insufficient atten tion to the overall purpose and function of a ju d iciary in any particu lar society.75 The best-laid plans of leg­ islators and C on stitution -m akers suffer transform ation, as leg­ islation and institutions get hijacked for purposes oth er than those for w hich the legislation or in stitution in question was designed.76 Despite the best efforts of the C on stitu tion -m ak ers to give India’s ju d iciary a low profile and to ensure that it would enhance, rath er than obscure, the govern m en t’s ‘developm ental im age’ as a m atter of blind faith, the ju d iciary has grow n in sta­ tus and im portance as an independent institution of governance. W e need to exam ine the nature of the ju d iciary ’s transform a­ tion from an institution of state to an in stitution of governance in its own right. F o r the m om ent, it m ight be safer not to confound our review of transform ative changes in the higher Indian ju diciary by con ­ sidering w hether it is now a ‘populist’ or ‘political’ in stitution .77 This would be treading on all m anner of contentious terrain and getting embroiled in all kinds of definitional controversies over contra-distinguishing ‘political’ or ‘populist’ institutions from oth­ ers which are not so. Although India’s post-Independence ju d i­ ciary has cast off many of its im perial clothes, it m ay be a useful starting point, albeit for heuristic purposes, to exam ine the broad premises on which the pre-Independence judiciary w orked. For the British, the judiciary of the Raj was preem inently an in stitu ­ tion of state.78 There were three exp ectation s from the im perial judiciary. To begin w ith, it was exp ected to con trib u te to the overall aims and objectives of the state and n ot to a ct in institution al polar­

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ity to the governm ent. To this exten t, the ju diciary possessed virtually no pow ers to co u n teract the actions of govern m en t or to render them liable for their actions in any extravagant sense. Second, and notw ithstanding the first exp ectation , the ju d iciary was also expected to profile its independence in such order that it m ight acquire social legitimacy. This m eant that while re ta in ­ ing its fidelity to the overall purposes of the im perial state in m atters of interpretative discretion and application of the law, it had to be seen to uphold the rule of law: fiat justitia ruat caelum. The seem ing con trad iction betw een the first and s e c ­ ond exp ectation s was resolved by the third, i.e ., that the ju d i­ ciary would act as both the conscience and problem solver for the governm ent, w hich reacted to w hat the ju diciary said or de­ cided witfy dignified respect— even if the governm ent overturned the decisions of various courts from time to time by legislation. This con stru ctio n of the ju d iciary as an in stitution of state paved the way for regarding it as different from oth er b u reau ­ cracies of the state that were directly subjected to operation al, day to day line m anagem ent con tro l. They were also under a positive m andate to give effect to all or any d irections from the political rulers. No doubt civil servants enjoyed a great deal of autonom y in their w ork, and were also exp ected to be indepen­ dent in their dealings w ith the local populace. In one sense, it could be argued that the ju d iciary was also a bu reau cracy of the state in light of the positivist conception of law by, and through, w hich the Raj was governed, and the fact that judges were ap­ pointed by the governm ent, had greater secu rity of tenure than civil servants, and were basically bound by in stru ction s issued by the governm ent in the form of legislation, rules and notifica­ tions. But, despite all these com parisons, if the ju d iciary w as, and is, a state bureaucracy, it is unlike any oth er b u reau cracy of state. If seen as a bureaucracy, it is unique and has no parallel. E ven if it is a bureaucracy, it is necessarily a hybrid one w hose agenda is not determ ined by the governm ent but by social, e c o ­ n o m ic, and political forces in society w hich invite the ju dges to determ ine and pron ou n ce on causes of action placed before them . The ju d iciary has to be visualized as m ore than a unique bureau cracy and seen as an institution of state. However, the ‘bu reau cracy thesis’79serves as a rem inder that m any ju d iciaries n ever quite acquired the statu s of an in stitu tio n ; or, having

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acquired it, w ere often in danger of losing it at the hands o f an intem perate execu tive or unsym pathetic, populace. The judges of the Suprem e C ou rt in 1 9 5 0 broadly accep ted the ‘in stitution of state’ m odel of the Raj as a w orking attitu d e tow ards the new independent sta te .80 Ju d ges of the Suprem e C ou rt protested, both in th eir ju d icial and extra-ju d icial co m ­ m ents, th at they had never intended to upset the statu s quo. There are suggestions (n o less in my own w riting as in the w rit­ ings of oth ers) that the judiciary, by and large, upheld th e w el­ fare and regulatory legislation of the governm ent. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that, am idst dissension am ong th em selv es, the ju d g es m ade co n s c io u s effo rts to flex th eir ju d icial m uscles in order to secure independent reco gn ition for the ju d iciary as a self-standing con stitu tion al in stitu tion in its own right. Apart from the land reform cases w hich led to a m ajor political conflict with the governm ent, the Supreme C ourt cast doubts on the ‘public order-police power’ of the governm ent, set aside a large number of local governm ent schemes w hich interfered w ith the right of local businessmen, scrutinized and struck down aspects of state control of religious endowm ents, and generally made it clear that it would use its newfound powers to carefully scrutinize legis­ lation and governm ent actions.81 Unlike the imperial judiciary, the Indian judiciary set itself up in a position of institutional polarity to the governm ent while making, at least, a tongue-in-cheek dec­ laration that the governm ent had little to fear from its m uch mis­ understood ju d iciary To the exten t that individual judges had different points of view, the judges of the early court were also divided in their approach, with some of them being m ore keen to declare their latent power to oppose the governm ent if the need so arose. If the events of the executive-judicial conflict of the early Nehru era admit to ambiguity, it is because the judges, when faced with a sharp attack from governm ent, sought refuge in ambigu­ ity.82 Meanwhile, they continued to establish their position of in­ stitutional polarity while making sure that they did not leave too m u c h ro o m fo r c r i tic is m . If th e fig u re o f C h ie f J u s t i c e Gajendragadkar looms large in the 19 6 0 s, it is precisely because he stabilized relations with the governm ent, backed off from con ­ troversy even when pushed by his colleagues to enter into it, and generally toned down the posture of the judiciary.83

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However, in the first long reign of.Mrs Gandhi even this ‘insti­ tutional polarity’ model was not acceptable to the governm ent, w hich wanted a judiciary which at best was an institution of state (in the British sense), and at w orst, receptive to the dem ands of the regim e in pow er.84 Pushed into defending their p itch, it is well known th at the C ourt m ade a series of decisions on n ew s­ prin t, bank nationalization, pricey privy purses, and the in vio­ lability of the basic stru ctu re of the C on stitution that led to a fresh crisis o f tension betw een the judges and the execu tive, retaliatory actio n by the latter, and an abandonm ent by the judges of the ‘w eak’ institutional polarity m odel floated as a com prom ise in the 1 9 6 0 s. But, if in N eh ru’s era the ju d iciary was placed on the defensive, in the early 1 9 7 0 s there w as a m arked support for it that was partly political and partly the expression of discontent with the overtly m ajoritarian, arbitrary and increasingly personalized rule of M rs Gandhi. She knew that she could not appoint pliant regim e judges w ho sim ply did w hat she or h er regim e in pow er asked them to do. If anything, the ‘institution al polarity’ m odel had com e to stay, and was fur­ ther entren ch ed by som e m easure of social and political su p ­ p o rt. All these gains were squandered during the E m ergen cy w hen the Suprem e C ou rt was accu sed of becom ing not ju st an ‘institution of state’ but a ‘regim e’ ju d iciary— a charge e x a ce r­ bated by a distinguished Supreme C ou rt ju dge dispatching an in judicious, vastly overw ritten paean in the form of a letter to M rs Gandhi on h er return to pow er in 1 9 8 0 .85 The im m ediate post-Em ergency phase of the ju diciary turned out to be a dram atic social double prom otion for the judiciary. N ot only did it recover from its all-tim e low as a regim e ju d i­ ciary and restore its position in con stitu tion al polarity to the governm ent, it slowly w orked its way into becom ing an in stitu ­ tion of governance. Such an institution is one that arrogates wide pow ers and responsibilities to itself to achieve the public good, has a d irect rap p o rt w ith the p eo p le, and a cts w ith a selfassured sense of autonom y to achieve the purposes for w hich it claim s to be ordained. There are -several com p lex reasons for this further evolution in the Indian judiciary. Even during the Em ergency, various high cou rts had in fact adopted a co n stitu ­ tional stance against the governm ent on issues of censorship and detention; and at least one Supreme C ou rt judge had dis­

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sented in the infam ous d etention case for w h ich the Suprem e C ou rt is criticized. M ore significantly, even as the su ccesso r Jan ata governm ent crum bled and the m iddle classes becam e aware that the judiciary was not ju st a backstop but a corrective institution of last resort, faith in the judiciary was consistent with the growing tendency on the part of privileged litigants to rush to the cou rts. This is self evident from the fact th at the filing of an ti-governm ent cases had increased steadily since 1 9 5 0 .86 The ‘law and developm ent’ m odel of progress had brought nothing but grief to everybody. The m iddle classes groaned against e x ­ cessive regulation and the p oor w ere constan tly aware that w el­ fare schem es and resources designated for them had been hi­ jack ed by politicians. But it is to the cred it of the astu ten ess of Justice Krishna Iyer— and Justices Bhagwati, Desai and Chinnappa R eddy w ith su p p o rt from o th e rs in c lu d in g C h ie f J u s tic e C han drach ud and, later on , Ju stice V enkataram iah— that in the sh o rt tim e available to him before his retirem en t in 1 9 8 0 he m asterm inded a judicial policy th at m ade two significant, en­ during m oves towards establishing the ju d iciary as an in stitu ­ tion of govern an ce.87 The first of these was to invite ordinary people— w hich in effect m eant social activists— to locate their causes before the Supreme C ou rt, and to devise a new procedure to deal with such causes. The public interest law m ovem ent was directed to establish a direct link w ith India’s discontented ele­ m ents and give them a voice in governance of a kind they had never had before. The sim ultaneous second step was to m ake social ju stice the essential goal of the C on stitu tion , m aking the ju d iciary the custodians of social ju stice with a positive obliga­ tion to ensure that it was achieved. Law yers, activists and press persons took on this invitation with a zest paralleled only by their m em ories of arrogant exclusion from governance by virtually all political regimes in power. All of a sudden, a new institution of governance was born, replete with its own support and w ith a high-profile capacity to order the direction of governance. But, as the public in terest law advanced tendentiously in to a position of autonom ous strength and in stitu tion al self-sufficiency, the Court itself began to have doubts.88 By training, judges were un accu stom ed to deviating too sharply from a com b in a­ tion of the ‘institution of state’ and ‘institutional polarity’ m odels described above. Apart from A m erica, the ju d iciaries of the rest

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of the C om m onw ealth had been forbearing, w ith the English ju d iciary in a state of perpetual cau tion th at judges not stray into areas that they felt were ‘judicially unm anageable’. This was another way of re stating the political question d octrin e which was a sym bolic, but otherw ise m eaningless, statem en t by the ju d iciary th at it w ould not en ter the political dom ain excep t for lim ited constitutional reasons. In fact, the ju d iciary of the 1 990s beat a hasty retreat; and, while accep tin g the broad tour de force of the new public in terest law, returned to the p ractices of the 1 9 6 0 s whereby judges m onitored official actio n for illegality, unreasonableness and procedu ral lapses, but saw them selves as self-restrained and cautious interlopers on issues of governance. In this in carnation , the ju d iciary w as, m ore o r less, an overseer of the rule of law, a problem -solver w hen issues becam e too hot politically, and a facilitator when the governm ent defaulted from fulfilling its duties. This retreat is self-evident in the new labour and lan d lo rd tenant jurisp ru dence of the Suprem e C ou rt, and in the Supreme C o u rt’s problem -solving d ecisions in the A ffirm ative Action, President's Rule, and Babri Masjid cases.89 However, this cosy re­ treat had to be cu t off by insistent circu m stan ces that the judges could not ignore. To begin w ith, it soon becam e clear that In­ dian governance was riddled w ith corru p tion and hum an rights atrocities on a disturbingly excessive scale. The secon d and parallel con cern was that corru p tion and atrocities w ere not ju st eating into the foundations of the rule of law, but eroding India’s in frastru cture of n atu ral, ecological, hum an and adm inistrative resources to levels from w hich there could conceivably be no rep rieve.90 G overnance had failed. The Suprem e C ou rt stepped in with a dram atic revival of public interest law in areas co n ­ cerned with the environm ent, corru p tion , and the failure to take appropriate action regarding hum an rights atrocities. W ith n o ­ table excep tion s, there w as less con cern about the social ju s­ tice issues that had anim ated the C o u rt’s prom in ence after the E m erg en cy . By th e m id - 1 9 9 0 s , an e s se n tia lly co n s e rv a tiv e Suprem e C ourt found itself at the cen tre of issues relating to governance. Instead of braving the storm the ju dges publicly w ent on the defensive. Prom pted by their con servatism , they declared their relu ctan ce to be directly involved in running the country. Faced w ith a situ ation in w hich system s of governance

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hovered on the edge of ru in , they rushed in to do their bit. The a rch ite c t of a so ft v ersio n o f th is p o licy w as C h ief J u s tic e Venkatachaliah, w ith ju d ges like Ju s tic e Kuldip Singh ven tur­ ing forth into p rom in ence w ith aggressive passion about the ju d icial role.91 C hief Ju stice Ahm adi did n o t resolve these di­ lem m as; but C hief Ju stice Verma, w h o4iad generally been ca u ­ tious about m oving to o ja s t on m atters of ju d icial review, took on the m antle of supervising crim in al investigations into c o r­ ru p tion and entering into m any areas w here natural and other resources w ere being depleted. But he som ew hat uncharitably chastised ‘activists’ rath er than th eir transgressors for spoiling the public interest law m ovem ent. He devised new procedures th at shut ou t m any voices th at had earlier graced and given strength to the cause of the ju d iciary as an in stitu tion of gover­ n an ce.92 Given the present m em bership of the Suprem e C ou rt, this plausibly co n trad icto ry stan ce of ju ristic conservatism and high-profile in tervention will con tin u e as India drifts tow ards the end of m illennium . Having storm ed into p rom in ence on the strength o f the pub­ lic interest law m ovem ent, the Suprem e C o u rt and high cou rts seem ed to overlook the fact th at the im p ortan t transitions made by the Indian ju d iciary (from being an in stitu tion of state, to being in institutional p olarity to the oth er organs of state, and then an institution of governance in its ow n righ t) was rendered possible because of the large m easure of supp ort it had received from law yers, the m edia and various in terests in society. The ju d iciary would be m aking a fatal m istake if it took the view that it is already larger than the social forces th at sustain its claim s to prom inence. It is not necessary for the ju d iciary to evolve a populist ju ris­ tic agenda in ord er to retain supp ort from the con stitu en cies that support it.93 But the new ju ristic tradition of the later 1 9 7 0 s and early 1 9 8 0 s evolved a new ju risp ru d en ce based on m ore rigorous con cep ts of substantive equality and distributive ju s­ tice. In the w ords of a distinguished ju d ge: ‘In the inevitable chem istry of social change judges [can] certain ly [n ot afford to be seen as], . . a n ti-cataly sts.’94 This vision seem s to have been abandoned by the ju d iciary of the 1 9 9 0 s . A lthough it has been profiled as ju d icially activist because of its orders in various cases con cern in g im p ortan t political personages, its ju ristic a c ­

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tivism is actually in relative d ecline.95 Adding to this decline is the m arkedly idiosyncratic behaviour of individual judges at the cost of cohesive institutional developm ent. Charges of co r­ ruption com pound these tendencies in a stru ctu re in w hich ju dges of the higher ju d iciary can n o t be called to book excep t by the com plex and unreliable process of im p each m en t.96 In sum , the ju diciary has m ade im portant transitions from being an institution of state, to being an institution in co n stitu ­ tional polarity to the governm ent, to an institution of gover­ nance in its own right. These transitions have been uneven, but significant. Judges have not always handled the media, the public or even the law yering com m unity, well. At tim es, they have played to the gallery; at others, directly to the tune of the party in power. Some have been the epitom e of courtesy, others have been rude and acerbic. Faced with declining standards, the abra­ sive shortsightedness of the ju d iciary in dealing w ith lawyers, litigants and the public may put som e of its unparalleled achieve­ m ents in jeopardy. V In the course of the m any controversies that have plagued the ju d iciary in India, one of the deeper and m ore reasoned charges again st it has been th at it is essen tially an elitist and a n ti­ d em ocratic institution. It places too many im portan t decisions in the hands of a few m en and w om en in black robes who have been arbitrarily appointed and given security of tenure, and who are accountable to no one for their decisions. Such a charge is not peculiar to the Indian judiciary, and is invariably m et with the counter-argum ent that judges are answerable to the ‘law’, and that day-to-day accountability to others for decision-m ak­ ing subverts the very nature of the ju dicial fu nction.97 The claim that judges are accou n tab le to the law ineluctably draws us into controversies about the m eaning of law. In both simple and sophisticated versions of the positivistic conception, ‘law’ is derived by institutional processes external to the judges who accept socially and politically evolved criteria to distin­ guish between ‘social’ and ‘legal’ norm s. Leaving aside the fact that judges are also party to determ ining w hat these criteria should be— a fact highlighted in the various ‘revolution’ cases

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from R h o d esia, P ak istan and else w h e re 98— th ere a re so m e grounds for judges to m ake the claim th at the ‘law’ they co n ­ sider and are obliged to follow is not created by th em , but by social forces extern al to them . A sim ilar argum ent is m ade in resp ect of ‘value-based’ statem ents that portray ‘law ’ as a nor­ m ative expression of ju stice. This, it is claim ed, is ‘Law ’s E m ­ pire’99— fashioned from principles that are external to th e judges w ho, in turn , give w eight and dim ension to these principles and interpret and apply them to particu lar cases. In earlier w riting, I have tried to exp licate the con sequ ences that flow from these argum ents by m aking a distinction betw een ‘prim ary’ and ‘secondary’ accountability.100 The need for prim ary accountability inheres in a person or in stitution w hen th e deci­ sion o r decisions in resp ect of w hich accountability is sought can be directly or prim arily attributed to that person o r in stitu ­ tion. T hus, it can be said that legislatures (w h eth er elected or otherw ise) are prim arily responsible for the laws created by them . Using this positivistic con cep tion of ‘law’, it can be ar­ gued w ith som e con viction that in a d em ocratic society legisla­ tures are prim arily accountable to the people for the creatio n of any law. To this exten t, judges can— and, in the b lack -letter law tradition or even otherw ise, do— claim to be only secondarily accountable because they claim to do no m ore than ‘in terp ret’ and ‘apply’ the law. To the exten t possible, judges im m unize them selves from m oral stress by claim ing to accep t the validity of even im m oral and unjust laws. In su ch a state of affairs, in the w ords of one of the m ost distinguished legal philosophers of this century, H .L.A. H art: ‘The society in w hich this was so m ight be deplorably sheep like; the sheep m ight end in the slaughter-house; but there [would b e ]. . . little reason for think­ ing that it could not exist o r for denying it the title o f a legal system .’101 U nfortunately, too broad a ju dicial claim of seco n d ary a c­ countability w ears thin because judges are responsible for de­ term ining w hat the criteria for identifying ‘law’ should be. More significantly, even though ‘m odern law’ places judges in a posi­ tion of claim ing secondary accountability by virtue of being mere interpreters w ithin in terstitial param eters, legal professionals know that in any m ature system it is the statu tory ‘law ’ that yields to the body of ju dicial or ju ristic doctrin e by w h ich the

