Introduction: Politics in india—an overview

Atul Kohli, Prerna Singh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The study of Indian politics constitutes an exciting area of scholarship. This collection brings together some of the leading and emerging scholars of Indian politics to reflect on their respective areas of specialization. Each contribution is a self-sufficient essay that introduces readers-be they specialists or new to the subject-to a specific topic and provides references to facilitate further pursuit of the subject. These contributions ‘speak’ in the voice of the authors. Many of the essays here are not only distillations of prior scholarship, but also point to new directions of thinking and research. We (the editors of the volume) are responsible for inviting the contributors, but since this is a Handbook, we have not tried to impose any artificial unity; the contributions represent a variety of normative and theoretical standpoints. The minimal unity of the volume comes from the organization of the subject matter. In this introductory chapter we provide an overview of the subject-politics in India-and point to where and how individual essays of the collection fit within the broader scheme. The collection is organized around four major themes: Three themes in Indian politics, namely political change, political economy, and the diversity of regional developments, as well as the theme of the changing role of India in the world. We discuss each of these issues in a highly abbreviated fashion below. Among the political changes on which we focus are: How and why democracy in India put down firm roots on the one hand, but why, on the other hand, the quality of governance offered by India’s democracy continues to be low, especially below the national level. The interrelated political economy themes that we discuss concern the acceleration of economic growth since the mid-1980s, worsening inequalities, the persistence of poverty, and the growing power of business groups. A discussion of political and economic changes in select states provides an inkling of why progress across Indian states continues to be uneven. Finally, we touch on the issue of India’s international relations, both in its neighborhood and vis-à-vis global powers. Democracy has put down firm roots in India but the quality of government that India’s democracy provides continues to be quite poor. Brief schematic comments on both these trends-democratic consolidation but poor governance-may be helpful at the outset for introducing the subject, as well as for situating specific essays in this volume within the broader study of political change in India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Indian Politics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781135122751
ISBN (Print)9780415776851
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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