State in a Non-Political Space: The Society-State Interface

 Shuja Shakir

Association: Associate Professor, Political Science

Address ®: 1-19-555, Near Sane Hospital, Jubilee Park, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Pin|:431001

Address (o): Department of Political Science, Dr. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Mobile: 9158440968 / 9890457917



Modern state faces a prominent challenge from the society, which, stripped of its traditional avatar, has now become what is popularly known as civil society. Thanks to the globalization and spread of democratic values, Indian civil society has begun to contest the overreach of the state and the government. This paper examines the society-state interface amid the globalization and liberalization sweeping across the country. It also highlights how Indian civil society is different from its western counterpart therefore, how it would not make sense to implant western values on Indian psyche to address the indigenous socio-political problems.

Keywords: State, Society, Civil Society, Good Governance, Democracy

Full Paper

As a buffer between the might of the state and the right of the citizen, civil society has been reasserting itself all across the world. Sometime back, in an unexpected terrain of Middle East where authoritarian regimes have long held a sway, the march of civil society for individual liberties (also called as Arab Spring) has rattled the hoary potentates of the Sheikdoms across the entire region. Closer home, in 2011 huge number of candle-carrying protestors coming out to support of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade and demand Lokpal not only gave sleepless nights to the Congress-led UPA government, but also became an important reason for its downfall in 2014 parliamentary elections. In America, ‘Occupy Wall Street’, a leaderless movement launched by a cross-section of society in wake of recession to demand a better, greed-free society, gained momentum and caused the Obama government to sit up and think. Clearly, since 2011 there has been a rebirth of non-political actors’ revolution from Tel Aviv to Washington and from New Delhi to Tripoli. Dipankar Gupta says that year 2011 was unique in that it saw the death of fear of greater evil like communism, capitalism and Zionism; this also meant the end of ideology because ideologies breathe only in atmosphere of greater evil.[1]

With the issue of good governance occupying center-stage in political debates worldwide, the governments are finding themselves hard-pressed to justify their acts of omission and commission. And this is not restricted to a few dictatorial regimes as such. Even the democratically elected governments have received serious jolts for their perceived administrative insincerity and indolence. Longest surviving Communist Government in West Bengal had to pay a huge price for its flawed policies. What started off as a protest movement by artists, filmmakers, dramatists and actors against the Left government role in Nandigram, ultimately became an albatross around government’s neck and was an important factor in bringing about its fall from power.

For such obvious reasons, civil society remains most important link in the chain of good governance and an indispensable condition of a successful democracy. That said, it is necessary to extend beyond rhetoric the debate about civil society and its relation with the state and government. This is imperative in view of the fact that civil society as a category remains nebulous and elusive, and even where it has been concretized to denote a set of specific values; it is incapable of universal application due to stark divergence in the nature societies across the globe. In the west with stronger democratic tradition, civil society is largely understood as a means of rejuvenating public life, while in the East where rendezvous with democracy is still in flirtation stage, “it has come more narrowly to mean – beside political and civil liberties – simply private property rights and markets.”[2] Edwards finds it even a bigger puzzle of current socio-political discourse where understanding of the term civil society is informed by one’s preference, so much so that it has been ‘reduced to chicken soup of social science.’ Some understand it as means to expand free market and individual liberty, others see it as a challenge to authoritarian rule; some perceive it as a product of capitalism, others view it as a reaction against socialism. “Is civil society the preserve of groups predefined as democratic, modern, and ‘civil’, or is it home to all sorts of associations, including ‘uncivil’ society–like militant Islam and American militias-and traditional associations based on inherited characteristics like religion and ethnicity that are so common in Africa and Asia?”[3] That is a moot question. What are the values by which civil society is to be located? Are such values reconcilable to the structure of governance and finally to strengthening political system? For a Libyan, a means to restoring rights by the civil society might mean exterminating all living members Qaddafi family. A Taliban’s vision of good governance might be built around the idea of utter subjugation of women. And a riot victim in India might talk of communal peace as being the foremost virtue of political institutions.

Thus, no matter to what extent the civil society is understood to symbolize the collective will, its basic idea remains highly individualistic. As a symbol of collective will, it has proved to be often necessary good, securing rights for individuals and streamlining governance. However, as informed by individualistic orientation, it has also proved at times to be unnecessary evil, derailing governance and creating undesirable schisms in the society at large.

The present paper seeks to understand the complex nature of civil society as it obtains in India and delineate its relation with state and government in current socio-political context. It also tries to highlight how, Indian experience being different from Western one, it would be undesirable to implant the ideas of western culture on Indian psyche and expect the dramatic results.

Civil Society: The Western Idea

In the west, the advent of civil society may be traced back to the papal influence during 13th Century when the Church exercised near total hegemony even over secular affairs. As a reaction against the authority of Church, a loose concept of civil society developed, which stressed the separation of temporal from ecclesiastical as far laws of governance were concerned. This idea of civil society was closely related to that of secularism by which laws of state were meant to be separated from those of religion. It acquired a more definite shape in 17 century when the concept of political society that talked about individual’s rights in clear terms, became important. Writings of John Locke and Hegel constitute an important landmark in this context. Hegel maintained that a healthy civil society is a system of interdependence where “livelihood, happiness and legal status of one man is interwoven with livelihood, happiness and rights of all.”[4] Although Hegel understood the importance of producers, he was emphatic about the need of control by public authority so that there is a balance between the interests of producers and consumers. In this sense, Hegel held that civil society as a collective body cannot secure welfare for its members in the absence of public authority. Thus Hegel points to a symbiotic relationship between public authority, which is state and civil society, both being an integral part of each other. The state by regulating the affairs of civil society streamlines its welfare dimensions while civil society, in its turn, lends to state a distinct spirit of freedom.

