Analysis of Empirical Data
Subrata K Mitra & V. B. Singh, Democracy and Social Change: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Electorate, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1999, Rs. 425
This book provides a bridge between the conceptual analyses of India's political system and empirical reality. The overall concern of the book is to examine the modernisation premise that violent turmoil will follow the disjunction between the pent-up demands of the lower social orders and their sudden empowerment through universal adult franchise. Survey data about the basic issues of democracy and social change, collected by the post-1996 Elections Study and the National Election Study 1996 by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi provides empirical material for the study.
The authors note that India has made a successful transition to democracy and occasional onslaughts notwithstanding, democracy in India is not under threat. Periodic electoral exercises with adequate participation levels have successfully changed the locus of power and consequently, subaltern groups have challenged the control over resources by the dominant groups. The study "examines the basis of this resilience by drawing on the opinions and attitudes of a representative cross section of India's electorate" (p. 19). The study surmises that India was yet to make a transition to industrial economy before it was politicised by the avenue of universal adult franchise and the consequent increased dependence on vote politics. Such patterns have often led to "releasing into the political arena social forces that are capable of pulverising the very basis of stable government and norm- bound institutions" (p. 22). It argues that owing to adoption of methodological individualism by the Indian constitution as the tool for social change (a claim which has been