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law is sought to be interpreted, rath er than the other way round. Even as interpreters of it, ju dges create law. Pretending n ot to do so is a useful political m yth and legal fiction by w hich the balance of pow er betw een the execu tive and ju d iciary is m ain­ tained and ju stified .102 T hu s, although greatly con strain ed in m odern times (and m uch m ore so in constitutional system s with bills of rig h ts), judges are prim arily accou n tab le for th eir deci­ sion-m aking and can n o t be perm itted to hide behind claim s of secondary accountability. This is especially true of ju d icial de­ cision-m aking in p ost-Indep enden ce India. Ju d ges have been m alleable in th eir app roach , attrib uting prim ary responsibility s to the C onstituent Assem bly or the legislature, as the case m ay be, but invariably rew orking the m eaning of the C on stitu tion and the laws to suit their ju d icial interpretation. If judges are prim arily acco u n tab le, how is this acco u n tab il­ ity to be discharged? Here, too, I rely on a d istin ction between ‘structural’ and ‘value’ accountability. D em ocracy reposes its faith in stru ctural accou n tab ility by arguing that the burden of a c ­ countability is fully discharged when d em ocratic stru ctu res en­ sure that decision-m aking is arrived at by a process w h ich di­ rectly or system atically involves the explicit or tacit approval of, if not particip ation by, the people. The greater the p articip a­ tion pnd the m ore incisive the ability of a stru ctu re to cou n ter com p lex con u rb ation s of pow er in a society, the greater the dem ocratic accountability of the system . Since dem ocratic stru c­ tures (as well as utilitarian appeals to the greatest good of the greatest nu m b er) are essentially m ajoritarian in natu re, it is felt th at decisions should n ot only be dem ocratically accountable in structural term s, but also ‘value’ accountable, so that the ends of ju stice are fairly m et. These distinctions betw een ‘stru ctu ra l’ and ‘value’ a cco u n t­ ability can perhaps be applied in critiquing and evaluating the judiciary. To the exten t to w hich judges claim secon d ary a c ­ countability for law created by dem ocratic legislatures, they can hide behind the apron of electoral dem ocracy. But, as explained earlier, such a claim is necessarily lim ited in scope. The essen­ tial claim of the judges is th at they are repositories of ju stice and social values. If they fail in discharging this responsibility, they becom e less an in stitution of governance and m ore an in­ stitu tion of state. But judges do not exactly forgo the claim of

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stru ctu ral accountability sim ply because they are not, o r m ay n ot be, elected. Even in stru ctu ral term s, w hat ju dges can claim is that their procedures are designed so that anyone can ap­ proach them. All proceedings are usually in open co u rt, and ju stification has to be provided if cou rts retire in cam era. Ju d i­ cial decision-m aking follows due process principles, so th at decision-m aking is done w ithout bias and after giving a hearing to those con cern ed . In som e co u rts, non-p arties are allow ed to intervene. And in public in terest cases, access to raise issues is given to a large num ber of persons w ho, individually and c o l­ lectively, have the standing to m obilize the ju risd iction of the co u rts. Finally, decisions are n ot m ade arbitrarily but on the basis of detailed reasoning in ju stification for the decision. On this basis, it could be argued that w ithin the broad param eters of prim ary and seco n d ary acco u n tab ility and stru ctu ra l and value accountability, the ju d iciary is a sufficiently accountable in stitution of go v ern an ce.103 This is no less true of the Indian judiciary. Am idst a great deal of political patronage, the m ost cru cial appointm ents to the higher ju d iciary have not been arbitrarily m ade by politi­ cians, even if they have often played a significant role. O nce appointed, those selected have ensured that judicial processes are fair, with public interest litigation opening the doors for a m uch larger num ber of persons to make the ju diciary a forum through which accountability can be obtained from those in power. Many of these processes can be improved. Often arbitrary in approach and with m ore than occasional lapses, decisions of the higher ju d ic ia ry in India are based on reaso n ed ju d ic ia l d ecisio n -m ak in g . If we have given the judiciary the pow er to decide, we m ust tolerate the fact that this includes the possibility that judges may err— as long as they do not do so for perverse reasons. It is true that there is grow ing irresponsibility in the judiciary and allegations of corruption and intem perate behaviour by ju d ges are on the in cre a se . W h ile state high c o u rts are em pow ered to exam ine com plaints against the lower judiciary, the only way— short of im peachm ent— of dealing with errant judges is the pow er of the President (in consultation with the Supreme C ou rt) to transfer a high co u rt judge from one state to another; or pressure by the Bar and Bench to get them to resign. Supreme C ou rt judges cannot be transferred; like high cou rt

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judges they can only be removed by im peachm ent. India badly needs to evolve new informal and formal m echanism s to ensure that judicial indiscipline is checked, and that there is effective exam ination and redress of com plaints against the judiciary. The only im peachm ent that took place in respect of a Supreme Court judge resulted in the judicial com m ittee, w hich exam ined the charges, finding the judge guilty; parliam ent acquitted him be­ cause the Congress members in parliam ent abstained from vot­ ing for or against the m otion of im peachm ent.104 Short of im ­ peachm ent, high court judges have been transferred to other courts, and som e have been forced to resign.105 The entire ju d i­ cial system is overloaded and there are fantastic delays. No doubt, the system needs to be overhauled; but it cannot entirely be faulted on the grounds that the judiciary as an institution is not account­ able for its decision-m aking.

VI ✓

This effort to essay certain intuitions about the ju d iciary does n ot adm it to easy summary. Over the cen tu ries, India’s judicial system has changed along with the social and political system s. T he pre-British native legal system s were ju rist as opposed to judge-based, with judges playing a m inor, if any, dispositive role to deal w ith disputes. The British system introduced in India brought in a legal system in w hich the ju d ge figured strongly as the custodian of the ‘law’. But, the ‘law’ so introduced by the British w as the positive law of the state, w hich displaced the local legal system s w ith far greater vehem ence than the com ­ m on law system was displaced in England. N ehru’s India— for th at is the m ost apposite description of the first few years fol­ lowing independence— sought to use this positivist conception o f law to advantage by placing a great prem ium on using law as an instrum ent for planned developm ent. Judges w ere not e x ­ pected to stand in the way of this ‘great’ social and political exp erim en t. Analysis of the ju diciary gets locked into political exch an g e and over-reductionist conclu sions about the con se­ q u ences of ju dicial decision-m aking, leading to allegations of class bias. In fact, a m ore exactin g analysis of the ju d iciary is long overdue. F o r its part, the judiciary has made im portant tran sition s from being a m ere institution o f state to an in stitu­

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tion of governance in its own right. These transitions have been com p lex and in tricate. As a hybrid in stitu tion of sta te , the agenda of the ju d iciary is not determ ined by the governm ent but by law yers, litigants and other interested parties w ho ap­ proach the co u rt; and, perforce, the judges. As Indian gover­ nance has dissolved into corru p tion and there is an increasing spiral of atrocities com m itted by the state and state officials, the ju d iciary has exercised greater power of review over them , adding support to its claim to be an institution of governance. Judged by sim ple norm s of electoral dem ocracy, the ju diciary has been portrayed as élitist and anti-d em ocratic. But if its w ork is evaluated against broader notions of accountability, both the ju diciary in general and the Indian ju d iciary in p articu lar can be seen as responsible institutions that are accountable for their work. As India m eets the challenge of a billion m utinies that anim ate and plague its life every day, the ju d iciary is not just the lesser evil but a cru cial ingredient of the dem ocratic pro­ cess by w hich India is governed.

Notes 1 See Vineet N arain v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 8 ), I SCC 226 at pr. 5 1 -2 , when the Supreme Court claimed the power to ‘fill the void in the absence of suitable legislation’ and to ‘provide a solution till such time as the legislature acts to perform its role by enacting proper legisla­ tion to cover the field’. For general accounts of the Supreme Court see Rajeev Dhavan, The Suprem e Court o f India: A S ocio-leg al C ritique o f Its Ju ristic Techniques (Bom bay: N.M. Tripathi), 1977; R. Dhavan, The Suprem e Court o f India and Parliam entary Sovereignty: A C ritiqu e o f Its A pproach to the Recent Constitutional Crisis (New Delhi: Sterling Pub­ lishers), 1976; R. Dhavan, Ju stice on Trial: The Suprem e Court Today (Allahabad: A.H. W heeler), 1980; R. Dhavan, The Suprem e Court un­ der Strain: The C hallen ge o f Arrears (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1979. On the controversial post-Em ergency transition, see Upendra Baxi, The Indian Suprem e Court and P olitics (Lucknow: Eastern Book Company), 1980; and U. Baxi, C ourage, C raft and Contention: The Indian Supreme Court in the Eighties (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1984. For an early ac­ count of the public interest law movement see U. Baxi, ‘Taking Suffer­ ing Seriously— Social Action Litigation in the Supreme Court of In­ dia’, in R. Dhavan et al. (eds) Ju dges and the Ju d ic ia l Pow er: E ssays in Honour of J u s tic e V.R. K rish n a Iy er (London: Sweet and M axw ell;

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Bombay: N.M. T ripathi), 1985, pp. 2 8 9 -3 1 5 . For the 1980s, see R. Dhavan, ‘Law as Struggle: Public Interest Law in India’, Jo u rn a l o f the Indian Law Institute, 3 6 (1 9 9 4 ), pp. 3 0 2 -3 8 . An estim ate of the Su­ preme Court for the 1990s is yet to be written. 2 A phrase used by T.T. Krishnam achari in the C onstituent Assembly. 3Jaw aharlal Nehru, Speech in Parliam ent: (1 9 5 1 ) X II-X II1 P ari. Deb. Col 8 8 3 2 (1 6 May 1951). ‘Somehow we have found that this magnifi­ cent C onstitution that we have framed was later kidnapped and pur­ loined by lawyers’. 4 The best account o f the stance of Mrs Gandhi’s governm ent is articu­ lated through Mohan Kumaramangalam, Ju d ic ia l A ppointm ents (New Delhi: Oxford & 1BH Publishing C o.), 1973; V.A. Seyid Mohammed, Our Constitution f o r H aves o r H ave Nots? (D elhi: Lipi Prakashan), 1975; cf. Nani Palkhivala, Our C on stitu tion D efa ced an d D efile d (D elh i: M acm illan India), 1974. 5 H.M. Seervai, The Emergency, Future Safeguards and the H abeas Corpus C ase: A Criticism (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1978, p. vii. 6 This challenge was voiced by academ ics and lawyers. See D.C. Jain , ‘The Phantom o f P ublic In te re st’ ( 1 9 8 6 ) , 3 SC C ( jn l) 3 0 - 7 ; S.K. Agarwala, Public Interest L itigation in India (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1985; T.R. Andhyarjuna, Ju d ic ia l A ctivism and C onstitutional D em oc­ racy in India (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1992; and, more generally, pro­ voking com ments and proposals for legislation in Parliam ent. Judges them selves have been somewhat divided on the nature and scope of public interest litigation (see note 8 8 ). 7 For a review of the various am endm ents, see S.P. Sathe, C onstitutional A m endm ents 1 9 5 0 -1 9 8 8 : Law and P olitics (Bombay, N.M. T ripathi), 1 9 8 9 ); on the infam ous Forty-second Amendment see R. Dhavan, The A m endm ent: C onspiracy o r Revolution? (Allahabad: A.H. W heeler), 1978. 8 See, for example, Chief Justice Patanjali Shastri’s speech to the Madras Bar, reported in AiR 1955, Journ al 25. 9 T h is is best exem plified by Ju stice P.B. Gajendragadkar (see note 8 3 ), 10 T his is shown by the progressive discom fort of the Supreme Court in accepting constitutional am endm ents that both reversed Court deci­ sions and challenged constitutional lim itations of ju d icial power. (See S ajjan Singh v. S tate o f R ajasthan, AIR 1966 SC 8 4 5 ; G o la k N ath v. State o f Punjab, AIR 1967 SC 1643; K esavan an da v. S tate o f K erala, AIR 1973 SC 1 4 6 1 .) Out o f these decisions evolved the ‘basic structure’ doctrine w hich lim ited the power to amend the C onstitution to m atters other than those that were part of its basic structure. 11 R.C. C oop er v. Union o f India, AIR 1970 SC 564. 12 Madhav R ao Scindia v. Union o f India, AIR 1971 SC 530. IJ Bennet C olem an v. Union o f India, AIR 1973 SC 106; see also Express

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N ew spapers Ltd., AIR 1958 SC 578; S a k a i N ew spapers v. Union o f India, AIR 1962 SC 3 0 5 ; Indian Express N ew spapers (B om bay) P. Ltd. v. Union o f India, (1 9 8 5 ) 1 SCC 641 and, more recently, Printers (M ysore) Ltd. v. Ass.CTO, (1 9 9 4 ) 2 SCC 4 34. Further, see R. Dhavan, Only the G ood N ews: On the Law o f the Press in India (D elhi: M anohar Publications), 1987. 14 K esavananda v. S tate o f K era la , op. cit. 15 C hief Ju stice Chandrachud apologized after his retirem ent for his de­ cision in the Em ergency detention case (ADM Ja b a lp u r v. 5.B. Shukla, AIR 1976 SC 120 7 ) in May 1978. 16 For example, Justice PN. Bhagwati, ‘J udicial Activism and Public Interest Litigation’, Colum bia Jou rn al o f Transnational Law (23) 1985, p. 561. 17 For example, C hief Ju stice Ahmadi’s Zakir Hussain Memorial Lecture (1 9 9 6 ) 2 SCC (Jn l) 1 -1 5 'Law Day Lecture’ (1 9 9 7 ) 2 SCC (jn l) 3 - 6 and his Pune Speech on the ju d icial process reproduced at (1 9 9 6 ) 4 SCC (Jn l) 1 -1 0 . 18 For accounts of the Dharm ashastra, see R. Lingat, T he C lassical Law o f India (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1973; and PV. Kane’s monumental H istory o f the D harm ashastra (Poona: Bhandarkar O rien­ tal Research In stitu te), 1968 edn. 19‘P r o o f’ and ‘o rd e a ls ’ in te r m ix to c o n s titu te e v id e n ce . N arada’s D h arm ash astra d eals w ith th ese a sp e c ts. See J . J o lly N a r a d iy a D h a r m a s h a s tr a : J u d ic ia l S y stem in A n cien t In d ia (D e lh i: T aksh ila Handbounds), 1981 edn, as also Richard Lariviere’s in tro d u ctio n ’ to, and translation of, The D ivyatattva o f R aghunandan B h attacary a: Or­ d ea ls in C la ssica l Hindu Law , (D elhi: M anohar), 1981. More generally, see P.V. Kane, H istory o f the D h arm ash astra (1 9 6 8 edn), vol. II, pp. 2 4 2 -3 6 8 . 20 The operational and in stitu tion al location o f the D harm ashastra is based on conjectu re; as, indeed, the alleged schools of thought which British courts profiled for attention; see further, Ludo Rocher, ‘Schools in Hindu Law’, in J . Ensink and P Gaeffke (eds.), India M ajor: C on­ gratulatory Volume P resented to J . G onda (Leiden: E.J. B rill), 1972. 21 See J.D .M . D errett : ‘The C riteria for D istinguishing betw een Legal and Religious Com mands’, AIR 1953 Jou rn al 61. 22 A remark made by H. Maine that incurred the wrath of Indian ju rists. See especially S.S. Dhavan, ‘Indian Jurisprudence and Theory of State in India’ (m im eo) (M ussoorie: National Academy), 1962; see also G.W. Keeton; ‘How A ncient is Indian Law’, Question 78, (1 9 7 1 ); c f J.D .M . Derrett, ‘Sir Henry Maine in India’, Ju d ic ia l Review (1 9 5 9 ), pp. 4 0 -5 5 . 23 The formula used by the British was the Roman formula o f ‘ju stice , equity and good con scien ce’ (JEG C ) whereby judges had to obey stat­ ute, but had a discretion to apply such other custom ary or other laws

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consisten t with JE G C . On the Roman origins of this formula and its Indian application, see J.D .M . D errett, ‘Ju stice, Equity and Good Con­ science in India’ (1 9 6 2 ) 64 Bom. LJ (Jnl.) 129, 145 and J.D .M . Derrett, ‘J u stice , Equity and Good C onscience’, in J.N .D . Anderson (ed .), C hang­ ing L aw in D eveloping C ountries (London: Allen and U nw in), 1963, pp. 1 1 4 -5 3 . 24 T h is is not to get into academic controversies between Bentham and Blackstone, on which see J.U . Lewis ‘Blackstone’s D efinition of Law’, Irish Ju rist 3 3 7 (1 9 6 8 ); H.L.A. Hart, ‘Blackstone’s Use of the Law of Nature’, Butterw orths South A frican Law Reporter 169 ( 1 9 5 5 -7 ) ; K.L. V ick, ‘Rebuttal of Bentham and Austin on Blackstone’, (1 9 6 6 -7 ) 13 L o y o la LR 71; J.M . Finnis, ‘Blackstone’s Theoretical Intentions’, (1 9 6 7 ) 12 N at. L.F. 163. Had Bentham not trium phed over the Blackstonian view, Indian law would have progressed differently. See M acaulay’s speech to the House of Com m ons, 10 Ju ly 1833 ( H ansard 3rd edn) X IX , pp. 5 3 1 -3 . 25 Bentham ite influence on law reform in India is self-evident. See Eric Stokes, The English U tilitarians and In dia (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1959. 26 The Anglo-Indian codification of English law is regarded as a masterly restatem ent. See generally W hitely Stokes, T he Anglo Indian C odes: Vol. I: Substantive Law; Vol. II: P rocedural Law (Oxford: C larendon), 1887; C. Ilbert: Indian C odification (1 8 8 9 ) 5 LQR 3 4 7 -6 9 . 27 The Anglo-Indian jud iciary of the British Raj restated the dharmsastric law. See R. Dhavan, ‘Dharmashastra and Modern Indian Society: A Pre­ lim inary Exploration’ J o u r n a l o f the Indian Law Institute 34 ( 1 9 9 2 ):5 15— 40. The same is true of Islam ic and other laws. 28 See M. Galanter, Law and Society in M odem India (D elhi, New York: Oxford University Press), 1989, Chapters II and III, reproducing his earlier essays, ‘The Displacem ent of Traditional Law in Modern India’ and ‘The Aborted Restoration of Indigenous Law in India’. 29 T he ‘basic structure’ doctrine is to be found in K esavan an da (see note 10). T h is is not to advance the p ro p o sitio n th at d h arm ashastric n o tion s overrode the ‘given’ w estern law, but only to emphasize the in tu ition w hich may have animated the quest for a wider and more fundam ental value-based approach to law that is not alien to western legal traditions. See R. Dhavan, ‘J u ristic Enthrology of Kesavananda’s Case’, Jo u rn a l o f the Indian Law Institute 19 (1 9 7 7 ), pp. 48 9 and R. Dhavan, ‘The Basic Structure D octrine: A Footnote Com m ent’, in R. Dhavan et al. (eds), The Indian C onstitution: Trends and Issues (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1978, pp. 1 6 0 -7 8 . 30 English abuses of the processes of law are well known. Apart from C live’s statem ent to the House of Com m ons that he was ‘astonished’ at

