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The Great Indian Rope Trick: Does the Future of Democracy Lie with India

Roderick Matthews (Author)

In the mythical Indian rope trick, the rope stands straight up. Onlookers know, however, that the rope is staying up because the fakir wills it to stay up. India s democracy is much the same. Some observers have found it hard to see how it could support itself, and many have expected it to fall. But it will stand if Indians want it to, and use their collective will to give it strength.

When India shook off the chains of colonial rule in 1947, predictions abounded on how long it would take for the world's largest democracy to fall apart. The new nation appeared to be too large and too diverse to be held together by a powerful centre, and some argued that it was an artificial creation that would soon break apart at the seams.

Yet, more than 60 years and 16 general elections later, and through conflict, poverty, wars, famines, natural disasters, communal riots and separatist movements, nothing has stopped the Indian juggernaut from rolling on. Amid the chaos of 800 million voters and more than 8,000 candidates, the 2014 mandate marked yet another turn in India's continuing tryst with democracy.

What has kept the Indian system of governance ticking even as its neighbours have either become autocratic states or descended into dysfunctionality? How has India proved to the world that democracy may find its best home in the seemingly infinite mass that is the Indian population?

In this testament to the resilience and indomitability of the Indian state, Roderick Matthews, bestselling author of Jinnah vs Gandhi, peels back layers to unveil a story that goes to the heart of this success. In exploring what it has taken for the country to overcome challenges, both external and internal, and drawing comparisons with the recent histories of India's neighbours, Matthews argues that India's constitutional foundations have allowed the nation to become the bedrock of democracy in the modern world.

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About the author

Roderick Matthews

Roderick Matthews was born in London in 1956 and still lives there with his wife and two children. He studied Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford and is now a freelance writer specializing in Indian history. He has written articles for the Times of India, and a biography of the British Raj to be published in 2011. In 1914, his great grandfather advised M.K. Gandhi, then staying in London, to return to India for his health, thus inadvertently precipitating the fall of the British Empire.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Great Indian Rope Trick: Does the Future of Democracy Lie with India
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2015
Edition 1st. ed.
Publisher Hachette India
Language: English
isbn 9789350097168
length 378p.,
Subjects History