Divided by Democracy

Meghnad Desai and Aitzaz Ahsan, Roli, 2005, vi, 144 p, ISBN : 8174364250, $20.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Divided by Democracy/Meghnad Desai and Aitzaz Ahsan

Contents: 1. Introduction/David Page. 2. Why is India a democracy?/Meghnad Desai. 3. Why Pakistan is not a democracy/Aitzaz Ahsan.

"The second book in the Cross-border Talks series examines why India is a democracy while Pakistan is not.

Meghnad Desai identifies the revolutionary decision of the constituent assembly to adopt universal adult franchise as the key to the survival of democracy in India. The overwhelming desire of the leaders of the independence movement, many of whom were educated in England, was for a Westminster-style democracy. The adoption of this model led to demands for inclusion from lower and backward castes and Dalits, and today Indian democracy is a heady and vigorous mix of ethnic and immigrant groups, class cleavages as well as rural/urban and north-south divisions.

Aitzaz Ahsan argues that at partition, while India had a strong middle class and political structure and a subordinated civil and military bureaucracy, in Pakistan it was the opposite. It inherited a strong feudal class, an insignificant bourgeoisie and an entrenched civil and military bureaucracy. These vested interests have never relinquished their control over the country, and have in the process choked the spirit of democracy there." (jacket)

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