Dimensions of Indian Democracy

Anil Kumar Mishra


Democracy in India, a poor and notoriously diverse country, has succeeded for more than half the twentieth century and seems likely to succeed as well in the twenty-first. The story of India’s state formation since independence has included a story of rising influence on the part of the federal states. At independence in 1947, India inherited the British-brokered constitution of 1935. It embodied two possibilities, a centralized authoritarian “vice-regal” state and a decentralized, or federal, parliamentary state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the “great leader” of Pakistan, chose the former option, in effect acting as the successor to Lord Louis Mountbatten, the British raj’s last viceroy and governor-general of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, despite his personal penchant for centralized rationalization, selected the latter course and became the prime minister of a parliamentary government in a federal system.

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