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his ‘m oderation’ in pillaging the riches of the Empire, the im peach­ m ent of W arren Hasting was, inter alia, over m anipulations in legal p roceed in gs. See A nin dita M ukhopadhyay, ‘Rule of Law’ in Shiv Vishwanathan and Harsh Sethi (eds), Foul Play : C hronicles o f C orrup­ tion (New Delhi: Banyan Books) 1 9 9 8 , pp. 2 9 1 -3 1 6 . The m ost cel­ ebrated of these cases is the trial of Raja Nand Kumar. See J.F. Stephen, The Story o f N uncoonar and the Im peachm ent o f Sir E lijah Im pey (Lon­ don), 1885; cf. J.D .M . D errett, ‘Nand Kumar’s Forgery1, English His­ torical Review, (1 9 8 0 ), pp. 2 2 3 -3 8 , and M.R Jain , Outlines o f Indian Legal H istory (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1972, pp. 1 0 5 -6 5 . 31 C.E. Grey, Appendix to the Report on th e A ffairs o f the East Indies (Lon­ don: Parliamentary Papers), 1862. p. 75. 12 Despatch No. 44, prs. 5 5 -6 . quoted in M.P. Ja in (see note 3 0 ), p. 406. 33 On British uses of the ‘Ju stice, Equity and Good C onscience’ formula, see noté 23. 34 For a review of the nature of state immunity, see K asturi L ai v. S tate o f U.P., AIR 1965 SC 1039 and Vidyaw ati v. State o f R ajasthan, AIR 1962 SC 9 3 3 , and the long line of cases cited there tracing the origins of these decisions to nineteenth-century precedents. 35 The Privy Council restricted the ju d icial review powers of the Presi­ dency high Courts. See further, R. Dhavan, ‘On the Future o f Western Law in India: Reflection on the Post-Em ergency Supreme C ourt’, Jou r­ nal o f the B ar Council o f India 8 (1 9 8 1 ), pp. 6 1 -8 6 , on the absence of the tradition of ju d icial review. 36 The Rankin Committee Report on C ivil Ju stice (Governm ent of India), 1925. The crisis of the work load caused by arrears in pending cases remains a continuing problem in courts; it has been exam ined by vari­ ous com m issions such as the (S.R. Das) Com mittee on Arrears in High Courts (1 9 4 8 ); (J.C . Shah) Report o f th e High Court A rrears C om m ittee (1 9 7 2 ). The Law Com m ission has also w ritten many reports on ju d i­ cial ad m in istratio n , in clu d in g Report No. 14: R eform s on J u d ic ia l A dm in istration ( 1 9 5 8 ); Report No. 4 4 : A p p ella te Ju r is d ic tio n o f the Supreme Court in Civil Matters (1971); Report No. 45: Civil Appeals to the Suprem e Court on a C ertificate o f Fitness (1 9 7 1 ); Report No. 58: Struc­ ture and Jurisdiction o f the H igher Ju d iciary (1 9 7 4 ); Report No. 77: Delay and A rrears in Trial Courts (1 9 7 8 ); Report No. 79: D elay and A rrears in A ppellate Courts (1 9 7 9 ); Report No. 9 5 : C onstitutional D ivision within the Suprem e Court: A P roposal (1 9 8 4 ); Report No. 99: O ral and Written Arguments in the H igher Courts (1 9 8 4 ); Report No. 100: L itigation By and Against the Governm ent: Som e R ecom m endations f o r Reform s (1 9 8 4 ); Report No. 114: Gram N ay ay alay a (1 9 8 6 ); Report No. 115: Tax Courts ( 1 9 8 6 ); Report No. 116: F o rm a tio n o f an All In dia J u d ic ia l S erv ice (1 9 8 6 ); Report No. 117: Training o f Ju d ic ia l O fficers ( 1 9 8 6 ); Report

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No. 118: M ethod o j Appointm ent to Subordinate C ourts/Subordinate Ju d i­ ciary (1 9 8 6 ); Report No. 119: A ccess to Exclusive Forum f o r Victims o j M otor A ccidents under M otor Vehicles Act, 1939 (1 9 8 6 ); Report No. 120: M anpow er Planning in Ju d icia ry : A Blueprint (1 9 8 6 ); Report No. 121: A New Forum f o r Ju d ic ia l Appointm ents (1 9 8 7 ); Report No. 122: Forum f o r N ational U niform ity in L abou r A djudication (1 9 8 7 ); Report No. 123: D ecentralisation o f A dm inistration o f Ju stice: Disputes Involving Centres o f H igher Education (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 124: The High Court A rrears— A Fresh L o o k (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 125: The Suprem e Court— A Fresh L o o k (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 126: Governm ent and Public Sector Litigation— Policy a n d S t r a t e g ie s ( 1 9 8 8 ) ; R ep o rt No. 1 2 7 : R es o u r c e A llo c a tio n f o r Infrastructural Services in Ju d ic ia l A dm inistration (A Continuum o f the Report on M anpow er Planning in Ju d iciary : A Blueprint) (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 129: U rban L itig ation — M ediation as Alternative to A dju dication (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 130: Benam i Transactions— A Continuum (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 131: R ole o f the Legal Profession in A dm inistration o f Ju stice (1 9 8 8 ); Report No. 136: C on flict in High Court D ecision on C en tral Law s— How to F o reclo se and How to'R esolve (1 9 9 1 ); Report No. 137: N eed f o r C reating O ffice o f Ombudsman and f o r Evolving L egislative and A dm inistrative M easures, inter a lia to R elieve H ardships C aused by Inor­ din ate D elays in Settling Provident Fund C laim s o f B en eficiaries (1 9 9 0 ); Report No. 144: C onflicting Ju d icia l D ecisions Pertaining to the C ode o f Civil Procedure (1 9 0 8 ); Report No. 151: Adm iralty Ju risdiction . 17 Gandhi’s statem ent is reported in The Hindustan Times, 7 August 1926. I am grateful to George Gadbois Jr. for this reference; see his ‘Evolu­ tion of the Federal Court in India’ in Jou rn al o f the Indian Law Institute 5 (1 9 6 3 ), pp. 1 9 -2 6 . 18 See ‘C onstitution of India Bill 1895’, in B. Shiva Rao (ed .), The F ra m ­ ing o f In d ia’s Constitution: Study (Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Ad­ m inistration), vol. I ( 1 9 6 6 - 8 ) , pp. 5 -1 4 . Note also the ‘Com monwealth of India Bill, 1 9 2 5 ’, in B. Shiva Rao (su pra) I, pp. 4 3 -5 0 . 19 See The N ehru Report (1 9 2 8 ) in B. Shiva Rao, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 5 8 75. 40 On the federal court, see George Gadbois, ‘Evolution of the Federal C ourt of India’ , op. c it., ‘The Federal C ourt of India: 1 9 3 7 - 1 9 5 0 ’ Jo u rn a l o f the Indian Law Institute, 6 (1 9 6 4 ), M.V. Pylee, T he F ed eral Court o f India (Bom bay: M anaktalas), 1966. 41 ‘Report of the Ad Hoc Com mittee on the Supreme Court’, in B. Shiva Rao, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 5 8 7 - 9 1 , w ritten by S. Varadachariar, A.K. Ayyar, B.L. M ittal, K.M. M unshi, B.N. Ramu. 42 For the discussion on the Bill of Rights, see B. Shiva Rao, Study Volume (see note 38), pp. 1 7 0 -3 1 8 ; Granville Austin: The Indian Constitution: C ornerston e o f a N ation (Oxford: Clarendon), 1966, pp. 5 0 -1 1 5 . For a

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full account of how the Assembly dealt with the Bill of Rights, see R. Dhavan: Tidy Intuitions, Untidy D iscourse: C onversations and E x ch an g es on Human Rights D iscourse in the Constituent A ssem bly (1 9 8 3 ) PILSA RC W orking Paper No. 20— forthcom ing as a separate publication. 43 ‘Memorandum Representing the View of the Federal Court and of the C hief Ju stices of all the Provincial High Courts of the U nion of India’, (March, 1948) in B. Shiva Rao, op. cit., vol. IV, pp. 1 9 3 -2 0 4 at 194. 44 See B.N. Rau, ‘Notes on Fundamental Rights— 2 Sept. 1946’, in B. Shiva Rao op. cit., pp. 2 1 -3 8 . See generally B.N. Rau’s In d ia’s Constitution in the M aking (Calcutta: Orient Longm an), 1960. 45 See Arthur Selwyn Miller, The Suprem e Court and A m erican C apitalism (New York: Free Press), 1968. It cannot be overlooked that the 16th Amendment to the American C onstitution became necessary because the Supreme Court declared income tax unconstitutional, in P o llo ck v. Farm ers Loan & Trust Co. (1 8 9 5 ) 157 U.S. 129; 158 U.S. 601. 46 For exam ple, A.K. Ayyar’s letter to B.N. Rau, 4 April 1947 (B. Shiva Rao, op. cit., pp. 1 4 3 -6 ), and the concern of the advisory com m ittee (ibid ., 2 6 4 - 7 ). 47 Although a due process clause was introduced in an earlier Draft (see B. Shiva Rao, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 2 2 -3 , 122, 1 4 3 -4 , 2 4 0 -4 , 2 8 4 - 6 ; vol. Ill Constituent A ssem bly D ebates (CAD) 4 6 8 ), it was abandoned after a short debate (see VII CAD, pp. 8 4 2 -5 7 , 6 Decem ber 194 8 ); pp. 9 9 9 1001 (1 3 Decem ber 1 9 4 8 )). 48 F or the variou s d iscu ssio n s in the C o n stitu en t Assembly, see R. Dhavan’s Ju stice on Trial: The Suprem e Court Today, op. cit. pp. 2 7 -5 0 . The present position is summed up in the Judges’ cases (see Suprem e Court A dvocates-on-R ecord A ssociation v. Union o f India (1 9 9 3 ) 4 SCC 441 modifying the earlier pro-executive stance in S.P Gupta v. Union o f India (1 9 8 1 ) Supp. SCC 87 so that after 1993 the judges— in fact, the C hief Ju stice of India— have the more decisive say. This view has now been reversed, to give a decisive say to a collegium of the five senior most judges of the court. (See special Reference No. 1 of 1998 5 S cale 629. 49 Jaw aharlal Nehru, Speech in Constituent Assembly (1 9 4 8 ) V III CAD 247. 50 See R. Dhavan, Contempt o f Court and the Press (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1980, pp. 2 8 -3 6 . 51 E.P. Thom pson, Whigs and Hunters: T he Origin o f the B la ck Act (New York: Pantheon). Cf. R. John son, ‘Thom pson, Genovese and Socialist Human History’, H istory W orkshop, 6 (1 9 7 8 ) p. 79; see also T. Campbell, The Left and Rights: A C onceptual A nalysis o f the Idea o f S ocialist Rights (London, Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1983. 52 S ee generally M. Zander, A Bill o f Rights (London: Sw eet and Max­

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w ell), 1985 3rd edn.; S.H. Bailey et al., Civil Liberties: C ases and M ate­ rials (London: Lexis Law Publishing), 1995, pp. 1 -2 6 and the exten ­ sive m aterials cited there. 53 The term ‘planning com m ission’ model of law and development is taken from R. Dhavan (n o te 6 0 ) ; and R. Dhavan ‘In tro d u ctio n ’ to Marc G alanter’s Law and S ociety in M odem India (D elhi, New York: Oxford University Press), 1989, pp. x ii-x x x ii. 54 For the earlier strict interpretation, see R. Dhavan, The Suprem e Court o f India, op. cit., 1977, PP- 6 9 -9 5 . 55 See J.K . Mittal, ‘Nehru and the Objectives Resolution’, in R. Dhavan (ed.), Nehru and the Constitution (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1992, pp. 2 2 -4 4 . 56 The Karachi Resolution (1 9 3 1 ) finally found voice in the O bjectives Resolution (which Nehru piloted w ith some difficulty in the C onstitu­ ent Assembly) which eventually becam e the Preamble to the C onsti­ tu tion . On this developm ent, see R. Dhavan, ‘In tro d u ctio n ’, in R. Dhavan (ed .), Nehru and the Constitution, op. cit., pp. xix-xxv. 57 Although the jurisprudence of the courts has given a m uch more ac­ com modating status to the Directive Principles after K esav an an d a’s case (see note 10), the im portance of socio-econom ic rights has not been firmly established (see further, R. Dhavan, ‘Ambedkar’s Prophecy: Pov­ erty of Human Rights in India’, Jo u rn a l o f the Indian Law Institu te), 3 6 (1 9 9 4 ), pp. 8 - 3 6 even though the public interest law m ovem ent has absorbed their significance in its agenda (see R. Dhavan: ‘Law as Struggle: Public Interest Law in India’, op. cit.) 58 For a review of literature, see R. Dhavan: ‘Law as Concern: Reflecting on Law and Developm ent’, in Yash Vyas, et al. (eds), Law and D evelop­ m ent in the Third W orld (N airobi: University of N airobi), 1994, pp. 2 5 - 5 0 ; E.M. Burg, ‘Law and Development: A Review of the Literature and a Critique of ‘Scholars in Self-estrangem ent’,’ (1 9 7 7 ) 25 A J.C .L . 4 9 2 ; F. Snyder, ‘Law and D evelopm ent in the Light of Dependency Theory’ (1 9 8 0 ) 14 Law and Society Review 723. In the Indian context, see also R. Dhavan, ‘Borrowed Ideas: On the Impact of American Schol­ arship on Indian Law’, (1 9 8 5 ) 33 A J.C .L . 505. 59 The famous ‘self-estrangem ent amongst American scholars’ controversy can be found in D. Trubek and M. Galanter, ‘Scholars in Self-estrange­ ment: Some Reflection on the Crisis in Law and Development Studies in the United States’, (1 9 7 4 ) Wis. L.R. 1062; R. Seidman, ‘The Lessons o f Self-estrangem ent: On the M ethodology of Law and Developm ent’ (1 9 7 8 ) R esearch in Law and S ociology 1; Trubek and G alanter’s reply, ‘Scholars in the Fun House: A Reply to Professor Seidm an’, (1 9 7 8 ) 1 R esearch in Law and S ociology 31. 60 T his catalogue is an improved version of an earlier statem ent in a lec­ ture to the Faculty of Law at Jam m u University entitled, ‘If I Contra-

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diet Myself, Well then I C ontradict Myself. . .: Nehru, Law and Social Change’, reproduced in R. Dhavan (ed .), N ehru and the Constitution, op. cit., pp. 4 5 -6 2 . 61 Third Uttar Pradesh Lawyers’ Conference 1947, Kanpur, High Court Administration File III Resolution 4 . 1 am indebted to Dr G illian Buckee for this reference. 62 S t i note 43. 63 See R. Dhavan, The Suprem e Court o f India, op. cit., pp. 1 -1 3 , for e x ­ amples of these protests. 64 The ‘any process’ approach was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1950 (see G opalan v. State o f M adras, AIR 1950 SC 27— note the dissent of Fazl Ali J ) ; but abandoned for wider approval in R.C. C ooper (see note 11) and Maneka Gandhi’s case (AIR 1978 SC 5 9 7 ). For discus­ sions in the Constituent Assembly, see note 47. 65 The ju d icial assertion o f constitutionalism was subdued but im plicit in the first Nehru phase— see M.C. Setalvad’s m asterly review of this period, T h e In d ian C o n stitu tio n 1 9 5 0 - 6 5 (B om bay: U n iv ersity o f Bom bay), 1966, after w hich it acquired more confidence to create the basic structure doctrine to curtail Parliam ent’s power to amend the C onstitution. (O n the ‘basic stru ctu re’ cases, see note 10). For the ju d icial struggle of Indian jud ges to find their lndianness, see gener­ ally R. Dhavan, Suprem e Court o f India, op. cit. 66 This upsurge of using the ju d iciary to make governance accountable under court supervision, is new. A good exam ple of this trend is Vineet N arain ’s case (see note 1). 67 See note 10. 68 See E.M .S. N am bood irip ad v. T.N. N am biar, AIR 1970 SC 2 0 1 5 ; and more generally R. Dhavan, C ontem pt o f Court and the Press, op. cit. 69 For the discussions in parliam ent, see Lok Sabha Debates Vth Series Part XXVII No. 46 Col. 3 1 1 -4 0 2 (2 May 1973); ibid. No. 45 c o l.1 3 6 1 5 7 ( 2 6 A p ril 1 9 7 3 ) ; ib id . N o. 4 8 C o l. 2 2 8 - 3 2 . N o te : M. Kumaramanglam (ed .), Ju d ic ia l A ppointm ents (New Delhi: Oxford & 1BH Publishing C o.), 1973 or N. Palkhivala (ed .), A Ju d ic ia ry M ade to M easure: A C ollection o f the N ation w ide Protests against the Supercession o f Ju stices Shelat, H egde and G rover f o r the O ffice o f the C h ie f Ju stice o f India (Bombay: M .R P ai), 1973; Kuldip Nayar (ed .), S u percession o f Ju d g es (New Delhi: Indian Book C o .), 1973. 70 For an account of this early period, see Upendra Baxi, ‘Taking Suffer­ ing Seriously. . . .’ (see note 1); R. Dhavan, ‘Law as Struggle’ op. cit. 71 The class bias o f the ju d iciary was the subject of litigation in 1970 (supra note 6 8 ). Many of the pro-poor and pro-w orker gains of the public interest law movement of the 1980s were lost in the 1990s. 72 For earlier portraits of the Supreme C ourt, see G. G adbois, ‘Indian

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Supreme C ourt Judges: A Portrait’, (1 9 6 8 ) 3 Law and S ociety Review pp. 3 1 7 - 6 6 ; R. Dhavan. T he Suprem e C ourt o f India, op. c it., pp. 1 9 31; R. Dhavan, Ju stice on Trial, op. cit., pp. 2 7 -8 1 . 71 R. Dhavan, The Supreme Court o f India, o p . cit., p. 961; see also generally Gobind Das, T he Suprem e C ourt in Quest o f Identity (Lucknow : Eatern Book Com pany), 1987. 74 For such an instrum ental analysis, see J.A .G . Griffiths, The Politics o f the Ju d ic ia ry (M anchester: M anchester University Press and Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press), 1977; Morton Horwitz, The Transfor­ mation o f A m erican Law , 1 7 8 0 -1 8 6 0 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), 1977. For a critical review o f such reductionist approaches, see D. Sugarman’s, review of Horwitz’s book in B ritish Jo u rn a l o f Law and S ociety (1 9 8 0 ). 75 This is a weakness in U. Baxi’s post-Em ergency tour de force (see his The Indian Suprem e Court and Politics, op. cit. 76 There is a vast literature on ‘symbolic’ and ‘instrumental’ aspects of legis­ lation (see Gusfied, ‘Moral Passage: The Symbolic Process in Public Des­ ignations of Deviance’, Social Problems, 15 (1 9 6 7 ), p. 175 andW.S. Carson, ‘Symbolic and Instrumental Dimensions of Early Factory Legislation’, in Roger Hood (ed.), Crime, Criminology and Public Policy: Essays in Honour o f Sir Leon Radzinow icz (New York: Free Press), 1975. Such legislation is extant in India, especially in areas of socio-econom ic reform. 77 Cf. U. Baxi, The Indian Suprem e Court and P olitics, op. cit., G. Gadbois, ‘The Supreme Court of India as a Political Institu tion’, in R. Dhavan et al. (eds ) , Ju d g es and the Ju d ic ia l Power, op. cit., pp. 2 5 1 -6 7 . 78 As ‘colon ial’ British governance became more ‘im perial’, the use and understanding of ‘law’ and ‘legal’ in stitu tion s also becam e more so­ phisticated. See D.A. W ashbrook, ‘Law, State and Agrarian Society in Colonial India’, M odem A sian Studies, 15 (1 9 8 1 ), pp. 6 4 9 -7 2 . For an assessm ent o f ju ristic developm ents, see J.D .M . D errett, ‘Legal S ci­ ence in India during the Last Century’, in M. Rotondi (ed .), Inchieste di D irrito C om parato (Padua), 1976 edn, pp. 4 1 3 -3 5 . 79 See R. Dhavan, ‘Ju d icial D ecision-M aking’ (m im eo., lectures to the Faculty o f Law, University of D elhi). 1979. 80 This can be seen in the acceptance of ‘any process’ as approved to a due process clause (see notes 47 and 6 4 ); as also in the initial subor­ dination of Directive Principles (see note 54 ). 81 For example, on the limited interpretation of security of state, see Romesh T hapar v. State o f M adras, AIR 1950 SC 124; Brij Bhushan v. State o f Delhi, AIR 1950 SC 129. On the various local business cases, note Rashid Ahmed v. M unicipal Board, K airam a, AIR 1950 SC 163; Chintam ani Rao v. State o f MP, AIR 1951 SC 118; Mohd. Yasin v. Town Area Com m ittee, AIR 1952 SC 115; D w arka Das v. State o f U.P., AIR 1954 SC 224.