Although Hegel was never a liberal in traditional sense of the term, his idea of civil society, minus the overbearing role of state, was compatible with liberal system to some extent. It was precisely for this reason that it did not appeal to Marx who thought that civil society represented the economic interests of bourgeoisie and “lacked ability to express universal interests common to society as a whole.”[5]

Post-Modernist and Post-Marxist Revival of Civil Society

Postmodernism as a trend “characterized by the collapse of the great ‘summarizing discourse’ and rise of local narratives”[6] revived the idea of civil society in a novel perspective. In talking about civil society both postmodernists as well as post-Marxists employ an identical parlance. The Frankfurt School theorists associated with postmodernism stress that in the contemporary world the working class is no longer a force of revolution in the capitalist society. The capitalist society is becoming increasingly complex and democracy is becoming increasingly plural. Consequently, the working class is being replaced by diverse social movements both in the developed and the developing countries. “Social conflict is no longer concentrated in privileged agents of social change”[7] but extends far beyond into the realm of common people where they take part in the decision-making outside the formal world of electoral politics. Neo-critical exposition of Habermas follows a similar line that in the modern world class conflict is replaced by broader social movements like human rights, ecology, gender equality, and so on, and these new actors transcending the class boundaries are located very much within the civil society.[8] The writings of postmodernists, post-Marxists and neo-critical theorists were evidently derisive of state and government. It was however left to Foucault and Derida to bring about a fuller deconstruction of the very idea of state. Foucault talked of micro-politics, of the societies where the power is not necessarily localized in the behemoth of sovereignty. In reality, “power is employed and exercised through a net-like organization. Not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power.”[9]

Civil Society: Indian Experience

Influence of postmodernism turned out to be widespread in the echelons of Indian social science research with some even arguing that other than postmodern no approach in social science can situate the Indian socio-political realities in current times.[10] Talking of multiple traditions and cultural factors in India, Rajni Kothari feels that here local solutions are very conditions of human survival. Because of its increasing inclination towards market efficiency and profitability, Indian state is becoming elitist, undemocratic and anti-people. In this context, civil society as a collective voice of people is necessary as a take-off point for humane governance.[11] Despite the fact that Kothari’s argument sounds appealing it very difficult to apply it in the Indian context. Kothari is theorizing about the existence of an orderly homogenous civil society that certainly exists in west, but not in India where the task of ensuring inter-group and intra-group equality still remains unfulfilled. As opposed to the Indian society where social and religious institutions hinder the realization of democratic equality, the western civil society is founded on displacement of traditional identity-based institutions with those that operated on principles of social non-discrimination.[12] In India, collective identities prevail over individual rights. “Our Constitution assigns pre-eminence to the individual as a citizen, but our politicians, legislators and even judges seek to advance the claims of castes and communities in the name of social justice.”[13]

In the beginning of this paper, it was mentioned that the civil society is informed by strongly individualistic orientation. In India, such orientation has more of political than civil contours. Given the circumstances prevailing in the wake of independence, people came to expect that it was only the state that can guarantee health, education, employment, cleaner environment, create inter-group equalities and establish religious harmony. This has been confirmed by a survey conducted in 2007 which found ninety percent respondents holding government responsible for providing basic education and healthcare.[14]

All this makes Indian civil society markedly different from its western counterpart, though by no means any less important. Despite its heterogeneous nature, Indian civil society is coming of age. As the spirit of democracy gradually permeates the vast expanse of Indian hinterland, it is likely to revitalize the welfare proclivities of the civil society even as it redefines the political ambitions of the state in such a manner as to create a harmonious interface between the two for the ultimate benefit of common masses.


[1] Sunday Times, January 1, 2012

[2] Sunil Khilnani, “Civil Society, History and Possibilities,” Sudipta Kaviraj & Sunil Khilnani (ed.),

Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp.12

[3] Michael Edwards, (2005), “Civil Society”, The Encyclopedia of Informal Education,

[4] Hegel, “Philosophy of Right”, Clarendon, Oxford, 1953, pp.123

[5] Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”, Cambridge University Press, 1977, pp.81

[6] Ananta K. Giri, “Global Transformations: Postmodernity and Beyond”, Jaipur, 1998, pp. 392

[7] Laclau and Mouffe, “Post-Marxism without Apologies,” New Left Review, No. 166, 1987, p.106

[8] Jurgen Habermas, “The Theory of Communicative Action,” Vol. II, The Critique of Functionalist Reason,

London, 1989, p.82

[9] Michel Foucault, “Two Lectures, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-

1977”, Colin Gordon (ed.), New York, Pantheon, 1980, pp. 98

[10] Arun Kumar Sharma says that modern India makes any other Sociology than Postmodern a liability.

See his “Power, Resistance and Change in India at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century: The Post-

Sociological View,” Gandhi Marg, Vol. XXIII, no. I, 2001, p.52

[11] Rajni Kothari, “State against Democracy-In Search of Humane Governance”, Ajanta Publications, 1988,

  1. 3

[12] Gurpreet Mahajan, “Civil Society and Its Avatars–What Happened to Freedom and Democracy?”,

Economic & Political Weekly, May 15, 1999

[13] Andre Beteille, “Citizenship, State and Civil Society”, Economic & Political Weekly, Sept 4, 1999

[14] Globalization and the State in India, an Indicus Survey under the Ford Foundation-funded project, 2007

Unending Controversy: The Governor in Indian Politics


 Shuja Shakir

Association: Associate Professor, Political Science

Address ®: 1-19-555, Near Sane Hospital, Jubilee Park, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Pin|:431001

Address (o): Department of Political Science, Dr. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Mobile: 9158440968 / 9890457917



Office of Governor has remained in controversy since 1967. Center Governments, irrespective of their ideological orientations, have often connived at the established practices and norms to use office of governor for the political ends. As a result, the Governor-related controversies in the country have not only kept the center-state relations strained for long, but have also become a huge obstacle in the way of state autonomy. At times, these controversies became so serious that several political parties demanded scrapping the office of Governor. However, this paper argues that in the era of competitive politics and coalition governments, abolishing Governor’s office would not be appropriate in the larger interest of democracy.  

