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DEMOCRATIC PRACTICE AND SOCIAL INEQUALITY IN INDIA

By: Jean Dr�ze and Amartya Sen.
Publisher: 2002; Journal of Asian and African Studies 2002; 37; 6 Subject(s): KERALA EMPOWERMENT LOCAL DEMOCRACY DECENTRALISATION CORRUPTION HUMAN RIGHTSOnline resources: Click here to access online Summary: This paper examines the role of democratic practice in contemporary India, going Beyond the elementary concern with democratic institutions per se. The foundations of democratic practice are identified as facility (functional democratic institutions), Involvement (informed public engagement with these institutions), and equity (a fair distribution of power). The achievements and limitations of Indian democracy are assessed in this light, with special attention to the adverse effects of social inequality on democratic practice. It is argued that while the quality of democracy is often compromised by social inequality and inadequate political participation, democratic practice itself is a powerful tool of elimination of these handicaps.
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This paper examines the role of democratic practice in contemporary India, going Beyond the elementary concern with democratic institutions per se. The foundations of democratic practice are identified as facility (functional democratic institutions), Involvement (informed public engagement with these institutions), and equity (a fair distribution of power). The achievements and limitations of Indian democracy are assessed in this light, with special attention to the adverse effects of social inequality on democratic practice. It is argued that while the quality of democracy is often compromised by social inequality and inadequate political participation, democratic practice itself is a powerful tool of elimination of these handicaps.

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