The Burden of Democracy

The Burden of Democracy

Product ID: 11876

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Author: Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 178
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143030221


Optimistic, lively and closely argued, this volume offers a new ideological imagination that throws light on our discontents. By returning to the basics of democracy it serves to illuminate our predicament, even while perceiving the broad contours for change.

After nearly six decades of its existence, there is a pervasive feeling that India's democracy is in crisis. But what is the nature of this threat? In this essay Pratap Bhanu Mehta, reminding us what a bold experiment bringing democracy to a largely illiterate and unpropertied India was, argues that the sphere of politics has truly created opportunities for people to participate in society. But, looking at various facets, he also finds that persistent social inequality on the one hand, and a mistaken view of the state's proper function and organization on the other, have modified and hindered the working of democracy and its effects in innumerable ways.

Positing the quest for self-respect as democracy's deepest aspiration, this essay explores how inequality and the crisis of accountability have together impeded collective action to achieve such an end. To recover this sense of moral well being and responsibility, Mehta suggests, is the core of the democratic challenge before us.

Interrogating India, of which this book is the first in the series, is a new series that looks critically at the common sense prevailing on some of the most pressing issues of our times. Provocative and incisive, it has essays on themes ranging from secularism, political representation and nationalism, to corruption, terrorism and language, which figure prominently in today's middle class discourse.

Passionate, accessible and opinionated, these reflections from some of India's best minds should help us make better sense of the public debate on these issues while hopefully provoking us to respond to the challenges they present.