Keywords: Governor, Indian politics, polity, centralization, state politics

Full Paper

Time and again the office of Governor is usually in the news for all wrong reasons. The controversies relating to the office of Governor seem to be unending (Sharma, 2014).  The state governments, where the ruling party is different from the one at center, have often found Governor’s role partisan. Their charge is that the central government has used the Governor as a trusted agent to create problems for the state governments, ruled by the opposition parties.

Endowed with a limited functionality under the constitution of the country, the Governors were expected to be harmless and non-interfering. The framers of the constitution preferred nominated Governor to an elected one because they did not want to create a dual power center within the states with an elected chief minister and elected Governor, for which reason, Dr. Ambedkar stated in Constituent Assembly that powers of Governors were proposed to be just ornamental. (CAD 1949: 468). Much like President of the country, the Governor was supposed to be a formal head of the state with real powers being with the elected chief minister and his cabinet.

What has happened over years is exactly reverse of what makers of constitution might have expected in respect of the functioning of Governors. Barring a few exceptions, majority of Governors have tended to act as the agents of the Centre and pander to the interests of center rather than to those of the states, to which they were appointed. Whether it was appointing the chief ministers or dislodging the state governments, the Governors often took a call from their political masters in New Delhi. As a result, office of Governor not only lost its credibility, but also ended up violating the very spirit of the constitution.

General Elections, 1967

There was a little controversy about the powers of the Governor in the State until February 1967, when the Fourth General Elections were declared. These elections proved to be a landmark in that they ushered in a new phase in Indian politics-the end of one-party dominance of Congress and beginning of coalition politics. As many as eight States saw the rout of Congress at the hands of non-Congress parties. The office of the Governor from being a matter of academic interest shot into prominence as an epicenter of serious political altercations from here onwards. It also subsequently became an apparent cause of serious strains in the Center-State relations. A major reason for this murky state of affairs was an attempt by the Congress at the Center to use the office of Governor for narrow political ends. The opposition parties in the States vociferously claimed that the Congress was using this gubernatorial office to dislodge the legitimate State Governments. Review of the Governor’s role during this period indeed shows that most Governors acted as stooges of the Center, ready to topple the elected governments in the State. It is in this context that the role of Governor as the Constitutional Head of the State assumed added importance in appointing and dismissing the Chief Ministers in the State, especially after 1967.

Misuse of Discretionary Power

Governor can appoint chief minister under his discretionary powers when no party secures majority in the state assembly. Under the name of discretion, Governors have often violated the established conventions to favour the central government. As a matter of standard practice, Governor allows single largest party in the assembly to form government, but contrary to popular understanding, Governors have made their own calculations to judge which party is single largest. In 1952, the Governor of Madras judged that Congress was single largest party with 155 seats in the assembly of 375, even though the combined strength of opposition parties, which had formed a United Front, was 166. His logic was that since opposition parties came together after elections, he couldn’t consider them as one party (The Indian Express, March 30, 1967). In short, there was no place for post-poll alliance.

After general elections of 1967, in the Rajasthan assembly of 183, Congress got 83 seats whereas combined strength of opposition parties, fighting in name of Samyukta Dal, was 93. The Governor judged that Congress deserved to form the government because in Samyukta Dal there were about 15 independents whose existence the Governor did not consider valid because independent MLAs “cannot have any policy, party or group” (The Statesman, March 2, 1967). But the Governor of Gujarat did not find any problems in allowing Hitendra Desai of Congress (O) to form the government in 1971 with the support of independent MLAs (The Statesman, April 8, 1971). Likewise, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh invited the Congress to form the government after elections of 1967 when he was satisfied that independent MLAs were ready to support the party leader, C.B. Gupta (The Hindustan Times, March 14, 1967).

It may be noted that in different States the different criteria followed by the Governors in appointing chief ministers gave rise to the suspicion that they wanted to favour the ruling party at center. It is not that Governors indulged in this kind of practice only during 1960s. Even in 2005, the Governor of Jharkhand invited Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief, Shibu Soren to form the government when JMM had only17 seats whereas BJP had 30 seats in the House of 81. Going by the principle of inviting single largest party to form the government when no party secures absolute majority, BJP should have got the first invitation, but the Governor chose otherwise. Interestingly, Shibu Soren was then central Cabinet Minister and his party was supporting the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Was the Governor, like his numerous predecessors, trying to please his political masters in New Delhi? Answer is not far-fetched.

