Social Scientist. v 20, no. 235 (Dec 1992) p. 67.

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Faulty Empirical Data

In his recent book. Democracy and Discontent, Atui Kohli sought to project that over the last two decades a 'crisis of governability1 has been growing in India (p. 1). The 'crisis' is manifested in the form of weakening political institutions, growing and intense competition for limited state resources, increasing political violence and declining capacity of the state to accommodate newly politicised groups and their demands. This leads to a situation of *a general crisis of governability'. The causes for this crisis, Kohli argues, are primarily political than socio-economic in nature. For him the socio-economic factors such as 'dislocative impact of economic development and growing class conflict', have basically contributed to India's problems of governability, but they are not primary causes or not so decisive (p. 19). The political factors that he identifies are the role of political leaders, the impact of weak political institutions and most important the mobilisation of new groups for the purposes of winning power and securing access to state resources (p. 19). He suggests that 'strengthening party organisations and bringing the state's capacities in line with its commitments are the two important pre-requisites for better democratic governments in India* (p. 20).

Kohli seeks to support his arguments on the basis of detailed empirical investigations carried out at three levels: local, state and national. He selected five districts—Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, Kheda in Gujarat, Belgaum in Kamataka, Calcutta in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu for local-level analysis. The states he selected for state-level analysis are Bihar, Gujarat and West Bengal (pp. 11-12).

The book has already been reviewed in this journal by Neera Chandoke (Nos. 228-229, May-June 1992) and the validity of the explanatory model offered by the author has been debated. The present review will not go into the theoretical aspects of this debate;

instead it takes on Kohli at the level of the validity of the empirical material collected on the districts [case studies], with particular reference to Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh (Chapter 4, pp. 61-93).

Social Scientist, Vol. 20, No. 12, December 1992

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