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82 Note C hief Ju stice (Pu njab), Sastri’s speech (see note 8 ). 83 On Ju stice Gajendragadkar, see his autobiography To the B est o f My M emory (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), 1983; Vidya Dhar M ahajan, C h ie f Ju stice G ajen dragadkar: His Life, Ideas, Papers and A ddresses (Delhi: S. Chand), 1966; S.N. Dhayani: ‘J u stice Gajendragadkar and Labour Law’ J a ip u r Law Jo u rn a l, 7 (1 9 6 9 ), pp. 6 9 ; RK. Tripathi, Mr. Ju stice Gajendragadkar and C onstitutional Interpretation’, Jo u rn a l o f the In­ dian Law Institute, 8 (1 9 6 6 ), pp. 41 9 . 84 Note N.A. Palkhivala’s Our Constitution D efaced and D efiled, op. cit., and A Ju d ic ia ry M ade to M easure, op. cit. 85 Ju stice RN. Bhagwati, a sitting ju d ge, w rote a letter congratulating Mrs Gandhi on her election to office; see further R. Dhavan, ‘On the Future of W estern Law in India: Ju stice Bhagwati’s Letter to the Prime M inister’, (m im eo.) 1980. 86 See R. Dhavan, The Suprem e Court under Strain, op. c it., which gives statistical data that was updated in R. Dhavan, L itigation Explosion in India (Bombay: N.M. Tripathi), 1986. 87 Apart from his own volum inous w riting, a lot has been w ritten on Ju stice Krishna Iyer; see especially Hari Swarup, F o r Whom the Law is M ade (D elhi: Veenu Publishers); K.M. Sharma, ‘The Ju d icial Universe * of Mr. Ju stice Krishna Iyer’, in R. Dhavan, et al. (ed s), Ju dges and the Ju d ic ia l Pow er: Essays in H onour o f Ju stice V.R. K rishna Iyer, op. c it., pp. 3 1 6 - 3 6 . On Ju stic e Bhagwati, see Mool Chand Sharma, Ju s tic e P.N. B hagw ati: Court, Constitution and Human Rights (D elhi: Universal Book Traders), 1995; and Sheeraz Latif A. Khan, Ju stice B hagw ati on Fun da­ m ental Rights and D irective P rinciples (D elhi: Deep & Deep Publica­ tions), 1996. On Ju stice O. Chinnappa Reddy, see R. Venkataramani Judgm ents o f O. C hinnappa Reddy— A Humanist Ju d g e (D elhi: Interna­ tional Institute o f Human Rights), 1989. On Ju stice Y.V. Chandrachud, see V.S. Deshpande, A C handrachud R eader (New Delhi: Docum enta­ tion Centre for Corporate & Business Policy Research), 1985. Com ­ prehensive accounts of the contributions of various judges and, with notable exceptions, even of the Supreme Court of India are conspicu­ ous by their absence. 88 For exam ple, see Pathak J. in B andhua Mukti Morcha v. Union o f India, AIR 1984 SC 80 2 ; Khalid J . in S achidan an d Pandey v. S tate o f West Ben­ gal, (1 9 8 7 ) 2 SCC 295; Venkatachaliah J . in S h eela B arse v. Union o f In dia, (1 9 8 8 ) 4 SC C 2 2 6 ; M ukerjea J . in C h ettria P radushan Mukti Sangarsh v. S tate o f U.P., AIR 1990 SC 2060; K.N. Singh J . in Subhash Kum ar v. State o f B ihar, AIR 1991 SC 4 20. 89 Indra Saw hney v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 2 ) Supp. 3 SCC 217 (on affirm a­ tive a c tio n ); S.R. B om m ai v. U nion o f In d ia , ( 1 9 9 4 ) 3 SC C 1 (on President’s Rule); M. Ishm ail Faruqui v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 4 ) 6 SCC

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3 0 0 (on Babri m asjid). More generally on this problem -solving ap­ proach, see R. Dhavan, ‘The Supreme Court as Problem Solver’, in V.A. Pai Panandikar, The Politics o f B ackw ardness (D elhi: Konark Publish­ ers), 1997, pp. 2 6 2 -3 3 2 . 90 Apart from investigating into corruption cases (e.g., Vineet N arain see note 1), the environm ent cases are significant (in particular Vellore C itizen ’s W elfare Forum (1 9 9 6 ) 5 SCC 6 4 7 (on the precautionary prin­ cip le); Indian C ouncil fo r E nviro-Legal Action v. Union o f India (1 9 9 6 ) 5 SCC 281 (on the non-toleration o f infringem ent); M.C. M ehta v. K am al N ath, (1 9 9 7 ) 1 SCC 388 (on the concept of public tru st); and many others including cases on pollution in Delhi (M.C. M ehta v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 6 ) 4 SCC 351 and (1 9 9 6 ) 4 SCC 7 5 0 ); and on the Taj Tra­ pezium (M.C. M ehta v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 7 ) 1 Scale 61) among o th ­ ers. 91 Ju stice Kuldip Singh is associated with ‘environm ent’ cases (see note 9 0 ) and for im posing exemplary damages on allegedly corrupt m inis­ ters ( Com m on C au se v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 6 ) 6 SCC 5 30, Rs 50 lakh damages); (Shiv S ag ar Tewari v. Union o f India, (1 9 9 6 ) 6 SCC 5 58; also (1 9 9 7 ) 1 SCC 4 4 4 , Rs 60 lakh damages). 92 Ju stice Verma devised a procedure whereby all public-interest parties had to speak through the court appointed am icus cu riae, who were not always sensitive to consultation. ” Cf. U. Baxi, T he Indian Suprem e Court and Politics, op. cit. 94 A phrase taken from Ju stice Krishna Iyer in Kunhu M oham m ed v. T.K. U m m ayithi (1 9 6 9 ) LR 629; s e e also Dhavan J . in B asai v. H asan R aza K h a n , AIR 1963 All 340. 95 M uch has com e to depend on the personality o f the judge. A writ peti­ tion on the scope of public interest litigation awaits determ ination by the Court (see Sudipt M ajum dar v. State o f MP, (1 9 8 3 ) 2 SCC 2 5 8 ) 96. 96 Ju d icial corruption is on the increase. In one case concerning a Su­ preme Court ju d ge, the Tribunal affirm ed charges against Ju stice V. Ramaswami, but im peachm ent was averted by parliament. Corrupt high court judges have been transferred. A controversy resulting virtually in a newspaper trial was started against the appointm ent of Ju stice Punchhi as C hief Ju stice of India (see R. Dhavan, ‘Enough is Enough’, T he Hindu 3 O ctober 1997; and ‘Trial by Newspaper’, T he Hindu, 19 D ecem ber 1997; and J R. Ja i (ed ), Assault on Ju d icia ry (Delhi: A ssoci­ ated Legal Advisers, 1997). There is a need for proper m echanisms to investigate the ju d iciary (see R. Dhavan, ‘Removing Judges: The Quest for Fair Solutions’, Indian B ar Review, vol. 17 (1 9 9 1 ), pp. 4 2 -5 7 . 97 On various forms of accountability, see R. Dhavan, ‘Judges and Ac­ countability’, in R. Dhavan et al. (ed s), Ju dges and the Ju d icia l Power, op. cit., pp. 1 6 5 -8 2 .

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98 The famous ‘grundnorm ’ cases are from Pakistan (S tate v. D osso PLD, 1958 SC 5 33; A sm a Jila n i v. G overnm ent o f Punjab, PLD 1972 SC 1 3 9 ); Rhodesia ( M adzim bam u to v. L ard n er B u r k e , (1 9 6 9 ) AC 6 4 5 ); G hana (S a lla h v. Att. Gen. (1 9 7 0 ) ref. in 20 ICLQ 3 1 5 ); and Nigeria (L akn am i v. W estern State, (1 9 7 0 ), noted in 20 ICLQ 177). For an interesting analysis see J.W . Harris, ‘W hen and W hy Does the Grundnorm Change’, C am bridge Law Jo u rn a l 103 (1 9 7 1 ); and for an incisive analysis of the Pakistan cases, see Paula R. Newburg, Ju dgin g the State: Courts an d C onstitutional P olitics in P akistan , (Cam bridge and New York; Cam­ bridge University Press), 1995. 99 A phrase taken from the title o f a book by R. Dworkin, Law’s Em pire (Cam bridge; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), 1986. 100T his analysis is taken from R. Dhavan (see note 27). 101H.L.A. Hart, The C oncept o f Law (Oxford: Clarendon), 1961, p. 114. 102For Indian and English antics on this subject, see G.P. Singh, Prin­ ciples o f Statutory In terpretation (Nagpur: W adhwa), 19 9 6 , 6th edn, pp. 8 - 2 0 , 4 7 -4 9 . 103See R. Dhavan (note 9 7 ). 1MThis is the case of Ju stice V. Ramaswami. For the report of the im ­ peachm ent Com m ittee, see Report o f the Inquiry C om m ittee in Regard to the Investigation and P ro o f o f the M isbehaviour A lleged against Ju stice V. R am asw am i, Ju d g e, Suprem e Court (New Delhi: Governm ent of In­ dia), 1992, two volumes. For the debate in Parliam ent on 10-1 1 May 1993, see Vol. 22 L o k S abh a D ebates (LSD) Xth Series. For an inform a­ tive and one-sided view, see S. Sahay (ed .), G one at Last? The Story o f V. R am asw am i’s Im peachm ent, (New Delhi: Har-Anand), 1993. 105This was a policy used by Ju stice Venkatachaliah when he was ch ief ju stice . Even if appropriate in the circum stances, such a policy cannot but be an unsatisfactory way o f dealing with the problem.

Hindu Nationalism and Democracy C H R IS T O P H E J A F F R E L O T

No w ing of the Hindu nationalist m ovem ent, w h eth er the m ili­ tant you th of the Bajrang Dal or political parties like the Jan a Sangh o r its successor, the B haratiya Jan ata Party, has ever been really attracted by the fascist, pu tsch ist strategy. The Rashtriya Swayam sewak Sangh and its offshoots probably never prom oted a coup d’état because they did n ot regard state pow er as the m ost im p ortan t ob ject of conq uest— they preferred to w ork at the grassroots level with a lon g-term p ersp ectiv e.1 They could have stayed o u t o f the in stitu tio n a l fram ew ork o r even the p o litical dom ain, as m any RSS leaders argued they should in the late 1 9 4 0 s to early 1 9 5 0 s . How ever, the Ja n a Sangh and the BJP, and before them the Hindu M ahasabha, have always played the gam e of electoral politics. The Ja n a Sangh distanced itself som ew hat from the elections in the 1 9 7 0 s , w hen A. B. Vajpayee consid ered th at it was ‘becom ing increasingly difficult to dis­ lodge the C ongress by the b allot-b ox since elections proved to be an unequal battle, since the C ongress has m oney pow er’.2 But this stand was not uncom m on then— as the JP (Jayaprakash N arayan ) m ovem ent was to testify— and, in any case, the Jan a Sangh con tin u ed to con test elections. Does this rejection of p u tsch ist strategies m ean th at Hindu nationalism fully adheres to dem ocracy? My paper proposes to give som e answ ers to this question by analysing how the Sangh Parivar and the H indu M ahasabha have approached this politi­ cal system even before Independence, by studying the kind of d em o cracy they tended to favour and by highlighting the lim its of their d em ocratic credentials.

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The Hindu Nationalist Ideology of Democracy India, a Democracy from Time Immemorial Even before Hindu nationalism crystallized in the in ter-w ar period, Hindu revivalists w ere not averse to the notion of de­ m ocracy. On the contrary, they argued that d em ocracy was n o t alien to India. Aurobindo even claim ed that dem ocracy was born in India; it was m erely returning via the British after a long jo u r­ ney. All that was needed w as to free it from the foreign ele­ m ents w hich w ere now affecting it.3 This discourse naturally reflected a nationalist strategy: the British prided them selves on being dem ocrats, and m em bers of the Indian intelligentsia (and am ong them , Hindu revivalists) did n o t w ant to see their cou n try lagging behind. The Hindu nation alists inherited this con ception from the revivalists in the 1 9 2 0 s and 1 9 3 0 s . As did m any o th e rs,4 the first Hindu nationalist ideologues em phasized the existen ce of a d em ocratic precedent in India. This they generally situated in B uddhist in stitu tion s, the vil­ lage, and the ancient ‘republics’. Radha Kum ud M ookerji, a p ro ­ fessor of history at Luck now U niversity in the inter-w ar period, was one of the in tellectu als of the H indu M ahasabha w ho advo­ cated such ideas.3 In Hindu Civilization, the first edition of w hich cam e o u t in 1 9 3 6 , he explains th at the m onarch y of Vedic tim es was far from absolute: ‘W ithin the fram ew ork of autocracy, there were operative certain d em o cratic elem ents, the significance of w hich should not be m issed.’6 F o r instance, M ookerji found that ‘the Athar\aveda has several passages indicative of the people choosing their king’.7 But the republics were naturally seen by the au th o r as the m ain em bodim ents of d em ocracy in ancient India: T h e grow th o f rep u blics as a feature o f In d ian p o litical ev olu tion im plied that o f the n ecessary d em o cratic procedure by w hich th eir w orking was regulated and governed. It is a rem arkable testim on y to the popular rep u b lican in stin c ts and trad ition s o f the tim es th at d em ocratic procedu re was applied in every sphere o f life, p o litical, eco n o m ic and even relig io u s. T h e P ali te x ts fu rn ish in te restin g in form atio n on the w orkin g o f the B u d d h ist Sam ghas in stric t and m inute conform ity w ith genu in e d em ocratic p rin ciples. T h e essence o f dem ocracy is govern m ent by d e cisio n based on d iscu ssio n in pu blic m eetings or assem b lies. T h e Pali texts d escrib e the m ee t­ ings of religious assem b lies or Sam ghas in all th eir stages.8

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M ookerji em phasizes the role of voting in the m aking of deci­ sions w ithin the Buddhist Sam gha.9 So-called d em ocratic pro­ cedures typical of a religious body, the Buddhist com m unity, were used to substantiate the claim th at an cien t India knew political dem ocracy. This kind of discourse was not confined to the Hindu Mahasabha. Hindu traditionalist Congressmen made assiduous use of it, as the 1 9 4 6 - 1 9 5 0 Constituent Assembly debates testify. W hen the ques­ tion of regime type arose in the Assembly, many of them declared that India could choose only democracy, because that is what she had always known (before she was conquered by ‘foreigners’). To substantiate this claim, soon after the opening session of the Con­ stituent Assembly, Purushottam Das Tandon, well known for his Hindu traditionalist leanings,10 established a parallel between this Assembly and an illustrious Buddhist precedent: A fter cen tu ries, su ch a m eetin g has on ce m ore been conven ed in ou r country. It recalls to our m ind ou r glo riou s past w hen we were free and w hen assem blies w ere held at w h ich the Pundits m et to d iscu ss im portant affairs o f the country. It rem inds us o f the As­ sem b lies o f the age o f A soka [th e third Em p eror o f the M aurya dynasty w ho lived and ruled till 2 3 2 b c ] . 11

T he assem blies presented here as the p recu rso rs of the C on­ stitu en t Assembly w ere in no way political: the pundits evoked by Tandon were B rahm ans versed in Sanskrit scrip tures who could have debated questions of theology or ritual, but even for these purposes, they w ere not representatives of society As far as the assem blies convened by Asoka are con cern ed , they also undoubtedly had a religious vo cation : the Em peror, it seem s, had indeed convened the third Buddhist C ou ncil and thus co n ­ trib uted to the building of the can on of the religion to w hich he had been converted. Like m any C ongressm en, and especially Hindu tra d itio n a l-' ists such as Tandon, Hindu nationalist ideologues w ere not hos­ tile to dem ocracy insofar as it appeared to be rooted in Indian soil and culture. To that exten t, it was a prestigious feature add­ ing to the cou n try’s glory. A n A n ti-in d iv id u a lis tic C o n c e p t io n o f D e m o c r a c y Even though Hindu nationalists have generally praised d em oc­ racy and appreciated its advent in India, they have tended to

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distinguish their conception of dem ocracy from the W estm inster m odel borrow ed from Britain in the 1 9 5 0 C on stitu tion . This argum ent was m ade clear during the 1 9 7 5 Em ergency. At th at tim e, the RSS and its affiliates projected them selves as being at the forefront of the fight against Indira G andhi, but this claim needs to be qualified. F irst, th e RSS fought less for d em ocracy than for regaining a right to legal existence. (T h e then RSS chief, Balasaheb D eoras, proposed to Indira G andhi th at she accep t its collab oration . The RSS launched its an ti-E m ergen cy agita­ tion after she refu sed .12) Second, Hindu nationalists suggested that the d em o cracy for w hich they fought w as not necessarily that of the parliam en tary system . F o r in stan ce, D. Thengadi, who was one of the m ain RSS leaders undergroun d, declared: T h e C o n stitu e n t A ssem bly im posed B ritish -typ e in stitu tio n s on the people. India too has had a d em ocratic tradition, a trad ition o f th o u ­ sands o f years, and the tem peram ent of the Indian people can be easily m oulded accordingly. B u t the Indian d em ocratic system has been d ifferen t. Its natu re is d ifferen t from th at o f the B ritish d em o ­ cratic sy ste m .13

Thengadi does not explain here what the differences are, but he is m ore exp licit in oth er w ritings, borrow ing heavily from the organicist w orldview of his m entor, Golwalkar.