Governors have also misused their discretionary powers in the matter of dismissing the duly elected chief ministers, dislodging the legitimate state governments and having the President’s rule imposed. The BKD Ministry headed by Charan Singh appeared to have been reduced to minority after the Congress (R) withdrew its support in 1970. Instead of asking the Chief Minister to face the trial of strength, the Governor asked him to resign straightaway. When Charan Singh refused, the Governor recommended imposition of President’s rule (The Statesman, September 25, 1970). Office of Governor is not superior to Council of Ministers and in dismissing the chief minister based on the assessment of his party having been reduced to minority, the Governor should ask chief minister to face the trial of strength in the House. Both Sarkaria Commission and later Supreme Court stressed making trial of strength of chief minister mandatory before dismissing him and his government. Supreme Court’s stand on this issue was a result of what was clearly an unlawful dismissal of Bommai government by the Governor in 1988. Governor dismissed the chief minister of Karnataka, S.R. Bommai on the grounds that Janata Dal, he was heading, had lost confidence of the House when a group of 19 MLAs had given a letter withdrawing its support to the Bommai government. The Governor immediately recommended president’s rule even when Bommai was ready to face trust vote on the floor of the House (The Statesman, June 25, 1983). Governor ignored the petition of the 7 out of 19 dissident MLAs who later met and told him that their signatures were taken by misrepresentation. Bommai challenged the role of the Governor and the decision of the Central Government to impose the President’s rule in State following which the Supreme Court ruled that any proclamation of the President’s rule under Article 356 was subject to judicial review. Making a scathing comment on the role of the Governor, the Court said that it appeared that Governor was in a hurry to dismiss the ministry and dissolve the assembly. The Bommai judgment had a huge impact on center-state relationship as it largely stopped the misuse of article 356 that deals with the imposition of president’s rule in the states.

It should be understood that for their blatantly partisan role, Governors alone should not be held responsible. The responsibility lies partly with constitution itself and partly with nefarious political agenda of the party ruling at the center. When the constitution was being framed, it was initially thought to have a relatively autonomous Governor, with proposals almost being accepted to have an elected Governor. However, this idea was soon dropped following the bloody partition and the resultant fear psychosis that gripped the national leaders at large. It was then thought that the country needed a strong center. Hence, makers of Indian constitution did away with the idea of autonomy of the states. Consequently there are provisions like the executive power of every State being so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by the Parliament and the existing laws under Article 256 of the Constitution. Under Article 355, the Union has the duty to protect the States against internal disturbance and to ensure that the governance of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, for which it’s free to use article 356. The Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance monitoring the transfer of finances to the State are central agencies. A casual look at the distribution of powers between the Centre and the States shows that the Centre has an upper hand over the states.

Centralization ensured that Governor remained a dominant entity. Right from the appointment to the dismissal of Governors, states have a little say. Although Sarkaria Commission, and lately Punchhi Commission, emphasized the convention of President consulting state chief minister before appointing a Governor, in practice, it was blatantly flouted. On the contrary, there are several examples to show that center has imposed on states such persons as Governors whom the state chief ministers had vehemently opposed.

After 1967, suffer an identity crisis of sorts, the Congress party had Governor’s office pressed into services of the center. The authoritarian attitude of Indira Gandhi and her increasing intolerance of any opposition began to result in the appointment of politically motivated persons to the post of Governor. It would not be incorrect to say that after 60s, biased action of Governor was one of the major reasons for the continuous friction between Centre and States. Coincidentally, this was also a period when political opportunism in the form of political defections for petty allurement became rampant across the States. Indira Gandhi was never comfortable with the fact that non-Congress parties, too, had a right to occupy a political space within States. Unethical means were used to emaciate the regional parties. Horse-trading, promise of positions and posts to opposition candidates and promotion of caste-based politics at regional level were some of them. Office of Governor was subject to an extreme misuse in this period with the result that not only was the State autonomy adversely affected, but also the spirit of federalism, so dear to the framers of the Constitution, was crushed to the hilt.

However, this is not to say that it was Congress alone that manipulated Governor’s office to achieve narrow political ends. Opposition parties did the same whenever they came to power at center.

When V.P. Singh became prime minister, his government asked all the Congress-appointed governors to lay down the office. The logic given was change in government should be followed by change of Governors even if the Governors had not committed any constitutional impropriety. Thus, 18 Governors who were holdovers from the Rajiv Gandhi government had to go, not because they had done anything wrong, but simply because it was the wish of central government.

In 1998, when the BJP came to power for the first time, then Union Home Secretary B.P. Singh was reported to have asked three Governors (Gujarat, Goa and Mizoram) and three lieutenant Governors (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar, and Pondicherry) to put in their papers. In fact, the then Gujarat Governor Krishna Pal Singh said that the Union home secretary had informed him that it was the Centre’s ‘wish’ that he resigned. At the BJP’s National Council meeting in Gandhingar on May 4, 1998, L.K. Advani pointedly defended political appointments to Governor’s office, arguing that the party was never in agreement with the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations on the subject (Rediff News, July 5, 2004).

Should the Office of Governor be Scrapped?

The fact is, like a former Governor, Jagmohan, wrote, every political party has turned Governor into a political football. For this reason, several political leaders have sometime or the other shouted from their rooftop to abolish the office of Governor. And this demand is not new. Following the dismissal of Namboodripad Government in 1959, the Communists demanded that office of the Governor be scrapped. After the dismissal of TDP in Andhra in 1984, the party called for the abolition of Governor’s office. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, R.M. Karnunanidhi even went to the extent of moving a resolution in the legislative Assembly for the abolition of Governor’s post. The echoes of this demand continue to resonate in the present times as well.

Would it be feasible not to have Governor within the present constitutional scheme? With a possible exception of Rajamannar Committee, most Commissions looking into issues relating to center-state relations do not agree. They always stood for retaining the Governor, but of course with some crucial changes in the process of his appointment and termination. Latest suggestion came from Punnchi Commission that said ensuring security of tenure to Governor would make him behave impartially. It, however, remains to be seen how serious the government is about implementing these suggestions.

