India’s Democracy at 60

At midnight on August 15, 1947, a new nation was born on a subcontinent wracked with violence, ripped apart by a bloody partition, and an extraordinary profusion of ethnic groups, religions, and mutually incomprehensible languages. Yet, 60 years later, India offers striking lessons in constructing, against all odds, a working democracy.

At midnight on August 15, 1947, a new nation was born on a subcontinent ripped apart by a bloody partition. Independent India came into being as flames blazed across the land, corpse-laden trains crossed the new frontier with Pakistan, and weary refugees abandoned everything to seek a new life. A less propitious start for a fledgling nation could scarcely be imagined.

Yet, six decades later, the India that emerged from the wreckage of the British Raj is the world’s largest democracy, poised after years of rapid economic growth to take its place as one of the giants of the twenty-first century. A country whose very survival seemed in doubt at its founding offers striking lessons in constructing, against all odds, a working democracy.

No other country embraces such an extraordinary profusion of ethnic groups, mutually incomprehensible languages, religions, and cultural practices, as well as variations of topography, climate, and levels of economic development. In 1947, India’s leaders faced a country with a million dead, 13 million displaced, billions of rupees worth of property damage, and the wounds of sectarian violence still bleeding. Given this, and the challenges of administering a new country, integrating the “princely states” into the Indian Union, and reorganizing the divided armed forces, they could have been forgiven for demanding dictatorial powers.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/j3fNpIn;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.


    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?


    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now