In Defence o f Social Organicism G olw alkar’s favourite political arran gem ent com bined te rrito ­ rial representation (electio n by con stitu en cies) w ith functional representation, w here each corp orate body nom inates delegates at the request of both its local branches and the central organi­ zation. This m echanism was described as m erely giving con crete shape to w hat was already practised in ancient India, where each of the vam as chose its representative for its village coun cil (gram panchayat) and thence to the royal co u n cil.14 Golwalkar did not hesitate to dem and, if necessary, a revision of the C onstitution to put this plan into action. This program m e looks like an Indian varian t of the co rp o ratist state, since the grou p, n ot the individual, is regarded as the relevant u n it; this group can be the family, the village, the varna, but also the ‘in d u stry’. Indeed, Thengadi, w ho w as the founder of the Bharatiya M azdoor Sangh in 1 9 5 5 , proposed a parallel system from the trade unionist point of view:

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Bharatiya cu ltu re b elieves th at the ‘N ation’, and n o t the ‘class’, is the b asic u nit o f hum an society. H orizontal division o f the w orld is a fictio n . V ertical arran g em en t o f it is a f a c t . . . . [In an cien t India] lik e a family, the com m u n ity had its life based upon m utu al love and con fid en ce, and consequ ently, its h orizontal d ivision cou ld no t even be dream t of. It was fu rth er realized that the various com m u ­ n itie s are b u t d iffe r e n t lim b s o f th e sam e o rg a n ism , i.e ., th e Bharatiya N ation. T h e Bharatiya so cial order thus im plied the in ­ du stry-w ise arrangem ent and n o t class-w ise arran g em en t.15

Thengadi not only dealt w ith ‘econ o m ic dem ocracy’, he also criticized the foreign insp iration of parliam entary dem ocracy, in com parison w ith the Indian version of dem ocracy, because ‘U nlike the w estern form of dem ocracy, w hich is m ore in tellec­ tual, the Indian altern ative— the dharm ic system — is based on hum an values.’16 Thengadi even suggested constitutional reform because ‘checks and balances provided by the C on stitu tion and ou r legal system s can be effective only if they are supplem ented by checks and balances in hum an, social m ind as a result of appropriate sa m sk a ra sl7 o f d h arm a’. 18 T hen gadi’s d isco u rse b ears testim on y to the laten t h ostility of H indu n ation alists tow ards a secu lar form of dem ocracy, a political system sepa­ rated from religious notions such as the m ost all-em bracing one, dh arm a, w hich also underlies social organicism . T hu s, Hindu nation alist leaders disapprove of parliam entary dem ocracy because it is alien to religious (d harm ic) notions and does not fit into their non-individualistic view of society. To­ day, these con cep tion s are propagated not only by old-tim ers or m ore or less sidelined leaders such as Thengadi, but also by m ainstream ideologues. In the BJP, K.N. G ovindacharya for in­ sta n ce, has adopted the sam e perspective in a recen t assess­ m en t of India after fifty years of independence: T h e C o n stitu tio n is n o t the prod uct o f our soil; a m inim u m addi­ tio n is required to m ake it m ore responsive. C onsensu s, instead o f m ajo rity -m in o rity co n ce p t, suits the cou n try b etter. O ccu p atio n al representation (p articip ation of various social groups based on their o ccu p atio n ) in the system w ill deliver the goods. Su ch a system w ill be in co n fo rm ity w ith our trad ition s and ethos. . . . It is clear the system has to be rooted in our so il. P u b lic and p o litical education are essential ingredients for our evolution. M .K. G andhi, A urobindo G hosh and M .N. Roy had reservations about the system right sin ce its in cep tio n . T h ere was skep ticism abou t the

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efficacy o f adopting the parliam entary system of dem ocracy. Dr. B.R . Am bedkar em phasized the need o f having an Indian U nion— a true reflection o f our ethos— instead of federation. Ja y P rakash Narayan favoured party-less democracy. RSS founder M .S. G olw alkar co n sid ­ ered ‘unanim ity’ as the m ode o f election s, w ith an added com p onen t of functional representation as the best m odel of governance. I feel G olw alkar’s view is b est suited for ou r society. In th e p ro­ cess o f ev olu tion , the system is boun d to tend tow ards th is goal. As o f now, I am n o t p essim istic abou t the survival o f ou r system . W e need im provem ent, not change in the sy ste m .19

Like his predecessors, Golwalkar and Thengadi, G ovindacharya does not reject dem ocracy, but show s a stron g in clin ation for a reform ed version of parliam entary dem ocracy. Interestingly, he does not draw his inspiration from G olw alkar alone but also from Gandhian views. Indeed, this variant o f the H indu n atio n ­ alist con cep tion of d em ocracy overlaps w ith ideas propagated by Gandhi and his disciples.

Does Hindu Nationalism Echo Gandhian Views? It is well know n that Gandhi’s first and only book, H ind Swaraj ( 1 9 0 8 ) , is not only an in dictm ent of w estern, m odern m aterial­ istic civilization, but also of parliam entary d em ocracy: T h e co n d itio n o f England at p resent is p itiab le. I pray to G od that India m ay never be in that plight. T h a t w h ich you co n sid er to be the M other o f P arliam ents is lik e a sterile w om an and p ro stitu te. Both th ese are harsh term s, b u t exactly fit the case. T h a t P arlia­ m en t has n o t yet o f its own accord done a sin g le good th in g , h en ce I have com pared it to a sterile w om an. T h e natural co n d itio n of that P arliam ent is su ch that, w ith ou t ou tsid e pressure, it can do noth in g. It is lik e a p rostitu te b ecau se it is under the co n tro l of m in isters w ho chan ge from tim e to tim e.20

Gandhi agrees w ith one of the m ain ideas of the oppon ents of parliam en tary dem ocracy, nam ely that deputies are to o corru pt to represent the voters, that they w aste their tim e in useless debates and that they stick to their parties’ program m e w ithout thinking for themselves. The M ahatm a, then, preferred the reign of ‘a few good m en ’. 21 This stand reflected a strong d istru st of the people who allegedly are not able to m ake up th eir m inds; they live under the influence of the press and populist leaders. In a book professing to be a reflection on ‘d em o cratic val­ ues’, Vinoba Bhave opposed raj-niti (p ow er politics) to lok-niti

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(d em o cratic eth ics). This view implied the dissolution of par­ ties and the relinquishing of any electoral system aimed at reach­ ing a consensus. Bhave’s anti-individualism encom passed a germ of authoritarian ism . He w rote that social harm ony w ould reign if everyone fulfilled his o r her duty in the social order: ‘if every limb were to function sm oothly, the w hole body w ould func­ tion properly’.22 T h e m ain w o rk o f Ja y a p ra k a s h N a ra y a n (J P ) (a n o th e r G an dhian lead er m en tio n ed by G o v in d ach ary a), A Plea f o r Reconstruction o f Indian Polity, is also an in dictm ent of parlia­ m entary d em ocracy w h ich, as he saw it, implied excessive ce n ­ tralization of pow er and system atically betrayed the wishes of th e p eo p le. In p a rlia m e n ta ry d e m o cra cy , th e e le c to rs are ‘m anipulated by powerful, centrally controlled parties, w ith the aid of high finance and diabolically clever m ethods and super m edia’.23 In settin g forth his political ideal, JP also claim ed he drew upon m odels from an cien t India, and particularly from the in terpretation of these m odels provided by Aurobindo w ho, like Gandhi, was one of his sources of inspiration. Going back to the thesis of this au th or about a centu ry later, JP m aintained that the political order of an cien t India was based ‘on the sys­ tem of the self-governing village com m u nity’, w hich only B rit­ ish colonization was able to destroy.24 A ncient India, therefore, held the key to ‘an organically self-determ ining com m unal life’, and for JP, the challenge at hand was ju st ‘a question of an an ­ cien t cou n try finding its lost soul again’.25 Obviously, JP opposed parliam entary dem ocracy because he w anted a d em ocracy expressed through a truly decentralized system of governance. G andhi’s political ideal was already a netw ork of independent villages, draw ing its inspiration from the orientalist stereotype of the ‘village republics:’ My idea of Village Swaraj is that it is a com plete republic, indepen­ dent of its neighbours for its vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others in w hich dependence is a necessity. . . . The government o f the village will be conducted by the Pancayat of five persons, annu­ ally elected by the adult villagers, male and female, possessing m ini­ m um prescribed qualifications. These will have all the authority and ju risd ictio n required. Since there will be no system of punishm ents in the accepted sense, this Pancayat will be the legislature, jud iciary and executive com bined to operate for its year of office.26

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The RSS and its offshoots w ere also in favour of a decentralized state. As early as the 1 9 5 0 s , the Jan a Sangh proposed in its elec­ tion m anifestoes to divide the Indian territory into about one hundred large districts, or janapadas. These w ould be m u ch sm aller than the states and w ould, it was argued, prom ote v il­ lage autonomy. In its 1 9 5 4 election m anifesto, the party c o m ­ m itted itself to m ake the village cou n cils, or pan ch ayats, ‘the foundation of ad m in istration ’, granting them an increase in fi­ nancial resources and (re)estab lish in g the so-called traditional rule that their m em bers w ould be elected unanim ously.27 H ow ­ ever, the H indu nation alists’ em phasis on the unity of Indian society led them to advocate a unitary rath er than a federal state, a m o v e w h ic h r e f le c te d th e ir b a s ic d iffe re n c e w ith th e Gandhians, that is, th eir rejection of diversity. W h ile the latter have always stressed pluralism , Hindu nationalists cannot a c ­ com m odate the n otion of a plural society.

The Limits of the Hindu Nationalists' Commitment to Democracy D e m o c r a c y , th e M o st C o n v e n ie n t R e g im e f o r a M a jo rity Hindu nationalists favoured dem ocracy before Independence n o t only because of the prestige they could draw from the claim that India had been a dem ocracy since its antiquity; they also espoused it as early as the 1 9 3 0 s because this regime relied on the notion of m ajority rule. Hindu nationalists were increasingly obsessed by dem ographic figures from the late nineteenth ce n ­ tury onw ards, w hen the first censuses show ed a lim ited but steady erosion in the p rop ortion of Hindus in the population of India. This sensitivity led them to over-em phasize the fact that Hindus formed a m ajority in India, and that it was their nation for this reason. In add ition, they could claim to be its first in­ habitants. D em ocracy has suited them m ore than any oth er re­ gime because it relies on the principle of ‘one m an, one v o te’. This first becam e clear in the speeches of Veer Savarkar after he took over as chief of the Hindu M ahasabha. In the presiden­ tial address he delivered at the 1 9 3 7 session of the party he declared, ‘Though we form an overw helm ing m ajority in the land we do not w ant any privileges for our H indudom ’.28In fact, Savarkar did not w ant any privileges for any com m unity because

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the Hindus w ere in a m ajority. From this perspective, he added: Let all citizen s o f In d ian States be treated accord in g to th eir in d i­ vidual w orth, irresp ective o f th eir religious or racial percentage in the general p op u lation. L et th eir language and scrip t be the n a­ tio n al language and scrip t o f the In d ian State w h ich is understood by an overw helm ing m ajo rity o f the people, as happens in every oth er State in the w orld. L et no religious bias be allow ed to tam per w ith that language and scrip t. Let ‘one m an, one vote’ be the gen ­ eral rule irresp ective o f caste, creed, race or re lig io n .29

Savarkar was favourably inclined tow ards d em ocratic prin ­ cip les, because they gu aran tee the dom ination of' the ‘over­ w helm ing m ajority’, that is, the H indus— a logic w hich w ould enable Hindi to becom e the national language. The universalistic discourse of d em ocracy was evidently hijacked in order to p ro ­ m ote com m unal in terests.30 The Hindu M ahasabha leaders seem to have been deeply convinced that they could m ake their point through the use of un iversalistic values, so m u ch so that the party’s w orking com m ittee decided to refer the H indu-M uslim question to the League of N ations in 1 9 4 0 .31 This discou rse heralded the present-day propaganda of the RSS and its offshoots in favour of the disbanding of the M inori­ ties Com m ission. Even though this Com m ission was established by the Jan ata Party, of w hich the form er Jan a Sangh was a co m ­ p onen t, the H indu nationalist m ovem ent quickly criticized it as an institution responsible for the ‘division of the n ation ’. The BJP, the Jan a Sangh’s su ccessor, proposed to replace it with a H um an Rights C om m ission,32 w hich would have enabled it once again to use the language of universalism for particularistic ends. The aim was to rem ove som e of the protection s granted to the m inorities because of th eir vulnerability and, in effect, to assert the strength of the Hindu m ajority The BJP shaped the n otion of ‘m inorityism ’ in the sam e per­ spective. The term was first used by L.K . Advani after he took over as BJP president in 1 9 8 6 . In Jan u a ry 1 9 8 7 , in an address to th e B JP’s N atio n al C o u n cil, he referred to the ‘d an gers of m inorityism ’ in an obvious allusion to the Congress governm ent’s con cern to p ro tect certain interests of the M uslim s, as exem pli­ fied in the Shah Bano controversy.33 Advani had specifically co n ­ dem ned the M uslim W om en ’s (P ro tectio n of Rights in D ivorce) Bill on behalf of m odern, universalistic values. Addressing the

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plenary session of the BJP as the p arty’s in com ing president, he stated in 1 9 8 6 that in the Shah Bano affair som e M uslim leaders had acted as ‘ob scu ran tists’ and ‘fanatics’ because they disre­ garded the rights of their com m u n ity’s w ives.34 Hindu nationalism has thus becom e adept at prom oting the interests of the m ajority com m unity in the guise of universalistic values that are pillars of liberal dem ocracy. In reality, Hindu na­ tionalists appreciate the m ajority rule of dem ocracy because it m eans that Hindus can never lose power, provided they vote en bloc, w hich is indeed their chief objective. As Sudipta Kaviraj has suggested,'the m ain enemies of dem ocracy in India are those who w ould like to merge dem ocracy and ‘m ajoritarianism ’, as if both things would m ean the same. They do n ot oppose dem ocracy openly; on the contrary, ‘they are in fact the greatest supporters of m ajority rule. But they do not w ant dem ocratic governm ent to be a com plex arrangem ent in w hich m ajority rule is counterbal­ anced by a system of secure enjoym ent of m inority rights.’35 This analysis can be applied to different categories, including the O ther Backw ard Classes (O B C s) and the H indi-speaking population, but, of cou rse, it is especially relevant in the case of Hindu nationalism . Savarkar’s reaction to the abolition of sepa­ rate electorates by the C onstituen t Assem bly is very significant in this resp ect. In May 1 9 4 9 , soon after Sardar Patel made this decision know n, Savarkar sent him the follow ing telegram : I heartily congratulate you and the C onstituent Assem bly on leading and adopting the resolu tion s doing away w ith separate electo rates, reservations and w eightages based on in vid iou s racial or religiou s d istin ctio n s and on having thus vindicated the genu in ely n ation al ch aracter o f our Bharateeya sta te .36

Savarkar did n ot reject a religion-based state to prom ote an in­ dividualistic civil space; he opposed separate electorates and reservations because they hindered his efforts to equate d em oc­ racy and m ajoritarian ism , that is the p u rsuan ce of ‘a perm anent unbeatable m ajority w hich w ould place [large groups] in pow er for ever’.37 But in a tru e dem ocracy, ‘Large m ajorities are bear­ able only if there is a random elem ent in th em , if individuals and groups are som etim es in the w inning and som etim es in the losing g ro u p .’38 T hus, w hile the Hindu nation alists look at d em o cracy as som ething that is not alien to India, and fu rtherm ore, as an ele­

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m en t of its historical prestige, they have prom oted a non-individualistic version of it, and they have been especially inter­ ested in this political system because it is a convenient way to establish the dom ination of the m ajority com m unity.