By and large, if one ignores the controversies created by the Governor’s office in the past, one gathers that Governor can play an important role. The most important aspect of Governor’s office consists in its being a watchdog of the Centre within the State. The intention of the framers of the Constitution was to prevent the threats to the unity and the integrity of the nation. Fissiparous tendencies were likely to rise from the newly formed States that had been under the princely rule for years. In the so-called quasi-federal model that India adopted after independence, the office of Governor was intended to be an instrument of smoothening Centre-State relations.

In the contemporary period, the office of Governor assumes added importance. The era of single-party rule is over and in the days to come, it is likely to be multi-party or coalition governments all along. Such a system is a major challenge before the modern-day democracy. A high degree of competitive and aggressive politics underlies coalition system. The parties are subject to myriad pressures and pulls from inside and the bigger parties have to keep devising the mechanism to accommodate the demands of the smaller ones in a perpetual struggle for survival. One of the features of the multi-party Government is the confused electorate. Consequently, all kinds of undesirable elements – corrupt persons, scamsters, defectors and criminals – can thrive on this confusion and succeed in making it to the Government.

According to Fareed Zakaria, one trend characterizing the modern-day multi-party democracy is growth of illiberalism (1997: 22). He quotes the American diplomat, Richard Holbrooke, as saying on the eve of elections in Bosnia in 1996, “Suppose the elections are declared free and fair but those who are elected are racists, fascists and separatists who are publicly opposed to peace and harmony then that is the problem”. Zakaria says this is what is increasingly happening around the world. The democracy is functioning according to the constitution. Elections are free and fair. However, the kinds of leaders such democracies are producing have a bigoted, retrograde and reactionary outlook that is totally anti-democratic.

Zakaria’s observation has a bearing on the Indian situation. The growing influence of the regional forces in different States and the blatantly parochial agenda some of these carry entails the need to have a central mechanism, like the office of Governor, which could ensure an effective check in case the unduly belligerent politics of local forces starts pushing beyond the constitutional parameters.


  • A.D. (Constituent Assembly Debates) 1949 Vol. VIII Government of India Publications, New Delhi
  • Fareed Zakaria, (1997) “Rise of Illiberal Democracy”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 76, No. 6, Nov-Dec
  • Sandeep Shastri, (2014) “Controversies relating to the office of the Governor resurface: Can we restore healthy conventions?” August,



Dr.  Raju Kalmesh Sawant

M.A. B.Ed, M. Phil, Ph.D 

Assist. Professor (Dept. of Political Science)

N.D.Patil Night College, Sangli

Email Id:

Contact No: 9890207898


                            India is a country with traditions and history. We were an economic success saga over centuries and had always attracted foreign traders in lieu of our products and services. Our economic success depended a lot upon the structure of society which was based on specialization of tasks performed by each class of society. This gave birth to caste system which is deep rooted in our society since the time of its existence. Ever since then our society has been divided into oppressed and oppressor. Where the oppressors still haven’t come out of the feudal mind-set, the oppressed still feel that they haven’t been compensated enough for the atrocities borne by their forefathers. These emotions still play very important role in present time politics. In our country there are a number of local leaders who claim to have mastered a vote bank of a particular caste, and a number of times we can find whole political parties with caste based vote bank. What makes the matter more complex is the presence of sub-castes within the castes, and self proclaimed representatives of all those clans. Although caste is predominantly a dividing system of society but since the time of independence it has proved to be a boon for weaker sections. Since caste system is mainly a system developed for smooth economic functioning, the lower castes were the ones economically and socially weaker too. These groups of society went unrepresented for a long period in politics and thus had no voice or power and were repressed whenever they tried to raise their voices. When our country got free constitution makers were very much worried about giving everyone equal rights in society, and for this they went for the system of one person one vote, thus handling the oppressed castes right to choose their own representatives.

Key Words: Attracted, Oppressed And Oppressor, Proclaimed Economically etc.

Full Paper 


Caste in Indian society refers to a social group where membership decided by birth. Members of such local group are endogamous, i.e. they tend to enter into marital relationships among themselves.   It was institutionalized into government organizations by British colonizers. The removal of the boundaries between “civil society” and “political society” meant that caste now played a huge role in the political arena and also influenced other government-run institutions such as police and the judicial system. Though caste seemed to dictate one’s access to such institutions, the location of that caste also played a pivotal role. If a lower caste were concentrated enough in one area, it could then translate that pocket of concentration of its caste members into political power and then challenge the hegemony of locally dominant upper caste. Gender also plays a significant role in the power dynamic of caste in politics. Women’s representation within the political system seems to also be tied to their caste. Lower, more conservative castes have less female participation in politics than upper, more socially liberal, castes. This has caused a disproportionately large number of upper-caste women to occupy political office when compared to their lower caste counterparts. The hierarchy of caste and its role in politics and access to power and resources has created a society of patron-client relationships along caste lines. This staunchly rigid structure was most prevalent during the Congress-dominating period. This eventually led to the practice of vote banking, where voters back only candidates that are in their caste or officials from which they expect to receive some kind of benefits.


To study the relationship between Caste and Politics.

To study the role of caste in politics in India


The present study has been descriptive; the data for this study were obtained from secondary sources. The secondary data has been collected from various references which already existed in published form; part of the paper is based on literature review the method comprising of collecting all the available papers relating to the theme and selecting relevant papers/books for the review purpose. Selection of the paper is done on the basis of their relevance and contribution to the body of knowledge. The author has made an attempt to do primary reading of the selected papers which will constitute the core of this review study.


