Social Scientist. v 2, no. 23 (June 1974) p. 3.


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K SESHADRI

Mass Political Participation and Democracy

THE concept of participation is once again receiving a lot of attention, as the mechanisms provided in the bourgeois political structure are proving inadequate to satisfy the aspirations for a new social structure and to voice the discontent against the existing one. The 'liberal' democracy to which the western nations paid such homage has proved itself to be an apology and a justification for the status quo in social relations created by the industrial civilization wherein only a few elites could assume the role of all-knowing representatives of the masses who by and large are apathetic to the intricate process of decision-making. Basing their observation on normal times, some of the Western apologists of 'apathy/ postulated apathy itself as an essential condition for the working of democracy.1 It is true that people do not always participate, but when crucial issues are thrown into the fore, participation of the masses always takes place. With the advent of greater education and the increasing discontent caused by industrialisation more and more people want to have a greater share in the decision-making process. Participation has assumed a greater significance today in the context of the 'New Left5 movements, particularly in France, and the popular acceptance of 'participatory democracy9 as being something more than democracy in the liberal sense of the term.

The Western political scientists imply by (participation9 all



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