The Sangh Parivar and Democratic Procedure Since Independence, the RSS has not been able to claim to rep­ resen t th e people because it did not co n te st elections, but its d em o cratic credentials have been affected by its desire to influ­ en ce those in power. In his attem pts to transform the RSS into a kind of advisor to the governm ent, Golwalkar drew his inspira­ tion from the classic connection between tem poral power and spiritual authority: T he political rulers were never the standard-bearers of our society. T hey were never taken as the props of our n ation al life. Saints and sages w ho had risen above the m undane tem ptations of se lf and power and had dedicated them selves w holly for establishing a happy, virtuous and integrated state of society, were its constant torch-bearers. T hey represented the d h a rm a sa tta [religiou s au th ority). T he king was only an ardent follow er o f that higher m oral authority.39

G olw alkar was invoking the Hindu tradition of the king’s guru ( raj gu ru ) and, because of the RSS’s em ulation of the values of renun ciation— the pracharaks are know n for their ascetic life­ style— he proposed for his organization the traditional function of ‘d h arm ic’ cou n selor to state power: W e aspire to b ecom e the radiating cen tre o f all the age-old ch er­ ished ideals of our society— ju s t as the in d escrib ab le pow er w hich radiates through the sun. T h en the p o litical pow er w hich draws its life from that source o f society, w ill have no o th er [goal but] to reflect the sam e radiance.'*0

G olw alkar’s successor, D eoras, tried to play the role of the raj guru during the Janata phase when he met M orarji Desai, Charan Singh, and Jayaprakash N arayan in order to influence pow er from outside. This activity, as noticed by D. R. Goyal, tended to turn the RSS into a ‘supra party’ and ‘extra-co n stitu tio n al au­ th ority’41 that was incom patible w ith the logic of dem ocracy, sim ply because this centre of power was n o t subject to the ver­ dict of the polls. The problem becam e even m ore acute after the BJP cam e to power in 1998. Even though the new prim e m inister, Atal Behari

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Vajpayee, was know n for not being as close to the RSS as, for in stance, Lai K rishna Advani, the th en BJP president, he h ad been trained in this organization and still regarded it as his ‘fam ­ ily’.'’2 He praised the ‘RSS e th o s’ in gen eral and the w ay it ‘c h a n g e [d ]. . . the collective m ind’. W h ile in power, the BJP e n ­ abled the RSS to exert a stronger influence over Indian p olitics. Sangh leaders regularly m et the prim e m inister and key m in is­ ters such as Advani. In Ju ly 1 9 9 8 , two m eetings w ere convened by the RSS chief, Rajendra Singh, for in teractin g with the 1 8 0 odd BJP MPs. Vajpayee and Advani attended parts of this event. Such m eetings had been organized previously, but this tim e the BJP MPs w ere the pillars of the ruling co alitio n .43 More im por­ tantly, in U ttar Pradesh, Rajendra Singh was allow ed to address a group of about fifty-five top b u reau crats, including the ch ief secretary and the director general of police, on ‘how they cou ld em erge as ideals before the public’.44 The m eeting took p lace in the presence of m inisters of Kalyan Singh’s governm ent; b u reau ­ crats could hardly miss Rajendra Singh’s m essage since th eir political bosses w ere obviously supporting w hat he said. The RSS and its offshoots have traditionally been apprehen­ sive about election s, w hich they never really regarded as the legitim ate procedu re for filling posts of responsibility. T he Ja n a Sangh and then the BJP have professed th at they were m ore dem ocratic than oth er parties. F o r one thing, they lim ited the num ber of term s of the party chief (as in the BJP today, w here the term of the president can only be renew ed o n ce ); for an ­ other, they held party elections often. T hrough these elections local com m ittees designate state units, w h ich then nom inate delegates to an all-India cou n cil, w hich in tu rn elects the party president. T he Ja n a Sangh and the BJP have certainly held party elections m ore often than other parties, but in co n trast with w hat has happened in the latter, there have been very few con­ tested elections. M ost of the tim e, there has been one candidate per post, because the very notion of con tested elections is re­ jected as divisive.45 Inner d em ocracy is not very evident in any oth er Indian p o­ litical party or organization. D uring the 1 9 2 0 s , the C ongress had been given a m ore representative A ICC by Gandhi; even so, it suffered from the M ahatm a’s in terference— as testified by the ‘dism issal’ of Subhas C handra Bose in 1 9 3 9 . After Indepen-

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' d en ce, N ehru forced P. Tandon to resign and, m ore im portantly, th ere were no party elections for the tw enty years between 1 9 7 2 and 1 9 9 2 . However, this was largely due to factionalism w hich w as a form of pluralism that is rejected by the BJP today. W h en the BJP itself was affected by groupism and factionalism as a resu lt of its com ing to pow er in several states in the early 1 9 9 0 s , it preferred n o t to co n d u ct p arty elections in several regional party branches, such as M adhya Pradesh. The limited role of election s in the functioning of the Jan a Sangh and the BJP is well in tu n e w ith w hat happens in their m o th er organization, the RSS. The latter was obliged to draft a co n stitu tion after its ban in th e wake of G andhi’s assassination. T h is docu m en t required local branches of the RSS to elect p ro­ vincial assem blies w hose m em bers w ould nom inate th e del­ egates to the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS— All In­ dia Delegate A ssem bly). This body was em pow ered to elect the general secretary, who in turn appointed the executive co m m it­ tee. In p ractice, there have never been m ore candidates than posts to be filled, and the general secretary has m ore o r less been free to nom inate, transfer, or even suspend the pracharaks. Similarly, the Sarsanghchalak, the RSS chief who em bodies su ­ prem e authority, can n ot be voted out. He rem ains at the helm until his death or until he resigns. He is not elected, but desig­ nated by his predecessor, as in 1 9 4 0 and 1 9 7 3 , when H edgew ar and Golwalkar, respectively, designated their su ccessors. T he taste for personalizing pow er that is evident in the s tru c ­ tu re of the RSS and its offshoots partly explains the in terest of the Hindu nationalists in the presidential system. W hereas m em ­ bers of a parliam entary cabinet are responsible to parliam ent, in the presidential system , m em bers of the executive are any persons chosen by the president, and are responsible to the presi­ den t alone.

Parliamentary Democracy or Presidential System? T h e BJP reaffirm ed its faith in a presidential form of govern­ m en t in 1 9 9 1 , as a m eans to guaran tee a stronger C en tre.46 Sev­ eral of its top leaders elaborated on this point while assessing the achievem ent of India after fifty years of independence. A.B. Vajpayee w ent into this question m ore deeply than any other BJP leader. In the 13th Desraj C how dhary Annual M em orial

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L ectu re w hich he delivered on 11 N ovem ber 1 9 9 6 , he declared th at ‘the present system of parliam entary d em ocracy has failed to deliver the goods and that the tim e has com e to in trod u ce deep-going changes in our stru ctu re of go vern an ce’.47 A m ong the ‘ills of the present system of parliam entary dem ocracy. . . fashioned after the British m odel n early five decades ago’,48 Vajpayee highlighted the incap acity of parliam ent to satisfacto­ rily exert its legislative function and to lau nch serious debates. As a remedy, he envisaged, first, the presidential system ; or se c­ ond, prop ortional representation (P R ); o r third, the stren gth ­ ening of d em ocracy w ithin the political parties. W hile every­ body will agree w ith the third proposal, the first two are d eb at­ able; they seem to be contradictory, since the presidential system is intended to concentrate the authority of the state, while the m ain asset of the electoral system known as PR lies in its capacity to represent different opinions. How ever, the strengthening of the president’s role is ob vi­ ously favoured by Vajpayee, and a subsequent interview su g­ gests th at this process would have au th oritarian im plications: It’s 5 0 years sin ce Ind ep end en ce and tim e we review ed the fu n c­ tio n in g o f ou r in stitu tio n s. I have m ade a few suggestions. F o r e x ­ am ple, I feel that w here p o litical p arties are u n ab le to form a gov­ ern m en t at the C en tre, the P resid ent sh ou ld carry on the ad m inis­ tratio n w ith the help o f advisers.49

Such a schem a, which am ounts to extending a kind of president’s rule to the Centre, has clear anti-dem ocratic consequences. First, the president would acquire significant prerogatives even though he would not be elected by the people, but by m embers of Parlia­ ment and of the legislative assemblies. Second, it would be very difficult to assess V h ere political parties are unable to form a gov­ ernm ent’— the president could interpret the situation according to his personal inclinations. Third, the president would be free to choose his advisors, and not necessarily from am ong elected poli­ ticians whose legitimacy derives from universal suffrage. Vajpayee’s formula reflects a certain fascination for strong, personalized power, which is well in tune with the middle-class craving for the replace­ ment of politicians by bureaucrats and technicians. After the 1 9 9 8 elections, the BJP and its coalition partners evolved a N ational Agenda for G overnance, in w hich one of the items read: ‘W e will appoint a C om m ission to review the C on ­

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stitu tion of India in light of the exp erien ce of the past 5 0 years and to m ake suitable recom m en d ation s.’50 In April 1 9 9 8 , L.K. Advani, the hom e m inister, virtually spelt ou t the term s of ref­ eren ce of su ch a co m m ission : w h eth er the p o litical system needed to be decentralized, w hether to continu e w ith th e par­ liam entary system , and w h ether the electoral system needed to be refo rm ed .51 A few days later, during the BJP N ational C o u n ­ cil session, he explained that the proposed com m ission w ould go into the ‘m erits and dem erits’ of the parliam entary system and the presidential system to m ake recom m end ation s, bu t he pointed ou t that parliam entary d em ocracy was n o t am ong the basic features of the C onstitution w hich could not be changed.52 The presidential system is not necessarily opposed to d em oc­ racy, even though it reflects an inclination tow ards co n ce n tra ­ tion (even p erson alization ) of power. In fact, the grow ing at­ tention that is paid to this system is n o t lim ited to the H indu nationalist m ilieu. Several Congressm en, for instance, have been toying w ith this idea for som e tim e,53 and it is even referred to by m any politicians w ho are concerned w ith the need to reform the state. Yet, the form that presidentialization of the regim e w ould take un der the auspices of the BJP appears to be m ore threatening th an it w ould under other parties, because of the BJP’s ideological background and the w ay in w hich the RSS and its offshoots function.

The Sangh Parivar: Stronghold of Social Status Quo? The BJP: Still the Party o f an Elite One of the m ajor changes on the Indian political scene since the late 1 9 8 0 s has been the rise of the O ther Backw ard Classes (O B C s) and the D alits. The share of the form er am ong the MPs of the Hindi belt— where the BJP won m ost of its seats and where social change was m uch slower than in the South— has increased from less than five per cen t in the 1 9 5 0 s to about 2 5 per ce n t in the 1 9 9 0 s. F o r the first tim e, the Lok Sabha harbours a large p rop ortio n o f a g ricu ltu rists (m any of them from the low er castes), w hereas it used to be a stronghold for lawyers and other professionals. In m any resp ects, this trend represents a d em o c­ ratization of Indian dem ocracy. However, the BJP, until recently, did not particip ate in this process.

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Classifying Lok Sabha m em bers accord ing to their profession is difficult because of the large num ber of those w ho declare ag­ riculture as their profession, even though they m ay have some land but do not cultivate it them selves. In the table below, which an alyses U tta r P rad esh , B ihar, M adhya P rad esh , R ajasth an , Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and Delhi, the MPs who, in Who's Who in Lok Sabha, have given agriculture as their profes­ sion but hold an LLB have been classified as lawyers. N oneth e­ less, the ‘agriculturalists’ category rem ains very heterogeneous, since it encom passes landlords as well as tenants. In spite of these caveats, it is notew orthy th at the share of the agriculturalists am ong the BJP M Ps has tended to increase, while that of the law­ yers has been on the decline. However, the group com posed of traders and industrialists represents about one-fourth the total m em ber of BJP MPs in the 1 9 9 0 s— com pared to less than four per cen t for the Janata Dal and six per cen t for Congress— a clear indication that in parliam ent the BJP still represents the business com m unity to a greater exten t than do oth er parties. T he p ro p o rtio n al o v er-rep resen tatio n of up per ca ste M Ps am ong the BJP m em bers elected from the Hindi belt and G ujarat, w here the party w on m ost of its seats, w as evident from 1 9 8 9 . T heir percentage declined in the 1 9 9 6 electio n , but rem ains prom in ent and m uch m ore im p ortan t than in the C on gress and the Jan ata Dal. Interestingly, in 1 9 9 6 the erosion of the upper castes’ share benefits the M Ps from the Scheduled C astes, who are largely elected by non-SC vo ters, as m u ch as th ose from the OBCs. In fact, very few Dalits vote for the BJP, as testified by the ' exit poll m ade by the C entre for the Study of D eveloping Soci­ eties in 1 9 9 6 . This poll also show s that the upper castes are still over-represented am ong the BJP electo rate, w hile the Sched­ uled Tribes are significantly under-represented. The OBCs are also under-represented, but to a lesser exten t. The forward castes’ votes polarize in favour of the BJP in M aharashtra, U ttar Pradesh, and Bihar, w here respectively 50, 6 4 , and 6 7 per ce n t of the upper castes preferred this party. The BJP also rem ains a predom inantly urban party. T h irty-tw o per cen t of the urban dwellers voted for it, as against 19 per ce n t of the people living in rural con stitu en cies. As for the upper-.caste graduates living in towns and cities, 5 2 per cen t of this c a t­ egory opted for the BJP in 1 9 9 6 .

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The Upper-caste Middle Class and the BJP The upper-caste m iddle class has always been overrepresented w ithin the Hindu nationalist m ovem ent, to such an exten t that the Ja n a Sangh was know n as a ‘B rah m in-b aniya’ p arty The Sangh Parivar held som e attractio n for these m ilieus for two m ain reasons. One was its sanskritized style and defence o f so ­ cial hierarchy; the oth er was its econ o m ic liberalism and de­ fence of the ‘m iddle w orld’, a w orld , acco rd in g to Bruce G ra­ ham , com posed of ‘the provincial professions, small industry, and cou n try trading and banking’.54 The affinity between Hindu nationalism and these categories was particularly noticeable in the tow ns of the Hindi belt. Since the late 1 9 8 0 s , however, the BJP has benefited from the grow th of a new middle class that has em erged largely as a result o f econom ic liberalization. The system of values of this rising social category is based, in theory at least, on m erit gained through hard w ork. Its m em bers thus show little con cern for the p o o r55 and disapprove of reservation system s in principle. These views overlap w ith those of the BJP. The party advocates a m ore vigorou s liberalization of the do­ m estic economy. It also expresses apprehensions about castebased reservations, though publicly it has to m oderate its stand so as not to alienate the OBC voters. In fact, the Mandal affair was probably as im portant as the Ayodhya m ovem ent in rally­ ing upper caste m iddle-class support around the BJP in the early 1990s. This m iddle class not only shares the BJP’s con cern about the rise of new groups (th e OBCs and the D alits)— that is, its ap­ prehension regarding the social dim ension of dem ocracy— they also have in com m on with it a grow ing questioning of parlia­ m entary governm ent. In 1 9 9 3 , an opinion poll con d u cted in Bombay, Delhi, C alcu tta, M adras, and Bangalore revealed that 5 8 per cent of interview ees agreed with the following proposi­ tion : ‘If the cou n try is to progress, it needs a dictator.’56 The an ti-p arliam en t attitude underlying this stand reflects the op­ probrium affecting politicians. The survey cond ucted by the C entre for the Study of D eveloping Societies during the 1 9 9 6 electio n s show ed th at only 2 2 per cen t of the interview ees th ought that their MP cared for the people (as against 2 7 per cen t in 1 9 7 1 ) .57 The au th oritarian option, however, seems to be c o n s id e re d by the u rb an m id d le cla ss a lo n e . A m on g the

Table 1: Occupational distribution of Hindi-belt MPs of the three main parties 1989

1991

1996

Occupation

BJP

Cong

JD

BJP

Cong

ID

BJP

Cong

JD

Agriculturalist

14

13

34

16

23

19

35

10

10

21.8%

37.1%

32.3%

18.6%

38%

35.8%

28.8%

29%

40%

6

1

Lawyer Trader Industrialist

15

5

20

9

12

8

18

23.4%

14.2%

19%

10.4%

20%

15%

14.8%

1 7.6%

4%

5

2

3

12

3

1

19

2

1

7.8%

5.7%

2.8%

13.9%

5%

1.8%

15.7%

5.8%

4%

2

0

0

6

0

1

5

0

0

1.8%

4.1%

0

4

0

0

6.9%

3.1% Ex-Civil Servant

2

0

0

3.1% Ex-Army

1

Journalist

0

1

1

1.5%

2.8%

2

0

3.1% W riter & Artist Teacher

0 5 7.8%

0

3.3%

2.3%

1.5% Policeman/Pilot

2

0 3 8.6%

1

5

2

1

4

1

1

0.9%

5.8%

3.3%

1.8%

3.3%

2.9%

4%

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

1.6%

2.9%

6

1

1

2

1

1

5.7%

1.1%

1.6%

3.7%

0.8%

2.9%

2

1

0

0

2

2

3

1.9%

1.1%

1.6%

5.8%

12%

9

5

8.6%

5.8%

5 8.3%

0

6

9

2

3

11.3%

7.4%

5.8%

12%

Doctor

4

2

6

1.9%

6.9%

2

1

1.9%

1.1%

2

1

0

5.7%

0.9%

4

2

3

6

6.25%

5.7%

2.8%

6.9%

5

5

19

3

7.8%

14.2%

18%

3.4%

2

1

0

3.1%

2.8%

2

0

0

6.25% Engineer Trade Unionist Social Worker Political Worker Former Ruler

Religious Figure

0 0

0

3.1% Sportsman

0

0

2 2.3%

2

8

1.9%

9.3%

0

2 2.3%

1

1

1

2.8%

0.9%

1.1%

64

35

105

86

100%

100%

100%

100%

Other, Not Known

Total

0

0

7

1

5.7% 0

3

2.9%

0

2

5.6% 0

0

0

3.7% 0

1

4%

3

10

5.6%

8.2%

10

5

1

11.6%

9.4%

0.8%

1

3

12%

5.8%

2

0

0

2

8%

5.8% 1

0

8%

2

1.2%

2

2

1.6%

0

5.8%

0 0

1

3

1.8% 2

1

3.3%

1.8%

0

0

0

0 2.4%

0

0

0

1 0.8%

60

53

121

100%

100%

100%

0

1 2.9% 34

100%

25

100%

Table 2: Caste and community background of the Hindi belt and Gujarat MPs (party-wise, in %) Castes &

BJP

Cong

JD

BJP

Cong

ID

BJP

Cong

JD

BJP

Cong

JD

Communities

89

89

89

91

91

91

96

96

96

98

98

+SP +RJD 98

46.67

34.21

28.45

51.40

27.69

16.99

42.75

27.27

14.28

43.26

22.22

Brahmin

17.33

15.79

6.90

24.30

10.77

1.89

19.57

15.91

18.44

6.67

Rajput

16.0 -

7.89

14.66

17.76

6.15

13.21

13.77

4.55

4.76 7.14

12.77

2.22

1.72

-

3.08

1.89

-

-

1.42

3.74

3.08

-

4.55

-

4.96

2.22 6.67

-

1.72

1.45 5.07

2.59

1.87

3.08

-

2.13

2.22

-

Upper castes

Bhumihar Baniya/Jain

6.67

2.63 5.26

Kayasth Other*

2.67

-

4.0

7.89

15.52

9.35

Interm ediate

8.0

7.89

15.52

9.35

-

2.63

1.33 6.67

2.63 -

11.21 -

-

2.63

16.0

15.22

15.22 -

-

2.17

13.85

1.89

7.97

20.45

2.38 -

8.51

2.22

13.85

1.89

7.97

20.45

-

8.51

22.22

2.80

10.77

1.89

4.35

13.64

-

4.26

11.11

0.93

1.54

-

0.72

2.27

-

0.71

2.22

-

4.31 -

5.61

1.54

-

2.90

4.55

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3.55 -

4.44

-

4.44

-

5.26

26.72

14.02

13.85

39.62

18.1

14.66

-

1.54

22.64

Castes

Jat Maratha Patidar Bishnoi OBC

Yadav

1.33

-

Kurmi

5.33

5.26

4.31

7.48

4.62

Lodhi

2.67

-

0.86

2.80

-

9.43 -

Other

6.67

6.90

3.74

7.69

7.55

11.36

54.76

17.02

8.89

50.0

1.45

-

33.33

1.42

2.22

21.74

5.80

-

4.76

7.09

-

10.87

2.90

-

-

2.13

-

7.97

4.26

6.67

11.36

16.67

17.39

sc

16.0

18.42

18.10

16.82

15.38

ST

9.33

23.68

3.45

4.67

21.54

Muslim

1.33

5.26

6.9

Sikh

1.33

Christian

4.62 0.93

2.63 1.87

Sadhu Unidentified

1.33

2.63

0.86

0.93

3.08

Total

100.0

100

100

100

100

N=75

N=38

N=166

N=107

N=65

•Khattri, A m il, Tyagi

24.53

21.01

11.36

14.29

15.60

11.11

17.39

-

7.97

22.73

-

6.38

26,67

-

13.2

-

4.55

14.29

0.71

4.44

13.04

-

0.72

-

-

0.71

-

-

1.89

-

-

2.38

-

-

2.17

1.89

1.45

2.27

_

7.80

4.44

2.17

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

N=53

N=138

N=44

N=42

N=141

N=45

N=46

374

TRANSFORMING INDIA

Table 3: Caste background of the parties' electorates____________ Cong(l) Forward 29 OBC 25 SC 31 ST 47 Source. India Today, 31 May

BJP 33 23 11 17

NF/LF 17 25 21 15

BSP 1 2 16 2

State Parties 10 18 14 7

Others 10 7 7 12

1996, p. 27.

interview ees of the 1 9 9 3 survey, 6 8 per cen t declared th at they belonged to the ‘m iddle class’ (as against eight per cen t to the ‘low er-m iddle class’, nine per cen t to the ‘upper-m iddle class’, and 10 per cen t to the ‘w orking class’). Indeed, the m asses co n ­ tinue to regard the act of voting as useful, as testified by the fact th at ordinary people vote m ore than the élite groups.58 The urban m iddle class obviously aspires to a m ore orderly day-to-day life and a kind of discipline th at is regarded as a precondition for econ o m ic progress. This is one of the reasons for the attractio n the BJP holds for this group, since it is know n for its RSS background. The urban m iddle class also approves of the BJP’s crusade against corru ption, a them e that it has cashed in on despite allegations that som e of its leaders had been in­ volved in co rru p tio n . The com m on assum ption is that parlia­ m entary d em ocracy n ot only needs to be disciplined; it also needs to be purified.

