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The Burden of Democracy

Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Author)

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 workings 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.

Optimistic, lively and closely argued, the Burden of Democracy 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.

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About the author

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Devesh Kapur is Frederick Danziger Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University and a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Center for International Development at Harvard University; a non-resident Fellow of the Center for Gloabl Development in Washington DC; and a Senior Associate at the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford University.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Burden of Democracy
Format Softcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 143030221, 9780143030225
length x+178p., 18cm.