Caste has always been central to modern Indian politics. Even the power structure of medieval India was based on caste. Caste also operated as the central principle in the distribution of power and material resources in the colonial period. Colonialism in India created a democratic and modernist space; nevertheless this space was also predominantly captured by upper-caste groups. The nationalist struggle against the imperial power was aimed at establishing the caste-class hegemony. Non-Brahmin and low-caste movements were active during the colonial era, broadly pursuing two aims: achieving upward caste-class mobility and annihilation of caste. The caste system played a significant role in determining the content and direction of the processes of political socialization, political mobilization and institutionalization within the framework of modern democracy. The dynamics of caste and class were at the root of he complexity of Indian politics in its functioning. Behind the seemingly religious and communal movements in post-independent India, it was the dynamics of caste-class hegemony that was the real operational factor. Both the anti-caste and the upwardly mobile caste movements are guiding the pro reservation movement, which aims at upward class mobility of the hitherto excluded castes. The pro-imperialist bourgeois policies of the ruling class and the struggles against these policies are also influenced and shaped by the tensions and contradictions in caste-class dynamics. 

  • Caste has influenced the policy-making of the government, for example the policy of reservation in favor of certain castes.
  • The programmes, policies and declarations of political parties are made, keeping in view the caste factor. Even different positions within a political party are distributed in terms of caste configurations.
  • Caste plays a very important role in elections and voting. Political parties select their candidates on the basis of caste composition in the constituency. The voting in elections and mobilization of political support from top to bottom moves on the caste lines.
  • The caste factor also influences the formation of the council of ministers and making appointments to various political positions in the government.
  • Caste also functions, as a pressure group in politics. Political bargaining is also done on the caste lines. Caste organizations have emerged to organize caste members for collective bargaining with each other.
  • The administration has not escaped the influence of the caste in India. The postings, transfers and appointments of public officials are influenced by caste considerations.
  • Even the behavior of public officials in carrying out administrative duties gets influenced by caste considerations.
  • The political leadership in many political parties emerges and survives in politics on the basis of the support of certain caste groups.
  • There are many political experts who consider the increasing influence of caste in politics as a negative tendency, not helpful in the development of democracy.

Caste is playing a major role in the process of politics in India. Therefore understanding of Indian politics is possible only with thorough understanding of the complexities of caste system. In this context present paper is trying to bring such an understanding, with the help of pre and post independence development and its positive and negative aspects in the process of democratic politics i.e., inclusive development The caste system played a significant role in determining the content and direction of the processes of political socialization, political mobilization and institutionalization within the framework of modern democracy. The dynamics of caste and class were at the root of the complexity of Indian politics in its functioning.

  1. Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age, Cambridge University Press ,2001
  2. Hasan Z. 2000. Representation and redistribution: the new lower caste politics of north India.
  5. Manor J. 1997. Caste and class in a cohesive society.






Dr.  Raju Kalmesh Sawant

M.A. B.Ed, M. Phil, Ph.D 

Assist. Professor (Dept. of Political Science)

N.D.Patil Night College, Sangli

Email Id:

Contact No: 09890207898

 Abstract –

India has a wonderful way of turning traditional theories of economic growth on their head. Take the theory of diversification among sectors (agriculture, industry and services) as the driving force of development. Based on the historical evidence of western societies in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the ‘stagist’ view of development was considered the best way forward.  Once the share of agriculture in a nation’s GDP had dipped in comparison to industry or services, then surely a desirable structural change was afoot.  The trajectory of development meant an inevitable pre-eminence of Services over industry and agriculture. By that token, the last two decades, we are told, have been testimony to a trajectory of growth appropriate to western societies; judging by GDP numbers at least, India has done exceedingly well. In the Economic Survey of 2010-11, the Finance Ministry gave us a retrospective view on the change in the relative importance of the three sectors.  In 1950-51, the share of services in GDP was around 30.5 per cent; this jumped to 55.2 per cent in 2009-10. If construction is added, the share climbed to 63.4 per cent. The “ratcheting up of the overall growth rate (compound annual growth rate or CAGR) of the Indian economy — from 5.7 per cent in the 1990s to 8.4 per cent in the period between 2004-05 to 2009-10 — was in large measure due to an acceleration in the CAGR in services from 7.5 per cent in the 1990s to 10.3 per cent in 2004-05 to 2009-10.”

Key Words: Diversification, Pre-eminence, Ratcheting, Acceleration etc.

Full Paper 


The development of India’s economy was based on socialist-inspired policies after independence. It included state-ownership of various sectors, regulation and red tape which was known as ‘Licence Raj’ and protection from the world markets. The Political Economy of India has rapidly changed with the liberalization of the economy in the 1990s. It has now moved towards a market-based system and is the world’s second fastest growing major economy after China. India recorded the highest GDP growth rate of 9% in 2007.  The growth rate has reached 7.5% in the late 2000s. The country is the world’s twelth-largest economy by (PPP) purchasing power parity adjusted exchange rates. It is ranked 118th by PPP and 128th on per capital basis in the world. The most important priorities for India according to the World Bank are public sector reform, agricultural, removal of labor regulations, infrastructure, rural development and reforms in backward states.  The liberalization of India’s economy was initiated by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980’s. In 1991, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailed out India through a $1.8 billion loan when it faced a crisis on defaulting on its loans. During this time, Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh initiated new reforms.  The new reforms led to easier international trade and investment, privatization, deregulation, inflation-controlling measures and tax reforms. Liberalization has been the same irrespective of which party headed the government. But no party has yet thought of reforming labor laws and reducing agricultural subsidies which may anger powerful lobbies like trade unions and farmers.


To study the political economy of green growth in India.

To study the need of political economy in Indi


Political economy is the study of the role of economic processes in shaping society and history.  Political economy (particularly when the word “radical” is added as an adjective) has come to be closely associated with the work of economists who adopted key concepts developed by Marx, in particular his focus on class processes or relationships, but who rejected the economic determinism of orthodox versions of Marxian theory.  Thus, political economy makes extensive and intensive use of class analysis in making sense of society and history, but does so in the context of political, cultural, and environmental processes, as well as other economic processes.