Conclusion Historically, the Hindu nation alists have supported dem ocracy largely because, in contrast to today’s advocates o f ‘Asian values’ in South East and East Asia, for w hom dem ocracy is an im port from the W est, they have regarded it as a national regim e. Ac­ cording to them , India was always a dem ocracy— before foreign invasions— and to say so was a good m eans for regaining one’s self-esteem in front of the British. This ‘tradition al’ dem ocracy, however, does not m eet the criteria of parliam entary o r liberal d e m o c ra c y , s in c e H in d u n a tio n a lis ts h a v e te n d e d to be favourably inclined tow ards an organ icist arran gem ent. This approach is not fundam entally different from the G andhian view of dem ocracy.

Hindu Nationalism and Democracy

375

The dem ocratic credentials of Hindu nationalists can be ques­ tioned for other reasons. F irst, they supported dem ocracy as the m ost convenient regim e for establishing a perm anent Hindu dom ination, since H indus were a majority. Second, the RSS has been keen to exert som e influence on the political dom ain even though it has not contested elections itself. T hird, even though the BJP holds internal elections m ore often than m ost other or­ ganizations and parties, the RSS and its offshoots are not ruled by d em ocratic p rocedu res, since there is often only one can d i­ date for one post and the personalization of power, as well as the repression of any dissent, are com m onplace. Today, these authoritarian leanings find expression in a m ore or less openly declared interest in a presidential system of governance. The fourth factor affecting the credibility of the Hindu na­ tionalist com m itm en t to d em ocracy lies in its sociological co m ­ position: the m ovem ent is still identified w ith the upper castes, since a large num ber of its leaders, m ilitants, and voters belong to this m ilieu. Though the BJP is gradually prom oting low -caste cadres w ithin the party apparatus, it still does not con tribute to the present day (so cial) d em ocratization of Indian (p olitical) dem ocracy.

Notes 1 I have developed this point in the first chapter of my book, The Hindu N ationalist M ovement and Indian Politics, 1 9 2 5 -1 9 9 0 s (New Delhi: Vi­ king), 1996. 2 The Hindu, 16 September 1974. 3 Sri Aurobindo, C ollected W orks (Pondichery: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust), 1970, vol. 1, ‘Bande Mataram’, pp. 767-9 (article dated 20 March 1908). 4 See, for instance, K.P Jaisw al, Hindu Polity: A C onstitutional H istory o f India in Hindu Times (C alcu tta: Butterw orth), 1924; and even Beni Prasad, The State in Ancient India (Allahabad: The Indian Press), 1928, p. 170. 5 R.K. M ookerji belonged to the Bengal Hindu Sabha and was one of the opponents of the Communal Award in 1932. See J . C hatterji, Bengal D ivided: Hindu C om m unalism and P artition, 1 9 3 2 -1 9 4 7 (Cam bridge: Cambridge University Press), 1994, pp. 2 6 -7 . 6 R.K. M ookerji, Hindu C iv iliza tio n : From the E arliest Time up to the Establishm ent o f the M aurya Em pire (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan),

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TRANSFORMING IND IA

1950, p. 99. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., p. 209. 9 Ibid., p. 214. 10 In the late 1940s, he was closely associated with Hindu n ation alist leaders (such as Shyama Prasad M oo kh eijee), for his fight on b eh alf of Hindi and the refugees from East Bengal. 11 Constituent A ssem bly D ebates (New Delhi: Lok Sabha Secretariat), 1989, vol. 1, p. 65. 12 For more details, see C. Jaffrelot, The Hindu N ationalist M ovem ent, op. cit., p. 273. 13 D.P. Thengadi, ‘Lamp at the Threshold’, preface to PG. Sahasrabuddhe and M.C. Vajpayee, T he P eop le versus Em ergency: A S aga o f S truggle (New Delhi: Suruchi Prakashan), 1991, p. 45. 14 M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch o f Thoughts (Bangalore: Jagrana Prakashan), 1 966, pp. 3 7 -8 . 15 O rganiser, 24 O ctober 1955, p. 6 and p. 12. 16 ‘Adhivakta Parishad wants checks and balances through D harm a in C onstitution’, O rganiser, 5 January 1995. 17 Here, the notion of sa m sk a ra s does not refer to ‘rites of passage’ but, as often in the RSS’s discourse, to all the good influences which can be exerted on the form ation of character (for more details, see C. Jaffrelot, T he Hindu N ation alist M ovement, op. cit., p. 4 8 ). 18 Ibid. 19 ‘Agenda’, The P ioneer, 6 April 1997. 20 M.K. Gandhi, Indian H om e Rule (Madras: Ganesh and C o.), 1 9 2 2 , 5th edn, p. 26. 21 Ibid., p. 27. 22 Cited in D. Dalton, ‘The Concept of Politics and Power in India’s Ideo­ logical Tradition’, in A. Jeyaratnam W ilson and Dennis Dalton (ed s), T he States o f South A sia: P roblem s o f N a tio n a l In teg ra tio n (L o n d o n : H u rst), 1 9 8 2 , p. 186. 23 Jayaprakash Narayan, A P lea f o r Reconstruction o f Indian Polity (Kashi: A khil Bharat Sarva Seva Sangh), 1959, p. 66. 24 Ibid., p. 22. 25 Ibid., p. 26. 25 M.K. Gandhi, ‘The Kingdom of Rama’, in K. Satchidananda Murty (ed.), Readings in India History, Politics and P hilosophy (London: George Allen and U nw in), 1967, p. 186. 27 ‘M anifesto-195 4 ’, in Bharatiya Jan a Sangh, Party D ocum ents, vol. 1 (New Delhi: BJS), 1973, p. 62. 28 Indian Annual Register, 1938, vol. 1, p. 420. 29 Ibid.

Hindu Nationalism and Democracy

377

30 Savarkar reiterated this stand in even more explicit terms in his 1938 presidential address: ‘The Hindu Sannathanist Party aims to base the future C onstitution of Hindusthan on the broad principle that all citi­ zens should have equal rights and obligations irrespective of caste or , creed, race or religion, provided they avow and owe an exclusive and devoted allegiance to the Hindusthani State. . . . No attitude can be more National, even in the territorial sense than this and it is an atti­ tude in general w hich is expressed by the curt formula “one man, one vote”.’ The Indian Annual R egister, vol. 2, 1939, p. 325. 31 T he Indian Annual R egister, 1940, vol. 1, p. 10. 32 See, for in stance, the Party’s electio n m anifesto in 1996. Bharatiya Janata Party, F o r a Strong and Prosperous India: E lection M anifesto 1996 (New D elhi), 1996. 33 L.K. Advani. Presidential Address, 9th National Council Session, 2 - 4 January 1987, pp. 8 - 9 . 34 L.K. Advani, Presidential Address, BJP Plenary Session, 9 May 1986, p. 465. 35 S. Kaviraj, ‘Dem ocracy and Development in India’, in A.K. Bagchi (ed .), D em ocracy and D evelopm ent (London: M acm illan), 1994, p. 123. 36 S.S. Savarkar and G.M. Jo sh i (eds), H istoric Statem ents: V.D. S a v arkar (Bombay: Popular Prakashan), 1967, p. 224. 37 S. Kaviraj, ‘Dem ocracy and Development in India’, op. cit., p. 124. 38 Ibid., p. 124. 39 M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch o f Thoughts, op. cit., pp. 9 2 -3 . 40 Ibid., p. 103. 41 D.R. Goyal, R ashtriya Sw ayam sevak Sangh (New Delhi: Radha Krishna Prakashan), 1978, p. 196. 42 Interview with A.B Vajpayee, ‘Sangh is My Soul’, O rganiser, May 1995, reprinted in C om m unalism Com bat, February 1998, pp. 28-9. 43 The Hindustan Times, 21 Ju ly 1998. 44 Ibid., 27 Ju ly 1998. 45 For more details, see C. Jaffrelot, The Hindu N ation alist M ovement, op. cit., p. 149 ff. 46 The Statesm an (D elh i) 16 January and 2 February 1991, 47 A.B. Vajpayee, ‘Challenges to Democracy in India’, O rganiser, 24 No­ vember 1996, p. 4. 48 Vajpayee reiterated his attacks on the foreign origin of parliamentary democracy on several occasions. Delivering the M.S. Golwalkar Me­ m orial Lecture organized by the Deendayal Research Institute on 22 February 1997, he considered that the low level of the socio-econom ic development in India resulted from ‘the present system of parliamen­ tary democracy, w hich we borrowed blindly from the British’. (Vajpayee Advocates a Change in Our System of G overnance’, Organiser, 9 March

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

w India Today, 15 May 1997. 50 Digvijay Singh, the ch ief m inister of Madhya Pradesh, for instance, recently advocated a presidential form o f governm ent ( N ation al M ail, 21 October 1996). 51 ‘National Agenda for Governance’, O rganiser— Varsha P ratip ad a Spe­ cia l, 29 March 1998, p. 29. 52 The Hindu, 27 April 1998. 51 Ibid., 5 May 1998. 54 B. Graham, Hindu N ationalism and Indian P olitics (Cam bridge: Cam­ bridge University Press) 1990, p. 158. 55 See R. Kothari, ‘Class and Communalism in India’, E con om ic and Po­ litical W eekly, 3 Decem ber 1988. 56 T he Times o f India, 28 Decem ber 1993, pp. 1 and 11. 37 In dia Today, 31 August 1996, p. 31. *® Among those who voted more, one finds the ‘very poor’ people (+ 2.9 points above the average turnout), the Scheduled Castes ( + 1 .9 p o in t), and the villagers (+1.1 point). Among those whose turnout is below the average, one finds the upper castes (-1 .6 p oin t), urban dwellers (3 points) and graduates and post-graduates (-4 .5 p oints) (Ib id ., pp. 3 0 -9 ).

The Transformation of Hindu Nationalism? Towards a reappraisal* AMRITA BASU

To inquire into the im plications of Hindu nationalism for In­ dian d em ocracy is to enter a quagm ire, for it was only in the period leading to the 1 9 8 9 parliam en tary elections th at the B haratiya Jan ata Party (B JP) began its sp ectacu lar grow th. The h istorical record is thin, ou r capacities to predict are lim ited, and the com m itm en t of the BJP to d em ocratic norm s is highly questionable. N onetheless, speculating on the fate of Indian d em ocracy w ithout asking w hether it is underm ined, enhanced or untouched by the grow th of Hindu nationalism would be a futile exercise; Hindu nationalism undoubtedly represents one of the m ajor challenges Indian dem ocracy has faced in its fifty years of existence, and the BJP is its principal proponent. How­ ever incom plete our knowledge or speculative our interpretation, we will have to confront the thorny issue of the relationship betw een Hindu nationalism and Indian dem ocracy. The analytic question that this paper poses is: under w hat con d ition s can a party that abides by the fo rm a l rules of dem oc­ racy be considered an ti-d em ocratic? M any theorists subscribe to a m inim alist view of dem ocracy w hich holds that political parties w hich support free and fair elections, inclusive suffrage, freedom of expression, and associational au tonom y can be co n ­ sidered d em o cratic.1 Such m inim alist views were expounded am idst the dem ise of authoritarian regim es and transitions to * I received helpful comments on this paper from participants in the confer­ ence on ‘Democracy and Transformation: India After Fifty Years of Inde­ pendence,’ held in New Delhi in November 1997. Mary Katzenstein, Mark Kesselman and Ritu Menon made excellent suggestions on an earlier draft.

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TRANSFORMING INDIA

d em ocracy in Latin A m erica. Subsequently, how ever, they have reviewed their earlier optim ism and devised m ore dem anding standards for evaluating dem ocratic parties and regim es.2 I will exam ine the pertinence of these different standards in the Indian co n te x t. India m ight be seen as exp erien cin g a tran ­ sition to either a m ore or less d em ocratic system . O verall, the C on gress p arty has d eclin ed , regional parties have becom e prom inent national a cto rs, and short-lived coalition govern­ m ents have supplanted a stable, on e-p arty-d om in an t system . My particu lar focus is on the BJP, w hich in 1 9 9 6 , paradoxically, w on the largest nu m b er of seats in the parliam entary elections in India, yet was unable to form a durable national governm ent. L et us, for a m om en t, consider som e of its distinguishing fea­ tures: The BJP functions as a party, a m ovem ent and, often, as a governm ent at the state level; it operates differently w hen in power than in opposition; and it has deep and enduring ties to a range of allied organizations. Chief am ong these are the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a cultural organization, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (V H P), an affiliated religious organization. Thus, to study the growth o f Hindu nationalism necessitates an inquiry into the BJP’s multiple identities in each of these contexts. The first part of th is essay explores how the BJP positions itself on questions of secularism , dem ocracy and m inority rights. F a r from challenging the founding principles of the 1 9 5 0 C on­ stitu tion , it seeks to dem onstrate th at it now cham pions the very principles th at its erstw hile op pon ent, the C ongress party on ce em braced. Its accep tan ce of them suggests that the BJP w ishes to gain supp ort by presenting itself as a cen trist party that endorses the com m o n values of Indian politics. The sec­ ond part exam ines the exten t to w h ich the BJP has been influ­ enced by the centrip etal pressures of electoral dem ocracy. W hile it has m oderated its som etim es aggressive public stan ce in re­ sponse to social and political pressure, it also periodically su c­ cum bs to com p etin g dem ands to sustain its com m itm en t to m ilitant Hindu nationalism . This becom es evident if we shift our focus away from the BJP’s form al pron oun cem en ts to its routine actio n s; and aw ay from its electoral stan ce to the inter­ play between election s and riots. This is the case even when the party occu p ies office at the state level, and since 1 9 9 3 , after w hich its overall stan ce has becom e m ore m oderate.

The Transformation of Hindu Nationalism?

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Hindu Nationalism as the Common Sense of Indian Politics The BJP has so far escaped the stigm a often attached to reli­ gious ‘fundam entalist’ parties. Terms like ‘fanaticism ’ or ‘extrem ­ ism ’ have been used to describe individuals and particular acts of violence, rath er than the BJP as a w hole. One reason for this relu ctan ce to condem n the BJP ou trigh t m ay be the nature of Hindu nationalist discourse itself. As Christophe Jaffrelot rightly argues (in this volum e) this can som etim es be an ti-d em o cratic, but the BJP’s deploym ent of d em ocratic and secu lar discourses is deliberate and significant: it has earned Hindu nationalists the support of the educated m iddle classes in India and abroad, and has distinguished them from religious fundam entalists. U nlike m ost fundam entalist m ovem ents w hich re je ct the separation betw een religion and politics, Hindu nationalists accep t it, in principle. It is true th at on the issue of the Babri m asjid the BJP brought India to the brink of disaster, but it has n ot yet clearly articulated a position on the creation of a Hindu state. Partha C hatterjee argues: The persuasive power, and even the em otional charge the Hindutva campaign appears to have gained in recent years does not depend on its demanding legislative 'enforcem ent of ritual or scriptural in ju n c­ tions, a role for religious institu tions in legislative or ju d icial pro­ cesses, com pulsory religious instruction, state support for religious bodies, censorship of science, literature and art in order to safeguard religious dogma, or any other sim ilar demand undermining the secu ­ lar character of the existing Indian state.3

Even during its m ost m ilitant phase ( 1 9 8 9 - 9 2 ) , the BJP did not challenge secular and d em ocratic principles. Rather, it decried the ‘p seud o-secular’ C ongress party presenting itself as truly secular. It was the m ost strident critic of Rajiv Gandhi’s actions during the Shah Bano controversy, his overturning of a Supreme C ou rt ruling that provided m aintenance to an elderly M uslim w om an, and his enacting of a law that debarred M uslim w om en from availing of the provisions of civil law. It also em erged as the m ajor advocate of a U niform Civil Code governing all legal m atters pertaining to the family. The BJP seized on the issue as an o th er opportunity to expose the Congress party’s failure to provide equality to m en and w om en before the law. At the sam e

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tim e, it w as responsible for creatin g a political clim ate in w h ich the passage of such a code w ould no longer signify an e x te n ­ sion of w om en ’s rights, w ith the resu lt that today the w o m en ’s m ovem ent has w ithdraw n its long-standing dem and for a U C C for fear that this m ight be con stru ed as an attack on the M uslim com m unity. The very grounds on w h ich the BJP supports secularism in fact underm ine it. The BJP holds that the Indian con cep tion o f secularism is inspired by the n o tio n of sarva dharm a sambhava, or equal resp ect for all religions, rath er than the western? c o n ­ ception of secu larism , w hich entails separation of and often, opposition betw een, religion and the state. Significantly, the BJP criticizes the state for its unequal treatm en t of Hindus and M us­ lim s; the exam ples it cites dem onstrate the state’s ‘appeasem ent’ of M uslim s and its ‘d iscrim in ation ’ against H indus. Atal B ehari Vajpayee, generally considered the party m oderate, argues th at the state has failed to prop erly im p lem en t fam ily p lan n in g program m es and to draft a U C C for fear of ‘hu rting’ M uslim religious sensibilities. Fu rth er, it has unfairly denied m ajorities the right it acco rd s to m inorities to establish and m anage edu­ cation al in stitution s of th eir ch o ice. The state discrim inates against H indus, the argum ent con tin u es, by deem ing their cu l­ tural p ractices ‘religious’ and thereby restrictin g them to the private dom ain. Atal Behari Vajpayee argues, Practices like lighting a lamp at the inauguration of state functions or breaking a coconut at the time of launching a new ship are not con ­ nected with the rituals of any religion but are part of Indian culture and tra d itio n .. . . Social festivals like Diwali, Dussehra and Holi should not be associated with any specific form of worship. These festivals have m anifested our cultural wealth and its diversity right from the days of the Puranas.4

