Centralization and powerlessness: India's democracy in a comparative perspective

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It is argued that tendencies toward centralization and powerlessness are generated by the near absence of systematic authority links between the state's apex and the vast social periphery. In years past, especially during the 1950s, the Congress forged patronage links with regional and local influentials, thus creating a chain of authority that stretched from the capital city to villages. Over the last two decades or so, these links in the authority structure eroded, owing to a number of forces; the spread of democratic politics undermined the influence of regional and local traditional elites; and the nationalist party-qua-organization was destroyed by intra-elite conflict and by the recalcitrance of power-hungry national leaders. The chapter first analyzes the recurring tendency in contemporary India toward the emergence of centralized and personalistic rule. The second part discusses the reasons why personal, concentrated power, while enabling leaders to bloc the access of others to the state, does not readily translate into development efficacy. -from Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-107
Number of pages19
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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