Rapid economic growth in India during the last two decades has accentuated the demand for energy and natural resources related to water, land and forests. Based on a review of the current policy framework in these areas and data from fieldwork in the northeastern region of India, this paper addresses two inter-related themes: (i) how emerging economies like India have dealt with the question of access to resources in response to the opposing demands of “inclusive growth” and more equitable development aimed at closing “social divides”; and (ii) the specific case study of two seemingly contradictory development trajectories, namely the “Green Mission” and hydroelectric power (HEP) dams on the river Teesta in India’s northeastern Himalayan region. The authors’ review of the policy agenda for water, land, forests and river dams suggests that current approaches toward growth have largely privileged a mainstream development perspective, promoted privatization and often aggravated existing social inequalities. The effectiveness of the so-called “green” or sustainable development approaches has largely been compromised due to their mainstream and increasingly noel liberal orientation conceptualized within a primarily techno-bureaucratic policy framework.

                                        Although the study of political economy has a long and proud history, its importance has grown over the past several decades. Recent developments such as the dramatic changes in the price of oil and other minerals, currency value fluctuations, the impact of regional and international trade agreements (such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)), as well as the shifting dynamics within major international groups such as the G-8 and the G-20, have initiated some of the most profound changes in Canadian political and economic governance since Confederation.

At the global level, the impact of the financial crisis of 2008, growth slow-downs in all major industrialized countries of the world, the economic rise of China and India, and the challenges of regulating international flows of people, goods, funds, and technology, have fueled an increasing interest in international political economy. The consequences and challenges posed by the subsequent restructuring will have to be researched and studied for years to come. The Political Economy degree program offers students these opportunities by introducing you to this fascinating field.

Additionally, transformations wrought by globalization as well as the new information and communications technologies (ICTs) make it vitally important that students understand both local political and economic relations and their connections to global change. Thus, the Athabasca University degree program in Political Economy is designed to provide students the knowledge and practical skills necessary to meet the profound challenges of the 21st century.


Political processes and economic change are deeply intertwined in a globalizing world and recognition of their linkages is crucial for understanding the role of any government in economic activity.  The politics of India’s economic growth, state welfare, and development experience, situating it within a larger framework of globalization. It outlines the complex yet inevitable dependency of public welfare on the growth process, pointing out the Indian state’s successes and failures on developmental fronts. It evaluates the main political factors impacting India’s nearly three-decade-old engagement with economic reforms, globalization, and development.

  1. Sajay Ruparelia, Sanjay Reddy, John Harriss & Stuart Corbridge (eds), Understanding India’s New Political Economy, Abingdon: Routledge, 2011.
  2. Sanjeev Sanyal, The Indian Renaissance: India’s Rise after a Thousand Years of Decline, New Delhi: Viking Penguin India, 2008. Excellent overview.
  3. Govindan Parayil, (ed.), Kerala: The Development Experience: Reflections on Sustainability and Replicability, London: Zed Books, 2000.
  4. Niranjan Rajadhyaksha, The Rise of India: Its Transformation from Poverty to Prosperity, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.








 Dr.  Raju Kalmesh Sawant

M. A. B. Ed., M. Phil., Ph. D.,  

Assist. Professor (Dept. of Political Science)

N. D. Patil Night College, Sangli

Email Id:

Contact No: 9890207898



The term ‘political participation’ has a very wide meaning. It is not only related to ‘Right to Vote’, but simultaneously relates to participation in: decision making process, political activism, political consciousness, etc. Women in India participate in voting, run for public offices and political parties at lower levels more than men. Political activism and voting are the strongest areas of women’s political participation. To combat gender inequality in politics, the Indian Government has instituted reservations for seats in local governments. Women turnout during India’s 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout for men. India ranks 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament. Women have held the posts of president and prime minister in India, as well as chief ministers of various states. Indian voters have elected women to numerous state legislative assemblies and national parliament for many decades.

Key Words:  Simultaneously, Activism, Strongest, Parliament, Assemblies etc.

 Full Paper 


Women’s leadership and effective participation is increasingly on the development agenda of governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and non-governmental organizations, including women’s rights groups. Evidence from programmed and research demonstrates the important role women play as key actors and decision-makers in the development process across a wide range of sectors. In the political arena in particular, there is growing momentum among governments to foster and ensure women’s participation and leadership in governance structures. Establishing quotas for women’s representation at different levels of governance has been a strategic tactic in achieving this goal in many countries.


To study the women participation in Indian Politics.

To study the challenges faced by women for participation in politics.

To study the top ten women politician in India.


The movement for women’s suffrage began in the early 1900s in response to a national movement for suffrage, even though vast majority of neither men nor women had a right to vote during the British colonial rule before 1947. After Indian independence from Britain, the Indian Constitution in 1950 officially granted women and men suffrage. Prior to universal suffrage, provincial legislatures had granted women the right to vote. Madras was the first to grant women’s suffrage in 1921, but only to those men and women who owned land property according to British administration’s records. Other legislatures followed shortly after, but like Madras, the political rights were granted by British Raj to select few, and the London appointed Governor of each province had the right to overrule and nullify any law enacted by the elected men and women. The rights granted in response to the movement towards suffrage were limited to qualifications of literacy and property ownership, including property ownership of husbands. This excluded vast majority of Indian women and men from voting, because they were poor. This changed in 1950 when universal suffrage was granted to all adult Indian citizens.

