Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Shani on Citizenship & Democracy in India

Out this month with Cambridge University Press is How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise by Ornit Shani, University of Haifa. From the publisher: 
How India Became DemocraticHow India Became Democratic explores the greatest experiment in democratic human history. It tells the untold story of the preparation of the electoral roll on the basis of universal adult franchise in the world's largest democracy. Ornit Shani offers a new view of the institutionalisation of democracy in India, and of the way democracy captured the political imagination of its diverse peoples. Turning all adult Indians into voters against the backdrop of the partition of India and Pakistan, and in anticipation of the drawing up of a constitution, was a staggering task. Indians became voters before they were citizens - by the time the constitution came into force in 1950, the abstract notion of universal franchise and electoral democracy were already grounded. Drawing on rich archival materials, Shani shows how the Indian people were a driving force in the making of democratic citizenship as they struggled for their voting rights.
Praise for the book:
This is a subtle and impressive work of scholarship, which breaks new ground in the history of modern India. Using the rich, previously neglected, archive of the Election Commission, Ornit Shani documents how multi-party democracy based on adult franchise was established in a large, diverse, divided, and desperately poor country. The research is deep and thorough, the analysis robust and thought-provoking, the writing clear and often vivid. All those interested in modern India, as well as in the history of democratic practice more generally, would profit from a close reading of this book. -Ramachandra Guha
Table of Contents after the jump.

1. Designing for democracy: rewriting the bureaucratic colonial imagination
2. The pursuit of citizenship in the making of the electoral roll: registering partition refugees
3. The roll as "serialised epic" and the personalisation of the universal franchise
4. Disciplining the federal structure
5. Shaping the constitution from below and the role of the Secretariat
6. The limits of inclusion
Conclusion: a 17 crore and 220 yard democracy.

Further information is available here.