Working a Democratic Constitution : The Indian Experience

Granville Austin, OUP , 2000, 771 p, xvii, ISBN : 0195648889, $55.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Introduction. Prologue. I. The great constitutional themes emerge, 1950-66: 1. Settling into harness. 2. Free speech, liberty and public order. 3. The social revolution and the first amendment. 4. The rights and the revolution: more property amendments. 5. The judiciary: 'quite untouchable'. 6. Making and preserving a nation. II. The great constitutional confrontation: judicial versus parliamentary supremacy, 1967-73: 7. Indira Gandhi: in context and in power. 8. The Golak Nath inheritance. 9. Two Catalytic defeats. 10. Radical constitutional amendments. 11. Redeeming the web: the Kesavananda Bharati case. 12. A 'Grievous blow': the supersession of judges. III. Democracy rescued or the constitution subverted?: the emergency and the forty-second amendment, 1975-7: 13. 26 June 1975. 14. Closing the circle. 15. The judiciary under pressure. 16. Preparing for constitutional change. 17. The forty-second amendment: sacrificing democracy to power. IV. The Janata interlude: democracy restored: 18. Indira Gandhi defeated--Janata forms a government. 19. Restoring democratic governance. 20. Governing under the constitution. 21. The punishment that failed. 22. A government dies. V. Indira Gandhi returns: 23. Ghosts of governments past. 24. The constitution strengthened and weakened. 25. Judicial reform or harassment? 26. Turbulence in federal relations. VI. The inseparable twins: national unity and integrity and the machinery of federal relations: 27. Terminology and its perils. 28. The Governor's 'Acutely controversial' role. 29. New Delhi's long arm. 30. Coordinating mechanisms: how 'Federal'?. VII. Conclusion: 31. A nation's progress. Bibliography. Index.

"This book offers a critical insight into four decades of the Indian constitution. It charts the course of constitutional reform in India from the euphoric idealism of the post-independence period, through the crisis-ridden years of the emergency, and up to Rajiv Gandhi's brief stay in power.

"Written with transparent affection towards the Indian people, Working a Democratic Constitution represents an attempt at understanding the manifold trials and tribulations that have shaped India's successful experience with democracy. It analyses the ways in which various legal and political issues, thrown up by the vicissitudes of democracy, have affected the making of the Indian constitution. The author invests great hope in the determined effort of the Indian people towards the goals of national unity, sound administration, liberty for all, and social justice through representative government.

"Relying on archival sources, first-hand interviews, and rare documentation by many of the key legal and political figures of the last fifty years. Austin tells a very human story of how the social, political and day-to-day realities and aspirations of people have guided the course of constitutional reform in India. He points out that this aspect of constitutional development demonstrates the success of India's experience with democracy.

"Written with clarity and elegance, this book will be pleasurable for anyone interested in the recent political history of India, and in comparative constitutional law." (jacket)

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