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OCSA 2050 - Democracy in India - How far?

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

India will be used as a test case for the theories of democracy - which do not seem apt to account for the birth and development of « the world's largest democracy ». Indeed, India's records are unique : no other country with such a low per capita GDP has succeeded in maintaining such a resilient democratic regime for so long. This achievement is largely due to the British influence during the colonial era, but it also stems from specific societal and political characters which have to be examined in a perspective of long durée. The quality of the Indian democracy needs to be scrutinized though. It has been very conservative for decades and even authoritarian under Indira Gandhi. Things changed in the 1990s which were a milestone because of the rise of the lower castes, a form of silent revolution. Since the 1990s, the political system is also much more decentralized and bi-polarized around two coalitions which make alternation in power a routinized exercise. Today, India's democracy is affected by several developments: the rise of Hindu nationalism results in ethno-religious conflicts and in the marginalisation of Christians and Muslims ; Islamism is .growth is significantly unbalanced : the urban middle class is getting richer and richer (but lose interest and confidence in democracy) while the peasants are losing ground and tend to turn to the maoist revolutionaries in the poorest parts of the country ; last but not least, the rule of law has been put on trial, not only because of corruption, but also because of the criminialisation of politics. In comparison to Pakistan, the Indian regime remains much more democratic though, and these diverging trajectories of two countries stemming from the same colonial matrix needs to be explained.


  • DUTOYA, Virginie G. (Chargée de recherches)
  • JAFFRELOT, Christophe (Research Director, CERI - Sciences Po)
  • WAGNER, Paulus (Doctorant)

Course validation

Students will have to submit a paper of 15-25 double-spaced pages on a subject related to the theme of the course. Class participation will constitute 30% of the grade.

Required reading

  • Brass, P., The Politics of India since Independence, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990
  • Frankel, F., India's Political Economy, 1947-1977, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1978
  • C. Jaffrelot (ed.), India Since 1950, New Delhi, Foundation Books, 2011
  • Kohli, A. (ed.), The success of India's democracy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001
  • Rudolph, Lloyd et Susanne Hoeber, In Pursuit of Lakshmi : The Political Economy of the Indian State, Hyderabad, Orient Longman, 1987

Additional required reading

  • Andersen, W., and Damle, S., The Brotherhood in Saffron : The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism, Boulder, Westview, 1987
  • Austin, S., The Indian Constitution : Cornerstone of a Nation, Bombay, Oxford University Press, 1972
  • Bardhan, P., The Political Economy of Development in India, Oxford, Blackwell, 1984
  • Baxi, U., The Supreme Court and Politics, Lucknow, Eastern Book, 1980
  • Chhibber, P., Democracy without associations. Transformation of the party system and social cleavages in India, Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 1999
  • Corbridge, S. et Harriss, John (dir.), Reinventing India. Liberalization, Hindu nationalism and popular democracy, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2001
  • Frankel, F., et Rao, M.S.A. (dir.), Dominance and State Power in Modern India, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2 vol., 1989 et 1990
  • Hasan, Z., Quest for power. Oppositional Movements and post-Congress Politics in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Oxford university Press, 1998
  • Jaffrelot, C., The Hindu nationalist movement and indian politics , 1925 to the 1990s, Delhi, Penguin India, 1999, 592 p
  • Jaffrelot, C. et Hansen, T.B. (dir.), The BJP and the compulsions of politics in India, Oxford, Oxford university press, 2001
  • Kohli, Atul, The State and Poverty in India : The Politics of Reform, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987
  • Kothari, R., Politics in India, Hyderabad, Orient Longman, 1970
  • Mahajan, G., Identities and rights. Aspects of liberal democracy in India, Delhi, Oxford university Press, 1998
  • Morris-Jones, W.H., The Government and Politics of India, Londres, Hutchinson, 1964
  • Zavos, John, Andrew Wyatt et Vernon Hewitt (dir.), The Politics of Cultural Mobilization in India, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2004

Plans de cours et bibliographies