In 1950, universal suffrage granted voting rights to all women. India is a parliamentary system with two houses: Lok Sabha (lower house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house). Rates of participation among women in 1962 were 46.63% for Lok Sabha elections and rose to a high in 1984 of 58.60%. Male turnout during that same period was 63.31% in 1962 and 68.18% in 1984.

The gap between men and women voters has narrowed over time with a difference of 16.7% in 1962 to 4.4% in 2009.

Voter turnout for national elections in the past 50 years has remained stagnant with turnout ranging between 50 to 60%. State elections have seen a growing trend in women’s participation, and in some cases women’s turnout is exceeding male turnout.[10] Increased turnout of women was reported for the 2012 Vidhan Sabha elections (legislative/state assemblies) with states such as Uttar Pradesh reporting 58.82% to 60.29% turnout. In the 2013 assembly elections, women’s overall turnout was reported to be 47.4%, and male turnout was 52.5%. Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, and Puducherry all reported higher turnouts among women than men in 2013.

Increased participation is occurring in both rich and poor states in India. The sex ratio of voters has improved from 715 female voters for every 1,000 male voters in the 1960s to 883 female voters in the 2000s. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought to increase voter turnout by cleaning up electoral rolls and removing missing or deceased members. Voter outreach has included door-to-door voter registration, and in 2014 elections, voters will be issued a photo id with polling station information to increase voter turnout. Increased voter turnout in India is also partially due to the women voters. ECI has sought to encourage voter registration among women and participation through education and outreach on college and university campuses. Growing participation has also been attributed to increased security at polling stations.

  1. 2014 ELECTIONS

Women turnout during India’s 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout for men. In 16 out of 29 states of India, more women voted than men. A total of 260.6 million women exercised their right to vote in April–May 2014 elections for India’s parliament.


The level and forms of women’s participation in politics is largely shaped by cultural and societal barriers in the form of violence, discrimination and illiteracy.


Sexual violence in India is exacerbated by issues of education and marriage. Child marriage, domestic violence and low literacy rates have lowered Indian women’s economic opportunities and contributed to sexual violence in India. A 2011 study found, “24% of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives, 20% have forced their partners to have sex with them…38% of men admitting they had physically abused their partners. Widespread sexual violence is attributed to the fact that violence within marriage is not against the law, and sexual violence goes largely unpunished. Martha C. Nussbaum states that “In the larger society, violence and the threat of violence affects many women’s ability to participate actively in many forms of social and political relationship, to speak in public, to be recognized as dignified beings whose worth is equal to that of others. Self-confidence is likely to increase participation among Indian women, specifically in running for election.


Although the Constitution of India removed gender inequalities among caste and gender, discrimination continues to be a widespread barrier to women’s political participation. A 2012 study of 3,000 Indian women found the barriers in participation, specifically in running for political office, in the form of illiteracy, work burdens within the household and discriminatory attitudes towards women as leaders. Discriminatory attitudes manifest in the limitations presented to Indian women including low access to information and resources. Women rely on receiving information from family or village members, typically men. Women also lack leadership experience due to the fact they are burdened with household duties. The burden of household duties is a significant reason why many Indian women do not participate. Unlike men, there are fewer opportunities for women to get involved in organizations to gain leadership skills. There is little public space for them as men have dominated the political arena for many years in India.

Discrimination is further perpetuated by class. Dalit women, of the lowest caste in India, are continually discriminated against in running for public office. The Government of India requires reservation of seats for Dalits and Scheduled Castes, but women suffer from abuse and discrimination when serving as elected officials. Dalit women experience harassment by being denied information, ignored or silenced in meetings, and in some cases petitioned to be removed from their elected position.[52][53]


India has one of the largest illiterate populations. In January 2014, the United Nations reported 287 million adults in India are illiterate. Literacy among Indian women is 53.7%, which is much lower than literacy among men reported at 75.3%.[55] Illiteracy limits the ability of women to understand the political system and issues. Problems with exploitation, such as women being left off of voters lists, have been reported as illiteracy limits the ability of women to ensure their political rights are exercised.[56][57] Martha C. Nussbaum concerning political participation stated, “Because literacy is connected in general with the ability to move outside the home and to stand on one’s own outside of it, it is also connected to the ability of women to meet and collaborate with other women.” Studies conducted by Niraja Jayal and Nirmala Buch found women are “persistently mocked and devalued in the panchayats if they are illiterate.” Nussbaum also found literacy can play a key role in the dignification and independence of women in politics by giving them access to communications, such as memos and newspapers, they can become better informed on political issues.

  • Sushma Swaraj
  • Sonia Gandhi
  • Sheila Dikshit
  • Mamata Banerjee
  • Jayalalitha
  • Mayawati
  • Vasundhara Raje Scindia
  • Ambika Soni
  • Supriya Sule
  • Agatha Sangma

Political participation of women in any country gives an overview of how women are treated in society. The development of any country also depends on the equal participation of men and women. Since women’s presence is seemed to be low in Indian politics, it is the duty of every human being to make them aware of their rights and motivate them for participating in mainstream politics. The constitution of India not only guarantees equality in society but also suggests states to make special provisions for women. Women still are fighting for equal status in society. Because of their low representation in Indian politics, their issues and problems are generally unseen and unnoticed.

  1. Kak, Manju and Prajnashree Tripathy. Whose Media? a Woman’s Space. New Delhi: Concept Publishing House, 2007.
  2. Narula, Uma. Indian Women Across Generations. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2005.
  3. Shukla, A. Kumar. Women in India Politics: Empowerment of Women through Political Participation. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2000.
  4. Ganesamurthy, V. S. Empowerment of women in India: social, economic and political. New Delhi: New Century Publications, 2008.
  5. Gehlot, N.S. New Challenges to Indian Politics. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 2002.