South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - How Insurgent Grassroots Mobilization Deepened the Indian Democracy: Evidence from Telanagana

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

Democratic survival in India despite recurrent episodes of political violence is an enduring paradox in comparative politics. Violent uprisings, both their origin and impact, are considered detrimental to democracy. The conclusions of my recent India-based project, however, suggest that an insurgency, contrary to this popular perception, can also increase state capacity and deepen democracy. This article is based on empirical evidence drawn from the ongoing Maoist insurgency in India, dubbed the “biggest internal security threat the country has ever faced”. Based on this fieldwork in Maoist-affected districts in Telangana, this paper shows that the Indian state not only co-opted the central mobilizing issues and constituencies of the rebel movement but also, in the process, deepened the very democracy that the rebels wanted to overthrow. This paper is divided into three papers: the first part shows how the local state was able to harness, however imperfectly, the grassroots empowerment unleashed by militant mass mobilization into generating a strong associational life; the second section shows how insurgency-democracy interaction led to increased electoral participation and representation; the third section demonstrates that the dynamics of interaction between insurgency and democracy also enhanced transparency, accountability and public service delivery that together constitute the hallmarks of good governance.

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