The im plication is that w hereas Hindu religious p ractices are part of the fabric of Indian cu ltu ral life, M uslim observance is not. The m ajor im pedim ents to secularism in India are, thus, the state and the M uslim com m unity. The VHP is m ore explicit. A pam phlet authored by Rajm ohan argues that Hinduism is secu­ lar by nature, i t assim ilates all creeds and sects in the same way the ocean takes into it various riv ers.’ By con trast, ‘If one traverses through the preachings required by M uslims, leaving n ot even the m inute details, one will be shocked to see the cruel

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treatm ent m eted out to those who belonged to religions other than Islam . . .’.5 After docum enting the barbarism th at Islam m andates in great detail, Rajm ohan conclu des that it is funda­ m entally incom patible w ith secularism . Hindu nationalists argue that the state should favour the in­ terests o f Hindus over those of M uslims because they con sti­ tute a m ajority of the population, and because Hinduism is more toleran t than Islam. T heir argum ent that the state treats Hindus and M uslims unequally in effect, proposes the denial of m inor­ ity rights and religious liberty for M uslims. This in turn explains the BJP’s opposition to the National M inorities Com m ission and its desire to abrogate A rticle 3 7 0 of the C on stitution , w hich accord s a special status to Kashmir. By opposing the state’s at­ tem pt to p rotect m inority interests, the BJP seeks to redefine d em ocracy as m ajority rule, and m inority rights as a m atter of special bargaining. In the process it has transform ed the un i­ verse o f political discou rse. Rajeev Bhargava best captures this when he argues, ‘W ords integral to the established vocabulary of dem ocratic and liberal discourse w ere gradually detached from it, evacuated of their original m eanings and recast, indeed hijacked, for a new brand of extrem ist p o litics’.6 He goes on to note th at Hindu nationalists conflate d em ocracy w ith power en scon ced in a perm anent m ajority: Dem ocracy means neither the rule of the m ajority nor of a minority, but prim arily the acceptance of a com mon framework that prevents the concentration of power in either. Since dem ocracy is a central value of our C onstitution and m ajority rule is inim ical to proper demo­ cratic functioning, equating democracy with m ajority rule is neither fully dem ocratic nor properly constitutional.7

The Taming of the BJP M ost students of Indian politics w ould co n cu r th at if the surge of m ilitant Hindu nationalism in the early 1 9 9 0 s challenged Indian dem ocracy, the challenge was sh ortlived . Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph have argued persuasively that one of the m ost striking features of Indian politics is its persistent cen trism .8 All political parties that seek or exercise pow er are subject to centrip etal pressures. Atul Kohli observes that betw een M arch and Ju n e 1 9 9 6 , C ongress, the BJP, and the United F ro n t— each

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of w hich briefly took up the reins of governm ent— all felt the need to m ove tow ards an invisible cen tre by adopting sim ilar policies on the sam e set of issu es.9 N either the Rudolphs nor Kohli com m en t specifically on th e BJP’s trajectory, but others w ho do, like A shutosh Varshney, find that it too has in creas­ ingly becom e a cen trist party.10 A lthough it rose to prom inence by associatin g itself w ith a disrup tive, violen t m ovem ent in Ayodhya, the closer it has com e to the exercise of national power, the m ore m oderate has been its actual functioning. Recall that on D ecem ber 6 , 1 9 9 2 , H indu nationalists orga­ nized a m assive cam paign that culm in ated in the destru ction of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya. The riots that followed, w hich were often orie-sided attack s on the M uslim com m u nity by the p o­ lice and Hindu organizations, resulted in well over two th o u ­ sand casualties. The BJP hoped to reap enorm ous political capital from its actio n s, so m u ch so th at i t s l 9 9 3 election m anifesto devoted eleven paragraphs to the cam paign, w hich it described as ‘the biggest m ass m ovem ent in the history of independent India’. It w ent on to hail the m ovem ent as ‘both a sym bol and a source of ou r national solidarity, econ o m ic pow er and social co h esio n ’. Barely a year later it was chastened by hum iliating electo ral setbacks. Public opinion polls co n d u cted after the dem olition of the m osque show ed that 5 2 per cen t of the popu­ lation disapproved, 3 9 per cen t approved, and eight p er cent had no opinion. Fifty-tw o per cen t of those w ho w ere surveyed believed that the BJP had broken the law.11 The N ovem ber 1 9 9 3 legislative assem bly election results are widely regarded as a public referendum on the events of the previous Decem ber. Significantly, the B JP ’s losses were greatest in M adhya Pradesh, followed by U ttar Pradesh, states in w hich its posture was m ost m ilitant and riots w ere num erous. By co n ­ trast, it retained pow er in R ajasthan, w here it benefited from the m oderate, relatively secu lar leadership of C hief M inister Bhairon Singh Shekhaw at. The election returns suggest that a strategy that sought to polarize the electo rate along religious lines by fom enting violen ce, had ceased to pay. The BJP took heed. At its national cou n cil m eeting in Bangalore in Ju n e 1 9 9 3 , it projected itself as a responsible alternative to the Congress p arty and h ig h lig h ted its c o m m itm e n t to op en in g up the econom y and ending corru ption. It reaffirmed its faith in a secu ­

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lar state and dow nplayed the possibility of building a tem ple in Ayodhya. Two years later, at the Goa con clave, the BJP was try ­ ing hard to tone dow n its anti-M uslim posture. The then party president, L.K. Advani, asked party m em bers to try to rid M us­ lim s of their ‘m isapprehensions of the BJP’. In state elections held in 1 9 9 5 , following the pattern established two years earlier, the electo rate delivered an anti-establishm ent vote: the BJP cam e to pow er in only tw o states, neither of which it had ruled before, as a resu lt of popular discon ten t with in­ cum bent governm ents. A nti-establishm ent sentim ent generally w orked to the ad v an tag e o f an ti-estab lish m en t p arties: the Telugu Desam in A ndhra Pradesh, the Jan ata Dal in K arnataka, and Congress in O rissa, as well as the BJP in M aharashtra and G ujarat. In these two states, the BJP benefited from the vote of dissatisfaction th at had previously gone to the Jan ata Dal. The B JP-Shiv Sena alliance cam e to pow er in M aharashtra with a slim majority, ju st one p er cent over C ongress, w hile the BJP cam e to p o w er w ith a co m fo rtab le tw o -th ird s m ajo rity in Gujarat. The m ore successfu l the BJP has been in occupying office at the state level and in attaining pow er at the C entre, the m ore it has been forced to participate in coalition governm ents. Regional parties are heavily represented am ong coalition partn ers, and their interests lie in effecting a devolution of pow er from the Centre to the states. In w orking out an alliance w ith the Akali Dal and the H aryana Vikas Party (H V P) in Ju ly 1 9 9 7 , the BJP threatened an agitation if, by the end of the year, the Centre failed to im plem ent the Sarkaria C om m ission recom m endations to restru ctu re C e n tre -sta te relations. It also dem anded that the Centre con su lt w ith state governm ents in the appointm ent of governors. T hat a party com m itted to a centralized state should demand the devolution of pow er is a m ark of the exten t to which electoral com pulsions can influence the B JP’s agenda. There are several additional exp lan ation s for the B JP’s retreat from its m ilitant stand of the early 1 9 9 0 s. As social m ovem ent theorists point ou t, single-issue cam paigns are highly effective but sh ort­ lived: it was m uch easier to mobilize people to destroy the Babri masjid than to undertake the m undane work of building a Hindu tem ple. The violen ce associated with the cam paign m ay have worked in the sh ort run, but it backfired ultim ately. Even if

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M uslims were the w orst victim s, Hindus also suffered from p o ­ litical instability, m aterial losses and th reats to their physical safety. The BJP’s cen trism m ay also be the in advertent result of th e party’s dim inished organizational coh eren ce. The BJP has e xp e­ rienced w hat has been called ‘C ongressization’, as it evolved from a narrow ly-based, disciplined-cadre party into a mass party. E xp ansion has brought about a m ore disparate, co rru p t, unprin­ cipled m em bership, rendering the party less equipped to either play a transform ative role or to m aintain a stable governm ent. Indeed, dissension and rivalry w ithin the party was a m ajor rea­ son for the fall of the BJP governm ent in G ujarat in 1 9 9 6 . One of the m ost im portan t im pedim ents to the B JP’s continu ed m ili­ tan cy has to do w ith its regional confin em en t to north -w estern India. The BJP w on m ore seats than any oth er political p arty in the 1 9 9 6 parliam en tary elections, but 7 4 per cen t of these seats were from the Hindi heartland (in clud ing Bihar but exclud ing the P u n jab ). The addition of G ujarat and M aharashtra in the w est acco u n ted for 9 6 per cen t of seats w on, but only four per cen t of these were from south, east and n o rth -eastern India. A lthough it record ed a significant grow th in A ndhra Pradesh and W est Bengal in 1 9 9 1 , it had declined in these states by 1 9 9 6 . It is essential for the BJP to m ake inroads into sou th and east India in order to form a national governm ent, but to do so, it has had to divest itself of certain n orth Indian trappings; for e x a m p le , it h as a b an d o n ed its in s is te n c e on H in d i as the n ation al language. To attain pow er at the C entre, the BJP m ust also achieve significant gains am ong the low er castes. E x it polls for the 1 9 9 6 parliam en tary elections show ed th at although it succeeded in fracturing the O ther Backward Classes (O BC ) vote, only 11 per cen t of the Scheduled C astes supported the BJP, com pared to 31 per cen t for the Congress, 21 per cen t for the N ational F ro n t, and 16 per cen t w ho supported their own new party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (B S P ).12 Indeed, n otw ithstand­ ing the shortlived alliance betw een the BSP in the state and the BJP in U ttar Pradesh, low er-caste parties rem ain the m ajor an ti­ dote to the BJP and the strongest supporters of secularism . There are serious, enduring strains betw een the upper and lowest castes. Although the BJP’s upper-caste leadership has been quite successful in attractin g OBC votes and candidates, it has

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been relatively unsuccessful am ong the lowest castes. At a deeper level, the strongest defence of secularism has always com e from those parties and leaders who are m ost com m itted to econom ic redistribution, cultural pluralism and d em ocratic renew al. To­ day, am idst the dem ise of Congress and its socialist com m it­ m ents, low er-caste parties are the m ajor proponents of a social dem ocratic agenda. O verall, M uslim s’ response to the events surrounding the Ayodhya cam paign has been an im portan t im pedim ent to x e ­ nophobic Hindu nationalism . The BJP can only polarize reli­ gious com m unities if it provokes a m ilitant M uslim response. However, m ost M uslims have distanced them selves from the op p ortu n istic M uslim leadership, and have affirmed secu lar values. One indication of this is the em ergence of several M us­ lim organizations com m itted to reform ing religious laws and becom ing active in com m u nity w ork. A nother indication is the com m u n ity’s disinterest in participating in activities that M us­ lim leaders have organized around Ayodhya since 1 9 9 3 . Syed Shahabuddin sponsored a m eeting on 3 Ju ly 1 9 9 3 to discuss the reco n stru ctio n of the m osque, but w hat had been billed as a day-long m eeting ended w ithin two hours because it m et with so little enthusiasm . The M uslim com m u n ity’s electoral response to the BJP has changed as well. In the im m ediate afterm ath of the dem olition of the Babri m asjid, M uslim leaders urged com m unity m em bers to vote for w hichever party w ould defeat BfP candidates. How­ ever, this strategy ultim ately w orked in the BJP’s favour by en­ couraging the upper castes to rally round the BJP. Today, no single Muslim position prevails on w hether to vote for or against them. A discussion w ith a group of M uslim m en from N izam uddin in N ovem ber 1 9 9 7 dem onstrated how M uslim views on the BJP had evolved .13 The group did not believe th at the BJP’s ideology had changed fundam entally since 1 9 9 2 ; an elderly m aulvi co m ­ m ented, T h e BJP has sim ply washed its old clothes. But som e stains are so bad that no am ount of laundering can remove them .’ W h at had changed, however, was their view of how the Muslim com m u nity should respond to it. M uslims had fallen into the BJP’s trap, they said, by exaggerating the significance of the temple issue. If the BJP built the tem ple, as it repeatedly claimed it w ould, they would not resist. T heir priority was to attend to

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the real needs of the Muslim com m unity, particularly better and m ore extensive educational facilities. M eanw hile, they would lend support to lower castes, both w ithin and outside the party, w ho w ould pose the m ajor challenge to the BJP. T heir respect for M ulayam Singh Yadav m a tch e d th eir d isd ain for Syed Shahabuddin.

The Endurance of Hindutva If, as we have seen, the BJP has m oderated its stand on som e of the controversial issues it had raised earlier, it is not in its inter­ ests to sim ply abdicate its com m itm en t to H indutva w hen this is w hat distinguishes it from other political parties. The BJP is keenly aware of the co st of assim ilating into the political m ain­ stream and has, for years, sought to avoid doing this w ith ou t at the sam e tim e, becom ing a pariah party. Before and after 1 9 9 3 , the period of relative m oderation, the BJP periodically revived H in d u -M u slim c o n flic ts to keep aliv e p u b lic m e m o ry of H indutva. The BJP m ay give less im portance today than it did earlier to the tem ple in Ayodhya, but it has nonetheless sought to keep m em ories of it alive. Although som e BJP leaders apologized for the d estruction of the m osque ju st after it had o ccu rred , others later defended it. Um a Bharati suggested th at D ecem ber 6 , the day the Babri masjid was dem olished, be com m em orated as a national holiday.14 Lest her views be regarded as aberrant, Atal Behari Vajpayee, w hom the party regards as its m ost m oderate leader, defended the destruction of the m osque by arguing that it had occu rred in reaction to M uslim vote-bank politics. In an essay entitled ‘The Sangh is My Soul’, he lauded the regenera­ tion of Hindu India that the dem olition signalled and argued th at ‘this was the prim e test of the RSS. Earlier Hindus used to bend before an invasion. N ot now, this change in Hindu society is w orth y of w elcom e.’ F a r from repudiating Vajpayee’s essay, the BJP posted it on the website that it established for its 1998 election cam p aign ,15 and its 1 9 9 6 and 1 9 9 8 election m anifes­ toes reiterated the party’s com m itm en t to building a tem ple at Ayodhya. It is hard to recon cile the BJP’s apparent turn to m oderation after 1 9 9 3 with its decision to ally w ith the Shiv Sena, a political

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party that in popular perception is synonym ous w ith xen o p h o ­ bic violence. Shiv Sena chief Bal Raj Thackeray had gloated over the dem olition of the Babri masjid and over having ‘taught M us­ lims a lesson’ during the Decem ber 1 9 9 2 -Ja n u a ry 1 9 9 3 Mumbai rio ts .16 There is no question about the Shiv Sena’s com plicity in the Mumbai riots w hich claim ed a thousand lives. But after the BJP formed a governm ent in M aharashtra in 1 9 9 5 , it did not repudiate the Shiv Sena’s violent past. Instead, it w ithdrew all charges against Thackeray, disbanded the State M inorities’ C om ­ m ission, and term inated the Srikrishna C om m ission, w hich was charged with investigating the Mumbai r io ts .17 It has generated insecurity am ong the Muslim population by passing bills against cow slaughter and in favour of a Uniform Civil Code in the state assembly. It has also prohibited entry of Bangladeshi im m igrants, w hom it term s ‘infiltrators’, into the state. This policy stokes subliminal fears am ong Hindus that a growing Muslim popula­ tion may be turning the former into a m inority in their own land. Political parties cannot adopt and shed identities at will— they are subject to pressures by leaders and con stitu en cies to abide by past com m itm ents, w hich m akes it extrem ely difficult for them to reinvent them selves. Changes in strategy are m ore likely to be cyclical than perm anent. As a result, to a greater e x te n t than w ith oth er political parties, the BJP engages in doublespeak. It seeks to sim ultaneously dem onstrate its m od ­ eration and its militancy. A good exam ple is its revival of a cam ­ paign against cow slaughter, this time seeking the support of M uslims. ‘If the cow is sacred to Hindus because of religious reason s,’ U m a Bharati argued at a convention of M uslim youth in Delhi in D ecem ber 1 9 9 7 , ‘it is also sacred to M uslim s be­ cause they drink cow m ilk.’18 The BJP’s 1 9 9 8 election m anifesto provides an especially striking instance of its double-edged ap­ p roach . The party rem ains com m itted to the core dem ands that are associated with the m ilitant stance it adopted in 1 9 8 9 . These in clude building a temple at Ayodhya; the abrogation of A rticle 3 7 0 of the C on stitution ; in troduction of a U niform Civil Code; the abolition of the M inorities C om m ission; and a total ban on cow slaughter and beef exports. Its election m anifesto states, ‘The BJP is convinced that H indutva has enorm ous potential to regenerate this nation and is com m itted to facilitating the co n ­ stru ction of a m agnificent tem ple at the Ram Jan m asth an in

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Ayodhya.’ However, it quickly m oderates this im passioned state­ m ent by prom ising ‘consensual, legal, con stitutional m eans to facilitate the con stru ctio n of the Ram M andir’. It also stated that it m ight drop som e of the dem ands in its election m anifesto on ce elected. The BJP knows that polarizing the electorate along H in d u Muslim lines can som etim es pay rich electoral dividends. This was surely one of the chief lessons it learnt from the 1 9 9 1 par­ liam entary elections, in w hich it was the beneficiary of the vio­ lence it had instigated in con n ection w ith Advani’s ra th y a tra in O ctober 1 9 9 0 . It is true th at other political parties, m o st n o ta­ bly the C ongress, have em ployed com m unal appeals and vio­ lence to gain the support of the m ajority com m u n ity However, the BJP is unique in the exten t to w hich it has precipitated vio­ lence w ith the exp licit intention and effect of influencing elec­ toral ou tcom es. The BJP provoked riots ju st before th e 1991 elections in several U ttar Pradesh towns and cities, including Agra, Varanasi and Aligarh; it w ent on to win a m ajority o f votes in each of these tow ns and in the state as a w h ole.19 The BJP’s share of the vote in U ttar Pradesh w ent up to 2 0 .0 8 per cent from 1 1 .3 6 per cen t in the previous elections. It also cam e to pow er in Gujarat and M aharashtra in 1 9 9 5 , follow ing serious incidents of com m unal violence two years earlier. A com m only heard assertion is that the BJP is m ore com m u ­ nal in opposition than in office. W hile there is som e tru th to this statem ent, it m ust be qualified; after all, it was w h en a BJP governm ent was in office in U ttar Pradesh that t